We began our first dance on the heels of ending the orientation with a powerful exercise that helped Souls know what “No” felt like in their body. Not just a meager “no”…but a full force “NO!”
In closing circle, we talked about what that felt like and how perhaps it wasn’t the best exercise to end orientation on. People felt that it created an awkward opening to the dance and curtailed connection.
However, a week later as the conversations continue and as more seasoned dancers come to me with stories, I am re-thinking this sentiment. Here is why:
For some of us, whether we consciously realize it or not, we do not have full access to our “no”. This can be because of several reasons such as sexual trauma; unprocessed memories of childhood; or coming from a family, a religion or culture that didn’t respect, honor and/or encourage your “no”.
In the end, the results are the same: saying “no” feels like a survival issue. So instead we resort to half “yeses” in order to keep the peace, get someone off our back (both literally and metaphorically) or to comfort/save the other from feeling rejected.
We often rationalize this in our own heads, thinking this makes us feel better. However it is a breach of contract with our own Soul, a breach of integrity ~ and our body registers it as so.
NOTE: This is NOT a gender issue. This is a human issue. All souls are able to experience the lack of a full “no”.
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE GONE ARRAY
The human psyche NEEDS the “no” stage of life (think “terrible twos”) before it can fully open up to what the Soul’s “hell yes” is. This is part of the individuation of the psyche. A Soul needs to know they are okay in their own space as a Soul, especially as it detaches from the primary caretaker – before it can learn to form healthy bonds with others. (See Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages #2 Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt)
If a child traverses this stage with supportive caregivers who understand how to let a child have a “no” without subliminal guilt trips, while at the same time loving and accepting the child – then when the child is ready to reconnect, her/his connections throughout life will most likely be that much deeper and stronger.
As you can imagine, there are many reasons why this developmental stage is skipped or thwarted in early childhood. This leads to so much of the confusion we see in the world today – especially around the area of “date rape”.
The good news is this stage IS repairable – and along with it a deeper connection with Other(s).
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CONNECTION ON THE DANCE FLOOR?
We are so starved for connection in our society. Honest to goodness, heartfelt connection where we are seen, heard and met. Many of us come to dance seeking a space that perhaps might provide this very human need.
Yet, if we are not aware of our own relationship to “no” – or that others around us might have this relationship to “no” – we run the risk of possibly re-wounding ourself and/or the other. This will in the long run- as you can imagine – break down relationships and community.
Instead of jumping right into what it looks like to get consent from another to dance with them – I firmly believe we must back up and come inwards. We must first really learn OUR OWN body language – how to listen for it, honor it and abide by it.
This includes learning that we have a place to practice our “no” in our full expression and STILL be accepted – while learning how to say “no” non-verbally with our body and energy.
As the one holding the big vision for MMD, I am more than okay with Souls knowing this is a safe place they can come and practice their no in all honesty and integrity. Even if that creates a dance floor that at times is more focused on one’s individual journey. MMD might just be the first place many Souls are able to properly traverse the needed psychosocial stage so they can learn the world is a safe space to become an emotional adult.
In the end, if we all allow this process to occur, this will create more safety on the dance floor and in our own individual Soul space. As I have said before and will continue to say, when we feel empowered to create safety for our own Soul – we are able to connect deeper and wider with one another.
Oh, and the good news is that there are ALSO exercises in BL 101 that help you learn why accepting no is physically so hard at times…with room to also practice it in a healthy way!
One last thing to note: Just as any new relationship takes time to develop, so is the case with a new dance space. Please be aware that when you enter MMD, with it being a new format and a new space, that it will take time for us to learn to dance together ~ ESPECIALLY as we talk about what has not been talked about. This will be a process of unfolding slowly, with at times people folding back in. Yet as we learn that this is a real safe and honest space to practice these things we are talking about – the dance floor WILL BEGIN to take on an energetic beingness of its own. I can already can foresee how sweet and amazing that will be!
BONUS: RECEIVING NO TO DEEPEN CONNECTION
Instead of automatically assuming that a “no” means a loss of potential connection- how can you view their “no” as an opening up to connection, in a new way? Perhaps not with them, or not with them in the way you wanted. Or perhaps you allowing them space to say “no” without taking it personally will open them up later to a yes.
Or is there another connection that can possibly happen – maybe just within yourself? Could you accept that simply dancing in the same room with them IS connection?
1) What is your history and relationship to the word “no” and the energy behind it? Have you ever felt like you wanted to say “no” but for some reason find yourself nodding your head “yes” or uttering the words, yet cringing inside even just slightly? Was your “no” respected in your family of origin and/or past relationships (intimate, work, religious)?
2) Come to our next Body Language 101 workshop
3) Move deeper into your “no” so you can connect deeper with your yes with a 1-on-1 Movement Session