"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak."
I went to a Christmas party at the country club on Saturday night. As soon as dinner was over, the DJ cranked up the music and the crowd began to dance. My husband and I joined in and danced until the DJ stopped playing two hours later. As I looked around me I noticed that the happy crowd moved to the beat of the music in all different ways. Some moved subtly, while others danced with abandon. (I was in the latter category!) The best part of all was that everyone was smiling and laughing as the let their bodies move and sway to the music in a natural way.
I asked someone who was standing at the edge of the dance floor to join me. She said, "Oh no, I don't dance." I felt bad for her because I thought she was missing an opportunity to feel good.
Our bodies crave movement. You can see this when you watch little kids try to sit still at a movie, a restaurant, or church. Turn on some up beat music and even the youngest children will stomp their feet, clap their hands, or bob their heads instinctively. To me, this proves that dance is a natural expression of our bodies desire for movement.
Historically dance has been used for ceremonies, rituals, celebrations, entertainment, and even as a way to heal or protect people from disease. Our ancestors danced as a way to express and process their emotions. They danced at happy occasions as well as sad ones.
New research into movement therapy and neuroscience is showing that when we make movements that are related to a specific emotion, it can create that emotion in us. In other words, the way we move our bodies sends signals to our brain that make us actually feel happy, sad, fearful and so on. What is even more amazing is that just watching someone else carry out the motions or even thinking about them yourself can trigger a feeling in your body. So the woman who was standing still at the edge of the dance floor was benefitting just by watching us.
Our bodies, our minds, and our emotions aren't separate, and there is more and more research being done to prove this. This knowledge should empower us. We can to elicit the moods that we would like to experience by moving our bodies in a specific way.
If you want to feel happy right now, take a moment to watch this video or better yet, get off of your chair and join in the dance!
Heaven gained another blue eyed angel last week. Her name was Clare Rich.
At the funeral home as we all gathered to say our last good byes before heading to the church, the funeral director said, "You are all invited to come up to the casket to pay your respects to Clare." As a way to keep things running smoothly he then said, " Friends first please, followed by family members." As I looked around, I marveled that everyone in the room, close to fifty of us, stayed still as we waited for friends to go first. No one in the whole room considered themselves a mere "friend" of Clare's, despite the biological fact that not one of us had any blood relationship to her.
My husband gave a beautiful eulogy for Clare. In his tribute to her he said, " I am not sure exactly when a close friend becomes part of the family, but Clare was my family for as long as I can remember." Growing up, my husband lived across the street from Clare and her sister Barbara. They had lost both of their parents when they were young adults. The two sisters lived together in their family home until Barbara died fourteen years ago. My generous and loving mother and father in law invited Clare and Barbara to holidays and special occasions so that they wouldn't be alone. Clare had a great rapport with children and took on the role of "aunt Clare" to my husband and his four siblings. She was a "cool" aunt who took the kids skiing in the winter and out for ice cream in the summer. As the kids grew up, Aunt Clare and Aunt Barbara attended highschool and college graduations. Then they could be seen at weddings which were soon followed by births, baptisms, birthday parties, and confirmations. The family grew bigger and bigger and made sure that Clare and Barbara were included at every family function. And believe me, in an Italian family with five siblings, eighteen grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren, there are a lot of them!
Clare was a lover of good food and wine. She created a tradition of treating family members to a delicious and decadent meal at Peter Lugar's Steakhouse for special occasions. I have fond memories of my first meal with Clare and my initial experience of getting to know her. According to Clare, my son Ace's first birthday was a celebration that warranted a nice juicy steak. Although he couldn't appreciate the steak, he did appreciate the balloons and gifts that she brought him. Looking back, I realize that Clare took us to dinner to show us how important and special we were to her.
Clare was the kind of person who made everyone around her feel comfortable. Not because she was gregarious and outgoing, but because she was relaxed and kind.
For many years, Clare hosted fifty adults, children, and the occasional dog for Christmas Eve in her beautiful home. She alway made sure each of us felt welcome. My husband called Clare's holiday parties "legendary", and they were. Christmas Eve was always noisy, chaotic, and joyful. Clare's house was beautifully decorated with white rugs and light colored couches, but you never had to worry that your toddler might leave sticky finger prints or spill his milk, because Clare would never get upset about little things like that. I remember asking Clare once how she remained so calm in the midst of the Christmas Eve chaos, and she replied, "What's the worst that can happen, a little stain on my rug? Things can always be replaced." To quote my husband in his tribute to Clare, "She was never about the things that she had. What was most important to Clare were the people that she loved."
Many might look at Clare's life as tragic, having lost her parents when she was young and then losing her only sister some years later. An experience like Clare's might cause a person to become bitter, isolated, and alone. But despite her losses, Clare lived life to the fullest with a positive attitude and a fun loving spirit. With her generous and open heart, she chose to cultivate friendships that felt like family instead of lament the family that she lost.
They say that the love of a family is life's greatest blessing. I feel blessed and honored to have had Clare in my family. I will miss her gentle presence and twinkling blue eyes. Our family will never be the same without Clare, but her memory will live on in the hearts of the friends and family that loved her.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras