Dancing with the Dark. A view. A feeling. A focus.
1. First, there is an expansion. Two, actually. One in the chest, and the other a step outside of the body with a panoramic view.
2. Second, a vibration, a ringing throughout the body that is felt but neither heard nor seen.
3. Third, a contraction, a narrowing focus that eventually leads to darkness.
What I’m describing is my experience of having an “aura” before a seizure. There was a time when I’d dwell on that last part: darkness. But these days, I’ve chosen to get creative and nurture this part of the experience. Because what I’ve found is that this lifelong journey of auras has made me appreciate how deeply connected I am to my intuition, my body, and the energy around me.
I believe that we, as a collective consciousness, have the ability to heal one another. Maybe this has become “buzz” conversation for most, but for me, I’ve personally experienced how connecting to positive energy in the face of fear determines the rate at which healing can occur.
As a kid growing up with a seizure disorder, it was automatic to assume that no “single moment” was under my control. That at any moment my body would decide if it was going to have a healthy or an unhealthy day. I became really good at living my life as a tightrope walker. This is the nature of epilepsy.
This was especially true during the early years, when the only way to manage the number of seizures I had was to audition a variety of medications and dosages. After many years of adjusting to meds and seizures, I fell into a trap of feeling, and then accepting, that my life would never blossom beyond a certain point, that my fate was determined by my condition, and that medication was representative of being healthy.
I danced throughout these “guinea pig” years, but I never realized how much of an impact dance, movement and performing had on my health. Did it make me more conscious of my body? Yes. Did I discover confidence and a venue where I could access creativity? In a big way. Did it allow me the time to rejuvenate my spirit and find my own way to express movement? Absolutely. Did it distract me from my ongoing position as a tightrope walker? Yep. One word to describe what dance has given me—freedom.
The Secret to Living Well
So does the secret to living well lie in singing “Zippity Doo-Da” while waving a wildly enthusiastic pair of jazz hands? Not completely.
Here’s how my condition began to change and how I considered relying less on superficial ways to heal and change. Keep in mind that my seizures were triggered by several things:
- stress and anxiety
- lack of meds
- lack of sleep.
My seizures became much less frequent once I changed my eating habits and exercised more. I know… shocking, right? But this is just the first layer of change that I came across and not nearly the most interesting.
Second layer—I chose to step away from as many comfort zones as possible.
This covered everything from:
- traveling abroad on a shoestring budget to
- learning various movement methods that actually challenged the part of my brain that is affected.
So basically, I allow myself the opportunity (because it is an opportunity) to be vulnerable and raw, to learn along the way, and to be anything but controlled. There’s that word, again… control. That word and feeling being the one thing I longed for my whole life, and here I am trying like hell to break up with it.
Okay, so take a look at the second layer of my cake…
… stepping away from my comfort zone and changing my relationship to control.
- Move towards the unknown
- Embrace that which is uncontrollable
- Choose to react less, and observe more
- Be in the moment
Going to this place, there is a big, fat element of risk involved for a person with a seizure disorder. The risks extend anywhere from embarrassment from the seizure surfacing to feeling a deep sense of defeat, or even (in some cases) to losing one’s life. But within that choice of taking the risks comes the acceptance of what is, or what could be.
Therein lies an amazing amount of healing and growth.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we put our health in the hands of dangerous situations just so that we can be present. What I am suggesting, and what I have experienced, is that instead of allowing waves of anger, panic, and fear to dictate an outcome, we should try observing our bodies, who and what surrounds us and how we respond to these times of pain, panic, and fear.
I’ve spent much of my adolescence in and out of ambulances, stumbling onto consciousness and not really knowing what in the world had happened moments before. My past with this disorder was ALL about hiding and applying just the right amount of maintenance for my condition. In the past, I’d feel an aura coming on and could literally feel and see (in my mind’s eye) my body sprint to try and escape that feeling. Because what did it mean? It meant that I’d be cursed with a reminder that I have seizures. It meant that I’d have to surrender my need for control, and I’d have to listen to my body and what it needed. It meant defeat.
Then it all changed.
I remember two separate occasions that later changed my way of healing/dealing not only with seizures but also with toxic energies or situations. Because guess what?! They go together.
The first occasion:
I was nearing the end of a seizure and just beginning to return to the rest of the world—but couldn’t. I could hear sounds of sobbing, fighting, fear, and anxiety. I had a very strong sense of the environment around me, but I could not yet control myself enough to speak or move my body. So the fear that the others around me were feeling had grounded me in my own fear. And since after a seizure the nervous system is essentially trashed and has adapted to stress and a state of dysfunction, the body, mind, and spirit will go with what is most present and powerful. So it did, and it took me much longer to shed the seizure’s effects.
The second occasion:
It came years later with an aura that would change my approach to living well. This time around, the environment was calm. The person I was with (grounded, secure, open, and gentle) and I (more accepting) found a stronger sense of harmony and self-love. As I floated away from the conscious world, I sensed and focused on the honest, supportive and nonjudgmental energy around me. While I felt discouraged about having a seizure once again, strangely, I also felt relief. The energetic environment around me brought me back to consciousness much more quickly. It was a gentle return, and one I could heal from.
Can I always be in the company of centered or calming energy fields in order to heal? Nope. But I can tap into my own expression of love and take responsibility for making small conscious efforts. I can invite nurturing, centered, loving and compassionate energy into my life. I don’t always get it right, but I try to draw from these “teaching moments” (or my auras) and remember the value of intuition and positive or negative energies that have had a huge impact on my life. From my relationships and conversations, to my choices of food, environment, movement methods, and career mission—I choose to express the quality of living.
Now, all of this mental work of cultivating good energy has to move beyond conversation and journal entries. It has to be sent out… and expressed physically. Because healing is multi-dimensional. When there’s no outlet to express a journey, our process remains in limbo. Here’s what’s great about embracing that multi-dimensionality; you get to let go of thinking that you need to be an expert at expressing yourself through movement. I promise you that tutus, sequinned dance pants or top hats are not required to be on this path.
Dancing with the dark and sparking this healing, all you need is…
a view, a feeling and a focus.
Regardless of our movement practice, we all have the ability to heal. But what we tend to focus on is preparing to “perform” the external self. We choose our movement method, we decide on our goals, we commit to our daily protocols… we practice everything to death and we think we’ve made our practice authentic. Then, we repeat.
Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with refining technique, but to me, the work becomes our own and has a deeper quality of healing once we connect to our internal process. By connecting, we learn to listen. And then heal. We build our movement techniques on solid foundations (of clarity and exuberance), and in return we are inspired to seek quality in our lives.
Instead of the practice informing and inspiring us, WE inform and inspire the practice.