"Outward circumstances are no substitute for the inner experience...I can understand myself only in the light of inner happenings." C.G Jung, from his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
I first came across this quote 2 springs ago, sometime in the midst of April, when the last of the tulips were widening under the warming sun, and just after the cherries had finished blossoming. I remember that I read it while sitting cross-legged on the grass preparing to teach a class on the Wild Woman Archetype. I remember feeling the heat of the sun for the first time that year, and the urge to take my socks off and to scrunch my pale winter toes into the new grass. There was something surging and alive moving inside my body, an invisible current that mirrored the waking, rising, blossoming earth. An aliveness that I had not felt in some years.
In my dreams, nuns were abandoning traditional habits in order to tie their hair back with colourful scarves, and at least once a week I would dream that I was discovering new walks, through deep woods, on hidden pathways, that apparently were there all along, but that I had never seen before. Jung, might have said that these were the inner happenings of my life.
Of course, my outer life would not mirror these inner happenings for sometime, as my conscious mind was doing everything in it's power to keep the inner happenings from disturbing the status-quo of my daily routine. And so, when my outer life at last changed in radical ways, I must admit, I was surprised at first. That is, until, I began to recall the many ways in which my psyche/soul was asking me to look all along, and revealing to me that my inner experience was trying desperately to align with my outer experience.
The changes that occurred in my life as the inner and outer worlds merged are not mentioned here, because they are not the focus of this exploration. What has meaning for me now, is the process itself, and if I had to describe the essence of the dance work that I have offered for almost 20 years now, I would say it is a way for the inner-life and the outer-life to meet, a physical practice that brings awareness to these inner happenings through the wisdom of the body. To dance freely invites the inner-life to come forward for expression, and sometimes this part of the self needs to be gently coaxed, like calling a shy and thirsty animal to water, while at other times, the invitation alone is enough, sometimes the energy needs no coaxing at all, just an opportunity to move without obstruction. More often than not, it's like taking the lid off a pressure cooker, and freeing the steam horses trapped within.
For many years, I studied The Osteopahtic Field of Awareness, and my wise teachers would say to me over and over again, that health is movement, and that sickness is the result of stagnation. "Just think of the water in a flowing river, they would say, verses that of stagnant pond." And so a great part of the prescription for health, is to keep moving, and this means physically as well as emotionally, for as we are coming to recognize at this modern time, we are much more than our physicality. We are whole beings with bodies and hearts and feelings and refined nervous systems, and cells that hold the experiences of our ancestors.There is a great wisdom to be found in conversing with our wise and knowing bodies, and dance is a profound way of entering into these conversations, for in the field of movement, the inner-life and the outer-life come together as one.
When we let go into the body, into the dance, we can peer into the landscape of soul and begin to bring the inner experience ( our inner happenings) into the light of consciousness. And this process for me, well, it is a kind of alchemy, it is an essential practice and a luminous gift. There are many good reasons why every culture, in every part of the world, since time immemorial have danced, and I cannot conceive of my human life without the practice of movement. Yes, as far as I can tell, I shall keep moving this body until the day I die, and surely, even death is just another kind of dance.