My beloved and I began a beginner’s ballroom dancing class after many years of postponing the activity. It was simple and spontaneous. My text: Honey, do you want to join a ballroom dancing class tonight? His response: Yes.
The basic instructions to the men (or the lead person of the couple) were to follow the sequence of the steps, with timing and to the beat of the music. The basic instructions to the women (or the person following) were clear: follow your partner. From my experience that evening, I could embellish the instructions – under any and all circumstances, follow your partner. Never deviate from his moves even if he is screwing up the steps, loses the timing or has no capacity to follow the music.
We learned the basic steps to the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rhumba and Swing. The introductory segment of the class was moderately calm as we separately learned these moves. When it was time for us to dance together, that’s when our experience offered a glimpse into my lack of patience.
Let me say right off, I was a royal ass. My behavior was contracted, triggered, and on alert. It was not my spouse who triggered me – at first – it was the Attila the Hun instructor who gave me, only ME, feedback on what I needed to improve.
Let me paint the picture.
All nine couples are lined up across from each other Cotillion style. We take turns following one after the other down the middle of the line. With no musical accompaniment, my honey leads me without rhythm, skewing our straight movement to his left. I am trying desperately to follow his lead, while my body is communicating that the movement is off. My body is saying, what are you doing? He’s stepping on my toes, I am stepping on his. We are supposed to be doing the Foxtrot: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow. We stumble down the lane twice. He is a bit frustrated, and I can feel a montage of feelings inside – humor, horror, perseverance, disappointment, and simmering dread.
Next, all couples are in their own space, practicing putting the steps to music. I forget this is practice and become anchored in the belief that we are supposed to be good at the Foxtrot. I feel frustrated, flipping between following with keen attention, and growing aggravation with his lack of ability.
Then, I take charge. My patience, what little was present, runs out. I begin to lead. He goes limp. His cage droops. I speak out loud, “Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick, quick.” There is slight improvement. But not enough, as Attila the Hun arrives and begins to chastise me for the poor performance. [She was trying to be helpful. She did not chastise me.] I become angry with what I perceive as her less than helpful attention. The once delightful idea of learning to dance with my partner becomes sour. We end the night somber, not angry but disappointed – for different reasons – which led to my exploration of several things, including patience.
Practicing dance, I was able to see: 1) the beauty of somatic intelligence, 2) the strength of the brain to function, 3) the perfection of response to situations out of coherence, and 4) the delicacy of relationships and the importance of patience, openness, light-heartedness and practice.
I appreciate my body letting me know we were off beat. This was the truth of the situation. Not good or bad, right or wrong – just the truth. This is the opening to grow and become a more fluid dance couple.
I appreciate my mind working to learn the dances and at times to take over, to allow me to relax and let go. My frustrated body was able to follow the wrong rhythm when my mind said, “Just let him lead to the wrong beat!” So I did! My body moved with him, letting go of dance precision. And guess what? I had more fun in those moments of connection, trusting that I could follow without having to lead. (These were fleeting moments but moments nonetheless.)
I appreciate my reactions to myriad situations from the evening. Each reaction pointed to the coherence or lack of coherence in energy. My body moves toward coherence and in that space my mind settles, ease expands, and joy flourishes. Without coherence, a trigger pops to give attention to the lack of coherence. I either move toward creating coherence, or move away to find coherence. Dancing – perhaps – is ultimately moving with the flow of going in and out of coherence; but I have yet to master that on the dance floor.
This experience relates to money.
Your body knows when the rhythm is off, related to money. However, you have not been taught to listen to the wisdom being offered. The power of the money systems is loud, obnoxious and rude. Our modern world has no respect for a new way to engage money. There are ingrained and rusted rules, regulations, controls, manipulations, structures and systems that have no interest in changing much less considering a better way.
We are taught to engage money from a narrow alley, from concepts. Walk through here and attend as quickly and carefully as you can to this issue. When the body signals something is off and we attempt to articulate what doesn’t seem right, we are shamed, or shoved answers, or glistened over. In defense of the individuals working in financial organizations who give you these answers, they are not to blame. They simply mirror society and the culture. They have not been given the pathway to learn, and grow, and meet you where you ultimately want to be met.
How it is:
Your body gives you a signal. While you may not know exactly what is being conveyed, you share whatever realization may be available. The money world cannot meet you. It arrives from the rational mind, with answers, solutions, strategies and tools. As your heart aches, information bombards. You close off your heart and body wisdom, shrink in size, and focus on the mental details. As long as I follow these rules, these specific steps, this process, I will be OK. It doesn’t matter that all of you is not being seen or heard, what matters is you address this narrow situation and leave the alley as soon as possible so you can breathe.
In the dancing story, my body knew we were not on track. Yet I did not have the skills – the Patience – to shift the situation and I promise you, the Waltz did not care… just like money doesn’t care. And sometimes you don’t have the skills to shift the situation either.
Money gets shoved to the side – distinctly separate from you and your meaningful life. It is painful to shrink into smallness. It is painful to close our hearts. It is painful to still the passionate energy of the belly that wants to engage with truth and vitality. If money is treated this way, how will we ever abide in the virtuous flow of somatic finance?
Is it up to the rusted money system that has less than zero interest or capacity to change?
Or is it up to you?
Patience can guide the way. Patience has been in my field of awareness lately. When I say field, I mean smack in my face. It is burning alive as depicted in my dancing story! One of the six Paramitas in Mahayana Buddhism (or ten depending upon who is talking), Patience is offered as a view to support our capacity to not react (or be less reactive) in the face of challenging situations. Wholehearted practice – meaning with the body and mind – is the way of engaging these principles. Whether the Buddha is your teacher or not, embodied patience is vital to sustained Dignity.
You are invited to see how patience is the strength that allows us to remain grounded like a mountain, yet uplifted like bamboo, regardless of what is happening in our life. Patience is not giving up, closing down or pushing through. Patience stays in with grace and grit (January’s invitation!). What does patience look like in your situations? Explore. I’ve shared what it doesn’t look like! J
Patience is an essential gateway to developing and strengthening dignity. I imagine dignified dancers perform perfectly, not getting each step, but abiding in integrity with an open heart and genuine joy.