As much as I appreciate and benefit from many Buddhist teachings and practises, I’m not by nature a “middle way” kind of woman. My ex often said I was a “zero or a one”- which is binary-speak for all or nothing. He could literally take hours to wake up fully on the weekends, complaining when I asked him a question that he’d “just gotten up” even though there was a coffee mug in his hand and a fire burning in the wood stove. I, on the other hand, tended to hit the ground running or (on a day when the CFS/ME was bad) just hit the ground. There always been minimal space in me for meandering mid-stream between awake and asleep. (And no, that is not what caused the CFS/ME, although it does make the pacing to preserve energy with this illness sometimes a challenge.)
My tendency to want to run full out or rest deeply seems consistent with the medicine name Mountain Dreamer, given to me more than twenty-five years ago by a shaman who told me it meant, “one who likes to find and push the edge.” Generally I’ve been okay with that although my understanding of what constitutes an “edge” has deepened. For instance, sometimes quitting something is pushing the edge, and at other times, seeing something through to completion is a stretch outside our habitual comfort zone. The “edge” really is in the eye of the mountain climber.
Having said that, I think I may have just. . . . .well, outdone myself in the edge-pushing category. And I say this as a woman who once went into the wilderness alone to fast and pray in solitude for twenty-two days and nights to find direction in my life. In some ways what I have just signed on for is a much bigger stretch for me than vision questing.
I’ve registered for a four day workshop in September entitled: “Tango as a Door to Presence.” That’s right- Tango! Now forget that I can’t really afford the trip and will have to drive a long distance over two days to get there (albeit at a beautiful time of year for a fall colours road trip.) Skip right over the fact that my health is. . . .unpredictable at best and this workshop goes into the evenings (and I currently go out about one evening a month.) Ignore the fact that I am an introvert who likes group situations where I have a lot of choice about how much to interact or participate, and a dance workshop requires consistent participation.
Let’s just start with this: I don’t tango! In fact, I have not done much dancing at all for the last decade. Which means this little adventure will put me on the dance floor with unknown partners, doing a structured dance I do not know, ten years older (and a few pounds more bountiful) than the last time I publically attempted to do even free-style movement to music outside the privacy of my living room.
What appealed to me was the idea of experiencing the practise of presence- of bringing full attention to the experience of the present moment- into the body-centred, emotionally expressive tango. What attracted me was the certainty that this would indeed push my edge- that I could learn something new about myself, about presence, about what it is to be fully here now.
The workshop leaders (who are both tango instructors and practitioners of A.H. Almaas’ Diamond Approach to meditative inquiry) explain that each participant will be either a “leader” or a “follower” in the dance for the full four days. I asked to be a follower because. . . . well, because my natural tendency is to lead. I feel safer in charge. It is much more of a challenge for me to bring full awareness to the experience of being open to and following the one who steps into my energy (with my permission, of course.) So, I signed up for what is, for me, the more challenging role because. . . . I want to push my edge.
Am I having second thoughts? Ha! Second, third. . . . and twentieth! Of course, everyone else I tell about this is wildly enthused about my going. (People are generally very enthused about other people pushing their edge.) When my friend Ingrid heard about it, she replied, “Ooo, you’ll need outfits!”
Outfits?! Yep, this will definitely push my edge.
Oriah (c) 2012
(And just in case you’d like to have a look- http://guesthousecenter.org/page/14628-Tango-as-a-Doorway-to-Presence-Diamond-Appraoch-Retreat-Workshop-Spiritual-Dance)