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10 things you might know about love by Barbara Fredrickson
1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it.
The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body’s perspective. Love is not romance. It’s not sexual desire. It’s not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others.
And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.
2. Love is not exclusive.
We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.
In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.
3. Love doesn’t belong to one person.
We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person’s mind and skin. Upgrading our view of love defies this logic. Evidence suggests that when you really “click” with someone else, a discernible yet momentary synchrony emerges between the two of you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror one another in a pattern I call positivity resonance. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.
4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love.
Your body has the built-in ability to “catch” the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love — defined as micro-moments of positivity resonance — nearly limitless. As hopeful as this sounds, I also learned that you can thwart this natural ability if you don’t make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony.
5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier.
Decades of research show that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. Yet precisely how social ties affect health has remained one of the great mysteries of science.
My research team and I recently learned that when we randomly assign one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love serve as nutrients for your health.
6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love.
Too often, you get the message that your future prospects hinge on your DNA. Yet the ways that your genes get expressed at the cellular level depends mightily on many factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or chronically lonely.
My team is now investigating the cellular effects of love, testing whether people who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells.
7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects.
It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have any lasting effect on your health and longevity. Yet I learned that there’s an important feedback loop at work here, an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being.
That is, your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love.
8. Don’t take a loving marriage for granted.
Writing this book has profoundly changed my personal view of love. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of positivity resonance that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day.
9. Love and compassion can be one and the same.
If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn’t true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person with whom you connect suffers.
Love doesn’t require that you ignore or suppress negativity. It simply requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation be added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs.
10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it.
The latest science offers new lenses through which to see your every interaction. The people I interviewed for the book shared incredibly moving stories about how they used micro-moments of connection to make dramatic turnarounds in their personal and work lives.
One of the most hopeful things I learned is that when people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits. And this is something you could start doing today, having learned even just this much more about how love works.
Finding Lasting Love on the Dance Floor? by Ken Martini
It is a common lament I hear about how hard it is to find lasting love in our dance community. After spending some time within our community, it’s quickly substantiated – singles prevail. Yet when I ask both men and woman in our community if they would like a long term relationship, the majority answer in the affirmative. If both men and women have similar interests, why don’t we have more happy couples? This is a deep subject, worthy of an entire book. With just these few hundred words, I will try to cover some substantial ground.
This article is not meant to value “long-term relationships” over “short-term relationships” . It is aimed at providing helpful information for those specifically seeking long-term relationships.
I read about the recent discovery of a gene that determines whether we are “family makers” or “heart breakers”. The heart breakers follow the short term inrush of sensation that new love brings. The quickened pulse, the restless energy, the loss of appetite. The chemistry of love. What we’re really talking about are the effects of Dopamine, Adrenaline, and Serotonin being released in the brain. The cycle lasts approximately 6 -14 months, and the body won’t sustain it for more than 18 months. So are these folks, the “heart breakers”, just drug addicts? Moving from relationship to relationship as the high wears off? Every few months the thrill seekers need to find a new juicy thing.
The “family makers” will embrace the second stage of the love chemistry. In the second stage, after the first few months of being awash in the fore mentioned drug cocktail, oxytocin is increased in men and serotonin levels increase in woman. Then, endorphins kick in. We feel a sense of wellbeing and love with this person. “Oxytocin is the foundation of romance. When oxytocin is released in the brain, passion and romance builds, stress is reduced, we become relaxed, and endorphins are released. For men, increased oxytocin levels lead to feelings of love. For women, their serotonin levels are elevated and sustained.”*
Well, so far this discussion may not seem very romantic, but understanding the chemistry is valuable. This kind of awareness does beg the self-reflective question, “Who am I, family maker or heart breaker?” Good thing to know. If you have a short attention span for relationship, then better to have that self-knowledge rather than pining for a long term relationship that you may not be suitably built for.
A long term relationship seeker’s investigation may sound a little different: “I know that I am a long termer, how can I determine the outcome with the person I am dating or about to date?” That is more of a history lesson. If this person has a long list of short term relationships, you can guess where that ship is heading. Of course it is easy to deceive oneself and say that the other person can change. You may feel the love is so strong that it has the power to alter old patterns. In fact those who have a history of short term relationships may often think that “this is the one”. It may not even be dishonest; even with contrary evidence, it still feels true. It is part of the self-deception mechanism that keeps the pattern going.
Chronic “heart breakers” may even invite you to believe in the potential of a long term relationship. Don’t be fooled. It is probably strategic on their part to offer hope – it’s not common for short term relationship people to say “I would love to have a relationship with you for 6 months.”
You’re probably thinking, “Who is this guy? He must be some cynical dude from New York!” Yeah, I am, but I have figured out a few things about relationships.
If you are a long termer by nature, and you find someone who is of the same persuasion, then here are a few things that might help.
People will really see and respond to things differently. You will see behaviors that you do not like, some that your partner is incapable, or unwilling to change. I call these the “non-negotiables”. Think long and hard whether you can live with them, because the relationship will not work unless you can accept them to a large degree.
Boundaries are typically a hot issue for dancers. One person’s boundaries may be intolerable to another. How does it feel when your partner is having an extended dance with that handsome/gorgeous other person? What is OK will vary among couples. A good deal of time should be spent sorting this out, and this is a good time to be really honest with yourself. In the beginning of my 18 year relationship we had a rule for 15 minute dance limit with other partners. This is what made us feel comfortable. After being together many years, that rule faded. A deeper trust has been established.
Get the topic out on the table. Find out what each person honestly needs to feel safe. If you cannot offer that safety to your partner, you may be in for a rough ride. Rules may vary to the degree that hot and swarmy dances are OK with another, just don’t take it off the dance floor (don’t meet that person elsewhere). It may mean don’t engage deeply with another at all. You both have to find your boundary comfort zones, agree to them, and honor them. In this way a safety container is formed.
150 years ago it was of paramount importance for a couple to stick together. Survival worked better as a team. Today, for the most part, people have love partners, not strategic alliances. Contemporary bonds of relationship can be rather thin as witnessed by the overwhelming amount of divorces. People could have more relationship success by spending time learning about relationships and, and understanding themselves, before entering one.
To draw an analogy, a man will spend many days in the process of buying a new car. He will read numerous reports, talk to friends, seek opinions, and take several test drives. When it comes to choosing a relationship, the discernment may dissolve into “at least she is willing to be with me”. That is a very desperate position to be in. How desperate are you in relationships? How much compromise are you willing to accept? If you are compromising yourself in a relationship, sooner or later it will blow up. Of course we have to compromise to some extent to be in relationship. It just depends on how much.
Coming from a position of self-awareness and confidence is always a good bet. Use your discipline and practices to find your center and authenticity. You will know when you are dancing from your core because you will embrace and be transported by the sublime energy that surrounds everything. This will attract many takers who will show up to try and get a taste of that nectar. This will also attract others who are operating from a strong core place and can meet you on the level you currently have evolved to. What is so beautiful about this is that it actually works. The level you are present on is the level you attract.
One more thought, from a male perspective. Kiss that frog. There are many really wonderful, but less confident men in the world. A good deal of the time they are in a self-reinforcing negative loop from being rejected early on. They may not have stellar social skills. Many women see these men as less attractive. Women, try reaching out to a man that you would not normally picture yourself with; you may be surprised to find a prince there, once he feels safe to come out.
You may want to look somewhere other than the dance floor for a long term relationship. However, I personally would stick to the dancers. These are some of the most interesting, creative, spiritually attuned and physically articulate people I have ever met.
Finding Soul Through An Exploration of Shape in Space by Jim Matto Sheppard PhD
Jim Matto-Shepard, PhD is a somatic psychologist in private practice in Petaluma, CA. He is in the Soul Motion teacher certification program. He and his wife Felicia Matto-Shepard lead “Erotic Partnership” retreats in Northern California and Mexico. (www.afterthehoneymoon.org)
Sexy on the Dance Floor – by Tim Hartnett Ph.D
There is a freedom I feel on the dance floor that I find nowhere else. I can dance my own dance, or invite connections with others. When I want to part, I can simply dance away. When I want to dance sexy, I am free to express myself.
What Happens on the Dance Floor Stays on the Dance Floor by Lisa Wells
The freedom that arises from ‘what happens on the dance floor, stays on the dance floor’ is phenomenal. It has allowed me to safely explore my sexual expression on the dance floor while remaining in integrity with my monogamous marriage. By being clear with my partner about that boundary, he trusts me on the dance floor and knows that this is a way to enhance our relationship. He occasionally joins me in dance, but is not as strongly drawn to dance as a form of ecstatic expression as I am. When we are on the dance floor together, we both have the same freedom. We dance together and with everyone else. Our commitment to being honest with each other means that we can trust each other to ‘keep it on the dance floor.
I have also had experiences of being stalked on the dance floor. I had to learn to say no clearly out loud as well as with my body language. I appreciate when dancers safely hold the space for each other and serve as a buffer when a ‘stalker’ (or someone who doesn’t understand the decorum of the dance floor) abuses the freedom we have created for each other. I also appreciate strong leaders who will step up if needed to keep the space safe, both sexually and physically.
Lisa Wells Feb 4-2012
How do I enter the dance? Nicki Koethner MA, MFT by Nicki-Koethner
Dance is fun. Movement frees. Dance is ecstasy. Movement is bliss. While all of this is true, there is so much more “stuff” that comes up when we move our bodies and enter a new community. It is a journey that reflects our state of mind and brings forth what is most current in us. It shows us what brings us joy and also reflects our vulnerabilities and insecurities. Sometimes the music is exactly what we need and our bodies move automatically to the rhythms, bringing us into a different state of being. Other times it leaves us cold, doesn’t move our bones, and leaves us feeling discontented and unable to find the right grove to move out of our habitual reactions and thoughts.
ñ Moving to what moves me…being authentic and vulnerable
ñ Staying open to the moment, noticing what arises in me without becoming reactive to, identifying with, or making meaning out of it
ñ Continue moving or resting, allowing myself to be with what is.
ñ Experiencing dance as a meditation, a prayer, an exploration, and the freedom to express.
ñ Asking, “What am I learning about myself, about life and the mystery of all that is?” Nicki Koethner is one of the Overall Coordinators for NCDC, Executive Co-Chair of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, a priestess at Terra’s Temple and a Multi-media Artist and Psychotherapist. She holds workshops and has a private practice in Oakland. Nicki supports people to connect to their authenticity through expressive arts and play. www.express-explore-expand.com
Dancing as an Evolutionary Strategy by Sam Vaknin Ph.D
Excerpt from “The Pathology of Love” by Sam Vaknin Ph.D
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs.He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com
Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter by Richard Powers by EC
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.
Bicycling and swimming – 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
Playing golf – 0%
Dancing frequently – 76%.
That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.Quoting Dr. Joseph Coyle, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who wrote an accompanying commentary:
“The cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are critical to these activities, are remarkably plastic, and they rewire themselves based upon their use.”And from from the study itself, Dr. Katzman proposed these persons are more resistant to the effects of dementia as a result of having greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses. Like education, participation in some leisure activities lowers the risk of dementia by improving cognitive reserve.Our brain constantly rewires its neural pathways, as needed. If it doesn’t need to, then it won’t. Aging and memoryWhen brain cells die and synapses weaken with aging, our nouns go first, like names of people, because there’s only one neural pathway connecting to that stored information. If the single neural connection to that name fades, we lose access to it. So as we age, we learn to parallel process, to come up with synonyms to go around these roadblocks. (Or maybe we don’t learn to do this, and just become a dimmer bulb.)The key here is Dr. Katzman’s emphasis on the complexity of our neuronal synapses. More is better. Do whatever you can to create new neural paths. The opposite of this is taking the same old well-worn path over and over again, with habitual patterns of thinking and living our lives.When I was studying the creative process as a grad student at Stanford, I came across the perfect analogy to this:The more stepping stones there are across the creek,
the easier it is to cross in your own style.The focus of that aphorism was creative thinking, to find as many alternative paths as possible to a creative solution. But as we age, parallel processing becomes more critical. Now it’s no longer a matter of style, it’s a matter of survival — getting across the creek at all. Randomly dying brain cells are like stepping stones being removed one by one. Those who had only one well-worn path of stones are completely blocked when some are removed. But those who spent their lives trying different mental routes each time, creating a myriad of possible paths, still have several paths left.The Albert Einstein College of Medicine study shows that we need to keep as many of those paths active as we can, while also generating new paths, to maintain the complexity of our neuronal synapses.
We immediately ask two questions:
The Worst Thing Is To Miss It by Richard Powers
A woman was interviewed in a Stanford study of women surviving, or not surviving, cancer. She mused philosophically,
“You know, the worst thing in life isn’t to die. The worst thing is to have lived, but missed it.”
This is one of the Big Picture awarenesses of life. The worst thing is to have lived, but missed it.
Here are six ways that we can miss something:
- 1) Judging it negatively and pushing it away.
- 2) Taking it for granted, not really seeing it.
- 3) Not absorbing it as deeply as we can. Not being as open and receptive as we can be.
- 4) Comparing the present moment to a better one, thus finding the current one disappointing.
- 5) Eschatology, the pervasive belief that things will be better in the future, but the present moment isn’t there yet.
- 6) Sampling mentality dismissiveness. “Been there; done that.”
This topic is not the same as wanting to be happy all of the time. It’s not about being a Pollyanna. It’s about having a sharp and clear perception of what is. If the event that we’re perceiving is negative, like a social or political injustice, then yes, we also need to experience that, for what it is.But it’s harder to see what is good in life, and in people. Our culture gives all too much encouragement to disapprove, complain and reject. So this page describes a few ways to help counter our natural tendency to miss a lot of our lives, including the time we spend dancing.My teachers in life are anyone I’ve found who is alive and receptive to the moment — anyone who has the ability, talent or attitude to appreciate what’s good in art, life and people.Dale Stevens was one of my teachers, although he didn’t know it. He was a film critic for my city’s newspaper. He was usually able to point to a wonderful aspect of a film he just saw. A film might have some shortcomings, but he would point out character nuances or effective cinematography or sheer expanses of beauty. He would help his readers get more out of their moviewatching experience. He helped his readers appreciate films more.It’s the opposite of the more typically critical efilmcritic.com, which was originally titled “Bitchslaps from Scott Weinberg” (which is what most of his reviews are). He thinks that finding faults is what a professional critic must do.It’s all too easy to us to be influenced by critics’ disapproving attitudes, so it takes some independence to have a receptive approach to life. Others might even think you’re being too enthusiastic about life, but it’s your life, not theirs. They’re the ones who have become bitter cynics, missing most of their life by pushing it away. You can go in the opposite direction. But it takes practice, to make receptivity a habit. Comparative thinkingLooking at this dynamic closer, what is the essential process of the disdainful film critic? Comparative thinking is a part of it, usually comparing the film they watched to the best films they’ve ever seen, and being disappointed that their current experience pales in comparison.We have a glass of wine. Do we simply enjoy that it tastes good? Or do we evaluate it as not one of the best wines we’ve had? If so, we just changed a potentially positive experience into a disappointment. We missed it. It’s the same with food. Is it tasty or nutritious or comforting? Or is it not the best version of this we’ve had? Your choice of attitudes affects both your receptivity and your enjoyment.Now if it actually tastes bad, or if an experience is painful, that’s different. Then we acknowledge that fact. But many people emotionally push away something good because it’s not as good as a better version they’ve once had.Some do this with their possessions. “My car isn’t the best version any more – I’m unhappy.” It’s even worse if we do this with people, instead of appreciating their good qualities. On the dance floor, you can be disappointed that you don’t have one of the best partners in your arms, or you can find ways of appreciating your partner for who they are, and not missing that moment.You can be disappointed that the DJ isn’t playing your favorite dance, or tune, or that the tempo isn’t the best tempo. Or you can find aspects of the experience that you can enjoy and appreciate. It’s your choice. You can let all of these experiences into your life, or you can push them away.We can turn around the nosedive that our culture puts us into, and start heading back up. We can consciously intend to miss less of life, and of people, and appreciate more. EschatologyEschatology (from the Greek eschaton, meaning the end of time) is the fairly common belief, held by various cultures for millennia, that everything will be better in the end, where everything that is imperfect will be made perfect. That of course presumes that it’s not good now. The problem with eschatology is that the good days are always deferred to the future. All goodness, enlightenment, justice and healing is going to come later. Not today, but when we get there — when we get to the Promised Land, when our ship comes in.One way that we often do this to ourselves is when taking dance classes. We can spend hours in dance classes feeling that some day we’ll be good at this, but at the moment we’re not there. But we are there, in the middle of an enjoyable process, with both body and mind fully engaged, and probably with a dance partner in our arms. What could be better? Relish these moments.
Double whammy: Perfectionism
Yes, wanting something to be perfect combines the worst traits of comparative thinking and eschatology. This is different from wanting to improve upon something. Better is better; but perfect is usually impossible. Chasing after perfection is a prescription for unhappiness and frustration.
Artists know that there can be true beauty in the imperfect. And the imperfections are often more interesting than the flawless version.
Another way that we often dismiss something genuinely good is to complain that we’ve seen it before, or something like it. “Been there, done that!” We’ve become a sampling culture, bored with something after we’ve sampled it once.
Some film critics panned Pixar’s Cars because its story was similar to Doc Hollywood and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. C’mon, this is a kid’s movie, and Doc Hollywood was twenty years ago. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was seventy years ago. How is that supposed to disappoint today’s kids? And besides, what is that repeated story line? It’s a story is about appreciating the people in front of you instead of pursuing fame elsewhere. Is it so bad to be reminded of that once every twenty years? Some critics thought so.
If something seems overly familiar, try to find a fresh way to look at it, perhaps from a new perspective. What else can you notice about it? Develop ways to look afresh at what has been taken for granted or seen before. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. But also appreciate the ordinary.
Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding ourselves that just because we’ve seen it before doesn’t mean it’s any less important. If it’s a good thing, take a moment to appreciate its value.
Now to be the Devil’s Advocate we can ask: is this a selfish approach to life, focusing on our own experiences and wanting them to be richer? No, and this distinction is important. It’s not selfish because a large part of our life is how we interact with people, since we’re social animals. And the result of fully and completely experiencing someone is as good for them as it is for us.
Do you know about the 100 Blessings? This Jewish tradition encourages us to make a hundred blessings a day. That’s a lot of blessings! By the time the effect of one blessing starts to fade, we would be blessing something else.
But what does this mean, blessing?
Blessing is a spiritual or psychological act of recognizing, affirming and re-appreciating. When we bless something or someone, we are encouraged to become aware of them and acknowledge that this thing or person is good.
When we bless our food, for instance, we acknowledge its value to us and give thanks for the pleasure and nutrition it provides. When we bless a person, we see them, admire them, and wish them well. We make a direct connection with them and bring them into our sphere of consciousness.
People like to be blessed. We don’t call it that, of course, but that’s what fans seek when they ask celebrities for autographs. To be acknowledged, even in such a small way, is a powerful thing.
We don’t need to be famous or powerful to share our blessings. We each have the power to share an emotion with other human beings. We can brighten their day, or we can make them feel bad, by how we interact with them. When we shine our love on them they feel good, and we in turn benefit because they will reflect love back to us. In the act of blessing we are blessed.
This clearly relates to the two-way interaction of dance partnering. And being in a dance community.
A part of the process of appreciating something is refraining from pushing it away. It’s intentionally accepting more of life, especially that which we can’t change. That’s acknowledged in the Serenity Prayer, as some people call it.
Give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things that should be changed,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Note that acceptance is given first prority, over changing, and also note the specification of things that should be changed. It’s sometimes tempting to be a busybody, meddling in others’ affairs, trying to change them into the way we think they should be. But maybe their behavior isn’t something that needs to be changed. Maybe we can say to ourselves, “I don’t have to catch that ball,” and let others be themselves, including the way they like to dance.
In addition to not missing so much of life by pushing it away, acceptance also de-stresses our life. Many books have been written about the harmful effects of stress in our lives, and ways to reduce stress, but the aspect to mention now is that more frequent acceptance of people and events significantly lowers our stress level.
The tiniest disagreement or glitch in our plans can be made into a big deal if our goal, conscious or unconscious, is to have everything work out in our favor. But life is rarely exactly the way we want it to be, and people often don’t act the way we would like them to.
Moment to moment, there are aspects of life that we like and others that we don’t. There are always going to be people who disagree with us, people who do things differently, and things that don’t work out. If we fight against this principle of life, we’ll spend most of our life fighting hopeless battles, and be generally unhappy with life.
What we’re doing, if we choose to live life this way, is allowing others’ behavior to stress us, which not only disrupts our center, throwing us off-balance and making us unhappy, but is a genuine health risk. Stress is the emotion with the greatest weight of scientific evidence connecting it to cardiovascular disease, a supressed immune system, impaired memory and irrational decision-making.
Our response to this might be, “But I can’t help it! My job is stressful! This relationship is stressful!”
No, stress isn’t what happens to us (although it usually feels that way). Stress is how we respond to what’s happening, and we do have some control over that.
I have a specific suggestion that works.
Each time that we say to ourselves, “OK, I can live with that” is a victory over stress. One can retain relative calm peace of mind, and can continue to operate with all channels open. The other version is, “OK, I can live without that.”
If you can’t, then you can’t. But you’ll likely surprise yourself by how often you can say “OK, I can live with that” and be quite happy with the outcome. And this way you end up stressing other people less at the same time, thereby helping them be healthier as well.
This response also keeps you smarter. Saying “OK, I can live with that” is an automatic, instantaneous defuser, to prevent negative emotions from hijacking your mind. You’ve probably had an experience of doing or saying something stupid while being in a state of being emotionally hijacked, usually with anger. Your calm mind is much smarter and wiser. You can always reappraise a situation later, if you’ve succeeded in retaining your mental clarity in the present moment.
Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. — Henry Miller
Uninhibited Living by Sylvia
Time to get a little crazy.
So often we rein ourselves in in ways that really don’t serve us. We get overly concerned about what other people will think, and in the process we lose opportunities to express ourselves and be a little freer, a little more creative, a little more uniquely ourselves.
It starts early. We want to fit in, so we learn how to dress like others, move like others, eat like others, and speak like others whom we know. On one level, this isn’t bad thing. We do need to learn how to be social in ways that create harmonious environments. However, when we limit our creative potential, our freedom and our authenticity, now that is just a cryin’ shame.
For example, in my workshops, we do a lot of dancing. Dancing is a great way to cut loose release some pent up energy, get a bit creative, and experience the freedom that movement brings. I’m always interested in how people respond to the activity of dance. Some people are totally free when they move, and others are rigid and stuck. I can see how hard it is for them to just move and let their body talk without their mind completely dominating the conversation. We are so acculturated to worry about “how we look”we often totally forget how to move just for the sake of “how it feels.”
Last night I was on a radio show along with SARK, well known for her many books on succulent living. She told this hilarious story about how she was at the airport when her flight was delayed by two hours. Did she get a cup of coffee and read the paper? Did she zone out on front of the TV?
No. She BUILT A FORT with a chair, her luggage carrier and a cape and then crawled into it. This is a grown woman I’m talking about here. Now I’m not saying everyone should build forts in the airport. That may not be your thing. However, what I am saying is, wouldn’t it be great if each of us could free up the need to fit in for long enough to have some fun, draw outside the lines and be creative, even if it wasn’t what everyone else is doing? What if we could love ourselves enough to be authentically who we are in ways that set us free, and give permission for others to be free as well?
Loosen up. Draw outside the lines. Be free. and above all
Everyone else is taken.
Michael Gelbart “Boundries on the Dance Floor” Thread: The Questions (part 1)
Michael Gelbart a Psychologist and dancer started this thread on Facebook. It explores boundaries on the dance floor, which is a very interesting subject. Some of the responses are eloquent and nuanced.
Couples Navigating Open-Dance Community Contact:
Where the Boundaries Are ? !
What functional boundaries, parameters and agreements do we make, as individuals and couples, that preserve and deepen intimacy, anchor and assure fidelity and security and allow freedom of expression within an affectionate, loving, contact-full, open-dance community?
How do we, as individuals and couples, establish, navigate, negotiate and communicate these boundaries??
As individuals in our dance world who have coupled/ partnered within this realm, i am interested in collecting our thoughts on this subject. As such, I am conducting an informal survey with the goals of creating dialogue and sharing wisdom, practices and perspectives.
If you’d be willing to answer some questions (below), i will collect responses and write an article on what i find. Answers will be kept confidential, if you prefer, or i could quote you if you are OK with that: (please specify).
Our ecstatic dances, barefoot boogies and freestyle dances welcome singles and couples, monogamous and open-relationship peeps, parents and kids, into a world of connective dance where contact on varied levels, sometimes intimate, occurs. Where do couples in this dance world set their boundaries? How do couples regulate closeness with others? Does one member of the couple dance while the other doesn’t? What is the balance between dancing together and dancing separately?
I am hella’ curious about these questions, having been in this dance world for over 20 years. My first marriage faltered at this alter. My wife got very jealous of my dance and I had to pull it in a lot, feeling restricted, limited and resentful. I couldn’t quite assure her of my fidelity and loyalty to her enough so that she could feel secure with our relationship. This became polarizing, and as I compromised my freedom I became resentful.
In my current relationship, we are navigating this territory. We go together to dances often, and have been practicing contact improvisation with each other. Fariba prefers to dance by herself and with me… I like to balance between my own inner dance, my dances with her, my dances with other dear friends (and yes, past lovers) and my dance with the Tribe. We are communicating through this realm and are finding the territory complex and richly textured.
If you’d like to respond in the body of this text, to generate some meaningful conversation on this subject, please do. If you’d prefer to respond in email form, please send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to be taken off of this list, please remove yourself, with a note to me.
If you’d be interested in/ or prefer, an audio interview, or or phone conversation, we can arrange a time for that. i am at 510-908-9355.
I will be posting the questions on some FB Dance Collective Sites as well, but am specifically curious about YOUR responses (some of you are couples and some not).
If you are interested in taking up this project with me and creating a podcast or some suchness, please talk with me. Not sure how big our audience is, but it certainly is a juicy subject, yes?
Thank you for your time!
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS: (and if you can think of some more precise questions, please submit those to me!)
What do you attend these dances for?
Do you attend dances for the same reasons as your partner/spouse (if currently in relationship)?
Do you talk with your partner about boundaries?
Where and how do you (and your partner) set your boundaries when it comes to dancing and (especially physical) contact with other dance partners?
What are the ground rules, guidelines, parameters and boundaries that you have set, implicitly or explicitly?
What communications have you set up to regulate the boundaries? Do you have signals on the floor?
How do you decide if you are going together or separately to the dances? How do you decide to dance together or separately at the dances?
How do you regulate the balance between solo dancing, dancing with your partner and dancing with other partners or the collective as a whole?
How do you assure the security in your relationship at these dances? Upon what do you base your trust in your spouse?
What might your p/s do that makes you uncomfortable?
How do you deal with moments of discomfort, jealousy and insecurity?
What would you consider a boundary crossing and how do you resolve boundary crossings?
What has made your partnership successful in the realms of open dance: What are your keys to achieving optimum freedom, security and integrity?
Any other questions or comments you would like to pass forward??
Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses!!!!
yours in the dance,
Michael Gelbart “Boundries on the Dance Floor” Thread: The Responses (part 2)
Mary Dancer’s response:My partner and I found your questions a fascinating discussion topic. After exploring our thoughts, feelings and opinions, I volunteered to share my thoughts and include his. So here goes…I attend dance for a variety of reasons, my top reason being to let loose! To play, to flirt, to frolic, to get my groove on… My partner used to drive me the hour and a half to dance and wait in the parking lot reading a book until I was done dancing then drive me the hour and a half back home. He was never interested in dancing and drove me there and back so I had company along the way. I am very extroverted and he is very introverted so it really worked out for me to have “people time” and him to have “personal time”. I eventually was able to carpool to the area with others (getting even more people time and allowing him even more introvert time by staying home). I remember lamenting that my partner was not “a dancer”, wishing he could relate to the exhilaration and freedom I felt out on the floor.After 8 years of dancing I finally cajoled my partner into coming to dance with me. During the first dance he spent almost the entire time in the back corner of the room before he ventured out. About once a month he came with me to dance, each time spending less time in the corner and more time on the floor. I knew he was hooked when he went to dance without me one time. He has been dancing for 3 years now. I asked him why he goes to dance and he said he attends dance for the same reasons he plays basketball… “for the fun, sense of community and physical exertion – it is a fun way to exercise”. I can definitely relate to his reasons.As for boundaries, we have talked about boundaries in other contexts but never in regards to the dance floor. The subject has never come up. We have never set any boundaries when it comes to dancing or physical contact on the dance floor with other partners (yes, in case you are wondering… we are monogamous). We love it when we see the other having fun, especially with other dancers. We get to have fun together all of the time. There is no reason to hog each other up on the floor. The dance floor is a safe freedom zone because we both get it that what happens on the floor stay on the floor.The only communication signals we ever have on the dance floor is a “deer in the headlight” look if we are dancing with someone and can’t muster a polite way to disengage; we know that means “come grab me please”!I travel for a living so I try to get to dance as often as possible. If he is not working, we’ll go together. It is a very organic decision whether we go together or not. I think there have been maybe a couple of times that he has wanted to go together but he could tell I really needed/wanted “me time”… which reminds me… when he first started dancing I was thrilled…at last he was part of my wonderful dancing world! But after attending several dances together I found myself wondering, “What the hell was I thinking???” This was MY time- for ME! What have I done?In the beginning, even though we drove there together, I rarely danced with him when we were both on the dance floor. We both understood we were there for ourselves. I already had my “favorite” dancing partners and most people didn’t even know we were in relationship. But in this last year I have been more drawn to his rhythm so we dance together more often. There are still times we dance the entire 2 hours and don’t dance with each other even once. We will debrief on the way home, dissecting and reflecting about how dancing on the floor in community can mirror aspects of life off the floor.It is interesting to experience the shifts in the people I dance with when they know he is in the room (I perceive at times a withholding of energy). I had some discussions with guys after dance who said it was a “guy code” to show respect. Other guys said they don’t like to dance with women that are not single – period. At first I felt a bit wounded and left out of the fun of the “single energy”. I wanted to be perceived as “single” so guys would want to dance with me and fully share their delicious electrical energy. But then I took inventory of my own behavior and realized that I too hold back when I know dancers are in partnership, especially if I fear my actions would be misperceived. Some of my favorite dancers are now in relationship and do not dance with me anything like they used to. It is such a missing for me.Someone mentioned that the length of time one is in partnership perhaps has an influence on their security level and trust. I would have to agree. We have been in relationship 16 years now. I admit that in the earlier years I had one foot out the door. But as our time together increases we both realize we are “keepers” and that jealousy isn’t sexy to either of us. We enjoy seeing the other in joy. We know we cannot be EVERYTHING for each other- that is a big job and a heavy responsibility. Trying to control the behavior of the other person rarely fosters genuine happiness. In a nutshell, we are in charge of our own emotions. Yes, others can trigger something, but ultimately we are in charge of our own emotions. My partner shared that on the rare occasion something gets triggered, he is intimately aware that it is his own perception, his own “stuff” and finds a way to bless me in my happiness – knowing that his butterfly always flies home in the end.