The last six weeks or so have been some of the most difficult in recent memory. Though I am deeply and truly happy here in my new life in Brooklyn, and have not questioned my decision to relocate here for even a moment, I have felt growing dread and anxiety which have seemed to rapidly pile up like the big dry yellow leaves in the yard of the Compound. Of course it’s the seasonal change–suddenly, so much darkness–of course it’s leaving my home, of course it’s turning 40, of course it’s feeling wearing-down in my shoulder joint that might be injury, of course it’s feeling so acutely my facelessness in the hordes of human life here in this enormous city after 15 years of being called by name on every corner…of course.
Of course it’s my hair turning gray. Of course it’s being overwhelmed trying to keep up with the new opportunities I am so lucky to have coming into my life every day. Of course it’s still the loss of my relationship–the warmth, the daily presence of my favorite hoop co-conspirator, our generous expressions of love. Of course it’s not meeting someone else. Of course it’s almost getting sick a third time, needing to take it easy and rest for another week. Of course, it’s missing time with my hoop.
In this extended period of adjustment, I have come up against insecurities, vulnerabilities and feelings of isolation that had seemed long-gone from my life at this point. Having learned through my hoop to flow with things rather than resist them, I have continually bowed in welcome to these visiting spirits, all meant to show me something I’m ready to see. For me, the Hoop Practice opens a space for such meetings to take place. With my hoop, I have learned to keep company with the Shadow aspects of my being, and allow them to reveal themselves to me.
But it wasn’t working, entirely. With every passing week I was feeling more and more thrown off. I felt more behind, slightly panicked. I couldn’t keep up with my to-do list. I looked at piles of mail and unfiled bills. Clothes I had just left stuffed in the suitcase from my last trip (weeks ago). I lost my voice. My dear friend Anna came for a visit and I had earnestly resolved to get a list of four essential things done before she arrived. I finished none of them.
One of those things was actually writing this blog. I had promised great friend and hoop colleague Jaguar Mary X that I would write something about what I plan to teach at the upcoming Sacred Circularities Retreat she is organizing in Bali in March. This was something I looked towards with a strange feeling that was both echoingly empty and cranked up, active, jittery. I knew I had just the thing I wanted to say and was capable of saying it, yet there was no beginning, no context. I needed to get this done. I wasn’t getting it done. First, I need to get the newsletter done. I became more uneasy. Was I really committed to teaching, to hooping, to following up on my word? Why couldn’t I get around to paying those parking tickets, too? And couldn’t I actually give my dog Vincent enough time outside?
Things rushed into these zones of judgment. I could see that I was there, but, like being stuck in a too-small parking space, I was only aware of changing gears and inching back and forth. I’ve got to get that piece written today. Ok, by 4 o’clock. Can still walk the dog before the sun goes down…and another day would be over.
When Anna got here, her even-tempered, easygoing curiosity and deeply integrated and relaxed sense of self offered me a thread to follow through the darkening light. I remembered what my friend Ferol had shared with me about understanding when it’s your time to relax into receiving. Realizing that trying to do was not doing, and that whatever method I was attempting was not working, I finally allowed myself to surrender into simply receiving Anna’s good company and the warm, sweet feeling of sharing my home again.
Of course, I did not hoop. I was finally getting my voice back, knowing I needed to make sure I could talk loud & clear for Tuesday night’s hoop classes. I spent some time stretching on my mat and walking Vincent, but at this point it had been over a week since I spent any time alone with my hoop, and weeks since I had practiced for an hour or more. Sunday night, after Anna’s departure, I slowly cleaned and organized my apartment and took a bath—my first in this new place. I allowed myself the whole night to continue resting and receiving. And I set the alarm.
Today, I finally finished the newsletter. At 4 o’clock. I took Vincent for a nice long walk in the unbelievably mild Brooklyn evening. The moon was huge and bright gold. And wonderfully still in the deep blue night sky.
Home from the walk, I felt energized and thought to go ahead and jump on the blog. I even sat down and wrote out a couple of poems–my first in months and months. I had some good mojo going. But first I would take a shower. Maybe stretch out on my mat. And yeah…maybe hoop some, too.
Warm and clean, I made a playlist–old and new songs–and slowly started moving. Because of the way I’ve learned hoopdance–which is as an occasion to move authentically–the hoop is not always necessary. I was just present, alone, in that time and space, for movement.
Because the Practice was there, I had a way of staying present with the unbelievable waves of feeling that arose as I finally danced for myself alone again. I suddenly saw my judgment of my own aging–my aversion to the vulnerabilities of my body–my skin, my hair–my immune system. My impatience with my body’s needs, which I have meant to make my friends and Divine Guides. I had lost faith in myself. I had looked at myself with disgust, and hatred.
But because the Practice was there, there was a way to stay with this painful and sorrowful understanding of how I had yet again imprisoned myself in judgment. The power of the Hoop Practice is its capacity to contain our human pain, sadness, and joy–to channel and express these forces that make us what we are. The Hoop Practice prepares a place for our feelings to be felt as deeply as they need to be.
Within the inviolable sanctity of my Practice, I finally had the opportunity to wrestle with this Shadow, hand-to-hand. Through my Practice, I had built my body’s core strength so that it could withstand the onslaught of the pain of my judgment. Through my Practice, I had supported my body’s capacity to yield completely into what is, instead of continuing to brace against what might be. Through my Practice, I honored myself by showing up and being Present. Through my Practice, I finally understood what the long season of discomfort was readying me for.
All I really ever hope for as a teacher of hoopdance is to offer people access to the crucible of healing I have found in my hoop. It is the thing of greatest value in my life, and was gifted to me by my teacher–and it is my honor and privilege to offer that gift to any student. Of course, if my students are happy, I’m happy–it’s not my job to decide what people are or aren’t getting out of a hoop class. But what inspires me and feeds my teaching is what I find in my own Practice: the power of authentic movement to release us from the crushing intensity of our human pain, to set it free from where it hides in the unfathomable complexes of our brain-dominated human bodies, and let it reunite with All That Is.