The English language and our western culture have us thinking in categories of opposites; good/bad, black/white, big/little, life/death. This means that when something happens in our personal world or the big wide world, we go on a search to determine – is this a good thing? A bad thing? Potentially life enhancing or life threatening?

I think of an often-repeated story I’ve heard set in China. In most versions a young man experiences a series of difficult challenges. He breaks his leg so then he can’t help his family on the farm, (which seems a bad thing) but when the authorities come to recruit young men for the army, he is passed over as unfit, (probably a good thing.) The story goes on with other examples till it demonstrates that it is impossible to determine what is good and what is bad, helpful or hurtful, in the short run. Events have both positive and negative aspects to them. The story ends with a blessing, common in Chinese culture, “May you live in interesting times.”

For sure we are living in interesting times but getting caught in this good/bad duality isn’t helpful. If we can stop analyzing and commanding all our thoughts and actions from the front part of our brain we can learn to trust other thought forms like the wisdom of our own bodies. Dance does that for me, helping me to move with what is happening and avoid triggering the autonomic fight/flight/freeze stress responses. Which is why my granddaughter’s reaction during a recent zoom session gave me pause.

Kyra, my nearly 8-year-old granddaughter and I were playing word games, writing in the chat box, and drawing on the white board when I suggested a movement game. One person begins moving and the other copies or follows and then the players change roles and the follower becomes the initiator. When it was Kyra’s turn to lead she got a puzzled look on her face and said” I don’t know what to do.” It was a momentary lapse, and when I said, “you don’t have to figure it out in your head, your hands know what to do,” she relaxed and gracefully followed the movement her hands came up with.

Kyra’s reaction particularly surprised me because ever since I’ve known her, she’s been a dancer. Like most toddlers, Kyra began rocking and bending to the beat of our music or her own, before she could stand without the support of a table or the edge of her crib. Through the years I’ve seen videos of her dancing everywhere she goes, at least until recently, and she’s been a star dancing pupil since she first started taking lessons at 3 years old. I hope she always knows the wonder of being able to figure things out in her head, and the wonder of not having to do that all the time.

There’s the blessing of allowing our bodies to teach us about ease and grace and connection. This time of the Covid19 pandemic and of the unmasking of a longer standing pandemic: racism, presents us with great disparities. Grief and fear; rage and hope. The pain of losing beloveds, and yet, perhaps witnessing a major shift toward honor and respect for each other and our planet?

If you’d like to explore moving with these disparities and transform what feel like opposing forces and feelings toward a more dynamic balance, join me and CC King from the Boston area this coming Wednesday July 1st at 3 pm Eastern for the Reimagine On-line Festival. Mairi Campbell from Scotland will be providing the music. Here’s the link to register:

Embrace Duality: Dance in the Turmoil of the Universal Story Hosted by CC King, Sheila K Collins PhD, Mairi Campbell
Wednesday, July 1st 3 pm – 4 pm EST 12:00 pm-1:30pm PDT Love to have you join us. Here’s the link to register 
Friday morning InterPlay Class – June 19th & June 26th 10:30 am Eastern 7:30 am Pacific passcode 54321