Do you like to dance? If you are a man who grew up in the world I did, chances are your answer is a no. Not even really a no so much as a indifference or something you just do to get laid or fit in. I hate dancing, this is the story I tell myself anyways. That music doesn’t make my body move, except for me feet stomping or my hands clapping, which I have on point, but full body movement makes me super uncomfortable, it always has. Booze helps with this, it helps turn off the self judgement part of my brain so my body can flail about uninhibited.
The catch is that nowadays I don’t drink like I used to. I don’t get smashed at dance clubs on the weekends, so I have nowhere do hone my pathetic dance skills. I have weddings, I have a few weddings a year it seems where I let loose a little, I drink some, I dance and I have a great time doing it. Still a sober dance party makes my skin crawl. It’s not even happening right now and I feel awkward. Why? It’s just me moving my body around. One arm moves around, then the other and my legs do some shit, it’s nothing really special when you think about it. It’s like running, or playing a sport, my body moves around, only this time there is sex involved. There is some kind of mating ritual we have with dancing that means something more. Mating rituals have never been my strong suit, so it jives that dancing sucks for me.
It doesn’t have to though.
Have you heard of ecstatic dance? If you haven’t it is pretty much self explanatory, its frantic movement while music plays. Theres no steps to learn, no right or wrong way to do it. Super hippy. The braless girl in jean shorts dancing her heart out at 1pm in front of the stage at your local music festival is ecstatic dancing. She might even have a dreadlock or two.
This gives me jeebs through and through, it has no place at my table. Music doesn’t make me want to move in a socially acceptable manner, why the fuck would I want to flail ON PURPOSE?! Move to move, nah I’m good. I’ll sit on the grass and be angered by this chicks liberty she feels so compelled to share with all of us. How dare she?!
This is where my Yoga Husbandry journey enters…
Ecstatic dance, it’s real, it’s right on the cusp of yoga and it makes me sweaty. A couple of years ago I decided to join Kaitlin for the full 14 days of teacher training in Nelson BC (shameless plug: Join us if you can, it’s the most magical and amazing two weeks I experience each year. Amazing food, amazing people and 2 weeks of ACTUALLY caring for yourself, you don’t have to teach yoga, but will learn more than you can ever imagine, I did..it changed my life..). This training was a lot of fun, I had a lot of firsts there. Sharing some personal things with a group of people who made me feel super safe and comfortable, no judgement. If you haven’t; experienced that you should, it’s a cool feeling to feel a tribe, one that isn’t in competition with you like so many places we operate in these days.
I taught a yoga class. That was a wild experience, I haven’t taught one since and I am not sure I ever will because the act of teaching yoga didn’t light me up, but being front of people did. What made me really excited was teaching about waves. I have about .5% of the knowledge needed to tell people about how waves work and why we get surf in some places and not in others, but I did it anyway as a presentation and it made me happy. I made some really solid friends there who I am excited to spend time with, I don’t make a lot of new friends, I have many old friends, but limited new ones, so that was pretty epic for me.
Now, listen as I tell you this, or you read it or whatever, the next first I had at this training was like no other. It was a surprise and I am so happy it wasn’t presented to me before because I would have bolted. I would have made up some excuse and fucked off.
A guest teacher came to the retreat centre for a night, with her she brought some native drums, an iPod and some candles. She snuck up to the yoga shala (a little walk up into he forest) and set up her “gear” quietly. Marie Simpson, the other teacher besides Kaitlin that year, gathered us all together after dinner and we made our way up to the space for our evening practice. We rocked in to find a stranger meditating in the room, we looked to Marie and she introduced herself. She called herself Running Ocean Otter, or something, I can’t remember exactly, but definitely something Otter. She was smiling, listening to jungle beats and welcomed us into the space.
It smelled of sage and in-scents, it felt different, like something was about to go down.
She told us her back ground and gave us a rundown of what was about to happen. It was a dancing journey…. Ya. A dancing journey… I had no idea what it was or how it was gong to work, but the word dancing was enough to make me sweat on the spot. First of all, it was still light out, dancing with the lights ON? Fuck no. Second, there was no bar for me to do any shots at before stepping on to the floor. Thirdly, I could tell this wasn’t a setting where I could ensure I was within arm distance of who ever my dancing partner was to ensure I was not left alone in space to flop around awfully.
She presented the premise of the journey and roughly how it would transpire. I didn’t listen, I just panicked inside and sweat outside.
We started on the ground, fully splayed out, this was our birth, kind of. The music started, our eyes were closed and we just flopped around on the floor. Crawled, flipped, rolled or shook on the floor. I froze here, I wanted to cry and run away.
What did I do? I faked it! I rolled around, pretended to be into it and fell in line. Fitting into my new tribe was important, so I masked my feelings and joined in.
Of course that isn’t how this story goes. Eventually I flopped enough that I couldn’t not get into for real. When she instructed us to stand and start to move I was already feeling so ridiculous that I just went with it. There was no hips needed, no special sexy moves, I just moved.
Once we were standing there was a story line we followed which helped get our minds into a certain place. I can’t recall many of the themes, but I know one was that we were saying goodbye to someone in the room, forever. Only they weren’t the person standing there, they were someone really close to us, so we were sad as fuck about it. A few people cried, I almost did, watered my eyes up, I was thinking about saying goodbye to my dog who passed away earlier in the year. I was away working, so I wasn’t really able to say bye to her, this made me so close to crying, but of course I just sweat instead. I was dancing with tears in my eyes, in a round room in the forest, with a woman who called herself Something Otter telling me what to do, all the while there is a mix of 90’s pop and jungle beats playing.
Somehow I felt ok though.
As we moved through the journey, we made new friends, we made tribes, we had fights, we screamed at each other, we made sexy eyes to each other and laughed. We laughed lying on the ground as a group for 30 minutes.
What were my moves like? Crazy, I ran around a lot, I jumped and kicked and swung my arms around with not a care in the fucking world. I lost ALL of the social paradigm shit I had around dancing in public. I did it and I felt great about it, strange when I think back to it, but in the moment I was in it and stoked!
When the journey was over, aside from having blisters on my feet, I felt elated and ready to tackled anything the world had in store for me. That feeling lasted, I can still feel it as I write this. Dancing! Ben danced for 3 fucking hours, in the day light, sober and not trying to get anything out of it! Super weird, but it gave me some legs to walk a little stronger on. I was ready to keep those vibes going in my life and be happy.
I’m not saying this dance journey was the reason for it, but I quit my job a few months after the training was done. I quit a $300k/year job to try my hand at something I truly felt charismatic and fulfilled by. Videography is so much fun and I don’t want to stop. Building In Balance with Kaitlin is so much fun and I don’t want to stop. We are not rich, we are JUST making it by, but that means nothing to me right now. Well it means everything to my ego, but the work is to see that it means nothing to the real me. What really matters is how I feel while I’m here on this earth. I’m not here very long, and I never know when its all going to shut down on me, so I’m committed to ensuring I’m happy.
Running a business is hard, its frustrating, it’s trying on my marriage, it evokes all the feels around failure and self worth, but when I have good days…those are the best fucking days ever. Electrical work was great, but almost never did it light me up in a way even close to when I finish a video or wake up in my motorhome and write this blog post. Money will show up, most of the time I trust that, I have to. I want to force people to sign up for our website and make me rich again, but that just won’t work. So I trust, and the same way this surprise fucked up dance party in the woods in Nelson helped shift some serious beliefs in me, I need to be open to what surprises may lay ahead.
I am married to a yogi and she has lead me down a strange path. I followed the boners from my twenties and have ended up in a place I wouldn’t change for the world. If nothing else I want to be open enough to experience ecstatic dance with strangers and not feel less about myself. I want to embody these changes so I can pass them onto my kids and let them know it’s all good! Life is weird, its hard and you will never master it, but if I can make it through a 3 hour dance journey and come out smiling, I can do anything you want!