By Gabriele Annegret Barysch-Crosbie
I used to be so shy and self-conscious. Have you ever looked over your shoulder, wondering what people might say or think about you? I sure did. I was a true expert in “holding back.”
This pattern was true for me overall, but I especially noticed it with my resistance to dancing. Oh, I wanted to go on the dance floor and join the fun. But there was the little voice: “Just wait for the next song. No, not this one either, maybe the next.” I stayed put. The following one I did like, but the presence of too many onlookers held me back.
In another part of my life, I began to observe that if I wanted to say something in a class or a meeting, I often didn’t because it might not have been the correct answer, or it might have been too provocative, or another question might have followed. On and on and on.
Joseph Campbell’s injunction to “follow your bliss” resonated with me, and I did my best to look for it, but I knew this pattern was in my way. My breakthrough happened in my mid-40s. I decided to take up Nia, a mindful movement class taught to music and appealing to body, mind, emotion, and spirit. I remember my first class, where I positioned myself in the back of the room to hide as best I could. As you also might have experienced, dance can feel very vulnerable when we first start moving in front of others in new ways. I prided myself on my competence, but as when any of us learn something very new to us, we experience a movement from being unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent and, if we persevere, eventually consciously and then unconsciously competent.
I recognized that this pattern of holding back and hiding resulted from my inner critical voice, which suppressed the free spirit buried inside of me. That voice was born out of my upbringing, in which I learned that I should be perfect or hold back until I was. I realized that I did not have to listen to that voice. And even though I felt uncomfortable during my first few classes, something about it drew me, and I kept returning. Soon I was hooked, taking up to five classes a week.
Many of us find it challenging to connect to joy and movement, to express ourselves without inhibition. Depth psychology tells us that a new calling often appears in a dream, a daydream, or a vision. Archetypal images help show the way for us to succeed.
At the same time I began dancing, I was taking a two-year program with a shamanic teacher. I remember vividly that in one of the exercises I had a vision of myself dancing around a fire with total abandon. I felt empowered and took this liberating experience back into my practice and decided to sign up for the Nia Teacher Training shortly thereafter.
Now I’m an experienced Nia teacher and love every minute when I teach. This experience has helped me live more fully and joyously in all its aspects. I first met Carol Pearson when she took my classes, so when she invited me to assist her in workshops on her new book, Persephone Rising, I did not hesitate.
In our workshops, my role is to lead the group in Nia movements to help participants claim the Dionysian energy within (since he is the Greek god of dancing and of joy) as I also help them experience, at a visceral level, four primal human archetypes associated with fulfillment today, and promote healing from experiences that have repressed access to any of these inner sources of strength and happiness. You are invited to participate whether you already find bliss in movement or you, like the old me, shy away from it. In the latter case, you can learn from my experience to:
(1) feel a call to dance when you watch others,
(2) discover the attitudes and inner story that get in your way,
(3) make a conscious choice to ignore that voice,
(4) decide to give some form of dance a try,
(5) open to a dream, fantasy, or vision of what it would be like for you to be fully in the dance, and
(5) notice when you begin to manifest this vision in your actual life, gaining faith that in time, that is how you can reliably dance and live.
Gabriele Annegret Barysch-Crosbie is an advanced Nia instructor, a former restaurant owner, an expert in a number of healing modalities, and the author of Out of My Comfort Zone. She will be a guest facilitator at Carol S. Pearson’s upcoming Omega Institute workshop.