Dance Yrself Clean

by Milissa on November 27, 2011

in Animal Medicine,Creativity,Dance,Health,Mindful Nature,Nature,Seasons,Transformation

This weekend, my husband and I cleaned the house, with the electronic percussive beat of LCD Soundsystem percolating in the background. Doing laundry and cleaning the bathroom never felt so joyous. Seriously. After weathering a life-altering medical crisis, getting back into normal routines felt like bliss. There’s much to be grateful for this year—as there has always been for us—during Thanksgiving weekend. But it’s just so much more apparent when you’ve faced a loved one’s mortality and stayed close throughout the hero’s journey back to health.

LCD Soundsystem’s Dance Yrself Clean came on the surround sound, just as I carried a waste basket to empty into the trash can in the kitchen, where he was cleaning the sink. And that’s when I began to sway and stomp to the rhythm. My husband joined me, and knowing it was one of his favorite songs that we were dancing to—after 6 long months of spending our time in clinics and hospitals instead of clubs—his shimmies made it even sweeter.

We danced off needles, tubes, scopes. We cleansed nausea, pain, worry, fear. We floated away from radiation, chemicals, steroids and narcotics.

On Saturday afternoon, we got out in nature to consciously release more of the stress from our recent ordeal. My husband and I hiked at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, enjoying the uphill jaunts that got our hearts pumping strongly, and we spotted a red bellied woodpecker landing in a leafless tree. Woodpecker always reminds me to tap into my own rhythm. To let go of the confines of my planner and just be—moment to moment. Hearing the tat-tat-tat of the bird’s beak drumming against a hollow oak, I, again, felt like dancing.

But, with dark coming early these days, we were in a hurry to find a place to perform a brief ritual. A tree stump, overlooking a wetland, would do. We perched on it, reviewing the journey we’d been on, then smudged each other with sage and sweetgrass. I felt grateful that we could let go of this challenging chapter and move back into a “new normal.”

The thing is though, we are changed. Forever.

Not broken—but transformed.

We talked about how we’d been so afraid, at the beginning, that we would never get over the trauma of this crisis. But sitting on the stump in the late afternoon light, before we lit the smudge bundle, we discussed how navigating this health crisis ultimately felt more like an initiation than a punishment.

Sure, it was tough—for both of us, but especially for him, given all the side effects of medical treatment. But, somehow, touching each moment with our mindfulness, we felt alive and present and so connected throughout the ordeal.

We found firsthand, what the Buddha teaches: that facing sickness and death actually helped us to live more fully, instead of shutting us down.

That evening, after our simple closure ritual, we went out to hear my favorite live act, Tinariwen. Their “desert blues” combines West African tribal rhythms with roadhouse electric guitar riffs. The men all wear ankle length robes and most cover their heads and faces.

The first time we watched the band live, five years ago in January, I felt transported by the vibration of the twangy guitar sounds and vocal harmonies. After closing my eyes—in a near trance—I opened them in the night desert, a zillion stars sparkling in the sky above. But we weren’t in sand dunes on another continent, just grooving in a dusty theater on a subzero night near the banks of the Upper Mississippi.

One of the band members doesn’t play an instrument, or even sing much. Barely 5 feet tall, he constantly sways side to side, and occasionally twirls, gesturing from his heart to the audience. Each of the three times we’ve seen the band live, he’s stayed on stage and continuously bopped and clapped to the rhythm, in what looks like a state of spiritual ecstasy throughout the performance. For 90 minutes, or so, on Saturday evening, I did the same.

Danced myself clean.

If you’d like a chance to release stress before the holidays and celebrate your Be-ing, join us in the cozy, home studio on Winter Solstice Eve for Restorative Yoga (& a little dancing too!). Get all the info here.

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