Dance, play, heal? Right now? Are you kidding?

how does one dance, play and heal during or in the after effects of a pandemic?

how does one dance play and heal while caregiving one’s parent?

how does once dance play and heal while when someone you love is very near the end of their life?

how does one dance play and heal when contemplating the threat of a world war?

At the moment dancing, playing and healing often feel completely inaccessible to me.

This morning, as I write, I can barely think past brushing my teeth, or getting the dogs fed – much less writing a coherent piece that might (hopefully) end up helpful for myself or others.

What I do know is that “dance” can be anything we choose, including the dance of figuring out how to find our feet during or in the aftermath of a pandemic. Finding our feet might be napping, or diving deeper into work. Finding our feet might be actually dancing, or deep cleaning the refrigerator. Finding our feet might be meditating (in the countless ways available) or immersing ourselves in a great book or bingeworthy series. Only our self knows what finding our feet means to us. Recognize that finding our feet can change moment to moment, day to day, event to event.

What else I do know is that play also gets to be anything we choose. Playing can literally be playing with our child or grandchild, or losing ou self for a moment in woodworking, guitar playing, snowboarding. Our work may actually feel like “playing.” I like to think of play as inviting our mind to let go of the worry, anxiety, or control for a bit and relax into something enjoyable, however brief (and letting go of any guilt).

What I consider healing is noticing when some part of us feels better – even if fleetingly. Catching ourselves smiling accidentally at an old episode of Friends, stretching part of our body and noticing any spaciousness that results, sensing that we took a deep breath.

This shizzle is HARD – it’s so easy to swoop down the spirals of despair and hopelessness and this slide can begin to feel like our norm – our new normal.

Here’s what I do – and I’m not sayin’ it works all the time or will work for everyone. It is, however, harnessing the involuntary part of our biology with a voluntary practice:

Breathe in as deeply as comfortable
Exhale slowly
Notice while you do it

When we breathe, our parasympathetic nervous system (the one that allows us to rest and digest) knows we are safe. Your brain might tell you you’re not safe but your breathing sends a different message to the rest of your body.

Breathe in deeply
Exhale slowly

Repeat a few times (or a few thousand times) as needed.

Breathing isn’t the only answer – but it is a great place to start.

big hugs and deep breaths,