I grew up struggling with migraines. As much as I’ve learned how to care for myself, I still sometimes get headaches.

To be honest, I’m not always that gentle on myself when a headache does arrive. I find myself wishing that I could somehow evolve out of them.

I find myself approaching my daughter with that same strained attitude as well – like can’t she just “grow up” and not fight against washing her hair? Can’t she just regulate herself more?

When I take a deep breath and step back from myself and my daughter, I can remember that of course no one can be calm and centered in their best selves 100% of the time. That’s maybe not even the point.

What I can aim for is that when a headache begins to spike or tempers flare with my daughter, that it is less intense, smaller, and more quickly resolved.

This adjusted expectation of myself is rocking my world. Within it are ideas for how we can de-escalate the crises around us.

I do still get occasional headaches. Yet they are now rare, and less excruciating and much briefer. My daughter still throws pillows. But she’s throwing less of them and more able to pick them up when its over.

I’d say my reduced headaches and patience as a parent are both based on my embodied spiritual practices.

  • I have built up a body-mind-spirit memory of what it feels like to be grounded and how to return there.
  • I am more attuned to myself and more aware when I need to care for myself with the rest, water, or food.
  • I’m less easily thrown from my center even when I’m in the middle of a hot conflict with my daughter. It is easier for me to stay compassionate and work with her limitations and strengths.

Collective Equilibrium

My inner calm is of course also related to the world around me. We are in a time of mounting, converging crises. Generally I’d say that most of us experience this as our world getting more extreme. These times often feel the opposite of gentler and easier.

Just like we need personal practices to bring ourselves into balance, we also need collective practices. We need times as a collective when we practice remembering how we want to be together. Dancing in a circle remains one of the post powerful images of what this sort of collective harmony might look like.

Unfortunately dancing in a circle has become a cliché. Hardly anyone has experienced it as real. The closest experience most people have had is group singing. (I LOVE group singing.) I think dancing in a circle has become so foreign that many feel a confusing repulsion to it even as it expresses an untapped longing. We are so disconnected from its power that it is very easy to dismiss singing and dancing as naïve.

We need collective practices that help restore us to right relationship with each other. These collective practices are just as essential as an individual practice for bringing oneself into balance. As someone once said in my dance class “it’s impossible to hate the people that you are dancing with.”

In our culture we are starved for collective practices. Professional sports fill people’s need for a collective joyful experience the way community dancing once did (see Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets, a History of Collective Joy). When sports is the main way that we practice being in community with each other is it any wonder that our political environment has become increasingly polarized with winners and losers?

Do you have a practice that you do in community? What kind of practice would help your group more easily restore the relationships within and around it? Singing and dancing are a great way to begin and are powerful than even I can imagine.

With joy

Emily

Group Practices

Drop in any week to Healing Waters Qigong, a Spring Forest Qigong practice group, or to the Wisdom Dances dance practice, based in Laura Shannon’s research on traditional dances as tools for healing and transformation.

A Tender Space for Transformation

It can be so frustrating to feel that, despite your best efforts, the healing or creation you want to make happen eludes you. This is why I help people address the root energetic and spiritual nature of their challenges through qigong healing.

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