Friday, November 20, 2009

The Joy Diet - It takes two to... connect

This is a photo of my very first dance in Buenos Aires. I don't know the man I'm dancing with, nor did I get his name. I do know this was preceded by a silent meeting of gazes at what was my first milonga in the birthplace of tango.

This week we are discussing the chapter in the Joy Diet about Connection. While I didn't practice Martha Beck's suggestions much this week, I did think a lot about what connection feels like. Tango is a useful analogy for me. For me the best tango experiences are not about sex appeal and flashy moves. They're about that feeling of being together in a shared moment, a moment that flows like our best Nothing experiences, and feeling mutually held in an attitude of caring.

When I saw this picture of myself dancing, I was struck by how it seems I am embracing an old friend. I think this is rather like Martha's suggestion to start by being in the Nothing place with strangers. Many of my most memorable tango experiences have been dancing with strangers. There is truly something magical about encountering another person without preconceptions or expectations. I believe that being in this space with people you know, or people you love is an extremely difficult but worthwhile practice to seek to master. I know my skills at this are modest at best, but reading this chapter reminded me how rewarding the experience can be.

This week I had what could be one of the most difficult situations in which to attempt this connection practice. It involved dinner with an ex-paramour. I didn't succeed at nothing-doing at all. Ok, I'll be truthful. My inner experience was a disaster. There was too much noise in my head: anxieties about my own future, dissections of our shared past, trying to not be judged, etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah. Why is it so hard to get out of our own heads?!

On the flip side, my experience of sharing my truths (including the not so pretty ones) with my close friends and my wonderful guy has led me to feel deeper connection with them. I guess I did do some work with this chapter after all.


  1. Wonderful thoughts about the tango.
    Do you know that?
    I love the music of Lila Downs.

  2. I think the concept of connecting with people with no preconceptions or expectations is one that I need to think about more. I am sure that if I can become better at this with family and friends that some of my connections will shift and change. It will be interesting to connect more in the present moment and see what happens.

  3. The woman who gives me horse riding lessons made a comment to me this week about getting out of my head and into my body. the instant I got on the horse that day, all the tension I was carrying showed up in my body. I wsa shocked. Way too much noise in my head and it was affecting my body. I like that concept of no expectations or preconceptions, but it is a tough thing to do.

  4. Glad to know you enjoyed your experience here. :)

  5. I love Tango. What a great insight you shared about expectations and not having them when one dances tango with a stranger. I've also been working alot with getting out of my head and working from the heart center. Take care.

  6. Sounds like your week was indeed rich with insights around connection... I know what you mean about getting in our own way... I have experienced some of that lately as well. Here's to stepping into a place where we're deeply present with what is, even if it's a challenging situation... :)

  7. I love how you connect your experience with tango to our reading this week. (I also am a fan of the tango, but not as a dancer.) Seems like we are all struggling with this practice of connecting with people from a place of peace and non-judgment. Hope you enjoy the next chapter of feasting!

  8. What a great photo and analogy, Helen! And what a valuable meditation that has been for you! I am with you in the learning to tell more of our truths - especially to ourselves; and I"ve been tripped up physically and mentally by my rapid fire self judgements. It sounds like tango might be a perfect portal to get you to that still place where you can put those thoughts to rest.

  9. Sometimes our biggest learning is from the moments when it doesn't work...I'm glad you had both this week.

    Your photo is just amazing. I would not have guessed you were dancing with a stranger from the photo.

    Thanks for your insights.