We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. Henry David Thoreau
There’s a half-written blog post languishing in my drafts folder, intended for this week, but as often happens, some thing burns a hole in my soul and I just have to write about it instead.
The soul-burning issue this week is self-restraint.
Now I’m a fan of self-restraint to a degree. I accept that we learn to keep our hands out of the fire and to not blindly walk across the road in the face of a Mack truck. Not to mention the restraint of pen and tongue that is so vital to peace in relations between family, neighbours, and nations.
However, when self-restraint tips over into stifling our wild nature, well, I have a little something to say about that.
As I resume teaching Chakradance for the New Year, I have been fielding lots of queries from interested people. And there is a disturbing trend emerging. Now I want to make it clear that this post is not based on any one individual, but on what seems to be an overwhelming reaction to the idea of dancing without inhibitions.
The refrain I keep hearing is that you would love to do Chakradance but…
You think you can’t dance
You think you’ll look foolish
You’re feel insecure and self-conscious about your body
You are worried what will people think of you
After one gorgeous person after another laid these concerns on me, I began to feel really sad. I mean it’s possible that these are excuses, that they really don’t want to do Chakradance, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to evangelise here!
But you see, I know they’re not just excuses, because I have had them too.
For years, I was a party animal, I would get drunk or high and dance the night away. When I gave up all that, I felt like I had lost the ‘fun’ button. I didn’t know how to relax into my body, how to move freely. When I danced, I feel like I had wooden legs.
And the irony is that the only cure for these inhibitions and insecurities – for me – was to dance in spite of them. To dance harder in the face of them, to thumb my nose and stick my bum out and wiggle my hips at them.
You see, they are a barrier to my wildness, and once I opened the door to my wildness, she came and whooped those fears right away.
Wild child full of grace
Saviour of the human race. Natural child, terrible child
Not your mother’s or your father’s child
You’re our child, screamin’ wild. The Doors
The idea of me being a Chakrdance teacher seemed ludicrous to me. I mean, I’m the one always turning the wrong way in dance class, I stumble a lot. I don’t look like a dancer…
So many mental barriers.
Writing this blog has given me the freedom to follow my wildness. Because, you see, my heart wanted me to dance. And maybe I thought, I can encourage other people who would love to express themselves in some wild and creative way, but hold themselves back for fear they don’t fit the bill.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver
As I practice for the Chakradance Journeying classes, I dance to the themes of the Earth, trees, and animals. These are dances that focus on connecting with your wildness, your deepest primal nature. Dances that transport you into the ancient energy of your ancestors and the spirit of the land.
I connected with a wolf spirit in the power animal dance, and afterwards I was drawn to pick up an old, favourite book, Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women who run with the Wolves.
I was given my copy of this transformative book 17 years ago by my first husband. He often lamented how uptight and restrained I was, he could see there was a wild woman in there just itching to get out, if I’d only just let her free.
Over the years I’ve re-read parts and the entirety of the book and it always has great wisdom for me.
I’ve also been drawn recently to books and stories of women who literally go into the wild, like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Robyn Davidson’s Tracks and Nomads.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.John Muir
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a wholesale Thoreau-esque return to nature here.
In his book on the ecology of Celtic spirituality, The Salmon in the Spring, Jason Kirkey writes of the need for integration. We know our technological life is inherently lacking in spirit, and yet who of us wants to live without electricity and running water – only a small few.
The goal then is to integrate our technological advances with a renewed spiritual connection with the wilderness. Intrinsic to our soul is a deep need for this connection and only by honouring this can we bring the vision of a truly modern world – one that respects science, technology, nature and spirit – into being. Kirkey argues that evolution is the key, we cannot go backwards to a more primitive life, nor should we.
The mantle bestowed on humans in collective evolution is our ability for self-reflective awareness. This is not ‘our’ intelligence per se, but rather the evolutionary process has blessed us with this capacity to be a “particular expression of an intelligence and subjectivity” present in the cosmos from the beginning. In the scheme of things, of nature, humans got the job of self-reflection.
Our purpose now is to integrate this reflective consciousness into a mode of living that is in harmony with the evolutionary functions of all life – and not contrary to it.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way. Cheryl Strayed
Sandra Ingerman says, from the shamanic perspective, we dream our world into being, and we can’t keep dreaming the old dream, we need a new one. I keep thinking of Robert A Johnson who writes in The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology, that the feminine psyche tends to solve problems by focusing on reducing the differences between opposing sides – mediating and peace-making – rather than in out and out battle.
In some ways this has lent itself to the feminine being always accommodating to her own detriment. But wildness is not synonymous with aggression. We can be wild and let our wildness shine and radiate its effects on those around us, without any force or aggression.
Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us. Robert Macfarlane
Think of the Mother bear archetype. I remember after years of trying to advocate for my son with autism, and being consistently made to feel that I didn’t know what was best, because I was a mother not an expert, my maternal ire rose up in me and I started being a mother bear. When something was against my maternal instinct, I stood my ground.
This internal shift has made me a much better mother, as I now have a steady internal compass for my parenting. I am not always looking to others to tell me what I should do.
Wildness in parenting, in any aspect of life and relationships means using instinctual intelligence – trusting our gut. Doing what we know is right even though the ‘powers that be’ – both internal and external – may not approve.
We may have to step out of the dynamic of being good and polite and nice. Perhaps like me, you had these qualities drummed into you as a child, as virtues. Perhaps being polite has also left you defenceless and vulnerable in dangerous situations. Situations your instinct would have warned you from, if you had been brought up to be attentive to it. Situations where sometimes the only way out with your life was to give up a piece of your soul. And bit by bit these woundings deplete our wildness. But the wild spirit is regenerative. The soul wants to heal and it will, given the space to.
Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Chakradance is described as a dance practice for the soul. The intention is reconnect to our true essence or self – to tune into that deeper part of us and hear what it has to say.
In our forests
and makes her heart palpitate
wild and tame are one. What a delicious Sound! John Cage
These days there is an epidemic of challenging symptoms in our modern lives – depression, anxiety, addictions, compulsive behaviours – the list goes on. In traditional shamanic cultures, it is believed that these symptoms arise from loss of connection to the soul.
Oh, I’m burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free… and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed? Why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the window again wide: fasten it open! Emily Brontë
Fortunately, the soul has a natural instinct to heal. It communicates with us through our bodies, our feelings, our relationships, our dreams, our art. And once we listen to our souls language, we find the path to wholeness, we align our inner and outer lives.
Chakradance workshops are a journey inwards. But they are by no means the only way to make this connection.
We can reconnect with our nature self, our primal self, our wild self, by reconnecting with mother earth, and the elements of water, air, sunshine, moonlight, starlight. This can be as simple as:
Walking on the earth with bare feet
Singing with all your heart
Dancing with abandon
Standing beneath the moon and the starry night sky
Sitting in silent solitude
We can model wildness for future generations as the way to integrate modern life with our inner instinctual selves. A balanced way of life for both the natural ecology and the internal ecology – toward an individuated and balanced psyche. For a balanced person will want to protect what it loves, the wilderness within and without.
What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another. Mahatma Gandhi
Root Chakra Affirmations from Chakra Anatomy
I feel deeply rooted.
I am connected to my body.
I feel safe and secure.
Just like a tree or a star, I have a right to be here.
I stand for my values, for truth, and for justice.
I have what I need.
I am grounded, stable, and standing on my own two feet.
I nurture my body with healthy food, clean water, exercise, relaxation, and connection with nature.
I am open to possibilities.
I am grateful for all the challenges that helped me to grow and transform.
I trust in the goodness of life.
I make choice that are healthy and good for me.
I trust myself.
I love life.