"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."

~ William Shakespeare

How have things changed for you over the years? How have things stayed the same? What do you use as a benchmark to compare? Whenever I do an interview with someone I make sure to ask these questions. It’s an interesting way to get perspective on a person’s progress through life. It’s also a good barometer of the evolution of a particular practice or social movement.

Life itself exists in the space between these two polarities. From your earliest moments of childhood awareness, there’s a unique and unchangeable version of you that stays intact and rides along with you on your journey through life from start to finish.

At the same time, to live is to swim through an ocean of circumstances, events, and relationships that shape who you are in the moment and who you become. You might be drifting along on the waves, content with washing up on whatever shore the current carries you to, or you may be the type who navigates precisely and according to plan with a specific destination mapped out in the chart of your mind.

Either way, your inner child is your copilot, ready and willing to be a reference point for you every step of the way. And the funny thing is, that little kid knows who you are and who you have the potential to become from the very beginning.

There is a school of thought, (and an entire industry devoted to), the idea that we have to search for who we are. That somehow, after enough workshops and vision-quests and pilgrimages to sacred sites we will finally discover who we really are outside of ourselves in the external world.

I subscribe to the alternate theory. I feel like it’s more about finding ways to peel our internal onion and go deep inside to both accept and admit to who we know ourselves to be. So much searching in the outer world is really a way of avoiding the larger truths inside.

If you’ve ever had a kid or spent much time around little tiny babies, you know first hand that none of us are born as blank slates. I remember the first time my younger daughter grinned at me when she was somewhere between four to six weeks old. I got my first glimpse of her mischievous and humorous personality that hasn’t wavered a bit to this day.

We all start out with the seeds of our destiny firmly planted in our DNA. Obviously, and unfortunately, some of us face severe hardship, trauma, or disasters along the way. The school of hard knocks can be pretty effective at convincing someone that their dream is doomed. But adversity doesn’t stop everyone, otherwise, we would have no heroes at all.

The thing that keeps many people running around in circles in search of a safer route is the fact that admitting that you truly are the inner-child-worthy version of yourself can be really scary. What if it’s too hard? What if I fail? Will my friends still love me if I succeed?

At the end of the day, that unique little person who happened to incarnate in your flesh and blood has only got one ticket to ride with you. You can pay attention to the map he or she provides and follow the path accordingly, or you can run screaming for the hills, chasing your tail until the cows come home. If you are stuck in search mode, ask yourself if it’s just resistance keeping you from looking inside.

I got to experience one of those cosmic yardsticks this past weekend when I attended a performance by what is now known as Dead & Company, the current incarnation of the post-Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View.

Having spent a number of my formative twenty-something years in Colorado in the 70s and early 80s, the Grateful Dead were a ubiquitous part of the psychedelic cultural backdrop. I was never technically “on tour” but I didn’t need to be since they played in Boulder and at Red Rocks on a regular basis.

In those days I was taking life as it came, avoiding anything that looked like work or responsibility and happy to remain oblivious in my quest for adventure. Decades later my perspective and outlook has certainly changed and whatever insights I gained along the way have been baked into the person I am today — I’m still the same person I was then, but there’s no need to retrace my steps.

As for The Dead culture and community, what’s changed is the texture and aesthetic of the crowd itself with the entire phenomenon existing as somewhat of an anachronism in the context of today’s world. Jerry Garcia, the charismatic center-of-gravity who passed away in the 90s, is disembodied musically with different people piecing together his voice and guitar to hold the extended jams together. Bob Weir and a few other original members keep it true to form, with each tune stretching out for 30-minutes or more, maybe 10 or 12 songs total over a five-hour show.

What’s still as true now as it was back in the day is that their concerts are remarkable marathon dance experiences. There’s a vast community of people who probably do little dancing elsewhere that turn out in droves to move to the music for several hours at a time. It’s also an amazing sing-a-long show, there were moments when the raised voices of 20,000 fans who know all the words were like an aural magic carpet rising above the sound of the band.

Whatever your own personal reference points might be, it’s always a great opportunity to compare who you are now with who you were then and ask yourself what has changed and what hasn’t. As your inner-child gets better and better acquainted with your maturing self, there’s a famous line from “ Truckin’” by The Grateful Dead that they can surely agree on. “What a long, strange trip it’s been!

Happy dancing along your path till next week!

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight :: Parashakti and the Discovery Weekend at the Holistic Addiction Recovery Institute!!!

This week’s Dance First Members Spotlight shines on Parashakti and the Discovery Weekend at the Holistic Addiction Recovery Institute at The Open Center in New York City that she is co-hosting with Dr. Andrew Tatarsky with guest facilitators Robert Hall and Deborah Dunn from June 21st to 23rd.

Are you a therapist, clinician, or treatment professional who would like to learn the most advanced and cutting-edge methods and research in the world of recovery? This 2-day retreat will take you on a deep dive through a series of immersive modalities designed to go where traditional therapy cannot–helping clients to find calm, wholeness, spiritual connection, and to retrieve parts of the soul lost to addiction, illness, and trauma.

Treatments for addiction recovery and mental illness have been undergoing a sea change as demand rises for holistic, spiritually-literate approaches to wellness. The Open Center in NYC has long been a nexus for transformation, offering holistically-based educational programs to create positive transformation in individuals and the world. This groundbreaking event is presented in collaboration with The Center for Optimal Living, pioneers in comprehensive treatment for problematic substance use, trauma and mental health issues.

Parashakti is uniquely suited to co-host an event of this sort. She began envisioning the 7 Foundations and Dance of Liberation when she immersed herself in the Naraya dance, a ceremonial tradition of the indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. She has served as the spiritual director of Breathe Life Healing Center , an addiction recovery facility in Hollywood and co-created Sanctuary in the City, an outpatient recovery program based on the 7 Foundations in New York. She also maintains a residency at Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica where Dance of Liberation serves as the closing ceremony.

In a recent interview with Stella Marcus for Face the Current Magazine, Parashakti talks about why the number 7 holds so much significance for her. “For me, it began with the seven directions of the Native American Medicine Wheel. There’s also significance with seven in the Bible and in the Chakras. There are also the seven days in our week, and the seven sense organs in our heads: two nostrils, two ears, two eyes and one mouth! ”

By opening up shamanic pathways, she is dedicated to supporting the transformational growth of the whole person. The Discovery Weekend brings together her work with her co-facilitators to map a rich journey through the healing, transformative powers of Kundalini yoga, nutrition, sound healing, breathwork, meditation, essential oils, ceremonial dance, intention setting, and other modalities. Participants will emerge with inspiring new tools for self-care and an ability to guide their clients towards new pathways of transformation.

 Native American spirituality is earth-based wisdom and medicine, and it allowed me to connect more to the wisdom of nature. It’s not religion-based and it’s not book-based. The Native American Medicine Wheel is based on seven directions and has complex symbolism. It contains power animals and relationships with earth and time. The number seven is imbued with sacredness as it has profound and powerful spiritual energy in traditions across the planet.

Learn more about Parashakti and Soul Healing, Dance of Liberation, and The 7 Foundations at www.Parashakti.org

Discovery Weekend at the Holistic Addiction Recovery Institute
June 21-23, The Open Center, New York, NY.