September 3, 2011

‘Moves like Jagger?’ More like Benes, Elaine Benes. ~ Lisa Munger

  Image courtesy of NBC

 Surrounded by a bunch of chair-dancers at a recent Maroon 5 concert, I felt stares boring holes into my rockin’ frame as I danced my heart out. You know the chair dancers, right? You might even be one, timidly tapping your foot or moving your head along with the beat.


I know there are people out there–I’ve even seen a few–who ride the line between cautious chair-dancing and all-out Elaine Benes rhythmless dancing, but sadly I am not one of them.


Nevertheless, given the choice, I’d rather let my inner Elaine Benes fly than sit timidly on the brink, afraid of looking silly. Clearly, I left my attachment to looking silly long ago, when I realized that though the universe has not blessed me with a sense of rhythm, it really doesn’t matter.

As yoga practitioners, we often talk about using our yoga practice as a lab for life. Take what you learn in yoga and see how you can take what you know about yourself on the mat to the rest of your life. Same principle here. Are you chair-dancing in your life, too? Waiting to make sure you won’t upset anyone in daring to step outside of what’s expected of you or what others deem acceptable?


It’s so easy to do. There are a set of things we’re rewarded for in our culture, as applied to our work, family, play and even spiritual life, with a whole set of adages built around these values. Daring to step outside typical expectations can be met with the same kind of stares I got with my Benes moves. Tthe path of self-work and individuation is not an easy one. Sometimes even figuring out what your wildest self would look like is tough to pinpoint in the first place.


So, how to begin? Toe your way into it. It can start small—like letting your Elaine Benes moves rip at a concert. Then, maybe bigger, like quitting a job you hate to pursue something more fulfilling but with less financial security. And if you’re not sure what tapping into a less-restricted version of your self would look like, maybe you start there. Let your mind sit with the notion of your wildest, most authentic self and see what comes up.

Along the way, it helps to find others on a similar path. Maybe you’ll find those people in your yoga class or at a meditation group; maybe you’ll find support in reading blogs or books encouraging this pursuit. Connecting with someone else who’s on a quest to let go and live fully will give you support to find your own path, especially when the chair-dancers give you a stare-down.


Sometimes it requires that we dare to risk our significance (and even our pride) to really sink into the full juiciness available in life. It almost always requires moving beyond what is comfortable and habitual.


Don’t wait until you have moves like Jagger to join the party. Dare to risk your significance to act on that which makes your heart beat. Why wait until things are just right to get up out of your chair and let your inner Elaine reign? Sure it may feel a little silly. Do it anyway. There’s so much dancing to be missed in waiting.


 Lisa Munger has been a yoga and Pilates instructor, as well as an ayurvedic practitioner for more than 10 years. Her ayurvedic training comes primarily from the Ayurvedic Institute and the Wise Earth Monastery. She owns Connect Yoga Wellness, a yoga, Pilates and ayurveda center and writes From the Ground Up, a blog that seeks to offer a grounded take on spirit, yoga, travel, ayurveda and more. 

Aside from teaching yoga, ayurveda and Pilates, she also works as an international reporter–a good excuse to see neat stuff and meet cool people while “working.” Every now and again she comes back home (to the Midwest) to shake it all off, do some writing and teaching until the next go-round. Her journalistic work has been published domestically on The HuffingtonPost.com, MindBodyGreen and several newspapers and magazines. Internationally, her work has been published in the Czech Republic and in Egypt. Lisa’s last trek took her to deep into the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia, and she is currently working up some pieces detailing ecotourism in the area. Lisa holds a master’s degree in news-editorial journalism.

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