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Home > Columns > > October, 2006 - The Dance
by Lynn Seiser

The Dance by Lynn Seiser


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As a couples counselor, I look for ways to explain and illustrate concepts and ideas about healthier relationships. One of my favorites is to refer to the interaction, or reaction patterns as "the dance". The same metaphor applies well to Aikido practice.

Several factors make "the dance" an effective and efficient way to understand relationships. Some, but certainly not all-inclusive, include connection, distance, timing, intent, control, and content.

Paying attention creates a connection on the dance floor. Many people do great solo routines. They get attention, but there is no connection to either the crowd or their supposed dance partner. Some people sit in couples counseling professing their love and cooperation, but are so disconnected from each other that no communication actually exists. They turn inward and away from each other and express their pain as anger and attack. Without some connection, there is no communication. Once a connection is made, love or fear can be expressed.

The distance between two people may be great, yet they are still connected. Likewise, two people can be very close physically, yet be emotionally distant. Finding the correct distance in the dance can be difficult and will change over time. Bridging the distance too fast will create resistance and rejection. Bridging too far will simply knock the other person down which maybe okay in a martial art context but is not the best choice in a marital context.

Timing is very important. Everything in nature has a rhythm. Entering and blending with that rhythm makes life easier. Resisting what is makes life more difficult. If one listens closely to the music, one can find and use the beat as a means of connecting or unifying with others who have chosen to join the dance. It is hard to move smoothly or gracefully in the world without a sense of timing and rhythm.

Intent focuses on how one interprets motivation. During a dance, if one gets their toes stepped on, but knows it was awkwardness or ignorance of the step, the interpretation of the intent develops patience and compassion. If one interprets the intent of stepping on the toes as on purpose, one tends to take it personally and retaliates. One can interact with a sense of fear, anger or love. One can interact in the dance as competitive win/lose or a cooperative win/win.

Do not try to control your partner. Control is fear based. There is an illusion of the control of others as a means of neglecting self-control. Pay attention. When you move to one side, which way do they go? When you move forward or back, how do they move? The best way to get good at anything is to pay attention. Do not tell your partner what to do, simply move yourself and invite or let them respond. After a while, both partners can find themselves responsively dancing as if no one was leading or following. They enter and blend into the rhythm of "the dance".

Content is what is said or expressed in the dance. As stated earlier, one can express fear and anger, or one can express compassion and love. The choice is one's own. By establishing connection, bridging the distance between people, finding a mutual rhythm, perceiving the positive intention, or by being responsive but not controlling, you will find it is easier to chose to express the content of your life, your dance and have it is received better by others.

I personally love to dance. I may not be very good at it, but I enjoy getting on the dance floor, finding the beat, enjoying my partner, and having a good time whether it is a dance floor or a dojo mat. Perhaps someday, we will have an opportunity to dance and train together. Personally, I would hate to miss such an opportunity.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!


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