One of the stellar hallmarks uniting pole dance, sensual dance, feminine movement, sacred movement, and moving meditation is – embodying the present moment.
For roughly the last 100 years, there has been a direct, unavoidable connection between pole dance and sex. I’d like to skip right over all of that for the moment. Today I ask you to take things back a step and look towards sensuality, not sex. Being sensual does not = sex, especially when you truly embody your limbs and organs. Instead, let’s lean into the five senses. What might we find there? Sight, touch, sound, smell and taste are the gateways to meditation, authentic movement, being genuine in life, and truly living in the present moment. Many people have never explored this vast and awesome world. Let’s dive deeper.
An example: when dancers take the opportunity to be circular in their movement, by choosing to be more curvy, by lingering in full expansion into the present moment in 360 degrees, they have access to glorious immediacy. Rather than pressing forward in an infinite line to a non-stop future, a dancer finds a moving meditation where time slows, the body breathes deeper, and the tiniest, exquisite details of the beautiful present come smashing in.
Touch: The breath begins to expand deeper into the lungs. There is a sense of feeling more than before. There’s the sense of touch from a dancer’s own hands, the cool steel of the pole, and the flowing textures of clothing as it sways around the room. There’s a divine vulnerability emerging from the stretchy, slow dance. Sound: The music supports this unfolding of a dancer’s inner world. The sense of aural pleasure wraps light-filled tendrils around his/her inner most secrets. The sound of breath and heartbeats rumbles on. So too, the sound of feet stepping and fabric sweeping over the floor. With every breath the dancer allows the music to infuse her/his body with love, light and sound healing, pushing out any negative body image lurking in the shadows. Sight: There’s the vision of the dancer’s own body while she/he is learning self love. Truly learning it – not just miming it in the mirror. She/he can watch this vision unfold and allow non-judgement, no-shaming, no critique. Just love of self and all beings.
The senses of smell and taste are not so much a part of the dance practice of course, but they do show up. Sometimes it’s the scent of your own skin or the room you’re in. Sometimes the scents aren’t perfect – but they’re yours. Maybe it’s the taste of breathing in the air around you or the last sip of tea you took.
All of the five senses help the dancer go inwards, listen to her/his body, embrace the present moment with a passion, and fully inhabit her/his limbs. This is in stark contrast to the often disembodied fuel given by the mind. When the mind isn’t connected to the senses it is a tough day. The body is stiff, locked, dormant and unfeeling. Most people live this way – day in and out.
There is therefore a dance between sense and thought that is inherent to this kind of movement. Not to mention – this is true for sexual satisfaction as well. It is the dance of our souls. It is slowing down, turning off the outside world, and waking up within our fertile, radiant, internal universe. These are the core pillars of pole dance, sensuality, making love and meditation.
In Buddhist meditation, there is a “naming” of the things we see, hear, feel, taste and smell so as to further let go of the material world, and bring the mind and heart to “Nothingness”. It is my contention that this is a very masculine style of meditation and it doesn’t work for many people who identify as having a feminine core self. It didn’t work for me. I kept wondering why I wasn’t enjoying Buddhist meditation and “letting things go” always made me feel disconnected and sad. I just didn’t like it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
With pole dance, the senses are a way to access the inner world, and the goal is connection of all these feelings and sensory inputs, instead of “releasing” them or finding “Nothingness” aka No mind. Instead we are finding what I can only describe as Full mind, full senses, abundance and overflowing life. Thus there are two completely different goals, and a person will usually know which style is better for them. I believe it is every person’s right to choose which style of meditation works best for them. What sounds interesting? What seems like something you’d enjoy? When in doubt – try all the styles like I did.
And of course, this exploration of feeling and touch, once the self loathing, shame, and guilt for simply having a body – has left the room, leads to an exploration of pleasure. Pleasure for ourselves to discover. Like a massage, what kind of touch do you like, and where? Where are the places in your body you feel the most power, the most confident, the most fragile? What parts of your body yearn for another to touch? Where are your most sacred spaces on the topography of you? The places that need comfort, worship, nurturing and love?
If you’re expecting anyone else to give you pleasure, you must first start with knowing how to pleasure yourself. Whether it’s the pleasure of speaking your mind in a difficult situation, the rapture of real intimacy with a lover, or the physical euphoria while dancing or making love – the senses you feel and the body positivity you know in your heart are the key. I am convinced this is why many women “can’t orgasm”; they have not been given the permission nor taken their right to truly know their own bodies first. To know every curvy inch, to have a relationship with our own internal, idiosyncratic, opulent, ever-expanding, feeling world.
The senses are a gateway to self love, meditation in motion, and to discovering what pleasure means to us.
It’s time to get moving.