Steadying My Gaze

February 2019

I’m taking dance lessons, which has proved to be another incredible form of exercise and a drastic departure from my comfort zone. The introvert in me is very weary from the extroverted effort of dancing. It scared me at first. I’m not a natural dancer.

My patient instructors, Rudy, Candace, Cary and Crystal (and I need all of them), have taught me how to transfer my weight quickly and hold my frame, all while listening to the rhythm of the music and following the lead of my partner.  So many of the analogies they use sound just like what I say to my athletes.  When I dance, it must be pretty obvious that I am nervous, and they are often reminding me to breathe and relax (which sounds familiar, too). Do they see me closing my eyes and saying a prayer to myself?

One of the most important skills I’m practicing is spotting before I spin–picking a point in front of me and steadying my gaze before I spin to avoid dizziness. In yoga, when you concentrate on a point of focus, it’s called your drishti. So, if I use my drishti to spot, the rest of my body will follow and I don’t feel like the room is spinning out of control and I’m going to fall over. I am reminded of the quote from the book The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: “The car goes where the eyes go.”

Sometimes, it’s hard to force myself out of the house, but every week I get ready and head to the lesson. And I enjoy every single second of learning how to dance. It’s a lot like running in that when you watch someone who is really good, it looks impossibly easy and effortless. But when you try it yourself, just like running, you soon see that it is a lifelong learning curve in terms of endurance, efficiency, and grace.

The lesson: when you have a challenge before you, a difficult succession of things to accomplish, determine your focus before you begin. Will you gaze on the difficulty? Will it be on your competition? Will it be on your past? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter—note it. And figure out a way to celebrate it. It’s better to have growing pains than to grow numb of challenges.

Just dance….and run….it will make you happy.


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