Thursday, August 12, 2010

In the crowd with PTSD

Recently I've started attending music festivals again; something I'd always enjoyed in the past, although at some point in my past my ability to socialize more and more became a slow fade. I would feel the intensity, the energies, the heart and rage in the people around me and I would begin to shut down. First my body would respond with flashes of sensation moving to the surface of my skin like a pulsation, and then my brain would start to withdraw from the conversations and I would become less and less engaged, less and less present. It was a shell of protection that my body's intelligence was performing with such precision, before I was even conscious to any stress. My body had started to perceive all kinds of activities as stress, including things I loved.
Hooping and Poi spinning have been such a gift because they have brought me back out of this shell and have given me the ability to be with people again. No one seeing me in public would ever guess that I have PTSD. You can't spot it from the outside.
I missed dancing and I also missed feeling genuinely safe. I wanted to be able to offer something from a place of strength and centeredness blended with the pure joy of being alive.
At Shambhala Music Festival this year I was dancing on the beach with my hoops and I was suddenly in a state of heightened awareness. I had my back turned to the crowd and I could feel some of their eyes on me, curiously watching me trace geometric patterns in the early morning sun with my hoops. I could feel how much I was clinging to those hoops to keep me centered and how at the same time keeping them moving was allowing the stress in my system to just evaporate into the morning air. It felt like I was free to be here or there, and that it was okay for me to be on my own when I needed to be, but that I would no longer have to disappear in order to feel safe. In fact it was the opposite. I could become even more more visible, more present, and keep sharing from my heart to those around me through my expressions in movement. There are no words to describe what that feels like except Gratitude...

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