"You are perfect," my dance instructor told me like a wise parent about to give his child an advice. "...but, Rie, you are not dancing."
It was my last private lesson before a competition. I had 45 minutes to review 5 dances. Each minutes felt heavy and precious. “Right foot forward. Left foot back and slightly to side. Right foot...,” my mind analyzed each step like a computer. I felt my foot positions clean and my expression tense. Then my instructor stopped. He knew exactly what I was doing and so he said it out aloud, “You are thinking too much.” But what else can I do? I looked at him with questioning eyes. “You have to connect with the music,” he answered. “You have to listen to it-- even enjoy it. Forget about you. Forget about me. Forget about the judges. Connect with the music and be one with it.” Waltz played.
“Of course I do,” I grimaced. “Everybody does. How else are we supposed to dance?” But the precious minutes were ticking, and I had no time for discussions. So I tried to concentrate on the music. I listened to the music and took my dance position. I listened to its sweet melody and decided to let go of busy voices in my mind. Without meaning it, a smile blossomed on my face. With a cue from my partner, I stepped into our dance. I listened to the music and let it drive me. In a very freeing way, I felt calm and strong. I could sense my steps and stretch effortlessly bigger. I stumbled a few times but still felt great. Nothing got in my way. I was deeply happy to be in the music and dancing.
It was almost like a meditation in motion. By letting go of the criticizing, outcome-conscious mind, I was able to settle in a peaceful place deep inside. When I dropped my worries, more space opened up for me to expand and radiate. There was no need to search for techniques I should have gained over the years; they were already there offering themselves to me. I was more responsive to my partner. No such thing as a mistake or perfection. There was only a joy. Waltz played.
I connected with the music, and the music extended to the end of infinity.