Insight Newsletter Post

Why you dance?

Since I moved to Totnes, a couple of months ago, I’ve been attending weekly dance events and workshops focused on movement. It has made me visible. “You look familiar” is the expression I hear more and more in shops and the street. It’s sweet. Dancing has become my entry ticket into new communities.

Dancing connects me.

Dancing connects me to my body in ways no other practice does.

It connects me to my feet, to earth, to the solid, reliable ground, sustaining my flow.

It connects me to my gut, where wisdom resides.

It connects to my breathing.

It connects me to the expansion of my chest, and my arms, and the impulse to fall with gravity or jump with joy.

I play when I dance.

“I dance because adults aren’t allowed on the playground”, says Christopher Neville rather wonderfully.

Dancing connects me to you, my beloved partner, whoever you are at any given song.

It connects me to other bodies as mine navigates the floor and draws butterflies in the space.

It connects to my art and self-expression.

It connects me to love. To me, to you, to the group, the village, and my world.

It connects me to the mysterious lingering of every pause.

Why do you dance?

You might have a why or you might not need one. When it comes to dance, it’s no wrong nor right answers, only your personal or tribal vibration.

Dancing is fitness for body and soul. It makes us ready and it is a way to respond to our world.

It connects us to the precious part of us that bets on presence and openness.

In the world we face today, dancing gives us the chance to stand up, show up, and be part of the solution.

Stay attuned
Jesus Acosta

Why I dance…

In 2012, the Ontario Arts Council produced this video where performers shared their passion for dancing. 

The Dance of Peace

Dance has always been one of the most powerful catalysts for non-violent resistance, social change, and emboldening the will of the people, as Aydan Dunnigan writes.

Facing Collapse. Together

In May, David Cates led a retreat in Berlin, and at the end, the intimacy teacher, mentor, and beloved elder wrote a letter to participants. Reading it felt like a lightning strike in my bones. For me, it is a powerful compelling call to be present and alive. With his permission, I’m replicating it here in full. You’ll find it also on Facebook.

On the last full day of our Facing Collapse Together retreat, we were asked to imagine that we had 3 minutes to send a message to our loved ones (or our future self). In that message, we would summarize what we’d learned here about facing collapse, what was most important, what might help when disaster arrived.

Most participants grabbed their phones and recorded a moving “deathbed” video. Some pushed the button to send it to family or friends. “In case of emergency, listen to this. I love you. Remember ______. Do _____.”

That evening, I wrote a letter to the group. These were my takeaways, my final share. This is what I learned in our retreat.

On our last morning together, I read them this:

“For 55 years, my entire adult life, I’ve created impeccably safe spaces with great fierceness and love. I’ve gone through years-long processes of healing trauma slowly and gently. One tiny bit at a time. One event at a time, one session at a time.

But now? Two things are different now.

One: I don’t believe we have enough time and luxury go at that pace anymore. Things are happening – Now. Fast. Urgently.

The world is collapsing.

And the second thing is that as much as I love you, I can’t keep you safe when I’m dead.

I’m dying soon and I can’t keep you safe. You have to step up and figure this out. The world won’t protect you.

You have to learn how to keep yourself safe.

When the next disaster comes – wildfire, war, pandemic, cancer, a heart attack, financial crash – you need to know how to meet it. For you, and for those you love.

The secret that I know for doing this is a simple choice. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

After all these decades of doing this work I can tell you the most crucial thing. It boils down to one choice: when I am feeling triggered and traumatized, I have to shift myself back into regulation.

I have to shift my nervous system out of the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) – into the parasympathetic (calm, clear, connected). This allows me to become present and see what’s actually here, and not imagine danger and dragons everywhere.

And the fastest way to make that shift is with other people, in co-regulation.

Clear. Here. Resourced, connected. Working together. Coming up with new spontaneously arising solutions to the unpredictable things that are happening.

I want to acknowledge when we are in fight/ flight/ freeze, that reaction is designed to protect us. So I am not saying that’s the enemy.

I AM saying if you stay stuck in that stress day after day, month after month, year after year, you wear yourself down, you collapse yourself from the inside and you’ll crumble. Alone. That stress eats away at resilience. Our bodies are not designed to run on adrenaline and cortisol.

And I’m saying that some of us have become lazy and indulgent, and want the outside world to change so we don’t have to face our pain.

Like it or not, it’s time to shift gears.

So here is the simple (not easy) choice:

Instead of collapsing, we must bring ourselves present. Into this new moment. Not assuming reruns of the past are still true. Not indulging old habits of collapse and isolation.

I will regulate my nervous system so I’m not ruled by trauma.

When I shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic, I shift from ME to WE.

Super vulnerable.

But this may be the only way forward as systems collapse.

To come into connection, presence, love and curiosity. Where we can, together, tap into creative new solutions.

This retreat has brought you many opportunities to practice. Here you are. These are your habits.

These are your instinctual, ingrained, habitual responses to things happening that you do not like.

From my position, with one foot in the grave, I ask you to reflect on how these habits serve you, and how they don’t. And to be ruthlessly honest about what’s useful and what’s not.

Consider for yourself how you might need to adjust them to meet an increasingly unsafe world.

We are also here this week, in a birthing room.

We originally gathered this week to face Death and Collapse. But when we embraced our fear and exhaustion and anger and grief, one contraction after another, we realized this might also be labor pains.

This is a new kind of labor and a new kind of birth that we are not used to seeing.

What’s being birthed comes through all of us together. It’s not an individual baby that’s birthed through an individual mother. It’s a collective new way that comes through all of us. Together.

So when we are in the birthing room and we are facing the pain, and the exhaustion, and the endless deep breaths … how are you showing up for the birth? How are you in support?

How are you regulating your own nervous system so you are part of the dilation, the expansion, the connection that allows us to discover a new way?

This is not a rehearsal. We’re in it! And it’s very much the portal to both death and life. They’re inextricably connected.

So you may feel the terror as we get closer and closer and closer to the abyss and the chaos, at the same exact time we are getting closer and closer and closer to embodying and discovering a new way to love. A new way to be human. A new way to be in this world.

Reflection questions. Even though you might not have known it was a birthing room, ask yourself how you showed up here.

How did you support the group field, the community, the great mother in her process of birthing a new world? How did you collapse? How did you retreat? How did you shrink?

I ask these questions not to blame or shame, but to beg you to bring light to your habits. Your habits matter!

Moment by moment you are embodying collapse – which creates incoherence in yourself, in your field, in your community, in your ecosystem, in your country, in your world.

Or moment by moment you are embodying coherence, vulnerability, connection, collaboration, creativity, and new ways. Which also shows up “out there” in the world.

This is true in every situation now. In every moment. Something new wants to be born through us. Some new way of living in harmony with earth. Some new way of living together as human beings.

We are in labor pains as a human species.

We might not make it. There are no more guarantees, no more certainties.

We are in it. Death pains, labor pains, this is the primal mystery. We’re moving ever closer to both Death and Life. Nothing is certain; nothing is guaranteed.

When we show up collapsed inside, we create more collapse outside.

When we show up present and regulated, open to connection and love, we create more coherence. And the birth canal dilates.

And we enter, once again, the great mystery.

In every moment we have a choice.

I can Collapse into ME.

Or I can step up and open into the terrifying vulnerability of WE.

Honestly, I am looking around the room and I don’t see one person who would survive apocalypse as a lone cowboy. I don’t see one person here who is going to get through this alone.

So like it or not, we have to start relating, connecting, coming into coherence and finding new ways.

Even if we’re afraid.

Especially if we’re afraid.

I truly wish the world was safe. But It isn’t.

I wish we had more time. We don’t.

These are the moments we were born for. These are the moments – right now – that we were born for.

How will you show up?

How will you collapse?

How will we meet and come together?

How will we meet and pull apart?

We are the problem.

And we are the solution.

I love you and wish you courage.


David Cates

By Jesus Acosta

At heart, I am a story-teller. As a creative writer and designer, I tell stories on the web, on paper, and sometimes I scribble random lines on the dance floor.