This past month I spent a little time sprucing up my home office. A standing desk is arriving by February 8 (!) and some photos of terrific travel memories are in Mixtile frames on my wall. One of the photos was taken of me with a handsome dance teacher during a tango lesson in Buenos Aires. I was not a good tango student. The tango requires flexibility, complex foot work, excellent syncopated rhythm with another person (in close embrace) and the ability of the female to follow. Not a good fit for me.
I am the kind of person who looks down at her thighs at times and says, “Where did that bruise come from?” I am the kind of person who, with some Pirates Booty cheese puffs, begins to unconsciously inhale them (they are so good!) and then wonder why my tummy isn’t feeling well. My body awareness isn’t strong. So I am not a great tango dancer. To feel my dance partner’s hand moving in nuanced ways on my back, signaling me to turn left or right, is super challenging. I am not normally present in my body. I live in my head. I don’t spend enough time in my body. In the present.
This idea of being present is something I work on a lot. Concentrating on my muscle as I lift a weight. Keeping both my feet on the floor and sitting up straight to give my attention in a Zoom meeting. Inc.com had an article which cited a Harvard study that said 47% of the time we are not in the present. We are thinking about the past. Or the future. We aren’t here.
I am in good company with many others who are also not here now and that makes us lousy tango dancers. We are not emotionally or physically connected to our dance partners; we don’t stay in rhythm, we trip over our feet and our partner’s feet, and we definitely don’t know what’s being asked of us in terms of our next step. We aren’t here.
I am guessing that most of us who read this newsletter are not dancing the tango very often. Yet, we surely are on a bunch of Zoom calls, we’re in a slew of meetings, and we’re called upon to engage, to connect, and to be present. Some of us are not picking up on the cues, others aren’t in sync, and many find ourselves tripping up. We need to be here now.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you connect with others in meetings/workshops/Zoom calls:
- What can I do physically to keep myself in my body before I join in? What do I need? Water? A snack? To write down all of my to dos so I am assured I won’t forget? A bathroom break?
- How might I make it a habit to keep my two feet on the ground and my back straight in order to stay more present and strong during an interaction?
- Which exercises or body movements can I engage in prior to a meeting to keep me awake (emotionally, psychologically)? Massaging the sole of my foot with a tennis ball? Taking time for at least 3 deep breaths between meetings? Drinking a few ounces of water?
- What requests can I make of facilitators of my meetings in terms of centering everyone before digging into the agenda? 1 minute of silence? 2 minutes of writing?
- Might I dedicate my learning from this meeting to someone I want to honor or keep in the forefront of my mind so I can engage with heart? The students I teach? The community I serve?
- Is there a little dance I can do in the space I have around me? A quick connection with my favorite music? Get my heart rate going and my blood pumping?
Just for fun…watch how focused Al Pacino is in his tango from Scent of a Woman. It takes courage to engage with such full bodied presence and yet I know that the rewards are many. Hoo hah!
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
*Jennifer Abrams , “Tango, anyone?”, As originally published on www.jenniferabrams.com, February 1, 2021, https://jenniferabrams.com/tango-anyone/.