Choosing a Joyful Dance

Sometimes you can’t say it better yourself.  So here are Oriah’s words direct.  Excerpts are from The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

Here is the question: Are you willing to be completely at peace with how things are right now in your life? Are you willing for just one moment to let go of all your dissatisfaction, of all your suffering about how things are? Are you willing to let go of all the worry and tension in your body and simply breathe?

woman jumping for joy

…So, are you willing to be happy?

…When we believe that we are by our very nature deeply flawed –self-indulgent, selfish, judgmental, sinful — our efforts to fulfill our soul’s longing to live fully become efforts to control, chastise, reshape, improve, and change ourselves.  Believing we are by nature lazy and unworthy, we believe we will not change, will not become the people we want to be unless we are pushed or forced by suffering to do so.  Given this belief, we use methods that do not cultivate mercy and compassion for ourselves but rather foster a hardness toward our own suffering and the suffering of others who are failing to curb or rise above their basic nature.  And in the face of these methods we do not learn to swim or dance or dream or be all we are.  We do not really learn to love fully or allow ourselves to receive love freely.  We’re too busy surviving.

In the poem “It Felt Love,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master, the fourteenth-century poet Hafiz talks about another way of learning, a way based on the assumption that to grow is to reveal the innate beauty we hold within, a beauty best brought forward by tender encouragement.

…Sometimes it’s much easier to believe the bad stuff that we don’t even want to hear the good stuff.  We are afraid that all that is holding us together is the armor we’ve put on to survive what is hard.  We are afraid that if we lay down the armor and open ourselves to that light of encouragement — really receive its warmth — we’ll simply fall apart and be an embarrassing puddle on the floor.

…To dance, to move gracefully, to receive the grace-filled moments every day, we have to know that we are worthy not because of our hard work or our suffering or our eagerness to be other than we are; we are worthy by our very nature — the same nature that creates and sustains all that is.  When we know this we are able to answer the question, “Are you willing to be happy?” with a quiet but confident, “Yes.”


Read more excerpts from Oriah and her books on her website at

photo credit: thephotographymuse via photopin cc

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