Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Tango Survivalist

Tango:  A matter of life and breath.

Life's all about survival. The way we go about survival can be a range behaviors from egocentric, cut-throat survival behaviors to empathetic, enlightened community-focused survival behaviors.

Survival is the foundation of existence in all things that we do. Warriors, pragmatists and even holy writers of wisdom literature point to our need to survive as the foundation. Our day to day behavior demonstrates clearly how we uniquely practice survival.
--Warriors try to survive on a tactical level.
--Pragmatists aim for "sustainability" on a strategic level.  --Philosophical and spiritual* thinkers ponder the "big picture" of survival.

What many do not realize is that all three dimensions -- tactical/ strategic/ spiritual are going on at the same time. This is important to know if you are going to be a three-dimensional Tango Survivalist, or for that matter, any kind competent survivalist.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Freedom from Status Seeking

My wife says she's come to the realization that we are "out-of-status" dancers.

My wife had lamented that she hardly danced in a tango marathon a few weeks ago. She even cried. She felt disheartened, neglected and ready to leave the event. She stayed for many hours because I would not have let her leave without me.  She's my favorite dancer; so I felt terrible about her being invisible to the tangueros at the event. But at many other events, she appears to be dancing more than many other women. So which is it? Is she in-status or out-of-status as a dancer?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Finding your other half in tango



Find your "other half" in tango!

I do not mean finding someone to accompany you to tonight's milonga.  If you are searching for your "other half" (or even "better half") in another person, you are likely to find another half person!

Your other half is, I believe, your introverted half finding her extroverted half, your integrated yang-self fully accepting his yin-self, your segregated male and female natures finally uniting. Biologically speaking, your other half is a balanced Autonomic Nervous System.

A tango friend, Eric, and I were talking this week, and I was struck by his story of how he once was a bit introverted before he danced tango. In spite of his mild introversion, he somehow became a good public speaker, saying that he had to prepare to speak in public by taking on an extroverted persona, someone unlike himself.  He recounted how he would talk to himself to prepare himself before a speech:

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Autonomic Dancing


Autonomic Dancing is a connection to the music and natural embodiment of music. An example of autonomic dancing is found in Cuba. Dancers of the guaguaco say that they allow the gods to take control of their body, and they begin their ecstatic dance.  Another word for "the gods" is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  It's easier to say "the gods."  On a good night the tango gods take over my body, thanks to the ANS.

The autonomic nervous system is running our body without any thought from the "executive functions" of the brain.  We breathe, our heart pumps and our digestive system all function even when asleep or if knocked unconscious. The ANS also includes bodily movements that follow without thought when music is played.

The antipode of Autonomic Dance is Cerebral Dance.  Cerebral dancing is a series of choreographed moves that keep repeating themselves (if you are lucky) to the pulse.  A remarkable amount of people in non-dancing cultures often complain they have two left feet. In reality they have a disconnected autonomic nervous system from music. It is not a person's fault. Cerebral dancing, I believe, comes from a culture and/or family which has devalued music and dance. My university, and example of cultural devaluation, had no dance department, and the music department had a large increase in funding only when the sports department needed musicians to play at their football half-time.

Try this: Focus on your dance in a similar way you might focus on your breathing in meditation. Alter both your breathing and dancing now by slowing them down, paying attention to phrasing and melody.  If you allow the body to breathe or dance as it does naturally, you may find that if you are present within your own body. Once you begin being in yourself, observing and joining your ANS (the gods), you will find it easier to connect and be present with the person in front of you.

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Further reading:  How music effects the ANS:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011183/

Photo credit of ecstatic dance:  https://wildlyfreewoman.net/tag/tonya-k-freeman/




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Life Expectancy through Expectancy in Life


Let's say that one day I can no longer dance Argentine tango. I feel strongly that the skills I have learned from social tango would increase the likelihood that I will live longer, and if not longer, then at least happy years. Longevity is not my goal. Increasing my "life expectancy" also is not a my goal. But, yes, Expectancy in Life, is my past and present which has a good chance of being my happy future.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Getting beyond Zero


"Getting to Zero" is a goal theory with a big hole in the center of it.

Getting to Zero and then beyond, however, is the very best that tango can give you.  In the area of the arts and the human psyche, Zero is not enough. Something I have been doing with patients diagnosed with PTSD lately has been to measure distress differently. My goal for those I help is going beyond. Tango is my inspiration for challenging the "getting to Zero" medical model.

Friday, March 31, 2017

No Cure for Dance Phobias



There in no cure for dance phobias except by dancing.  The fear of dancing (chorophobia) has no special pill, no easy therapy, no healing magic wand.  Why?  Because chorophobia is often not even seen as being a problem. How can you cure a problem when it is not even recognized as one?  So, in other words, chorophobia does not even get a chance to be cured.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sustainable Tango: The Facets of Well-Being


For many who dance tango--and I am one of them--tango is like visiting heaven.  But is it tango that makes people happy or something else?  I think we can agree on the answer when we really think about it:  Tango does not make us happy.  A life that juggles many different wellness elements will sustain tango (or any other positive behavior) over time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mood Regulation and Tango



This post may save someone's life.  No matter who you are in life, you will be touched by others for whom you care who will kill themselves. I work with a population of men and women who kill themselves in the US nearly every hour of every day:  Military veterans.  Sadly, you and those you know are at risk for suicide.  I am not going to suggest helping a suicidal friend or family member with tango; however, I hope you can see why the most effective therapy for mood regulation is very similar to tango (as practised in a caring, warm community of dancers). In other words, I hope you will value what you have through tango a bit more, and are a little less inclined to subscribe to how tango is the opposite of healing as a mere "addiction."  Is it possible?  You may be regulating your mood through tango and increasing your well-being!