Many moons ago, I was watching a dressage test on YouTube and at the end of it, I started scrolling through the comments.
“Wow”, one person said. “That was beautiful. So much power. It looked like you were dancing on the edge of a volcano”.
In that moment, I was struck. Dancing on the edge of a volcano. What a beautiful thought. And all these years later, it’s become somewhat of a mantra. When it all comes together, I too want to feel like I’m dancing on the edge of a volcano.
Power, pressure, intensity. Elements necessary for the volcano dancer. Riding and living on that line. In many ways, all of these things have become negative words, especially if we relate them to our horses.
And if we forget the horses for a moment, we struggle with those things when it comes to just ourselves.
Much of our social and cultural conditioning has taught us that to feel pressure, to experience tension is negative. That it’s something to escape or to remove ourselves from. And of course, there are times when that is the right and obvious course to take. Power over is a different conversation.
But pressure… pressure is what also allows us to rise. If we think of it mentally and emotionally, my approach to the experience of pressure is often what determines the outcome.
“I can handle this” and “I embrace this” creates a different set of experiences, a different path of possibilities to the knee-jerk experience of pressure or tension being something we need to escape.
These associations extend to our body also. And the reality is, it’s all a matter of perception. For instance, if I’m in a state of collapse, my body no longer holds the optimal amount of tension. My internal valve systems that create a chamber of positive pressure are no longer functioning; my fascia lacks tone and dehydrates.
As I move in a more optimal direction, the pressure and tension in my body change also. It increases. If I have negative associations with that, I can impede the movement of my body changing in a more healthful direction. I fear pressure, tension as my demise when in fact, it is my making.
Our perception is very different from reality.
If I seek to dance on the edge of a volcano, I am reminded that the perfect balance does not appear in the absence of power, pressure and tension but exists because of it. That together with softness, ease, and grace, the two elements provide the necessary scaffolding of support for something magical to take place.
In the right amounts, at the right times, in the right way, power, tension, and pressure are part of the alchemy also.
To dancing on the edge of the volcano.