by Neesa Copple
I have been going to the Sacred Arts Camp and the Unicorn Dance Camp (with its various names!) for several years. I never find them easy and for some reason I have often found Unicorn particularly challenging – the proverbial “rollercoaster ride”!
A couple of years ago when I was feeling particularly wretched, I remember thinking: “I’m just not going to come anymore. I’m not putting myself through this again!”
I didn’t go to either Camp last year, for a number of reasons, but this year I went to both. And again, I found Dancing Spirit particularly challenging. However, I also found it especially wonderful. When I got home and journalled (reams!) I wrote: “Camp felt like an excruciating journey through old pain and wounding, alongside an exquisite opening to and deepening into love, tenderness, deep connection, a sense of ‘something other’, oneness, nameless transcendence and radiance……
And it feels like you can’t have one without the other ”.
For you old–timers (and some of you, I know, have been to Camp every year for the last 21 years!!!) what I write here may be old hat! But for me, a relative newcomer to the camp scene, I feel as if I gained some insight this year into the nature of the territory. And it all fell into place when I went to Barbara Morgan’s family constellation workshop on the theme of Addiction.
It was very simple. She spoke of Longing being at the root of most addictions, and how if we want to overcome our addictions we need to really feel our longings. And I realised that what happens for me at Camp is that my longings rise to the surface. Away from the busy-ness and all the distractions of my everyday life (of which busy-ness is, of course, the ultimate distraction, and addiction!) … under the opening and deepening impact of the dances and all the other practices…. armour and defences loosen and fall away, and within no time at all I am sitting with deep feelings and longings that I usually manage to keep hidden under wraps! Spiritual longings for the divine Beloved, emotional longings for a human beloved, and old childhood longings for a parental beloved – the circle provides the ideal context for the latter to arise. In my case with three loving fathers doting on their young daughters, I re-lived some of my own girlhood longings to be the special one, the favourite one… to be loved and cherished.
I’m a very watery being, no stranger to deep emotion, and sometimes I feel in danger of drowning. What really supported me this year at Camp – apart from loving friends and the dances (and the flapjack!) – was attending Daren’s Mindfulness practice every morning and also the Aramaic Beatitudes. I’m not a great meditator, but this year I really ‘got’ turning towards rather than turning away, embracing rather than resisting. I found just sitting so liberating. I couldn’t wait to get there in the morning and had some oh so tender moments with myself.
Then there was the day when I was agonising over whether to lead a dance. I lead dances regularly in Stroud, with virtually no anxiety. At Camp just thinking about it makes me anxious. I turned up at the Beatitude session as Daren was talking about turning toward our grief, pain and sense of separateness. Sure enough deep, deep pain started to well up inside me from what felt like a wound in the very core of my being – and it felt like the source of that anxiety, that “not good enough” triggered by the prospect of leading a dance: a deep sense of “no good-ness”, of insecurity & vulnerability. But the permission was there to stay with it, to let the tears flow…. and by the end of that session it felt as if it was of no consequence whether I led a dance or not, the healing was in that experience, that was what mattered. I felt so grateful.
But alongside all the tears and pain – and envy and jealousy and anger… another story was unfolding. My heart was slowly and surely opening. I felt it in the mindfulness practice, and I felt it in the dances – in the last few dance sessions I felt my heart wide open, and my soul shining and radiant – such a beautiful experience. And on the very last morning of mindfulness, while dialoguing with someone I’d never spoken to before, I felt a presence, an almost tangible presence – Love’s Presence! Love literally came to join us. It took my breath away. And it reminded me of this anonymous verse, which I love:
LOVE came in the morning
Standing as still as LIGHT.
How could I have hoped for such a dawning
After so DARK a night?
I would like to really deeply appreciate everyone who puts their love, time and energy into the dance camps. Thank you.