A Story about Walls
When I was in my late twenties, I found myself dancing 5Rhythms with Gabrielle Roth. I believe the workshop was called Mirrors, an in-depth look at the ego. At the time, I didn’t realize the significance of the workshop name. Up to this point in my life, I’d had limited mirroring back of my ego. Mirrors was a powerful workshop experience that shaped my life in more ways than one.
During one of the more powerful moments, we were doing some mirroring of each other’s words and motion and Gabrielle stopped me.
And, she said, “You have Walls.”
It was one of those moments that seem to freeze time. At first, I was confused and repeated the phrase, “You have Walls.” She repeated the phrase almost impatiently, “You have Walls.” One reason we all loved her and attended her workshops was that she was willing to say what no one else would. And, she wanted more for us than most of us wanted for ourselves.
I was like a deer frozen in the headlights. It felt as if everyone was watching me and the light was shining directly on my walls. And, I wasn’t so aware of my barriers at this moment. Who me? What Walls?
Well, there was nowhere to go but within.
Nowhere to point but inside and feel it out for myself, “I have Walls.”
The Beat Behind our Walls
Now, my walls were tangible – inside my body and the way I held it. My walls also had energy to them – encircling my heart.
I had no idea until this moment. No one had ever said such a thing to me. My mind couldn’t comprehend it. But, my body started to.
In my frozen fear and vulnerability, I realized my teacher saw something I couldn’t, and it was so apparent she felt it was important to bring to my attention. I knew in my bones, what she was saying was meant to help me. Yet, I didn’t know what to do with this truth right away.
My response was to try to escape. I could only find one way – through. I kept breathing. I felt the fear and vulnerability. My heart kept beating behind its walls. My mind kept trying to “figure it all out.”
I took the moment in, as much as I could. I let it settle, eventually using the 5Rhythms to dance with my walls. And, I tasted freedom.
We are born into bodies that are fluid and free. Yet for most of us, this state of grace is sadly short lived. Judgement, emotional wounds, fear and loss become stored deep inside our muscles and bones, leaving us with shoulders that sag, hips that are locked, arms that can’t reach out, hearts that beat behind a stone wall. When we move our bodies we shake up firmly rooted systems of thought, old patterns of behavior and emotional responses that just don’t work anymore. Rhythm, breath, music and movement become tools for seeing, then freeing, the habits that hold us back. When we free the body, the heart begins to open. When the body and the heart taste freedom, the mind won’t be far behind. And when we put the psyche into motion, it will start to heal itself. – Gabrielle Roth
I put my body into motion, including the walls. I started to feel the barriers I’d constructed more and more. I thought a lot about my walls.
As I moved my body in the dance, the first barrier I became aware of was boredom with my own two feet, particularly when they moved in feminine circles or fluid motion. I remember looking down at my own two feet moving in circles and thinking — BORING! The wall was, “Being a Woman is Boring!” For me, it didn’t matter where this wall came from. It was more powerful for me to let it go. As I kept dancing down this wall, I started to move my own two feet differently and this started to create a very different life.
Releasing the barrier opened my body, heart, and mind to embracing feminine energy, finding the fascination in being a woman and taking the journey into motherhood. Without this pathway, I seriously don’t think I’d be a mother today – one of the great joys of my life!
Gabrielle gave me a pathway, the 5Rhythms, that allowed me to dance with my walls, see them more clearly, loosen them up a bit and let them crumble. Some of my barriers came crashing down in one dance. Other boundaries continue to break my heart over and over again. And yet others have blown my mind.
I will always be grateful to Gabrielle for the chance to feel the beat behind my walls and a practice to dance them down.
However, I still have walls!
Walls exist in my body as memories, pains, a stiff upper back, and tough scar tissue.
There are still walls around my heart protecting me from the remembered past and imagined future.
And, most assuredly there are stubborn barriers that remain in my mind, limiting my thoughts to loops of patterns and stories.
These walls limit my experiences, create barriers to connection and close me off to love. So, I keep dancing!
Reclaim and Release Walls
Gabrielle gave me a choice when she said, “You have Walls.” A choice to dance with my walls and taste freedom…or not.
I share this personal story today as a reminder to myself and hopefully inspiration for others. The walls outside of us, mirror what’s inside. Realizing our walls is an invitation to face our hatred, limited motion, narrow thinking, prejudices, racism, and sexism.
There is not one of us who does not have a wall. Even the Dalai Lama faces his sexism and works on it.
There is no wrong or right way to redecorate, rip down and rejoice in the freedom of releasing barriers. I choose to dance to claim the walls within and release the walls outside.
Casey and I realized that there are many ways hidden walls manifest. One way is in how we say things. For example, when we say:
- I can’t…
- It won’t work…
- It’s not enough…
- It’s stupid…
We’re creating walls with our words.
These statements stop us. These walls feel comfortable, and we lean on them, so we don’t have to risk failure or judgment from other people. These wall statements limit us from growing and exploring life fully.
For Casey, he expanded his poetry and writing by letting go of these statements. He discovered a new side of life and joy in his writings by going outside of these hidden but very real walls. Those barriers were real only because he was giving them his energy to hold him back. By pausing and releasing those statements all the energy then went into his creative work.
If you face a problem, there are other solutions. Often times we need to build a bridge rather than a wall! There are so many beautiful bridges to be built yet!
One simple bridge is to change the language you use in life. You can change wall statements to become:
- I can…
- It will work…
- It’s enough…
- It’s brilliant…
So many bridges! Bridges of understanding. Bridges from my heart to your heart. Bridges of hands holding hands.
A Future Without Walls
Looking around we can see boundaries everywhere around us. Walls built from racism, nationalism, greed, fear and so many other problems. You can build walls out of almost anything! Often, walls are built from judgment. So if you want to release a barrier, releasing the judgment that defines a barrier is often a good starting point.
Why do people build barriers based on problems? Interestingly, walls provide structure and respite. Walls buy a person time to find answers or they can even protect a person against pain. The bigger problem is once a barrier is built, people stop looking for solutions. Worse is the fact that over time people become lazy against a wall while the larger problems evolve to work around the barriers. While some walls can be healthy in the short term, they always require maintenance. The interesting truth is that walls are always a temporary solution to a problem. Life evolves, so this means a proactive approach to a problem is often more graceful than a barrier based solution.
Walls of greed are often very effective for abusive people in power to gain even more money. For this reason alone we will always face social barriers from people performing power grabs.
In the US people are trying to build a 5 billion dollar wall. Those in power pushing for a wall will profit from the wall, and they will stir up fear and racism to generate the bricks that go into that wall. So understand this wall is funded from greed and built of small bricks of racism and pain held by all too many people. It’s an example of how our personal walls add up to building larger and more destructive social walls.
If we truly want to avoid building a 5 billion dollar wall of racism, the true solution is we must remove the smaller barriers of judgment and fear out from our own lives. It’s also important to expose the hidden driving forces of abuse and greed from those profiting from such a wall.
Don’t fear the big bad five billion dollar wall. That’s a trap. Instead be strong enough to remove the smaller walls in your own heart. Doing so will open you up to be flexible and adaptive. Doing so will help you connect to others. Connecting to others with an open heart will encourage them to release their inner walls. If we do this, we can create a domino effect that topples down the bigger walls of greed and racism.
It’s a great time to topple our hidden inner walls to help heal build bridges to the world, cultures and people around us.