When I was giving birth to my first child, Kieran, my labor was relatively short and the pain remained manageable, so I didn't have a use for drugs or an epidural. When I got to the pushing phase, I had this familiar feeling, like I had experienced this very thing a hundred times before. My body knew exactly what to do, like it was an old pro at it. It was strange and soothing to feel so comfortable doing something that was entirely new to me. Or was it? I have noticed that my daughter seemed to come out of the womb knowing how to draw, and my son picked up many skills as if he were simply remembering something that he already knew. How many musicians have begun their careers, driven to play an instrument that they feel they already know?
I am beginning to formulate some patterns here, in my own life and in observing the paths of others'. Yesterday, I went to Dance Tribe at the Gustafson Dance Center. I would describe it as a a High School Dance for mature adults who know themselves well enough to be themselves completely. The only rules are No Shoes and No Talking. The setting was a very large dance studio, with only ambient twinkling lights, scarf covered lamps and candles. The DJ played soothing, meditative music with a slow beat at first, which was great for stretching and warming up the body but then moved on to some fantastic tribal beats of African and Carribian origin. I also recognized music with a Spanish influence and even though it may not have looked like it, I knew how to dance to all of this. I just closed my eyes, turned off my mind and all thoughts of myself and how I might be perceived and moved at the will of my body. Shaking, waving, undulating, hopping, stretching, swinging arms, hands, legs torso, I could feel the past comfort me, like finding a memory of home that had been completely forgotten.
I realized this morning in meditation that the body remembers the past lives better than the conscious mind does. When the conscious, intentional mind gets pushed back to a place of quiet observation, the memories ingrained in the cells have a chance to emerge. We know a lot more than we think we know. It certainly explains why without logical explanation, some people don't like things worn around their neck, some people are afraid to fly and some people feel terrified of water.
I love the idea that I have had lifetimes that spanned so many cultures and that my body may still know what those lifetimes beheld. I plan on experimenting more with this form of dance as meditation. I hope you can consider giving your conscious, critical mind a little break, join me and find out what you know but didn't know you knew.