August 19th, 2005

S Factor pole dancer Sheila Kelley

Pole dancing as meditation...and what's yours?

How often do you have moments in which your mind is completely still? I'm talking about no thoughts at all, just totally centered in "now" rather than thinking about the past or future.

There's a fabulous article in the Seattle Weekly this week on the evidence that shows that meditation could be an effective form of rehabilitation for prison inmates. From the article: "We did an internal study, looking at people's records for the two years before they came to us with two years after they left. Compared to inmates who didn't have the experience, there was not only a significant reduction in recidivism but in the number of times they were booked."

I think we crave stillness of mind on some level and people who don't meditate will often find ways to do this. I have a quote written down, I wish I could remember what book it's from: "People do dangerous sports to stay in the now. Rock climbing and auto racing (for example) require complete presence or you could die."

This might be part of what makes pole dancing so attractive to me. You're not likely to die if you don't have complete presence of mind (unless you fall on your head at some really bad angle) but you can very easily be injured if you're not completely present with what you're doing. When spinning, you have to have just a tight enough grip to keep from flying off the pole yet just loose enough to spin around it rather than slow down or stop. This takes complete and total attention of body and mind. You can't be thinking about anything else and still execute these moves. When hanging upside down you have to be completely aware of where your body is against the pole and what every muscle is doing. If you relax the wrong muscle you will go straight down head first. If you tighten too much you will cramp up, get stuck, or even compensate by relaxing other muscles which will in turn cause you lose control of the pressure you're using against the pole to stay up, and you'll slide down head first. Every second I'm on the pole I have to be totally and completely present and not thinking of anything else but "now". Pole dancing as meditation!

Are there any activities in your life like this that require your total presence? Is there anything you do that stills your mind or pulls it from thoughts of the future or past and completely centers you in the now? What is your meditation?