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Sheva Interviews her Mom on the Heart of Freedom through Discipline
HeartStart to Your Week, Monday, June 30th
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I always remember my mother telling me as a little girl, “There is no freedom without discipline.” The part of me that wanted to eat ice cream every day, stay up into the wee hours of the night every night, go outside and play whenever I felt like it, and procrastinate doing my homework until the very last minute, contorted to understand what the heck she was talking about. How was discipline freedom? They felt like opposites to me.
I rejected this philosophy. So, as a piano teacher who had received two degrees from Juilliard, my mother fired me as her piano student, giving up when I utterly refused to learn the circle of fifths or do anything else she told me to at five years old. She sent me, wearing my first halter top and cut off shorts on the first day of summer (isn’t it funny the things that we remember!) across the alley to one of her teen students to “study” piano with her. Donna let me pound around on the keyboard, playing my all time favorite- a newly concocted chaos every day I affectionately called, “Scrambled Eggs.” Now that was freedom! To my five year old self.
25 years later, I discovered by accident the meaning of what my mother had been trying to tell me all along. After nearly 15 years of daily dance classes, monotonous plies and relevees, plie, relevee, plie, relevee (the equivalent of laps and sit-ups for a track star and scales and arpeggios for the pianist my mother had tried to teach me to be), I left my career as a dancer and an actress to become a physician. During a particular stressful year of medical internship and licensing exams, I decided on the spur of the moment to take an evening ballet class twice a week. I thought it would get my mind out of the books and take the lid off of my pressure cooker (that was before I knew the HeartMath tools for managing my stress!).
At first, my body felt awkward in the old ballet positions, like trying to ride the tricycle you had when you were three in your grown up body. But then, on the 6th class, something magical happened. We were doing a particularly difficult floor routine, with a complex jumping series landing into a double pirouette (the turn on one leg made famous by ballerinas atop jewelry boxes worldwide). Suddenly, on the second pass at doing the exercise, something snapped. I stopped doing it, and it started doing me.
Where before I had been trying, now I felt like I was flying. Every muscle knew where to go on its own, there was no thinking, no counting, no adjusting my position, only flight, only flow, only time standing still in a moment of eternity where every move opened within me as if each cell was an eagle spreading its wings and soaring effortlessly on the wind toward the light. Time literally fell into slow motion. As I landed the jumps feeling light as a feather landing on a cloud, my body began to turn of its own accord with no impetus from me, one, two, three, four, five pirouettes touring the vibrant colors of leotards reflected in pink and black across mirrors around the room. The last turn ended in stillness so deep it felt that the earth herself had stopped spinning on her axis and time had stopped. The only thing in motion at that moment were the tears streaming down my face. I was not crying. My eyes were just watering the way eyes do when they see something so beautiful it feels too bright to look at, like staring straight at the sun. I felt like I had touched heaven on earth, or more accurately like it had touched me.
The room burst into applause, which caught me off guard and made me self conscious, clunking me down a notch back into the human realm where we think such circumstances are done by a “you” or a “me” and something to be congratulated about. The applause I had so long sought after when I was being a professional dancer, was a distraction now from being danced by the dance. Then it clicked. As my classmates applause grounded me back in this realm, I understood something.
Every plie and relevees came back to me in that moment and made sense. Every correction I had made, over and over and over again, to my sway back posture and my pronated ankles, to my puffed up chest that would throw me off balance in more ways than one- each daily hourly minute by minute discipline had paid off. It was all worth it in that moment. Because there, in the back alley of a Los Angeles dance studio behind a gas station, it all came together and set me free, set me on flight.
If only I had known earlier that the “zone” I fell into in ballet that day was the freedom that awaited my discipline, I would have approached the discipline as a true disciple- the root of the word. I would have brought to it devotion, delight, dedication, devouring the opportunity to condition myself for flight.
Now, my full time work is all about the freedom that comes from discipline. Like brushing your teeth twice a day, you can brush your consciousness free of the things that block that heaven on earth zone by simply conditioning your heart to hum its drum beat in the harmony and order that comes from love and care. It is my great joy to spend my days letting people in on the great news that moments such as the one I had in the ballet studio don’t have to happen to us only on random, rare occasions by some stroke of serendipity. We can tap into that flow state free of stress, free of worry, free of self consciousness, anywhere, anytime, with a simple daily discipline which conditions the heart to live in harmony. The emWave Biofeedback-like technologies and the tools from HeartMath are a daily discipline which frees us mentally and physically from the past, from our reactivity, from our limitations, from who we are not.
Now, my mother teaches discipline of the heart. She says that it is essential for students to know and understand the purpose behind a discipline- ie, if you don’t pronate your ankles and sway your back, you become an aerodynamically unified whole that will fly instead of fall over. If you know in your heart and understand discipline, consciously, with awareness, rather than simply following rules and routines for their own sake or for the familiarity and false sense of safety that repetition can bring, then your discipline can set you to fly, it can set you free.
Tune into tonight’s HeartStart call to learn more!
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