Reflections from Gail Stewart about how we face fear with compassion. I remember a time when I was at the Bristol School of Biodanza and we were doing a weekend of transcendence.
I felt fear and panic as a response to another’s pain
During the lunchtime I saw a young woman lying on the mattress looking uncomfortable and sad. I asked her how she was feeling. She said that she was in pain; she had breast cancer and was terminally ill. The cancer had spread to her bones and she had chosen not to have chemotherapy. I felt very sad to hear this. However, I also noted a feeling of fear and panic within me. Maybe, for all women there is a fear of “what if that happens to me?” I also felt inadequate, as I didn’t know how to comfort her. During that afternoon’s vivencia I did not have the opportunity to dance with her for whatever reasons.
I wanted to find a better way-to face fear with compassion
Later in bed that night I did not sleep well. Realising I was not there for her because of fear, but wanting so much to be so, I hoped she would return to class on the Sunday. I told Antoinette (the school director) at breakfast how I felt. Happily, the next day she did return and I had another opportunity to be present with her – I knew words were not enough.
Luckily a dance: ‘the baptism of light’ was the next exercise. I approached the young woman and she and I agreed to share this vivencia. I sincerely connected to the very essence of love in my heart, to God and to her and asked that through me she might receive a blessing of light and love.
We cried all the way through our dance
I left all fear and ego behind, I only felt such love for her, she cried all the way through and so did I. She insisted on doing the same exercise for me. I realised that there was still something else that had to happen. Luckily we were together for ‘pulsating encounters’. There, we were holding each other with love and joy, sadness and tears flowing in waves, as we held each other and met each other’s souls in pure love.
The woman I’d shared that tender moment with never returned
Later, before we left for home, I said I hope to see her again in four weeks but she never returned. Interesting that I found by my foot in the toilet a large white feather and tucked by my shoes three white feathers in the changing area.
I could sense some people were afraid of my pain
I am reminded of this event by my return to Biodanza years later, following my own a mastectomy and during radiation treatment. Feeling very vulnerable, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I was aware, whilst moving around during the initiation circle, that some people were afraid of my pain, fears and of breast cancer. I was aware some were unable to dance with me as they had done previously before diagnosis. It was completely understandable. I had been in that very situation with the young woman. Some were able to see beyond my fears and we were able to reach each other in a moment of being totally present with love, and that is Biodanza.