The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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“What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?”
— Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving to the Rhythms of Your True Self

In her prior book, The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer invites us to step up to life. (See prior blog post.) In The Dance, she tells us, it is not enough to accept the invitation. It’s not enough to just say “Yes!” What really matters is … Can you dance?

“Our ability to live in a way that is consistent with our longing—our ability to dance—is dependent upon what we believe we must do. If our intention is to change who we essentially are, we will fail. If our intention is to become who we essentially are, we cannot help but live true to the deepest longings of our soul.”

The courage to dance comes from faith that I am enough. The courage to dance comes from the belief that, in this moment, I can be compassionate and fully present. Rather than trying to be more worthy, more talented, more beautiful, more (place your word here), the challenge of the dance is to connect to who I am in depth of my soul and express that into the world.

“We live our deepest soul’s desires not by intending to change who we are but by intending to be who we are.”

And so we get to the practical question of The Dance, how do we access that deep faith that “I am enough” and really discover “who I really am.” Will it be the passionate tango, the elegant foxtrot, or the playful swing? Will it be a solo act, partner dance, a dance troupe? What will my dance look like?

Who am I?

This book weaves poetry and personal story together with meditation exercises. I know that each person will have a different journey and need different tools, but you’ve got to explore the world and find teachers in order to discover these tools. For me, learning to live more fully present means meditation, self-awareness, and self-inquiry. Basically, I’m trying to answer the question of who I really am. I get there through journaling, reading, storytelling and storylistening, conscious movement like yoga and tai chi, bodywork modalities like craniosacral therapy, classes, workshops, playtime, and fun. How will you get there?

What do I really want?

If I don’t examine my core beliefs and the false messages in my head, then this question becomes insurmountable. Just today, I noticed the voice of “I’m not good enough” echo in my mind. This left me twisted up and not able to come up with the answer to the question: What do I really want? My first thought was I need to do more, to connect to more people, to write a book. Why do I need to DO more to BE more worthy? I struggled with this question for some time, not being able to see past the excuses that we all share. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough. I’m not talented enough. And all the litany of excuses ran through my head. They blocked me answering the question: What do I really want?

I am enough

“The Dance is about finding ways to let our essential nature guide our choices and our actions.”

I am enough … what would I do if I could start with that belief?

Just take my hand and dance with me.