You can hardly see the scar near my left eyebrow. I can’t remember how I got it.
Ok, I can remember, and I’m pretending I can’t, so when people ask me I can tell them I can’t remember.
It’s probably better than trying to explain that I split my head open while pole dancing in a lady boy bar in Bali, when I misjudged the distance to the wall in a fairly magnificent spin on the pole. And that I was wearing an all in one black cat suit at the time.
See…. probably best to tell them I can’t remember.
Fast forward many years, and whilst I still have the scar, the memories of that trip to Bali have faded somewhat. My only ever pole dancing experiment had faded into the distant past as well.
That was until I was prompted to recall that event when I signed up this year, to undertake a 6 week beginners Pole Dancing course!
No I don’t know what I was thinking. It looked like a lot of fun and a lot of fitness, and I was up for both of those.
I must stress, this was real, proper pole dancing – in a controlled environment. There was no alcohol, no cat suits and no lady boys in sight.
So off I went. We were greeted by the instructor and were given the Pole Dancing Rules. I didn’t know there’d be rules.
Six weeks passes and I am officially a beginner Pole Dancer. I emphasise the ‘beginner’ part.
This gig is tough! It requires immense strength, balance and persistence and a good dose of not taking yourself too seriously. I have a whole new respect for those who do pole dancing in their profession.
Back to the Rules. I’m not one for rules generally but these ones were for our own safety and I get that. However, these rules also apply to our everyday lives. Here’s how I see that:
Rule No 1: Don’t let go
Pole Dancing: The first and probably the most important rule for beginner pole dancers. It is very important, right up until that time comes that you inevitably have to let go in order to learn a move that involves no hands. However, a mighty fine rule for beginner pole dancers – no argument there!
Life: I’m not sure we can apply the rule “don’t let go” too broadly to our lives generally. Sure, we need to hang on to what’s important to us, strive for what’s right. But sometimes, it’s the hanging on that hurts, not the letting go. I’ve learnt that there are times in life when, well, you do let go. You choose to consciously let go – of things, people, beliefs, views, attachments – that no longer serve you well.
If you’re pole dancing, by all means, hang on and don’t let go. Otherwise, what have you been holding on to, that isn’t serving you in a positive way, that you can let go of?
Rule No 2: Don’t attempt any new moves without supervision and don’t jump on to the pole
Pole Dancing: Another one clearly for our safety and again, no arguments here. What might look easy on YouTube certainly isn’t so on the pole. I can attest to that.
Life: Transferring this rule to life might be more problematic. If we don’t take risks, do new things, and take the leap on occasion, we will never learn and grow. Take this blog and website for example. I am clearly taking a leap (jumping on the pole so to speak), and attempting new moves without supervision! I am however, readily taking advice and mentoring from those in the know, from people I respect. I am learning from them but I am still stepping across that line that separates me from my comfort zone, making the jump, without adequate training and without supervision.
Are there any new moves or leaps you are being called to make that you’ve been putting off? What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for permission, for supervision as the rule states? Unless you are actually pole dancing, please believe that you are the only person you need permission from to attempt these new moves – whatever those moves might look like for you. Give yourself permission, and as you take that journey, refer to Rule no 6! What’s the worst that could happen?
Rule No 3: Avoid rapidly spinning on the pole
Pole Dancing: I learnt that when you are in a spin on the pole, the further out you lean your body, the faster and more out of control you spin. I mean really fast, like blurry fast. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, even with the instructor yelling at me to lean in. ‘Lean in’ she was screaming, ‘lean in to slow down’. It worked. The more I leant in to the pole, the more I slowed down and gained control of myself.
Life: I know in my life I’ve had that feeling that I’m spinning out of control, that I can’t slow the spin, I am out of control. Taking a leaf from the pole dancing book of rules, I have found that in those times, the only way for me to slow that spin, to feel more in control, is to actually lean in. Lean in to what it is that I’m here for, lean in to ask myself what is really important, lean in to what is upsetting me. Lean in during my meditation practice.
It is only through leaning in when I’m feeling out of control in my life, that I can focus and slow down. Same as on the pole but for different purposes. All in all, a good rule for life and pole dancing! What can you lean in to today to bring you more focus and control, to slow your spin?
Rule No 4: This environment is non-judgemental and we respect each other
Pole Dancing: What a great rule for a pole dancing studio. Bravo! However, let me tell you, I spent enough time judging myself through those hours on the pole, or the floor as the case might be, that there wasn’t time or energy for me to even consider what the person next to me was doing.
Life: I’d love to rid myself of the Little Miss Judgy that comes out every once in a while. I am a work in progress and I’m getting better around this. My strategy includes coming back to me – back to my business, my garden so to speak. While this helps me not be a Little Miss Judgy in relation to others, I have a harder time laying off the judgement on myself. Again, I’m a work in progress, I’m learning how to be my own best friend and treat myself the way I treat my loved ones. I’m learning to be curious, rather than judgemental.
A great rule for life and for a pole dancing studio – lets axe the judgement of self and others through heightened consciousness and concerted effort. Catch yourself next time you find yourself judging yourself, someone else or something, and I challenge you to put on a lens of curiosity – be curious rather than judging – and see what you come up with and how you feel.
Rule No 5: Please wipe down and clean your pole at the end of each session
Pole Dancing: Well this is clearly a no brainer and readily observed by all participants.
Life: We all want a clean slate to start off our day don’t we? But how do we achieve that? It is easy in a pole dancing studio to start with a clean pole, a little harder in life. I have a few things I do to help me feel like I’m wiping down my pole, so to speak, like I’m starting with a clean slate each day. These include a review each night where (in my head on my drive home from the office) I have a think about what I achieved, what I didn’t, what went well, what might not have, who I was that day, whether I lived my values and if I laughed? I think about what I want my tomorrow to look like – what I want to achieve, how I want to be. I also meditate every morning and by the time I’m in the car to head to the office, I have that proverbial clean slate (or pole).
Wiping down and cleaning our pole (aka our minds) at the end of each day is a mighty fine rule! What can you do to say goodbye to one day and welcome the next with a clean slate? What strategies do you have that allow you to let go (see Rule No 1) of things that might have upset or stressed you today, so you don’t carry these over to tomorrow?
Rule No 6: Have a good time and laugh
Pole Dancing: I found it impossible not to adhere to this rule at pole dancing classes – the laughter flowed freely and often, at ourselves mostly. It was most definitely a good time! Rule adhered to fully.
Life: Who doesn’t want a life that provides a good time and laughs! Pole Dancing reminds me every day not to take myself, my life, and others so seriously! I am reminded that in my everyday life, I can laugh at myself, and I can laugh with others and when I do, I feel so much better! Apart from the neurological benefits of laughing, it’s contagious, and I am finding the more I laugh, the more I laugh.
A rule not reserved for the pole dancing studio, but for life itself. What can you do today to laugh just for one minute more? Do you have a favourite comedian? Chances are they’re on a podcast somewhere. Do you have a funny friend? Can you try something new (see Rule No 2), and see your attempts with curiosity rather than judgement (See Rule No 4) and take some time to laugh at how wonderful you are and how wonderful this world is.
So in homage to the rules of pole dancing, I hope today you: let go, jump in and try new things, lean in, be curious, start each day with a clean slate and remember to laugh.
Until next time.
“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi