By Lisa Faulkner

Reposted With Permission By Sheila Kelley S Factor

In September I danced under the full moon eclipse with friends near and far. It was magical, mystical, star-filled, red-moon-glow, beach dancing bliss.

Afterwards, those of us on Ocean Beach in San Francisco climbed the sand dune in the dark. I wore a backpack. A duffle bag hung from one shoulder. Two damp blankets and a towel were draped over my right arm. Sand clung to them like metallic flakes drawn to a magnet.

Next time I’d leave them in the duffle bag because no one used them. Though someone did borrow the extra headphones.

As I trudged up the steepest part of the hill, my breathing became heavy and I stumbled twice near the top, falling to my knees.

As I struggled to get up, two of my companions offered to help, but I declined, “No, thanks, I’m okay.”

As we reached our cars, I asked if anyone needed a ride. One of the ladies had taken public transit into the city; she didn’t live far from me, so I drove her home.

Shadow Is Showing

The next day, I read an article about the eclipse to help process the intense energy. Parts of it flashed at me as if written in neon.

 “….we’ve been called on to let go of our old behavior patterns of reacting to situations with anger, domination and aggression, as well as our need to ‘go it alone’….

Usually, full Moons help us become aware of something within us, some feeling or belief that we keep hidden. At a lunar eclipse, these feelings and beliefs come out unconsciously. You could say, our shadow is showing. So look for your Shadow turning up this weekend, and instead of pushing it back into the Unconscious, embrace it, name it and allow it into your life.” ~ Cathy Pagano

Our Shadow is a trait or characteristic—often a strength—in extreme, causing an imbalance.

For example, my persistence used to get me in trouble with stubbornness until I developed flexibility.

My independence gives me trust in myself; it enables me to do things alone that others often won’t, like travel and dance on the beach. But it’s hurting me too.

How could I expect to receive abundant gifts from the universe, if I couldn’t receive help carrying towels up a hill?

I needed to cultivate receptivity. I vowed to experiment with saying yes to offers of help.

My first opportunity came a few days later.

That Friday I led a campfire chat before a clothing exchange and pure dance at S Factor San Francisco. A friend offered to bring snacks. My instinctive reply “No, thank…” Remembering my experiment instead I said, “Yes, that’s a great idea!” And it was. All the food was consumed during our 3.5 hours together.

That night I danced to I Want You to Want Me by Chase Holfelder, a song that felt like a prayer to receive. While dancing, I felt like a flower revealing her tender center to absorb more sunlight into her soul. It felt exquisite, and oh so vulnerable. My entire body trembled after.

Perhaps this is why asking and receiving is so uncomfortable for many of us. Receptivity requires an open and vulnerable heart.

Receivers Give and Givers Receive

Receptivity is also a gift to the giver.

Giving makes us feel valued. It increases our joy and feelings of connectedness. In whole-hearted voluntary exchanges, both parties simultaneously give and receive.

Consider our beloved S Factor classes. Each dancer shares her story through movement, emotion, strength, and vulnerability. As witnesses we hold space with our attention, cheers, applause and bodies. We all give and receive during every dance.

One of my favorite examples of this reciprocity of exchange is the Miami ‘couch surfing’ story Amanda Palmer shares in The Art of Asking Ted Talk (at 4:51) and book (on pages 159-160). I won’t spoil it for you by sharing the details so you can hear it from her directly.

What Feels Most Natural to You?

Giving? Receiving? Balance between both? Reflect on your experience during Bliss Miss week in October for clues. I danced to My Wish by Rascal Flats. And made my chair sitter’s heart explode (her words). While I actively showered her with love, I also enriched my understanding of what it means to write and offer workshops to an audience of one, rather than trying meet everyone’s needs, something we hear again and again.

The more I say, “Yes, thank you” and think of ways I want to receive help, the more magic the universe brings. For example, I recently convened a women’s circle called Blood Moon Goddesses, inspired by our experience dancing with the eclipse. Our purpose is to help each other make our dreams a reality. The day after we met and shared details of our dreams, a book (powerful mentors for me) crossed my path. The first chapter removed an obstacle that’s been blocking me.

My body is more comfortable giving than receiving. This is evident in a self-portrait I created with one hand giving and the other receiving. The photo shows how natural and happy my right hand is and how awkward my left one feels.

Still I’ve made progress. It’s like when you first learn a new pole trick. With practice it feels normal and shows up spontaneously in dances.

Before my last class I had no song. I wanted another ‘receiving’ one. I was surprised by a virtual hug from a retreat sister with a story and a song I’d never heard—Scars to Your Beautiful. I listened to it and got chills when I saw it was by Alessia Cara. The night before my husband forwarded me an article recommending six new albums with his annotation, “The 6th one sounds S’able.” That album was Know-It-All by Alessia Cara, which includes this song. At first I thought I’d dance to Scars; it’s gorgeous. Another song from the album grabbed by body and heart and wouldn’t let go. When my teacher used her ‘rivers’ playlist, I knew Stone was my song.

It’s only now, while writing about this moment I see the whole picture. I received the gift of the song immediately and instinctively. I said yes before no. Then I relied on my creativity and independence. And I flowed with the magic and synchronicity of my class.

Whether you and your body prefer giving or receiving, practice both. They get easier and become more natural. Ultimately, they both come from love.

I’m heading out the door to another Friday pure dance class. I think I’ll dance to Stars by Alessia Cara. I’ll probably cry.

….An uphill climb

Fighting what the heart, really wants to do

See I need you

And sometimes we need to

Shed our facade and be just who we are

All broken and torn, then we could be stars

Oh we could be stars

We could be stars….