The Soul Dance

June 19, 2012

The lens of a camera is like the reflection in a person’s eyes: it gives you access to your very soul. If you’re hiding something, the camera will detect it. If you are authentic, it will amplify that too. Either way you cannot hide from its penetrating gaze.

Several years ago I took an on-camera acting class, thinking it would be a breeze because I was practically born with a camera in my face. But when I saw the result of my very first scene, I was mortified.

How dishonest can a person be?

The camera mirrors back to you what you are projecting. Ruthlessly. And as hard as the truth might be, casting off the shell we so carefully craft is an act of liberation. It may be a tough road, but it’s one worth taking. I’m on that journey now.

Last week my dear photographer friend Tanja generously offered four hours of her time to be with me and her camera. We trotted from one location to the next around Munich, slicing through the city heat with the fury of two creatives on the loose.

“Next time wear comfortable shoes,” she smiled, as she watched me try to keep up with her pace in high heels.

As if on autopilot, I tried to look pretty for the camera. That’s when Tanja lowered her lens and said: “Stop that. That’s not you. Let’s try it again.”

Now you may think it’s easy to act natural in front of a camera, but to all you models out there: Chapeau! I had no idea how hard it would be to allow my soul to shine through. Some of the best pictures she captured were when she was doing what she called a ‘light check’. She’d snap a foto so casually I didn’t have time to freeze up and be fake.

Photo Courtesy of Tanja Bruch

What I learned most of all from the experience was the importance of allowing your true self to shine. The true self is the soul, the essence that dances to its own cadence, outside of time, unleashed from the constraints of personal responsibility. It lives to connect, to be connected and to blend into the Beingness of All. It is both here and not here. It is your spirit, something everyone has.

On that rare occasion you meet someone who grants you permission to peek inside their soul. What a gift that is as it is where beauty of unspeakable proportion resides.

Our every day self is the one that poses for the camera. It is the one that wants to be pretty, liked, popular, well-functioning. It cares about what others think. It adapts to external circumstances, not driven by inner wisdom, but informed by societal restrictions. We need this self to operate in the world as we know it. It is carefully put together, like the scene I thought would be so easy during that first acting class. It has value and is necessary. But when we  allow ourselves to embody only the every day self, we are cheating ourselves and the world at large of a much more meaningful experience.

Imagine a world in which the soul gets to dance. Every day. It gets to celebrate life with its shadows and its light. It gets to rise up and be heard. And someone else is there who hears you. Sees you. Loves you.

That’s the world I want to make. Will you join me?

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