Ataraxia and You

Back at the end of February, I had the pleasure of a tarot reading by my friend, Catti. We’ve done several of these over the last few years, and they are always inspiring and rich, helping me to understand what is going on in my life. This time, I was curious about where to focus my attention in the coming months. I’ve had some shifts that point towards finding new pathways, so I asked Catti’s cards, basically, which way I should go. 

They said, welp, major things are happening (three major arcana cards in a row, including the Tower), but you don’t know which way to go because—it’s just not clear yet. You’ll have to step carefully and have faith. 

On the one hand, I was like, well huh. On the other, it’s always good to know that it’s not just me—the way really is cloudy. 

As it happens, this was just before Coronavirus smashed into our daily life.

Which brings me to Ataraxia

It’s a Greek word that means “to be content knowing that you don’t know everything.” This is what my Literature prof told me in college. I fell in love with the word right then and there.  Because I am content knowing that I don’t know everything. I have a healthy respect for mystery. I am content to wait for things to unfold. Time is a real thing, and sometimes things aren’t ready yet. So you have to wait. 

Evening Green

Now, it is also true I have spent an inordinate amount of my life waiting. I have spent entire years unable to plan what I would do in five days, as I waited for some kind of sign. And I have planned entire years in five minutes flat.  

At the time of this reading, I feel impatient, yet mystified. Like I am in the middle of a transformation, that place where the caterpillar has dissolved into goo, before the butterfly starts to form. Hence my tarot question. And having it thrown right back to me—”Sorry, your question can’t be answered at this time. Be of good cheer,” was, well frustrating. 

So, Ataraxia. 

Recently, I found another definition of ataraxia—in Andrea Deagon’s wonderful novel, The Dancer from Tyre. It was, “freedom from care—the conscious setting aside of things that wear down the soul.” 

This definition made me love the word even more. And it’s something for us to think about in these (or any) troubled times. 

It is unhealthy and unwise to stew in despair, fear, or anger. The world news is enough to give us all panic attacks every day. And what good does that do? None. 

This is where we practice ataraxia, that “conscious setting aside of things that wear down the soul.”

For our 20 minute improv dance session, we let all that go. And maybe we can take time through the day to return to our flow state, to be more present in the moment, and less subject to the vortex of pain and misery that is always pulling at us. 

We also can be content to wait and see what happens. We don’t know everything. We are all in a state of transformation that is part of this practice. Things are happening. We don’t/can’t know what they are, but they’re happening. So let’s have faith, and be of good cheer. 

Here’s some music for that—also from Catti. Gaye Su Akyol

PS Improv is a place where we never know what will happen! Where we set aside our cares to be in the moment. In this vein, I’m delighted to be offering a series on improvising to Drum Solo and one on simply relaxing and feeling better.


​Starts Tuesday July 28! DreamBeat–Fun Drum Solo Improvisation
​Five Weeks, July 28 – Aug 25. Tuesdays at 4-5 PM ET.
A five-week adventure into drum solo interpretation and intuitive movement. Drum solo structure, technique, and exploration of various rhythms. We will use Middle Eastern drum solos as well as fusion and surprises! Registration is now open.

​Starts Friday, August 7 Tuning In–Medicine for Modern Times
Five Weeks, August 7 – September 4. Fridays, 4-4:30 PM ET
This half-hour class comes from a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) perspective. It’s is a half-hour chillout session focused on nervous system regulation. It is designed to ease anxiety and restore wellbeing. We use gentle movement, breath, and body-based strategies to bring calm in the here and now. These strategies can be used any time to help the body feel more relaxed and grounded.

I look forward to dancing with you!
All my love,
Alia

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