When I first started teaching Qoya in 2017, there was one particular aspect that was difficult for me to let go of: GIVING PRAISE.
I would find myself saying “Beautiful!” and issuing mini celebrations throughout the class as I would catch women moving freely. It was so beautiful; I just couldn’t contain myself!
Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can be deeply nourishing to be praised and celebrated. It can remind us that it is safe to be seen in our light.
And yet, one of the things that intuitively drew me to Qoya, was the lack thereof.
Because there is no way to do Qoya wrong, there is no criticism or correction.
But that also means there is no way to do Qoya “right”, besides the inner compass of each individual woman telling her that the movement feels good and true in her body, which is something that is only for her to decide.
Recently I have been listening to recordings by my longtime mentor Lianne Raymond, and in one she speaks on the often hidden shadow side of praise. It made me pause and consider why this particular aspect of Qoya both felt so nourishing and, at first, so foreign to me.
To roughly paraphrase what Lianne shared, receiving praise can make it difficult for us to discern our inner sense of self and our own motivation for doing things. Our motivation shifts from being an internal impulse (“I want to do this”), to becoming intertwined with seeking the approval of others.
I will be and move and behave in ways that garner as much praise as possible.
And if I don’t receive the praise, I either did it wrong or wasn’t good enough or begin to question why I am even doing XYZ in the first place.
We lose trust in our inner impetus for creativity; we stop doing things simply for the love of doing them. And not only do we lose trust in this inner impulse, the connection itself becomes frayed over time. We can’t tell the difference between what we are doing from our own inner motivation versus what we are doing for praise and to please others. It’s all a jumbled mess, which is why when we’ve been trapped in the Good Girl for long periods of time, often we have no idea what we actually want!
When I first began my wild feminine journey, I started out doing feminine movement and pole dancing. In part, this helped me to get into my body, but because there was still this “performance” at the end, I had a hard time finding movement that felt authentic and separating that from the movement that was celebrated.
What was me and what was performance lacked differentiation.
It wasn’t until I had danced Qoya for several years and found what felt like truth in my own body, that I could dance for other people without dancing for other people. Without it becoming a performance, unless I made the conscious choice for it to be one. (Because performing for someone can be joyous and fun when we choose it.)
Here’s what I have found: Praise is often a comfortable place for us to go when we are trapped in the dynamic of the Tyrant King and the Good Girl. Often, it’s the default mode (if we are more identified with the Rebel, criticism can become our default…or we swing from one to the other). There is comfort both in receiving praise and bestowing praise.
But praise can also prevent us from moving into deeper levels of connection and curiosity and truly knowing one another in our wholeness.
That is why throughout Uncage the Wildness Within, we will be working on cultivating our conscious feminine, our Wise & Wild Woman, and practicing how to relate to one another (and ourselves and our bodies and our work) beyond the level of praise and criticism.
How do we courageously connect with one another from a place of curiosity?
Where might we be using praise as a shield, to protect ourselves from feelings of vulnerability and awkwardness, or like a carrot, to engineer the behavior that we desire?
Who do we get to be when we stop seeking praise or fearing criticism?
These are just a few of the questions that we will be playing with throughout this program. We will take it on as an experiment, with the invitation to notice how these ways of relating feel in your own body and exploring what might be possible if praise became one color on our palette of options, rather than a monochromatic default.
Five spots remain for Uncage the Wildness Within, so if you are on the fence and this resonates with you, I invite you to visit my website to find out more and submit an application. Applications are also open for the spring season of the Dancing Wild.