Presence: The key to get connected


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Meetings with absent people

Some months ago we had a meeting in our work. There was a problem and we were discussing potential solutions. At some point, I took turns and expressed some ideas and suggested a couple of potential solutions. The team leader who supposedly moderated the conversation responded when I finished with a “yes … yes… ” And he repeated some of my last words. The tone of his voice and the way he spoke seemed like he either did not pay attention at all to what I was saying or that he didn’t understand a thing. But instead of being honest and saying “I am sorry I am not sure I got you right”….or “I was distracted by such and such” he preferred to just make it like he agreed and understood my point. His confusion was obvious because a few minutes later he was asking the same things that I had already given answers to before. Have you ever been in such a conversation? Talking to someone who pretends to hear you but doesn’t pay any attention? How did you feel? Obviously, not good!

Now imagine that even after this one instance of distraction you continue the discussion but realize that the person still doesn’t give a shit. What do you do? Would you rather continue or stop and just leave it there? Either way, even if you continue you know it’s a lost cause… an uphill battle. So it’s better to just leave it as is and move on to doing something else.

Are you there?

It was a milonga tanda in a local milonga. We haven’t seen and danced with each other for some time. I didn’t want to dance much this night having returned from an amazing weekend. We were chatting during the previous tanda and when the milonga tanda started I thought… “Ok… Let’s move a bit.” So, since we already knew each other and were chatting I skipped the cabeseo and asked directly. After a couple of seconds, we were on the dance floor. However since the first song, since the first steps, I felt like I was dancing alone. Have you ever been in the embrace of another person and felt alone? Well… Yes… It can happen.

First of all, I have already expressed multiple times that I enjoy it when the partner takes initiative and suggests ideas during the dance. This however requires some skill. If you have it is evident. If not that’s ok too. But when I lead a cross and my partner doesn’t do it, in most cases it’s not because they want to suggest something different but because they are not paying attention to me. You can easily understand when your partner is distracted. Even worse when they are totally absent. If they intentionally choose not to follow something and suggest something else they would immediately follow up with their idea and I would try to tune in. You understand that they are there and make choices. But if there is no follow-up because they are waiting for my next move, or if their next moves don’t give me a hint where in the music this suggestion comes from, then we are disconnected. We could as well dance alone.

The path to connection

A few weeks ago, I read a post on Facebook by Mila Grosa Vigdorova describing that when dancers manage to be fully present in the moment of dance and fully aware of their body and the possibilities, they manage to create this magical sensation of connection and flow. I asked her how could we communicate the feeling of connection to a beginner who hasn’t experienced it yet and in the end, we ended up agreeing that we can actually experience this feeling at many different times and places in our everyday lives given that we know how to do it. Given that we are present in that moment and place.

The trick is simply to forget everything else that you have in your sphere of reality (eg. jobs, family, problems. etc) and just focus on what you experience at the specific moment. Our mobiles are one of those biggest enemies for example. If you manage to disconnect from everyday things that may be happening in parallel in your life and just focus on what you do at the moment you can enjoy it much more. Time passes by without realizing it. You get in “the zone”. When you have company in this zone present and engaged fully like you, having forgotten everything else in their lives, then this magic connection happens. If your only concerns (your and your partners) at the moment of your dance are you, your partner, and the music… this is what creates this feeling of connection.

If you think about it… we probably experience it quite often without paying attention to it. For example, you have a meeting at work where people engage, work, and contribute together to solve a problem… you finish with a deep satisfaction that had a successful day at work. You eat dinner with your family or friends where you have fun chatting, roasting, and teasing each other… you leave the place full of joy. You go on a trip with your friend or partner and visit a museum or a sight together… you finish the day full of new images and the joy of actually having been in that place and experienced it together. I could go on forever. The list is endless but the common denominator is presence. In all these moments you are experiencing something with all your senses and your brain is fully engaged in that experience and nothing else. Add to that the interaction with other people and there you go …the so much wanted and desired connection!

Just be there!

When we dance we are in a dialog with our partner and the music much like in the work meeting, the family dinner, the museum visit, etc. Even if it is sometimes a monologue from the leader’s side, it requires the attention of both sides to be successful. You can’t just press a play button and leave a taped recording playing (leader) or recording (follower). You need to be there, active, engaged, and present. Otherwise, what is the point of dancing with you? I could just get a chair and it would be the same.

If you think this is only the follower’s problem you are wrong. Definitely, followers need to be active and listen to the leader but leaders are also followers too. Maybe you don’t know how to understand and follow the signs of your follower but there is another leader in the room that you must follow. The music! If you don’t pay attention and react based on it then why are you dancing in the first place?

So if you want connection and magic Tandas the number one ingredient is not your technique, is not your level, is nothing of all these. It is simply your ability to be fully engaged in a moment and be actively present in it. Don’t think of anything else! Just the here and now! Feel it, see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it (what does a tanda taste like?), experience it with all your senses. This is when magic happens and you enjoy it to the fullest!

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango includes quite an interesting description of a place involving smells, lights, textures, etc. The place is in half-light… and is actually connected with an activity I omitted before. Making love. The song describes a brothel and the experience of a visitor in the half-light of it.

So how about you? Are you present when you dance? What helps you get in that state? Has it ever happened that you lost track of time in a milonga? Did you ever finish a tanda feeling this amazing like you had one of the deepest conversations in your life? How often do you think about other things when you are in a milonga? How often do you check your mobile? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.


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