Several weeks ago, the ladies of Black Women’s Day of Meditation were offered an opportunity to take a trapeze class with the Trapeze School New York - Los Angeles. I don’t know about Dominique or Ajia but personally, trapeze was something that I’d always wanted to try but was a little scared because the idea of whooshing back and forth through the sky sends my stomach whooshing back and forth along with it. Regardless, I'm proud to say that I put on my big girl panties, donned my mask (of course!) and tried my hand at trapeze, even managing to learn a cool trick where I flipped off of the swinging bar.
The hardest part of the entire experience was letting go. Letting go of the ladder so that I could stand at the tip of the ledge. Then letting go of the ledge so that I could swing from the bar. Then letting go of the bar, so that I could swing, hands-free. Then letting go completely so that I could fall into the net.
It was as if the entire experience - not unlike life itself - was an exercise in grabbing onto new things and letting go of old. A series of acceptance and releases. Inhalations and exhalations. Over and over again. Even the way the trapeze swung back and forth was like breathing. The experience, albeit fun, was a huge lesson that taught me a lot about myself, meditation and how easy it is to move forward when you accept and let go.
So here are 5 things I learned about letting go while doing trapeze:
1. YOU CAN’T TAKE THE LEDGE WITH YOU
When I approached the ladder to the ledge, one of the instructors clipped a harness to my safety vest. This was one of the first instances of “holy crap we’re really doing this.” As I climbed each rung, it got harder to turn back. I screamed internally the entire time but knew it was a bad idea to turn around. And when I got to the top of the ledge, I found myself gripping the harness for dear life. The instructor at the top of the ledge asked me to hold onto a bar, so I did. She then took the harness - the little device that’d so quickly become like a pacifier for my fear - and unclipped it from my safety vest. Cue more internal screaming. She then asked me to stand at the edge of the ledge. My first thought was “this is all happening so fast.” But I did as told. And the next thing I know, I was flying through the air like Spiderman and this cool ass picture was taken.
Lesson: If you want to get to the point of actually living your best life, you must release yourself from the things that have been holding you back.
2. YOU’RE MORE EQUIPPED FOR DOING TRAPEZE TRICKS THAN YOU THINK
After my second time on the trapeze, one of the instructors decided it was time to teach us a dismounting trick. My brain said “TRICKS?! I barely made it up the ladder!” Either way, we stood in a row and listened intently as she described and physically showed us how to dismount from the bar by doing a flip. For some reason, nothing made sense to me. And I couldn’t get why the instructor seemed to be so nonchalant about it all. I wanted to get every detail right but it wasn’t long before they were harnessing me to the ladder. I tried my hardest to make sense of what the instructor said and she assured me that she would shout the commands to me from the sidelines but there was a teensy bit of doubt needling at my rib cage as I imagined myself getting it all wrong and falling to my death. Next thing you know I’m soaring through the air. Nothing but silence except the wind as it rushed past my face. Time felt like it stood still. Then suddenly, I hear a shout. “BACK, FORTH, BACK.” I knew what she meant instantly and did the moves. Then she shouted the next step and the next. And without any second-guessing, I'd landed, having successfully done my first trick to screams and cheers from the crowd. I had no idea that I was capable of doing a backflip off of a trapeze bar, while swinging through the air… but how WOULD I know, if I hadn’t tried.
Lesson: Let go of old definitions of what you can and can’t do and trust yourself. There is a part of you that is connected to the universe in a way that is deeper than you’ll ever understand. That part of you will kick in when it’s needed. But you won’t know when it’s needed, until it’s needed.
3. NOBODY IS LAUGHING AT YOUR SCREAMING… OKAY, MAYBE THEY ARE BUT WHO CARES?
I’d ascended the ladder four times and was going for my fifth. I’d done the “no-hands” swing a few times and was going to try to nail the backflip dismount again as I’d messed up on my second try (...and didn’t die. Go figure!) I climbed the ladder like a pro. Unclipped my own harness (like a badass) and strolled on over to the edge of the ledge to get my Spiderman on again. This time was different, though. As I swung through the air, I felt myself getting woozy. Instead of a scream, an embarrassing grumbling sound escaped my throat. I tried to get a mental grip so that I could listen to the instructor as she shouted commands, but that wasn’t happening. The only thing that WAS happening was this feeling that the world was moving too fast. The instructor slowed down the swinging and immediately, I felt better. I released myself from the bar and fell gingerly into the net deciding to take a brief break, hoping my dizziness would go away. It didn’t. It was then that I knew my session had come to an end. At first, I was disappointed in myself and a little ashamed. I’d done the trapeze four times already, why on earth was I letting everyone down by not doing it again. Regardless, I spent some time chatting with the really cool crew at TSNY-LA and even watched them do some trapeze tricks. (Also want to note, they were extremely understanding and encouraging throughout the entire process so deciding when it was quitting time was not hard at all). In these moments, when I took a step back and realized how much fun I’d had and was having, I was SO happy that I'd decided to listen to my body when it’d had enough.
Lesson: Let go of your perceptions of what other people expect from you. This is YOUR life and no one else’s. If your purpose is no longer serving you, then why continue to do it? Also, listen to your body!
So these are the lessons I learned while doing trapeze. I hope they also can serve you as they have (and will) serve me. Here’s some more pictures featuring Ajia who does a kick-ass backflip dismount.