The Dance of the Sensual Heart, By Carrie Pinsky
When you meet Leela Francis it becomes immediately apparent that she is extremely comfortable in her own skin. As you listen to her words and watch the way she moves, you sense a tangible mind, body, and spirit connection. Her life adds up and everything she says and does is an expression of her vision for the world.
Leela believes that women gathering together to dance can actually change the world. She travels around the globe to create sacred space and to dance with women through Sensual Heart events. The Sensual Heart experience is one part fundraising, one part consciousness-raising, and one part dance. Leela helps women connect with the goddess that lies within while simultaneously building a greater awareness of sisterhood among women everywhere. Leela sends a portion of the proceeds to “sisters” in developing countries who have suffered from horrendous acts of violence and abuse. To date her organization has raised over $35,000 to support causes such as Women Thrive Worldwide, Women for Women International and Darfur Peace and Development.
This is an issue near and dear to Leela’s heart. Far too many women in the world continue to have their sacred sensuality violated through war, wartime rape and sexual violation. Leela works to raise awareness about the plight of women around the globe. Simultaneously, she also strives to raise awareness about how women in developed countries, such as our own, inflict similar harm upon themselves. According to Leela, “The bigger tragedy may occur when women who live in relative states of freedom and abundance sacrifice their own sacred sensuality in order to achieve wealth, status, or by trying to live up to someone else’s standards. When women fail to live in a state of mind/body/spirit connection, they suffer in all sorts of ways such as depression, chronic disease, addiction, eating disorders, and poor self-image. This is the violence we inflict upon ourselves.”
Leela believes, “Dance, especially dancing in community, has amazing healing properties.” She was sixteen years old when her father died very suddenly. Looking back, Leela realizes that she danced her way through that sorrow and grief. Dance was what allowed her to process and heal from a devastating experience. Leela began to see dance as a way to transform grief into a celebration of life. She now incorporates movement from a variety of traditions including Nia, Trance Dance, and yoga into her own VividExistence Dance experience. She believes that by “dancing our emotions” we strengthen the mind/body/spirit connection. This is key to living in a state of sacred sensuality.”
What does it really mean to live in a state of sacred sensuality?
According to Leela, there are three essential elements to living a fulfilled life: sensuality, spirituality, and creativity. “Each of these areas must be nurtured and attended to in order for us to reach our fullest potential. In my work with women, when we look at what is not right…it is almost always attached to one of these key areas. When we suffer health imbalances, we can often link the cause back to the ways we are not connecting to our sensuality, spirituality, or creativity. We have somehow been led to believe that these are secondary needs. I have seen over and over that each of these are essential and necessary for women to live fully empowered, embodied lives. It doesn’t take a lot for most women to feel that something is not quite right yet we often ignore the symptoms and warnings. Denying ourselves the very things that would nourish and fulfill us is an act of betrayal or violence. Dance and movement are conduits that can help us tune in and heal our lives.”
Whether Leela is creating sacred space in a women’s circle, dancing, facilitating a retreat in Mexico, guiding a Vividly Woman workshop or coaching an individual, the goal is always the same. “Everything I do is designed to support people in connecting and honoring the body, self, and soul. I do this by defining and fostering a sense of sacred sensuality. I am truly blessed to move from circle to circle of beautiful women. As we heal ourselves, we heal the world.”
Learn more about Leela Francis online at www.VividlyWoman.com.