In week two of my e-retreat we discussed discovering our Divinity and practicing presence. I mostly focused on stillness meditation via the breath, but also another practice which has been instrumental in connecting my mind to my body to my soul: dance.
I call it a Divine Dance Party For One and I have been practicing it for a while.
It’s dancing like no-one is watching (because they’re not) to your favorite, most uplifting music and letting it all go.
While stillness has played a big part in my level of awareness, I gotta say that sometimes, stomping it out through my feet is the only way I get completely free.
I’ve danced for as long as I can remember, first on the coffee table, then the trampoline and then in formal settings where steps and skills and competition were the focus.
I loved it, but it became problematic for me, so I stopped.
Talking about dance in our e-retreat facebook group the other day, however, I was able to verbalize a truth which has been buried within me for a long time; “Dance is my most natural expression, it’s when I feel most me.”
I also shared that in 2010 on retreat in Bali our meditation teacher Gisela took us through a class of the ‘5 Rhythms,’ a free movement meditation developed by Gabrielle Roth. Moving through the five rhythms of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness, we allowed our bodies to lead the way and tell its story without steps or instruction.
The biggest challenge is to allow self-judgement to fall away. After we moved through the rhythms we were encouraged to dance freely… like no-one was watching, because they weren’t. Everyone was ensconced within their own rhythm and movement.
It was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
Bringing this to the forefront of my awareness again shifted something for me. On Thursday I Googled the 5 Rhythms and saw that there was a workshop the following day in the nearby town of Salida.
I got excited. Then I got shit-scared.
So I outed myself on the ‘Journey to Shine’ facebook group to make myself accountable.
Thank God for those women, because if it weren’t for them and the serendipitous chain of events which led me to do that Google search (thank you Karyn and Sarah!), I would not have danced myself silly for FOUR hours on Friday.
Visudha De Los Santos, a teacher and healer from Taos, New Mexico led the class. She only visits Salida for workshops a few times per year. To say the timing was cosmic was an understatement.
She said little, but her presence was powerful. Strong yet nurturing, she DJ’d an amazing set to naturally draw the rhythms from our bodies.
My fear wasn’t of not enough, but of too much, which is equally destructive. So I knew there was no other option for me but to completely let it go.
I allowed my feet to stomp out my story.
I gave my body permission to move in its most natural way.
It wasn’t about aesthetics, but an internal rhythm being expressed outwardly; the true purpose of dance.
I rode the waves of energy pulsating through me, at times becoming completely exhausted and spent.
.“The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat,
the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to
– Gabrielle Roth, ‘Sweat Your Prayers’
Miraculously, more energy would move into me, coaxed by the music. Any time drumming, African or tribal music of any kind came over the speakers, my body would translate the beat into movement without effort.
In fact, the releasing of effort was the whole point. Surrendering to the motion and the rhythm without thought.
We identified fear and released it. The same for judgement and perfectionism. We literally threw them out the door.
By the time the afternoon session rolled around, I was mostly dancing with my eyes closed, detecting waves of inner energies and releasing them.
There were tears.
There was overriding joy.
At one point, my eyes firmly shut and my body telling its story to the space, I lost myself.
Nothing existed except the undulations of movement and I disappeared into the core of that, within it and without it at the same time.
The sheer ecstasy of that is like nothing I have ever experienced. Not on any stage or in any structured dance class.
“Throughout human history,
people have been searching for something…
A drink from the river of life,
that stirs the soul awake
mystics, poets, madmen, artists, prophets and saints
describe the journey as….
The Dance of Nothing”
I found home in The Dance of Nothing, as though it had been calling me since birth; calling me to return to myself.
At about the three hour mark, Visudha cried through the microphone, “DO YOU DARE TO SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO YOUR SOUL?!”
I danced out my answer to that question, surrendering everything I had to the rhythm moving within me, expressing through me, daring me to allow it.
She posed the question, do we dare? Do we dare live the natural rhythm of our unique life force? Do we dare allow our soul its most authentic expression; to expand itself through us via the vessel of our physical bodies?
My answer was yes.
See the website, 5Rhythms, for information on teachers, workshops, classes and more.