This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.
I arrived a few minutes late to Tammy’s class on Friday, once again, although this time I was legitimately entangled—attending a holiday party at my son’s afterschool program with his many small friends and their parents. My son stayed until the end with his father, but when I told him I had to go, he pouted for a moment and begged me to stay, also. “This is what it means to have a practice,” I told myself as I got my things together to go, but I wish I had stayed with him just a little bit longer. It is always hard for me to find the line between commitment and rigid adherence.
Although I didn’t step into the room until the transition from Flowing into Staccato, I still felt that I was able to practice Flowing. Tammy made a suggestion about moving into the empty spaces—an exercise that I associate with Flowing—which allowed me to find myself in fluid motion before progressing on to Staccato.
As the class unfolded, Tammy talked about how good it is to experiment with being in your comfort zone; and, in addition, how good it is to experiment with things that make you uncomfortable—your discomfort zone, if you will. Over the years, I have, at times, made a choice to let myself move with what feels comfortable, good and intuitive. An example of this would be moving away from people I don’t want to dance with. At other times, I have made a choice to investigate my edges and to work with situations that are uncomfortable or downright aversive—for example staying in a dance with someone who triggers anger, irritation or defensiveness.
In one pair dance, Tammy asked us to take turns with one partner giving and one partner receiving. My partner and I paused, unsure of how to relate to the instructions. We settled on one being active (which I thought of as the giving) with the other more or less observing (which I thought of as the receiving). For all I know, my partner may have thought the opposite. I have danced exuberantly with this partner many times, but in this instance we had a hard time connecting. I was similarly confused as I moved on to dance with other partners, eventually letting the instructions go completely.
There was one woman sort of slowly parading around the room, totally out of sync with the rhythm everyone else was in. I had been open to dancing with her on several occasions, and we initiated some dances together. However, as soon as an attractive man came by she would blatantly turn her back to me and move to dance with him. Eventually, I stopped inviting her to dance, and even stopped making eye contact with her. On Friday, I noticed that I ignore her. I guess I feel a little angry toward her. I wonder if I don’t want to risk being rejected, don’t want to waste the energy, or even if some part of me wants to punish her. At any rate, she seemed isolated on Friday. I wonder if she acts toward others how she did toward me. I wonder if she feels left out and can’t figure out why.
In addition to noticing what feels comfortable and what feels uncomfortable, and deciding to work with or against it, there is the question of how we relate to each entire rhythm (a topic I considered at length in the last post and have touched on in many previous writings). Typically, each of us has a favorite rhythm, and at least one rhythm that is definitely not our favorite.
Perhaps considering the Winter Solstice, Tammy encouraged to close our eyes and be in the darkness that is inside us, and to look at all the light inside us. This was convenient timing, as I had been doing just that. I love to go into a trance and move light around inside my body during Stillness. Often, light comes from the ground up; or it starts in my hands and moves from there. In this case, the light originated in my heart and was blue-white as it moved throughout my body in rapidly squiggling lines.
During the interim teaching between the first and second waves of the class, Tammy reminded us of the “rules” in a 5Rhythms room. She glancingly mentioned the “no talking” rule, and went on to elaborate that “no talking” also implies “no texting.” She explained that when we come to practice, we give ourselves a rest from all of the spinning activity of speech, and commit to spending two hours just being embodied. “We come in here,” she explained as she pointed to her heart and drew the gesture down her thorax, with a halting, emphatic forward bow.
Before I did my first silent mediation retreat, silence frightened me. My partner at the time would frequently go into a phase of resentful silence before some kind of explosion, so I would fill the space between us with small talk in an attempt to force things to be ok. I would say that my lifestyle at the time was anything but silent, as well. On retreat, I took on the idea that embracing silence for a period of time is a gift for yourself—a chance to take a break from dispersing yourself and spinning your wheels in constant relation to others. I came to love the early morning vespers—when the filled meditation hall would slowly begin to glow with the pink light of dawn. Within two days, I settled into silent, textured bliss.
Tammy mentioned that not many of us relate easily with Stillness—no great surprise given our cultural tendencies. I connected this idea to working with discomfort, with silence, and with taking a break from communicating with words for the brief duration of class.
Building on the teaching of comfort/discomfort, Tammy asked us to share our favorite rhythm. My hand went up quickly, and I said, “Chaos” with enthusiasm. Immediately after, I equivocated inside my own head, thinking of a long period in the beginning of my 5Rhythms experiences when I felt very connected to Staccato, and of another long period when I engaged in a deep exploration of Stillness. I thought, too, of one class Jilsarah taught on a Spring Solstice when I briefly entertained the idea that I might secretly have a Lyrical nature.
Tammy had us create a dance with everyone simultaneously in the rhythm we indicated as our preferred rhythm. I found that it was difficult to for me to stay in Chaos. Not surprisingly, my experience of Chaos went a bit flat in the second wave, as well. Identifying strongly with anything can be dangerous, I think. The last thing I want to do is trick myself into performing to support how I see myself.
Toward the end of the second wave, I danced with one man who I rarely partner with. We created a lilting, playful ring with baby steps and tiny jumps, backing away from each other eventually with deep bows and beaming smiles.
On this Winter Solstice, I find myself thankful for silence, the ground of all sound; and thankful, too, for darkness, the ground of all light.
December 21, 2014, NYC