Notes on Practice: You Won’t Hear This with Your Ears

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

I arrived on time to Tammy’s class on Friday, excessively bundled as the nearly balmy night was set in a string of frigid temperatures. I found my way in, forgetting, almost, my long established practice of bowing after I cross the threshold into the studio.

Friday’s class started out okay enough. I was surprised to find the crowd thin for a Friday, and wondered if the previous day’s killings at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France might have made people nervous about traveling by subway. I meandered briefly, noting the absence of an altar, then found a place on the floor to breathe and stretch. Shortly, I found myself moving around the room in the rhythm of Flowing.

I was having a hard time getting into it; and I was relieved when Tammy instructed us to take partners. I love when we are told to partner. In general, whether I am told to or not, I am partnered for more than half of the time. When it is an instruction, I find it very comfortable to sink completely into the dance, knowing that before long the instructor will tell us to switch partners. I don’t have to waste any energy at all trying to read people (or read myself) to know if I should stay with them or move away. I just do what I am told. Also, if I feel weary or vague, being told to partner can wake me up instantly.

I notice that if I shut down to one person, I effectively shut down to everyone. On Friday, during the partnered dances when Tammy defined how long we should stay in partnership, one dancer put me off. I found him aggressive—with his body, his eye contact, his use of space, his movements. I kept dancing backward, wanting more space between the two of us; and he kept advancing toward me. I held my hand up with my arm outstretched and the palm facing him every time he got close to me. Despite this, halfway through our dance he went for it and just charged me, coming in very close, very fast, with his chin slightly tucked into his chest. It made me feel threatened. He didn’t seem to understand or acknowledge my body language at all. After I moved away from him, I found myself more distracted from what was happening around me.

I have had this experience before—I shut down to one person and wind up accidentally shutting down to everyone else at the same time. Was this guy really going to hurt me? I doubt it. Was shutting him out emotionally going to help keep me safe in any way? I doubt it. The only one who suffered in the situation was me. If shutting someone out could really keep you safe, I’d be all for it, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way. I think it might be possible to have a boundary, without having to create an energetic Great Wall.

When I first started coming to 5Rhythms classes, there was one character on the floor who made me angry. He would freak out completely, and in the process draw all energy and attention to himself. I am all for falling apart when you need to and for comforting and supporting others who want or need support—but this was just too much. And it kept happening! One night, the entire dance floor was on their knees, keening, with their hands on this guy while he wailed. I came to wonder if he might actually be a demon.

For whatever reason, on Friday, I wanted to shut out the man who rushed toward me. In my own mind, I think I was punishing him, though I am nearly certain he didn’t notice at all. Later, I glanced by a friend (mentioned recently) who I love to dance with, but who tends to make me nervous because he gets angry a lot. Although our dances are always fascinating, and are often beautiful, I barely made eye contact with him.

As I found myself increasingly distracted and separate from the tribe, I noticed a woman who was enraptured with the dance. During the teaching period between the night’s two waves, she had identified herself as a brand new dancer who had never done 5Rhythms before.

I thought about the first time I danced 5Rhythms. It is a story I hold close to my heart, much as you might cherish a story of falling in love with a life partner or soul mate—an ace to get you through the rough times. In my case my 5Rhythms career began when a trustworthy friend and mentor suggested that I join her for a night of dancing, saying, “I’m not sure how to explain it, but I think you’d really like it.”

I spent my entire first class in a heavy trance. It seemed imprudent to look directly at anyone; but I could feel my place in the web of people. Tears rolled down my cheeks. In fact, for the first two years of dancing, I cried almost constantly. I found that I needed to collapse again and again—an antidote for years spent in a difficult relationship when I had to hold back, hold things together, and keep myself in check—for fear of triggering an enraged response. Sometimes I was crying out unexpressed grief, sometimes I was crying for joy; and often I wasn’t sure why I was crying—only that my at once tender and defended heart was becoming more and more available.

After class, I went to dinner with the friend who invited me. I was stunned. Speechless. (For a long time it was hard for me to transition back and forth from the world of dance and body to the world of speech and words.) I kept repeating the same phrases. She was patient with me, thankfully; and I knew that the night was the beginning of a long relationship.

I started to write this post earlier in the week; and I wasn’t surprised when Tammy talked about the experience of falling in love with dance during class on the following Friday night. Mmany, many times Tammy has taught about something specific that has been foregrounded in my mind. Once, she told an obscure story—about a group of the Buddha’s early followers spending a night in a dangerous forest, filled with demons, tigers and other wild animals—that I had been studying and contemplating during that same week.

In Tammy’s case, she talked about how she stepped into a 5Rhythms room for the first time and, encountering herself in the mirror, had to muster the courage to stay rather than “turn away from herself”. She went on to talk about what it was like for her to fall in love with 5Rhythms.

When I fell in love with the partner I shared eight often-beautiful years with, it was my heart who told me the news. The unexpected partner-to-be and I spent the afternoon together visiting art galleries and by night time found our way to a little beach by the East River in Williamsburg. The same site is now a huge, well-tended park, but at the time you had to climb through a hole in a chain-link fence to get there. We sat on a driftwood log, listening to the river’s waves, looking up at the stars, and talking of the world. We embraced each other, and the most remarkable thing happened. The rhythms of our heartbeats synced up, beating in exactly the same time. I had not been looking for a partner at the time, but I couldn’t deny my heart’s imperative.

Ah, yes! I was talking about my first class for a reason before we even got to the class when Tammy shared her story. As I mentioned, I had noticed this lovely, shining girl who was dancing in a 5Rhythms room for the first time. She was near me when I was feeling shut down; and noticing her made me smile. Even so, I moved reluctantly, not really feeling into it. When my eyes were closed, the same girl twined her arm with mine. Though she did not touch me, I felt her next to me right away. She had no idea that this was a bold move on her part; and for a split second I thought of moving away from her. The feeling I got from her was so joyful, so elated, so kind, so innocent that I smiled and instead began to move with her right away. We have a choice, in every moment, don’t we? We can always move away. Sometimes we have to. But I notice that when I choose to move away, it is rarely followed by the feeling of joy that sometimes arises as a result of staying. It is interesting, perhaps, to note that shortly after her dance with me, the innocent girl happily partnered with the same charging man who had triggered me earlier in the class.

Fast forward now, to the following week’s Friday night class—the class when Tammy talked about falling in love.

I am weepy today, as I write. This morning my yoga instructor played Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speeches in the beginning of the class as we lay supine, and again at the end, finding us in a similar position. Martin Luther King’s stalwart integrity, commitment, skillfulness and vision inspire me deeply; and I sobbed raggedly in the quiet room. The teacher talked of his words as “our inheritance.” His heart is our heart, is my heart; and is an expression of our collective, perfectly expressed humanity.

When I got home, I bent down to my little son’s eye level, touched my forehead to his, looked into his eyes and said, “My heart has something to tell your heart. I love you.” He smiled and said, “Mommy that was your words, not your heart.” I said, “Let me try again.” And I hugged him, matching our hearts together. “You are going to have to listen with your heart now, because your ears won’t hear this.” I let the universe rush in as my heart spoke. “I heard it, Mommy! That time I heard your heart!” He smiled and went back to playing and drawing.

I wasn’t feeling well on the way to class on Friday—a bad cold I think—with headache and congestion. I flirted with the idea of staying home, but decided I would try it and see what happened. On the floor to begin, my nose began to run like a faucet to the point of nose-tip irritation; and I started to sneeze repeatedly. “Uh oh,” I thought. I wasn’t sure I would have the energy to engage; and decided I would take it as easy as possible.

Getting up slowly I started to move with abundant gentleness—letting all my edges and pointed investigations rest for the evening. I held a crumpled tissue in my hand to catch the frequent gushes of nose-water. I barely even sweated until long into the class, pushing nothing, and instead moving in circular motion, seemingly with no more exertion than I used while lying down on the floor. My dance is often very athletic, but in this case it was nothing but tender.

I stepped into a dance with a friend (the same friend I wrote about during Tammy’s recent heartbeat workshop—Faint of Heart) I think I need to give my frequent partners assumed names, so readers can identify the evolving relationships as they read different posts, but I won’t disrupt anyone’s privacy. Let us call this friend Jean-Marie. I stepped into a dance with Jean-Marie, with no expectations and no edges. Slowly, I investigated moving with her. I noticed something about her dance that I hadn’t understood before—as much as there is a kind of offering and a low, circular, pendulous motion—there is also this dynamic, repeated suspension that creates a rhythm even in the gentlest of fluid motion. We smiled at each other as the dance transformed and we each dissolved back into the crowded room.

After such a satisfying beginning, it was easy to flow through the room, encountering and moving with people as we crossed paths. Before long, I encountered the same friend I love to dance with who I sometimes have mixed feelings about because I have seen and felt his anger more than once. Let us call him Daniel from now on. I danced past Daniel, and instead of glancing by, I fell into step next to him, smiling and inviting him to dance. The music had calmed, but once again became energetic, chaotic. Smiling, we leapt and twisted, finding all the different sides of each other. Still, I was edgeless, released, compared with how I usually experience myself. I bumped slightly into a very tall friend who was next to us and apologized, feeling drawn to him, but returning to my dance with Daniel. Daniel then touched his heart and offered a small gesture toward me—a motion I usually interpret as “Good-bye and thank you, from the heart, for the beautiful dance.” I flowed right into a dance with the friend I had accidentally bumped, wondering briefly if Daniel might not have intended to end our dance and if I might hurt his feelings by partnering with someone else, but moving on regardless.

The friend I turned to—let us call him Kevin—is lithe and athletic, and holds exquisite joy even at the farthest reaches of him—the tips of his fingers and the ends of his toes. The dance we shared was pure love. Gentle whispering winds coiled around our spines, turning us un-self-consciously. I accidentally bumped someone else, apologized and, turning back to him, slapped my forehead with the palm of my hand, clowning, acknowledging my mis-step. We moved through many different energies, even shapeshifting for a period. Balancing and suspending, I wanted to lift my leg far behind me and looked carefully first so I wouldn’t once again bump someone. He noticed my intention and we shared the joke briefly before moving back into sublime whispered motion. Turning from him, energetic again, a sound that was like a groan, a sigh and a sob all at once escaped me, completely un-intended. We ended the wave facing each other, giggling. Shining in our humanity.

Once, on a chilly, white fall day while I was crossing 23rd street in the West Village, my heart spoke to me. In clear, unmistakable words. Its message to me then is a cherished secret, but I am thinking of it today as I write on another chilly, white day; and reflecting on how grateful I am to have a practice that reminds me to turn to my heart, again and again, day after day and year after year.

January 18, 2015

Are You “In” or “Out”?

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

I was happy to arrive on time to Jonathan Horan’s sold-out, one day workshop “5Rhythms Fundamentals: Embodied Waves” that took place on Sunday at the Joffrey Ballet Studio in the West Village.  I had been away until the night before, and had not set foot in a 5Rhythms room for two entire weeks.  During the interlude, I danced (again) at Dance Spree in Northampton, Massachusetts, and also went to several dance events at Kripala Institute, where I observed the New Year.  I intended to find a quiet corner of the large yoga retreat center to meditate through the midnight hour, but decided, instead, to attend a lively dance party lead by two teachers.  I also went to a class lead by a man who started something called Shake Your Soul; and, although initially resistant, found that I was won over by the end of the class.  I thought I would relax, meditate and attend yoga classes, but as so often happens, found I was drawn to dance—whether it is specifically 5Rhythms or not.  All of these experiences offered new insight and information for me to experiment with.

I noticed as I entered the room on Sunday that I was slightly nervous.  I have entered this same room on the 5th floor of the Joffrey hundreds of times; and I have rarely been nervous.  It was hard to identify a cause, but I began to suspect that I was overly concerned with what the teacher, Jonathan, thought of me.  I’m not sure what, exactly, I was hoping he would think, but it was an interesting thing to note.  I admit that I cared very much what Gabrielle Roth—Jonathan’s mother and the founder of 5Rhythms—thought, and wondered if it might not have carried over.

Martha, an artist and 5Rhythms teacher who is highly regarded in the 5Rhythms community, had created an engaging installation with an active water element that contained references to earth, fire, water, air and ether; and I lingered near it, inspecting its elements as the dance began to move me.

I slipped easily into the first wave, beginning by finding an off-to-the-side spot to unfurl, stretch and undulate.  I encountered many friends—people I have danced with for years—and greeted them warmly.  I noted that there were several experienced teachers on the floor; and that the room felt deeper, somehow, for their many collective years of practice.  Once I felt ready to stand, I rose to my feet in a dramatic rush, lifting first my hips, then back, shoulders, and head, and, finally, raising my hands to the sky and arcing slightly back.  From there, I found circular motion easily, connecting joyfully with other dancers.  I was also deep in my hips, experimenting with long, low stances; sharp, square edges; and percussive motion.  With a good friend, I enjoyed a brief flinging jig, with high spinning steps and air-landed kicks during Lyrical in the opening wave.

Things shifted radically for me after Jonathan’s instructional talk following that first wave.  I sat in the circle of participants surrounding Jonathan as he spoke, rapt with attention.  In the beginning of the talk, he gazed into the ceiling, seemingly searching for words or waiting for inspiration.  I wondered if he could see or hear his now-deceased mother, Gabrielle, and couldn’t resist the temptation to follow his gaze skyward.

Jonathan touched on many significant themes.  He talked about the nature of practice—a topic that I love—and how we use the discipline of practice to help us to deepen our capacity for awareness.  He also explained that (despite conventional understanding) 5Rhythms is not a dance practice.  I remember Gabrielle saying that, too.  In a talk she gave not long before she died, she said, “This is just the little black dress I put on for you,” and explained that 5Rhythms is actually a way to describe the very creative process itself, not just what happens in the dance.

I hope I don’t fall into the temptation of getting stuck on the idea that 5Rhythms is dance, but I am so grateful that it is.  I do love to dance.

Jonathan went on to explain that 5Rhythms is actually a movement meditation practice.  He used repetition, taking the voice of a dancer-seeker, “I taste freedom.  I taste freedom!” he said, “Freedom from myself!”  He then spoke about noticing if you are “in” or “out”, describing, I think, the quality of awareness.

In class on Friday, Tammy also commented on awareness, saying that one of the goals of practice is to develop awareness to such an extent that we realize we are totally and utterly connected to everyone else.  She then invoked one of Gabrielle’s most famous adages: “There is only one of us here.”

My inner talk at this point in the workshop was something like, “I get this.  I’m good at this.  I’m mostly ‘in’.  I know how to open my awareness to whatever comes.  My heart gets shattered in this room all the time.  This is not going to be very hard for me.”

Jonathan invited us to do a dance of being “out”, and had us take partners in this intentional state of being aware of non-awareness.  Although we had a partner, we were supposed to think about something else, look away from them, and otherwise distract ourselves.  I found that it was really, really hard to stay dis-engaged.  I thought about a painting assignment I once had—to make a “bad” painting.  It was hard!  The intended badness of it was so engaging that I made a painting I loved, and that planted the seeds for an entire painting series that carried through the following year.  It set me free, if only briefly, from the many constraints that I placed on myself in trying to make a “good” painting, and, too, that I placed on myself in trying to be a “good” painter.

Jonathan encouraged us to “be real,” to find our own dance, and to stop performing ourselves.  “Do that thing you do, when you are performing,” he said playfully on the microphone, “do that cute thing you do with your hips! Yeah! Do your hipster dance!” He continued; and the bottom dropped out for me.  My ego did a triple spin.  Every time I tried to move, I felt I was performing.  The suspicion I had about wanting to impress Jonathan came drifting back.  I felt like every movement I made had some aspect of performing to it.  Instead of just noting my inner experience and moving on, in this case I seized up—the ego watching the ego watching the ego. I descended into isolated pain.  I did not have the energy I needed to dance with inspiration.

I wondered about the things I could have done differently to avoid this current pain.  I should have eaten an adequate breakfast. I was tired because of going non-stop from one physically intense activity to the next at Kripalu; and perhaps I should have paced myself more.  I hadn’t hydrated enough, surely.  I started to wonder about a possible muscle pull in my right groin that had been tender for two days.  I stopped the bold physical experiments—with wide, decisive steps and sweeping, extended arms—afraid I might have seriously pulled the muscle and just wasn’t feeling the damage yet.

Rather than dancing near the front and middle, where there is usually a lot of space and a lot of action, I hovered, instead, near the columns—vague and distracted by the inner discussion I wanted no part of, but was unable to silence.

This reminded me of an experiment Tammy proposed during a Friday night class in 2007 or 2008: that we turn and dance with the emptiness next to us.  I happened to be concurrently studying the Buddhist concept of emptiness—that nothing exists inherently in and of itself, including me—and that everything is in a constant state of change and flux.  The study of emptiness infuriated me.  Wasn’t it enough to know and accept emptiness without having to belabor the point?  My ego rubbed and rubbed, blistering me in the process, trying its best to sustain itself.  In retrospect, the class that focused on the study of emptiness (in the context of Buddhist Madyamika Prasangika teachings) was by far the most transformative of all the classes I took in a two-year intensive Buddhist studies program.  I had no idea whatsoever how to respond to Tammy’s instructions at the time to turn and dance with the empty space next to us; and I found myself confused and irritated.

I think I should explain what I mean by the ego.  I mean it not in the Freudian sense exactly, but closer to a Buddhist sense.  The self aspect of self that is constantly seeking to prove its existence to itself—projecting its habitual stories, then trying to convince itself and others that its stories are true and eternal.  This is the creature that got rubbed so hard in the workshop on Sunday.  I can’t tell you exactly what self-story got interrupted, but I’m pretty sure I know it when I feel it.

Jonathan kept asking, are you “in” or “out”? “Are you just going through the motions?”  He also said something like, “Can’t you just be real?”  At one point, he said, “It’s a choice.  In, or out.”  This sparked anger.  More than anything, I wanted to make the choice to be “in,” in fact I was making that choice, but “in” absolutely wasn’t available to me at that moment.  The spark of anger never ignited, thankfully, as another voice in me answered the first, “It might not be a choice in this moment, but in the bigger picture, it is a choice. One that unfolds over time.”

It seemed clear that my ego was having some sort of temper tantrum, and it was downright unpleasant.  On some deep-inside level, I think I trusted Jonathan, and was willing to believe that his choices were skillful, even if I couldn’t understand them in the moment.  At the end of that wave, the final shape my body took was a twisted curve; and my eyes landed and stayed on the room’s red exit sign, hanging above the studio door.

I left quickly for lunch, hoping to avoid having to interact with anyone.  As I sat at a local eatery, a close friend appeared and asked if he could join me.  I was happy for his company, though still feeling unhappy and oddly tight.  He told me someone asked if he was “having a nice dance,” and he shrugged, saying, “Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it nice.”  I said, “Yes, sometimes nice or pleasant doesn’t exactly line up with productive.  It could be totally not nice and still be productive.” I went on to share, “My dance so far today is very unpleasant, in fact.  I think it might be productive, but it is really unpleasant right now.  It would be good if it would shift.”  I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain the tussle I suspected my ego was embroiled in.

I returned after lunch, once again on time, curious to see how my narrative would evolve through the afternoon.  I wondered if I would remain locked in isolation, or if a different quality would come through.  This time, I fell right into the luxury of aimlessness, flowing into empty spaces as they opened up, and being coiled and repelled by currents as I moved toward and away from people.  Sometimes I would trail someone briefly as I was tugged along in their wake.  Even if I made a choice to go a particular way or to dance with a particular dancer, something would inevitably intervene and send me swirling happily in a different direction altogether.

I thought about how I had gone through stretches lasting months when dance was very unpleasant.  I have no idea why I kept going to 5Rhythms classes when things got so very, very unpleasant and stayed that way for so long.  I would scurry out at the end, unable, even, to sit peacefully with friends.  I told myself that it was the nature of practice—that you keep showing up for yourself, again and again and again—without being attached to what will happen as a result.  On Sunday, I was grateful that this period of unpleasantness seemed to have passed quickly.

Up until the time of this writing, I wasn’t exactly sure what the theme or even the title of the workshop was; and I actually had to look it up on  I just knew that it was a one-day workshop with Jonathan in New York and was sure it wouldn’t be a waste of time or money.  As it turns out, this was the first of a series of one-day “5Rhythms Fundamentals” workshops, each focusing on one of the 5Rhythms.  While I didn’t note an emphasis on the rhythm of Flowing per se, in his final remarks at the end of the day, Jonathan said something to the effect that if you haven’t developed your relationship to Flowing—to finding yourself in the feet and knowing the ground beneath you—there is no point in moving on.  I was left with the thought that the teachings of the day had to do not just with Flowing and finding the ground, but also to do with clear-cutting the defilements that corrupt that very relationship.  No point in building a house on a swamp!

On Monday, I returned to work after two weeks of celebration, rest and time with family.  It might or might not be related to my experiences during the workshop, but the week has been characterized by balance.  I have been neither fatigued nor manic, neither hungry nor overfull, and neither bored nor overwhelmed.

January 10, 2014

Mindfulness and Awareness in 5Rhythms Practice

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

Today I went to one of my favorite places—a quiet spot next to a river that my grandfather loved.  Though it was cold, I sat in meditation on the ground, patiently attending to my breath, to the icy wind grazing my cheekbones, to the sheer bank on the other side of the river, to the glowing late afternoon sun behind the trees, to the ground beneath me, to the moving water, and to everything reflected upside down on its surface.

This week, I was not able to formally practice 5Rhythms; and I find myself considering broad themes within my own practice, rather than specific experiences that have arisen in a given class.

When I started an intensive formal meditation practice in 2007, I slowly came to understand that mindfulness and awareness are two ends of a certain spectrum of experience.  Before then, mindfulness and awareness seemed like vague synonyms, but after they became quite distinct.  Mindfulness, strengthened in meditation through strategic attention to one thing, such as the breath, is about sustaining focus and overriding the mind’s tendency to disperse itself.  Awareness, strengthened in meditation through equanimous attention to everything that arises, is about being wholeheartedly present and open to what is happening in a given moment.

I quickly realized that I had a strong tendency toward mindfulness, rather than awareness.  I found I could hold my attention to the breath like a vise.  Within a few months, I could sustain mindfulness of breath during almost all of my waking hours.  When it came to awareness—and the receptive, accepting, patient quality that awareness engenders, it was (and is) much less intuitive for me.

I came to 5Rhythms and to formal meditation at almost exactly the same time; and both found me eager, dry tinder ready to be set alight.  Having two core practices was a lot like having two fluent languages, since it gave me insight into what is unique and what is universal no matter what language you are speaking.  What I learned from my meditation teachers, I investigated in the laboratory of 5Rhythms classes.  What I learned in 5Rhythms fueled and deepened meditation practice and study.  When I found concepts in both traditions that aligned closely, I paid them extra mind.

Today by the river, I got cold as soon as I decided I was done meditating.  Nothing changed, except that during formal meditation I was emphasizing mindfulness and concentrating on my breath, and after I wasn’t.  I have had the same experience dozens of times—wherein as soon as I stopped formally meditating, something about the environment was unbearable, though I had been perfectly at ease just moments before during the period of meditation.  This, to me, offers evidence about the potential power of mindfulness practices to affect how we experience our lives.

In dance, Flowing is where I find my ground.  I attend to the physical sensations of the feet again and again, ideally until I feel satisfied that I have established a ground in mindfulness.  Until that ground is well-established, it is pointless to move on.  Otherwise, I run the risk of causing harm to myself or others, and it is unlikely that I will be available to subtle aspects of practice.  During the course of a wave I move back and forth again and again on this continuum between mindfulness and awareness.  In dance, often the return to mindfulness is a return to the sensation of the moving feet—a key teaching in Flowing.  If I am lucky, I may find myself eventually moving un-self-consciously in Stillness, with awareness of breath and spirit.

Perhaps because of my tendency toward mindfulness, I fall easily into states of concentration.  As a child, I set up all sorts of focusing games for myself, such as sitting in the garden and gazing for long periods at a single vegetable, looking into a mirror, or staring at length into the ocean.  I never didn’t meditate.  I didn’t acquire any language for it or any formal training until my late teens, but it was something that I did intuitively.

In dance, this concentration often expresses as trance states.  I go through long periods when dance is quite normal—perhaps psychological, emotional or social—but not archetypal or mystical.  I also go through phases when different planes of reality are rendered in sharp relief.  I might imagine that I find messages hidden in time, that I communicate with spirit ancestors, or that I see compelling visions, such as jewels pouring out of my palms.  I might even feel like I have specific memories of different lives I’ve lived.  Sometimes, inside a trance, I catch a glitch in a particular movement and repeat it again and again until its repetition opens the doors of time and offers some key insight.

The transition from Chaos into Lyrical is the time when I am most likely to look up, look around, and notice everyone and everything in the room.  My hair, wild with the rigors of Chaos, gets pushed away from my eyes.  I often lighten up, and start to move energetically throughout the space, dancing with many, but rarely settling into a dance with one partner.  For me, this moment has often been accompanied by the clutch of fear, perhaps in part to do with how I relate to awareness.

There is more that I want to say tonight, as I sit engaging in this rather intellectual examination of how I experience my practice and how mindfulness and awareness get enacted for me.  I love to travel these trajectories, but I just stepped outside on a bright moonlit night, standing among windless trees and noting the glitter of winter frost.  I remembered that the magic, the beauty, of practice is that moving brings me to life, and wakes me up to the life I am already living.  Any frame I care to set up is just a lovely exercise.  Really, the words are just a rounding off of the real experience–a quest to understand and communicate what is, ultimately, wordless, timeless and inexplicable.

December 29, 2014