Being Worn Away in Bits


Pura vida literally means “pure life.” In Costa Rica, you hear it many times a day. I was trying to explain “pura vida” to my five-year-old son, Simon, yesterday. It means “life is extremely beautiful.” It can also mean “you are welcome, I offer this thing to you with grace and generosity.” Too, it can mean, “Yes, I totally agree with you,” or “We are so lucky to be alive.” It is often used as the closing for a note or for the end of a satisfying conversation. It implies a kind of presence, joy and wholeheartedness; and, when uttered, acts as a reminder to take note of the spectacular moment that is unfolding.

The contemplation “Everything is Perfect” at first seemed too obvious. In so many ways, everything is perfect here. Costa Rica is the closest I have been to paradise. For the last few days, however, the complex meaning of the phrase has been apparent—that absolutely everything that arises in our path is part of the material we use to wake up, even (and especially) the afflictive emotions—such as grief, anxiety, jealousy, anger, self-hate, blame and guilt.

On the way to Simon’s school, a large, black dog barked viciously and chased us. We can only drive about 10 mph in the golf cart we are getting around town in; and I floored it, afraid that the dog might actually try to attack us. This was the 5th or 6th time this happened, and I found myself imaging how I would kill the dog if it tried to attack Simon. Adrenalin lingered in my legs for a long time after.

On the way back to the beach after dropping Simon off, I crossed paths with a woman who makes my blood boil. Two nights before, she had attacked Simon and his slightly-younger friend, claiming that Simon’s friend was unkind to a smaller child, and complaining that they were being destructive in the restaurant. I was flooded. I didn’t know what to make of it! I had lagged behind by just a minute or two, and I didn’t have any idea what she was talking about. When I arrived she was speaking with anger and contempt to the two children. The woman was accompanied by an acquaintance—a woman I know because she is lodged, along with her small son, at our previous hotel. Simon met her son on his own, and went to great lengths to share a prized toy he thought the little boy might like. I went to call him back to our room, and found him speaking with the toddler in the gentlest possible tone—explaining something from a big boy perspective.

I was totally thrown off by the woman’s aggression. After I got the boys settled, I went to speak with my acquaintance to gather information. She expressed that on other occasions, my friend’s son had been “mean” to her small son—that when the baby said “I’m Spiderman!” my friend’s son said, “No, you’re not!” repeatedly, causing the child to cry. I asked where, when? She said it had happened at various restaurants, recently. She also claimed that other parents had agreed with her and shared similar stories. I was still very thrown off. I said, “I can see how that would be upsetting. He is just four years old, you know! He looks much older, but he is just four. We will work with it! He is just a little kid.” I told my friend something upsetting had happened, and sketched only the vaguest details, planning to have a conversation with her at another time. Though I dance at a remote edge of the beach, this woman has crossed my dancing path there three times since this incident, forcing me to look at my reaction to her and to attend to its insights.

In addition to these challenges, there are problems at home. For one, I am having a serious problem with a roommate in Brooklyn. She had a lawyer send a threatening letter and I feel bullied and disempowered. Also, I just found out that, although I wore a robe and attended graduation, I did not graduate from my most recent program of study. It seems that I failed to fill out some kind of form. Which could pose problems for my employment. In the idiosyncratic recesses of my mind, both events were causes for self-abuse.

I parked at Playa Pelada, and set out for the farthest reach of the beach, carrying all of this with me. There was so much to move! I consciously set out to move it, settling into a long Flowing dance. I moved with incredible patience, imaging that I could dance for hours and hours if need be.

Simon had been all over me the day before—clingy, impatient, demanding. We had planned to have dinner with friends, but a torrential rainstorm kept them home. I didn’t have any way to contact them, so we went anyway and waited. In Flowing, I realized that Simon is lonely here in Costa Rica at times. We have been here for just three weeks, really. He doesn’t have the same kind of networks that he has at home. The other day he told me, “Everyone else at school has a sister or brother to help them, but I don’t have anyone.” Dancing, I wished (as so often happens) that I had been more patient and supportive of him. The truth of it struck me and I cried as I moved. I thought of a time when he said, his face crumpled and crying uncontrollably, “Mommy, you are being mean!”

Despite the fact that we had a beautiful day together, including playing happily in the waves at length, I held the discordant part of the experience most tightly. My self-talk was appalling as I began to move.

I had sent my friend an email about what happened at the restaurant with our sons. But I also decided to add that I had seen a little meanness in her son, too, especially when I had both boys for the afternoon the previous week, and again a few days later. I even said that she gives her son a lot of freedom and could, possibly, be missing some of the behaviors that are coming up.

As I moved into Staccato, I gave up on staying in the shade, and used up as much space as I needed. I grew sharp, expanding to my maximum volume and contracting again, moving fast and covering vast ground. On Saturday, I went dancing with the same friend. We went first to a swank, new club, where an indie-rock band from Guatemala called Easy Easy and a sexy female hipster MC from Mexico unleashed a dancing storm. I couldn’t stop moving. Though the crowd stayed mostly in a happy groove, I found a huge range, expressing edges, deep hips—freedom, specificity, sexuality. The party shifted to Cumbia and Regaton and still this vibrant inspiration sustained itself. Later, we went to Tropicana—the only discotequa in Nosara. Still, I couldn’t stop moving, even as we walked out to head home, even in the parking lot. I was reminded that I was born a dancer. We are all born dancers!

My friend told me, “It was so great to dance with you! You are such a good dancer! You are such a free spirit, especially when you dance!” On the beach yesterday, as I started to move, I felt like the exact opposite. I was conflicted, self-abusive, small, hesitant, doubting. Anything but free.

Gabrielle Roth, the creator of the 5Rhythms practice, would say famously, “5Rhythms is not free dance. It is dance that frees.” My friend asked if I was a 5Rhythms teacher and I said, “No, I wish! My circumstances make it hard for me to complete the pre-requisites to apply and to undergo the training even if I was accepted.” She asked if I could just do a sort-of-like 5Rhyhms-y thing and start teaching kids. I said, “There is no way to do that. All of the teachers—every single one of them—is fucking amazing. They have to undergo thousands and thousands of hours of very targeted training. It is no small thing. It is not like yoga where you can do a 200-hour training, then start calling yourself an expert. There is also a lot of oversight, intended to keep the tradition from becoming corrupted.”

Although you don’t need to know anything about the system to benefit from practicing 5Rhythms, there is actually a very precise system that reveals itself in stages, only as we are ready to receive it. It is important to note that the independent journey I have embarked on this month is technically not 5Rhythms, since there is no certified teacher guiding the practice. That being said, ultimately, I think 5Rhythms leads us back to ourselves, and that if we practice with deep commitment and integrity, we can recover our birthright—to dance with complete, undefiled freedom—which, in the end, transcends even the 5Rhythms system.

As Staccato started to take me over, my body returned to the movements I found at the dance clubs on Saturday; and I sang the chorus of one song again and again. I started to leave the small, damaged self behind and to inhabit my power—explosive, expressive, precise, clear. I could really stamp my feet on the soft sand without fear of injury, and I lept—crouching and rising, circling, advancing, retreating—landing repeatedly in a deep, square-kneed squat with my arms, also, squared and raised.

On the beach with Simon on Saturday, a little yoga movement pulled me into a gigantic dance. Simon buried my foot with sand, and I told him it reminded me of when he was little and he would cling to my ankle in class while I danced. With this one constraint, I found powerful expression that I never would have found without the element of resistance that he provided. He tried to get sand on my feet and I danced away, changing direction fast, following my own high kicks, looping toward him and away. He laughed and started to throw more sand at me—all part of our game. Despite the challenges I have experienced lately, dance has been incredibly available, in everything, in every moment.

Chaos found me again, crying, released. The waves, the broad-leaved green trees, the cliffs, the vultures soaring overheard, the sand, all flashed together as I spun, dipped and whirled. Group 5Rhythms practice offers many opportunities for insight and healing, but individual practice leaves me mercilessly alone with myself and wears me away in bits. I can’t pretend that anything that arises comes from anyone but myself. I had the idea that the meanness I was afraid of with my son’s friend might really be my own fear of meanness in myself, and by extension and projection—in my own son. The thought was painful, difficult. I let it go again, subsumed in the casting circles of Chaos.

Often, Lyrical and Stillness are almost afterthoughts when I practice individually, but that wasn’t the case this time. Lyrical found me soaring, touching the yielding sand, drifting to the sky. A large group of vultures circled overhead. One vulture alone is not very interesting—just a long gliding arc, but in this case, an entire matrix of the huge, black birds, with two groups at different altitudes moved soundlessly above me. I curved and moved with them, gently, my body a matrix, too, crossing over myself as the birds crossed each other in the air. I continued to move gently—feeling the wind drying the sweat on my exposed skin, turning me slowly, toward or away from it. A tiny, yellow butterfly gasped along—clear on the other side of the cove; and I followed it with my motions, adding a tiny flutter to my slow, wind-carved gesture.

My friend wrote about the restaurant incident, “Don’t get pulled into currents that aren’t yours. I’m surprised you were so affected by it and actually believed them or began looking at (child’s name) through their perspective, which of course will influence your reception.”

The vultures—with such a reputation for bullying and meanness—when held in the vast blue space of the sky were no less than sublime. After all of this moving, I sat quietly in a clear tide pool in full sun. My half-closed eyes perceived golden reflected light ripples on the underside of my hat. Tiny fish lingered around me. A bright sunspot dazzled the corner of my vision.

July 20, 2015, Nosara, Costa Rica

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

High Tide


Despite the often-experienced bliss of being here in Costa Rica, the magnetic pull of my life in New York has been acting on me lately, and it feels like everything is falling apart.

Yesterday was a blissful day. After my son, Simon, and I did our morning drawings and I dropped him off at camp, I headed for a surf lesson. I returned to my lovely little mountain home overlooking the sea and wrote with happy engagement for several hours. Next, I headed to the farthest edge of Playa Pelada. I went to the little treed alcove by the cliff and began to move in Flowing, without much inspiration. I realized that the sky was cloudy, and that it wasn’t as important as usual to stay in the shade, so I moved out from the shadows—the fringe of the beach—and into closer engagement with the sea.

This dance led up to and through the highest point of high tide. Because I have enough experience with the site now, I wasn’t afraid that high tide would pulverize me, and knew where I could safely go. I flowed into an exquisite intersection. There is a sharp little cliff island that the sea has to flow around, so at high tide the waves don’t just travel to the beach and end, instead they curve around the island and into each other, contending on one side with another giant cliff, and on the other with thousands of medium-sized rocks. There was sand space between the two fields, but it would often fill up to a foot deep as the waves dumped into it. There was a tremendous amount of dynamic activity there. Each wave itself was fascinating, but here there were also conjunctions, risings, fallings, eddies, whirlpools, waves created by rock forms, currents hitting, turning and continuing past the cliff, and, further out, the crashings of giant waves and the cascading ribbons of white water over the huge rocks as each wave fell away.

This is where I found my dance yesterday. Small flutters of receding water carried me into a swoon as I glanced along the edge. I danced quickly backward, running away from an advancing wave. Waves from the two sides of the cliff crashed and battled and I dipped and turned, catching edges, expanding, contracting. In Chaos, the water rushed to my knees and loose rocks crashed into my feet as I danced through the breaking waves.

I have been deliberately vague about the theme I am exploring within visual art during my stay in Costa Rica. I don’t want to give it all away here, but I will share a small piece, since it is important if there is any hope of you understanding why this dance was so touching for me. The theme I have been exploring is “Everything is Perfect.” I don’t mean this in a repressed, let’s-pretend-we-are-not-vulnerable-or-flawed sense, but rather from the perspective of Tibetan Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism that we already have absolutely everything we need to “wake up”, exactly as things manifest in this moment. The conditions for our enlightenment are always perfect. We are not trying to be holy, we are not trying to get somewhere else—instead we are working with the exact material that we have on hand—be it debt, anxiety, unresolved relationships, a beautiful sunset, mild fear of poisonous animals, exquisite florae, problems with your landlord in Costa Rica, the kind gestures of a tender-hearted five-year-old, difficulties with a roommate, or whatever.

The phrase “Everything is Perfect” was whispered to me at a Tibetan Buddhist temple at a moment when my life felt like an untenable disaster. I danced then, sobbing, gazing at sunset over the Hudson River as I took in this important lesson, that things are exactly correct, just as they are, no matter how unpleasant or messy.

What would it be like if we, ourselves, were Buddhas? Would we still get jet lag? Take out garbage? Lose car keys? Sometimes I play a game with myself and imagine how I might experience things if I were a Buddha. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be just sitting around all day with half-closed eyes and a mysterious smile, but that I would be engaging fully with the events that arise in my experience.

As I have been making visual art, meditating, dancing and moving, I have been contemplating “Everything is Perfect”. Yesterday, as I partnered with the waves, I started to sing the chorus from the 1960’s ballad with the lyrics, “Take good care of my baby. Be just as kind as you can be.” Flowing had much to offer me, and I stayed in this foundational rhythm for a very long time. The receding waves pulled me, new waves pushed me, various conjunctions spun and tilted me. And throughout I hummed the refrain, “Take good care of my baby.” As Flowing danced me, I started to sob.

I realized that the message was kindness. If everything is perfect, there is no need to try to force anything into a different mold, no need to insist on anything, no need to resist whatever arises in your experience. You can simply be kind. Tenderness melted me and as I sobbed I witnessed each event with gratitude as the waves took form and disappeared. Interacting with these elemental forces humbled me and broke my heart. I thought about the times I have been mean, tight or unkind with my son—usually wishing for things to be a certain way, for him to act a certain way, for time to bend to my will; and I cried and cried for all of the minutes I have lost with him and for all the times I could have been kinder. In dance, I sobbed, asking forgiveness, prostrating, bending back and forward, offering my heart with my hands.

I danced a full wave at the beginning of this dance, but Flowing pulled me into it again and again. After a while, I let go of the frame of the rhythms—not letting them dwindle, but instead letting them collide—and continued to move with creativity and wholeheartedness. A few people came walking by. I barely registered them—not wanting to show off or to hide in any way. Lyrical brought me to the sky. Stillness, when it finally came, found me again sobbing, porous. The waves passed right through me, even passing through a tightly held spot in my diaphragm that I rarely release. I moved un-self-consciously, crouching to observe rippling, golden sunlight on a little pool of water, the wind moving and directing me as I slowly shifted positions, the waves arising and receding again, revealing the sand between.

Gabrielle Roth, the creator of the 5Rhythms, was absolutely right. She often said, “A body in motion will heal itself.” She believed resolutely that if we could only move we could each find our path to freedom. The journey of my dances in these short two weeks has strengthened my faith in Gabrielle’s position; and I feel even more committed to practice, even if I feel lethargic or uninspired.

In the afternoon, after dancing my heart out, I picked Simon up at camp. We took a break at home before heading to the beach. He watched Spanish-language cartoons, and I worked on red tape. After awhile, I switched to make some notes about my dance. Simon wanted attention as soon as I began this activity. He kept asking questions, having new needs. I said sharply, “Simon! I need to do this right now. I need just a few minutes. Please leave me alone!” He responded, “That’s mean, Mommy!” It is amazing how quickly I forgot the lesson of just a few hours before, the aspect of “Everything is Perfect” that has to do with acceptance and kindness.

Today was not a blissful day. It was riddled with afflictive emotions: anxiety, discomfort, anger and sadness. For one, I decided to move out of our current lodging to try for something better, though I wasn’t able to get a refund on the original place. I regretted my decision almost immediately, and we wound up in a place with no view and with nowhere beautiful to sit and write. Although I wasn’t thrilled about the place when we were there, I missed the family very much, and found a lot of sadness once I started to dance. Now, I am considering even a third move. Part of me just can’t get settled, thinking there is something different somewhere else that will be better, somehow, than my current conditions.

Sometimes when I enter a dance with afflictive emotions, I end the dance with the very same set of afflictive emotions. Today, however, when I went to dance with the colliding high tide waves, I found tenderness and emotional depth instead of afflictive emotions. Though there was not as much cloud cover as there was yesterday, I again left the shadows and stepped into the dynamic matrix of high tide forces that I found yesterday at Playa Pelada.

The constantly changing ocean waves carried me through another exquisite dancing wave. Again, I stayed in Flowing for a long time, being pulled and repelled by the sea’s shifting forces. I moved with my eyes raised and alight, attending to the horizon and to the many elemental forces that moved and held me.

July 15, Nosara, Costa Rica

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

Pura Vida, Sunset Waves & Kite Chasing


I managed to injure my neck on the one day I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. I was grateful to put myself in the hands of a highly-skilled new masseuse offering discount massages; and left feeling radically improved. Regardless, I got a late start and I was airy, sleepy. I made my way to my favorite place at the farthest reach of Playa Pelada, though most of it was submerged in high tide by the time I got there. I returned to the grove of trees backed up to a cliff that I described recently. There, I adjusted a section of sand by clearing it of rocks and debris left from a recent very-high tide.

My dance was tiny. I was nearly lethargic. Since I have set the intention to finish a wave once I start it (at least for the duration of my time in Costa Rica), I moved through each of the five rhythms without strong engagement. Often, I am swept away at some point, but this time, I continued to move subtly throughout the duration of the wave.

At the wave’s completion, I formed the sand to make a comfortable cushion and placed my dress over it, then sat down to practice sitting meditation. I sat peacefully for a long time, swaying slightly, and wondering if high tide might at some point overtake my perch. This seemed like the correct activity after such an intense massage. After awhile, an artwork came to mind. I left my seat and set about making it, further investigating a motif and also a theme that have been compelling for me lately. I photographed the piece, then set out to return home, have tea and write.

I forgot to relate a very important event: I surfed! It was low tide and I was under the direction of a qualified teacher, but I still surfed! It is such a focal point of life around here that I couldn’t resist, despite my adored mother’s vocal concerns. I surfed only one other time—before I was pregnant with my son, Simon—at Long Beach in New York. I was afraid as we walked to the beach with the big, stable surfboard, but my fears disappeared as the teacher, Keylor, explained the physics of surfing by drawing on the sand and we got into the totally-manageable waves. After the lesson Keylor let me keep the board for awhile and I continued to practice alone. I managed to “catch” several waves and stepped gracefully down off the board at the end of most “rides” rather than tanking myself in a sideways belly flop. I note that I have good balance because I am very comfortable with moving in and out of balance; and I suspect that thousands of hours of practice in the third of the five rhythms, Chaos, might be a contributing factor.

I picked Simon up at camp and we went home to rest for a short while. It was difficult to motivate him to leave the house again, but I finally succeeded in getting him out the door, with the intention of meeting some friends at the beach. Just as we stepped outside, he climbed up onto a chair, then swung wildly from the porch hammock seat. On dismount, he hurt his toe, stubbing it hard on the rough ground. I had asked him again and again to avoid swinging on the chair, and when he fell I felt anger rather than compassion, especially since he had been so resistant about leaving despite our earlier agreement. Usually, no matter how angry I am, if he gets hurt, I comfort him, without any mixed messages. This time, I said, “I asked you again and again not to do that! And now you are hurt.” I comforted him, also, but was still feeling tight and angry. After a few minutes for inspection and recuperation, I more or less dragged him along, and he continued to cry. It was several minutes before real compassion broke through and I stopped the golf cart carrito, saying, “Oh, you are really upset. Do you want me to unbuckle your seatbelt so we can have a big hug? I am sorry you got hurt. I am sorry you are so sad.” He hugged me tightly, finally calming down. I wished I had been kinder, earlier.

I am happy to report that I surfed again. Again, with Keylor’s guidance. Again, it was fabulously fun. Although I need to work on timing, once I am upright my balance is good, and I experimented, smiling and dancing a little as I rode slowly in on the already-broken waves, sinking low, rising and inching my feet forward and back along the stringer—the centerline of the board—to see what would happen. I told myself to relax and look at the space around me even if it meant that I didn’t get on top of the board as quickly, as I have a tendency to move in a panicked, myopic rush when time is of the essence. Keylor has determined that I am ready to go “outside” past the breaks in our next lesson. I was feeling pretty confident and continued to practice after the class ended. Unfortunately, I lapsed on a very important lesson: do not put the board perpendicular to your body in front of you as a wave is approaching, or you will get whacked in the face. And I got whacked in the face. Directly onto my right-side front tooth. It hurt but was not excruciating. It is definitely a bit loose and I have decided to stick with fluids for a day or two in the hopes of re-habilitating it. I was by all means humbled, and learned an important physics lesson.

We met friends at the beach and played in the waves as the sky lit with sunset.

A man flew the kind of kite you use for kite-surfing—with a string on each end of a huge, red, vertical kite going to each of his hands, used to control its motion. Simon and his friends ran, trying to catch the kite. I flowed in with them, and began to dance the kite’s movement. Although my morning wave had been lethargic, this sunset wave was alive with spirit. I covered vast distance as I swooped and arced, looped, lept, dipped, curved back, twisted and returned.   I watched my partner, the dynamic red kite, as often with my back arched and head spun backward as from the front of my field of vision—dancing with precision in vast, unending space. I played with the kids as I moved; and we threaded together as they played my game and I played theirs—kite chasing. In Staccato breath became sharper, great back steps traveled me many feet along the sand and I would kick, then change direction quickly while my leg was still in the air and the kite made a tight turn at its handler’s direction. In Chaos, I let my head go completely, loving the luminosity, space, freedom and softness the beach offered as the wind picked up and the kite’s movements became quicker and more erratic. Lyrical was a passing suspension, a brief release of the fingertips toward the sky. Stillness lasted just a few short moments as the kite temporarily stabilized at a point high overhead, for once not twisting and diving; and I stood with my arms raised, gazing upward in gratitude.

I would love to have danced longer, but Simon was charging into the water along with his friends and I needed to be close to him, as I know that even the relatively smaller waves of low tide are not to be taken lightly.

Pura Vida, Movimiento Total y Corazón Llenado~

July 13, Nosara, Costa Rica

The Shadows of Gliding Birds

orangeflowersMy morning investigations were delayed today because I had to continue to work on a solution for how to access money. When I did get to the sea, it was later in the morning and I wondered if the beach would be overrun.

The little artwork I had created the day before, high up on a cliff, was a dim ghost of itself, having been washed away by the crashing waves of high tide.  As the sun was higher, my favorite spot was not in the shade of the cliff, but was in full sun, so I moved a short way back down the beach until I found an alcove enclosed by trees and backed up to a green-covered cliff. Several bright purple and orange crabs scampered toward their holes; and I was nervous, not sure what exactly they were. They definitely looked like crabs, but they could possibly be scorpions, right? I know that they have scorpions here, too. Brightly colored animals are often poisonous—a fact I learned on a nature show at some point. I am not proud to say that I covered the many holes in the alcove before I started dancing, with the hope that I would not be ambushed. I fell in love with the site in stages, as I began to move, despite my fear of scorpions.

Writing now, inside, as the insects won the battle and I finally gave up on the balcony after dark, heavy rain is pelting the metal ceiling. Insects call out periodically. I sip from a coffee cup full of white wine that came from a local grocery store in a screw-top bottle. A little glass with a tea light candle sits next to me on a table made of varnished driftwood. I have to move carefully, as the table base is also made of driftwood; and the table is extremely imbalanced.

As I started to move my feet through the sand, I pushed several rocks and small logs to the side. A harmony repeated itself again and again, and I hummed it out loud. There was a little hill up into the alcove from the larger beach and I experimented with letting my weight rise, fall and curve on the sandy incline. At some point, I stopped humming. Words temporarily fell away. I moved with no urgency, turning back and forth between the sea, the trees, and the tall stone, green-covered cliff.

In Staccato, I stomped and jumped, hoping to scare the purple and orange creatures into staying underground. I felt pulled into Lyrical, but endeavored to stay within the frame of a 5Rhythms wave and continued into Staccato. Sharp exhalations fueled the movements, and I again experimented with the narrative journey of ocean waves, and with moving up and down the small incline. I felt connected to the trees and plants and experienced them as tender and resolute—feeling a small welling of tears, even. For a few short minutes, I entered the tornado of Chaos—losing, briefly, the orientation of my body—bouncing and whirling around in the little alcove. Chirping insects and trilling birdcalls lead me to the next rhythm of Lyrical, which had been calling me all along. Stillness found me absorbing and responding to the energy of the green plants and trees around me and letting the calls of the chirping insects and birds enter into my experience fully.

For four years, I wrote a poem a day (almost every day!) I wrote them all in journals, on paper; and at some point I got overwhelmed with the number of them and let the practice go. I decided that while I am in Costa Rica, I would resume the poems. Here is the first:

The jungle is alive with whistles and trills.

Yesterday I danced with the circling shadow of a massive, gliding bird

The tide was lowering, else

In the same place

I would have been submerged and pummeled

By waves against the high-rock cliffs.

July 9, Nosara, Costa Rica

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

Arms Raised For Balance

driftwood]Aspects of today were grueling, but in the morning I found a more inspired connection to the 5Rhythms than I have experienced since I arrived in Costa Rica. After I dropped Simon off at camp, I headed to the closest beach, Playa Pelada, parking the golf cart I have been using to travel the dusty, torn up streets, and walking to the beach’s farthest reaches. High tide was just receding when I arrived, and the spot I have come to favor over the last few days was out of reach.

I felt, again, languid, and wondered if I should consider a second cup of tea for breakfast the next day. I found a ring of driftwood—of drift trees, actually—that had been deposited by a recent high tide. It was awesome to consider the power of the water that moved such massive trunks, and many of them were smooth and gnarled, the sea having worn their texture away to reveal their elemental forms, their many unique twists, swells, forks and straight sections.

I endeavored to enter Flowing, dancing in the circle formed by the trees. Before long, I was climbing onto the trunks to dance and move, noticing my fe

Oh my god! The bugs as I sit writing are unbelievable! A four-inch long praying mantis just dive-bombed me.  

Ahem! Noticing my feet as I stepped onto, over and under the driftwood. Before long, I was in the sand between the trees, moving in inspired circles. I realized that along with dancing near them, and with them, I could also respond to their gestures—some contorted, some straight, some

Agh! Oh my god! Another beetle in my hair. There must be an easier way. I just put a baseball hat on. There is no where to sit but at the table on the open balcony—tonight it is raining heavily and gazing out into the starless night, there is only a black void. The insects are particularly aggressive, perhaps wanting to escape the rain.

I gave up on the balcony. Now I am sitting inside on the bed, my son crashed out beside me. There is still an alarming number of insects inside, but it is a considerable improvement. The only problem is that it is difficult for me to write in bed. I don’t think properly.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Contándoles de la mañana—telling you the story of my morning. As I started to move with the gestures of the driftwood pieces, I became increasingly engaged. The driftwood was partially buried in the sand, and did not move at all, as I would expect fallen trees in the forest to move as I walked on them. I moved over, under and around the pieces, but also worked around in circles, delighting in the feeling of smooth wood and yielding sand. I was investigating the ground as a changing, responsive, unpredictable thing, rather than the perfectly flat floor I am accustomed to.

Moving through the wave, before long, Staccato arrived with its sharp exhalations and energetic expressiveness. I was easy in Staccato, and again considered the directed force of the waves as they carved the cliffs around me. I experimented with some expressive movements telling that story, rushing forward, swelling and crashing or hitting. I found myself, predictably, deep in the hips. Next, I moved into Chaos—removing my hair elastic and rolling and tossing my head, looping around the space of the sand between the driftwood trees—again, easy yet energetic. Lyrical was pure delight—pura vida, even, a phrase Costa Rican people say often. I rushed and soared, again climbing up onto the driftwood, with high, suspended kicks and long, dramatic steps.

Stillness arrived suddenly when I walked out onto a driftwood trunk that was four feet off the ground at its extremity. I froze, my arms raised for balance, and took in the sky, the sea, some distant beachgoers and the variable wind as I balanced there for a few moments.

After this lovely little wave, I investigated the beach where the tide had further receded. I found another good spot and spent an hour or so moving with yoga poses—both on the wet sand and on a smooth section of the cliffs.

From there, I moved into sitting meditation. First I seated myself in a smooth perch on the cliffs. As I sat, small bits of shaly rock scampered down the cliff and startled me when they hit my back. Eventually, I moved to a different spot in the sand, where I would be safe in case any larger rocks dislodged from the overhang above me. After a peaceful, patient sit, I created a small artwork, photographed it, then began the journey back.

On the way home, I discovered that I did not have my bankcard. I did not freak out, assuming I would find it at home somewhere. I did not. I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to access money, rather than writing (which is why I am contending with these gigantic bugs while trying to write now). To make the day harder, there is a major road construction site right in the middle of everywhere I need to go. The golf cart, which I call the carrito, bumps emphatically along; and we are totally exposed to the life of the street and to the astonishing quantity of dust that moving vehicles kick up—to the point that all of the plants near the roadside are visibly laden with dust.  

The evening was more fun, Simon and I met with friends and, amongst other adventures, enjoyed ourselves at the beach as the sun set, leaving quickly after as the sky rumbled and was torn across with lightning. We arrived home before it started to downpour and enjoyed a traditional meal, cooked on a hotplate and served on the balcony until the giant bugs drove us inside.

July 7, 2015, Nosara, Costa Rica

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