For the second week in a row, I unexpectedly attended the Sunday Sweat Your Prayers class. For the second week in a row, the class was guest taught by an accomplished teacher from another country, in this case Hannah Loewenthal from South Africa. And for the second week in a row, I explored new and delightful aspects of partnership.
I took a long time to gather myself on entering; and I went silently through a ritual of bowing into the space. I felt emotional and took tiny steps, moving like water through the many floor-moving bodies that were distributed equally around the studio. I found a spot near the middle of the room and began to move in energetic circles, rolling over the back of my head again and again and letting the gestures cast me in arcs, pausing to tense in key stretches as I was quickly called to action.
Hannah, perhaps noting the quickening of the room, dialed the music back to tonal and encouraged us to take our time in arriving. To find the breath and our relationship to it. Most of us were on our feet by then, and the room seemed to move inside clear gel, slow and graceful, dipping collectively into the Stillness inside Flowing. Hannah coaxed us through a meditation of body parts, beginning with the feet. Interestingly, the only part of her narration I recall is about attention to the spine, which I reveled in, remembering that one partner of many years told me early in my 5Rhythms career that I flow with my spine, not just with my feet. Before long, I stepped into this very partner—someone I rarely meet in Flowing—but on this day it felt like the parts of our spines that sit behind and inside the rib cage were enacted, and palpable energy from that part of the body mingled as we moved. We were gentle, but retained a hint of the precise edges that I love about dancing with him.
I have often been amazed at this partner’s ability to meet me exactly where I am. For a long time, I assumed he could just go anywhere. For example, he seemed to be the only one who I could meet in the sharpest of Staccato fields. Over time, I have come to believe that it only looks like he can go anywhere, when in fact it is because he can see the room so clearly that he knows who is in the same energetic field, and then moves into the dances that call him directly.
With my eyes nearly closed and sunken low into my hips, I luxuriated in the coiling and whipping of my spine. A partner I shared a long dance with recently stepped right beside me. I felt him and opened my eyes, laughing, as the last time we met I felt I had stepped into a clearing and felt like I surprised him. This time, he playfully surprised me—a lovely kind of balance.
In the first wave, I hung back in Flowing Staccato and never fully expressed Staccato before the room was barreling into Chaos, loud with joyful vocalizations, including my own. I loved seeing Hannah move in unbridled Chaos, her long arms sailing up and down around her, her long neck in concert. Somehow early in my 5Rhythms career, I got the impression that raising the arms high up is a no-no, but in the last several years, I have been investigating more and more of the sky and the expansive space above. In fact, Hannah repeatedly invited us to dance with the space around us, even when we were told to take partners.
Indeed, there was an unusual amount of space in the room, owing in part to the fact that many people seemed to be drawn to gather in small, quietly moving groups. At moments, the room looked like a sea-bottom kelp-forest, waving collectively with the energetic currents.
Hannah taught the class in two waves, as is the usual custom in a two-hour class, but did not pause for verbal teaching in the middle of the class. Although the frame was two main waves, many tiny little waves expressed inside the larger structure; and Hannah repeatedly chanted, “The rhythms inside the rhythms.”
In Chaos, I spent long periods dancing with myself. I note that during Chaos I am least likely to partner. I wonder if I can extrapolate that I am very self-sufficient in Chaos, very comfortable and confident in Chaos—at least at this point. Often, for me, trances arise here; and I am inclined toward my own inner world. I am much more likely to meet a partner in any of the other four rhythms.
My dance was delightful throughout. My energy level was constant except when I was swept completely away by effusive expression, which gave rise to uncontainable bursts. I found joy in partnership, and was receptive (on this day) to everyone in the room. I found joy in my own inner experience. I found joy in brand new ways of moving, rolling out completely uncontrived. I found joy in stepping into moving with a brand new partner, and, too, stepping in with an intrepid long-time friend who is always willing to off-road from the basic map and from the many notations and traces we have recorded over the years on our uncharted, unchartable adventures.
Leading us from the Stillness of the first wave into the Flowing of the second, Hannah did something curious. Instead of guiding from the feet first as is nearly always the instruction with Flowing, she invited us to begin with the hands, working our way through the body and into embodied Flowing from there. I recalled Kierra’s aside the week before when she taught the Friday Night Waves class, that in many cultures the hands are considered to be the “messengers of the heart;” and I wondered if the hands might be particularly important in Hannah’s personal practice. As I remarked about the class the week before with Anne Marie, taking class with a teacher I have never encountered before can be very valuable—perhaps just as my grandmother, Muriel Grigely, used to feel about stepping into a different church for the first time.
Hannah invited us to partner; and I found a good friend. Both of us were faster than the music; and we giggled and super-sped up, then slowed down and leaned in toward each other: slowing, moving around. Instructed to turn the partnership into a foursome, two others joined us, though the group remained very porous, with several people from other groups or dancing individually moving partially in the field we created. Without instruction, the group dissolved and my partner and I returned to each other briefly before moving on to other parts of the room.
I noticed a friend I recently shared a sublime dance with standing a bit off to the side. I considered trying to engage him, but thought better of it, wondering if it might not be best to let him have whatever experience he was having. I also felt hesitant because our most recent dance was so beautiful—sometimes I feel shy after sharing an experience like that. I noticed that another dancer did succeed in drawing him out and that he seemed to move cheerfully and fluidly, as their group at moments intersected with ours at the point when we were told to dance in groups of four.
During both waves, in the bridges from Lyrical into Stillness, repetitions bubbled up. In the second wave I found a gestural expression of the disbelief that precedes grief, my hands sobbing, crying, “No, no, no, no, no!” I didn’t connect it to a specific experience. It didn’t make me cry, but I could feel its resonance. In Lyrical, I experimented with an awkward groundedness, then took off and sailed throughout the room with luxurious, expansive gestures, pouring my smiling eyes into whoever’s eyes I could manage to meet, high on the toes and raised into the front chest.
As the final wave of the class began to draw itself to a close, I stepped into a partner’s field who I recently shared a long dance with, slightly hesitant. He smiled, inviting, and we resumed a previous class’s investigation of tiny, crossed over steps, flashed foot soles, elbows held close to the torso, occasionally moving in a way that was as closely contained as could possibly be without touching. I moved in and out of more stretched and extended gestures and big, back-crossing steps, but drew back closely into this minute and quirky investigation again and again, delighted.
We came seamlessly into unselfconscious contact, each planting the outside of one foot to touch, side by side. He leaned into me and I returned the gesture, at once pushing and yielding, then stepped around his planted foot, curving us into an arc. The room fell away, the sound of breath grew stronger. We moved in a little matrix, opening at moments into a kind of ballroom glide. At other moments we balanced, finding small swinging movements inside the balances. I noted that he is closer to my small scale than many men, and found balancing exceptionally dynamic and available, feeling like the animations you see of shifting crystalline forms, alive and clear, seeing and seen.
The process of leaving was overlayed with a conversation with a friend. As we took the elevator from the 5th floor down and stepped onto 6th Avenue, he expressed that sometimes he feels like he has to really make a commitment to be in “his” dance. Otherwise, he would just be partnered all the time, doing someone else’s dance—a sentiment I have heard expressed hundreds of times. He was already hugging me goodbye; and we didn’t have time, but this is what I wanted to say:
“This might be unique to me, but at this moment I don’t feel that I have a “my” dance. And I don’t think there is a lack in that. Just as there is no “me” that is separate and self-existing, there is no “my” dance. My deepest, most emotional, or most idiosyncratic personal expression is not separate from any of the dances I have shared with partners or in community. For me, dancing alone and dancing with others are not opposites, but are shades of difference—all part of the beautiful display comprising the myriad forms of this tiny, precious life.”
June 19, 2016, Brooklyn, NYC
This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms®dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.
(Images: The tangled rainbows is an image from my own studio. The beautiful sunset photo of the Brooklyn Bridge was taken and shared with me by 5Rhythms teacher Hannah Loewenthal .)
My grandmother used to say that you get a “special intention” every time you enter a new church for the first time, as my mother reminded me recently. A special intention is pretty much guaranteed to travel straight to God’s ear, and has a strong chance of a good outcome—kind of like a direct prayer line. That is exactly how I felt entering into this week’s Sweat Your Prayers class, which was taught by Anne Marie Hogya, a 5Rhythms teacher from Victoria, Canada, who I was blessed to encounter for the first time.
I did not intend to dance today. My body needs yoga, too, and I often do yoga on Sunday mornings. I was running late, however; and because I was too late to go to yoga class I wound up dancing instead.
Waking, I was achy. My neck hurt. My knee hurt. The nerves in my elbows hurt. Even my back hurt a little. Now, as I write, nothing hurts at all. This time, dance released me even from physical pain.
Before I even entered the dance studio I found a friend deeply sad. I held her for a moment, seeing her pain. I did not ask what was happening with her, I did not try to fix her, I did not relate her pain to any of my own pain. I just tried to be there for her in that one moment. Then, I stepped into the room. (As I discovered later, she had already received the news about the hateful massacre at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida. I was not to hear about it until after the class when I was driving home, or I surely would have realized why she was crying.)
I have been thinking a lot about partnering lately; and I reflected as I entered that the Sunday morning class is one of the few classes in NYC that always happens during daylight hours. I think there is extra willingness to look at and see one another, given the factor of daylight. There is also an extra measure of kindness that I can’t explain. Today, I, for one, stepped in shuddering with happiness, meeting every possible eye.
After softly hugging a friend that I adore and see rarely, I found a corner where I could smear myself onto the beloved ground and move in rising and falling circles with the earth’s unending rotations.
Soon, I was completely subsumed by the room, moving into empty space, pushed and pulled by the gestures and energies around me. Anne Marie led us through the classic sequence of body parts—head, shoulders, elbows, arms, hips, knees and feet. Often, body parts meditation brings me into a very internal and rooted space, but on this occasion, I moved fluidly around the room, reveling in my own body, and absorbing the influences of the bodies around me. I shared many brief dances of connection and several longer dances as the first of the class’s two 5Rhythms waves unfolded. As is often the case, Chaos found me largely solo as I leapt and bound in delightful erratic patterns, and in ascending and descending spins. I recalled the physical pain of the morning and set the intention to be as soft as possible and to stay out of my edges. This first wave was characterized by exquisite movement and total availability.
Although this was the first time I took Anne Marie’s class and I had never before met or spoken with her, she communicated an unwavering presence as she sat, choosing music and making occasional suggestions via microphone. Bangs were cut into her long, dark hair and they seemed to cover her eyebrows, making her eyes even more prominent, as she gazed at the moving room and the bodies in it, seeming both fascinated and discerning.
I reflected that although I am not afraid to be alone, and have traveled to infinite dimensions completely of my own volition, dancing in partnership or in small groups has opened doors that dancing by myself could never open. If the thing that is holding me back is my ego—or my own selfing activities—then it makes sense that the best arena to draw out and confront my ego is within relationship. We are born alone and we die alone, but the whole middle of the path is filed with people. Another person is actually required to do this kind of ego work. I like the idea that it is not just the insight into the nature of reality as it is, but is also the unfolding into boundless compassion that can introduce us to our full potential.
Another interesting thing about partnership is that, in this arena of ego construction, perhaps for the very reason that my ego has been drawn out, when profoundly witnessing the experience of my partner, I can be drawn completely into the depths of myself. Just as the arena of ego’s construction is in relation to others, so, too, is its dismantling. It is through deep connection with others that I am able to dance alone; and it is through deep connection with myself that I am able to dance with others. The two modalities are two wings of a bird (to borrow a Buddhist metaphor)—both essential on this dancing path. I don’t think I can ever hope to realize my full humanity without partnering, without humanity, without the dissolution of self and others. And neither can I realize my full humanity without engaging fully with the parts of my unique experience that are not available to anyone but my own inner guides.
Perhaps this aspect of my path is unique to me, perhaps it is shared with others.
Anne Marie let the last song of the first wave end, then sort of low-skipped into the center of the room where everyone gathered around her. She said that she felt very moved to be teaching in NYC, in the very city where Gabrielle Roth, the creator of the 5Rhythms practice, “rolled out this work for us.” She also praised us as a community and expressed that she could really feel the depth and integrity of our collective practice. She then declared that she would demonstrate a wave, saying, “This is what a 5Rhythms wave looks like for me at this time.” She strongly emphasized the “for me,” explaining that it would look different for every person, that there is no right or wrong way to move through a wave. She also suggested that we work more with partnering in the class’s second and final wave, saying toward the end of her talk, “Why not take partnering on?” in a way that encouraged curiosity and receptivity.
I reflected on the precious opportunity to experience the 5Rhythms with a teacher who is new to me. The more teachers I learn from, the more insight I get into what aspects of the practice may be unique to each of us—or at least not widely shared—and what aspects of the practice transcend all of our invented boundaries and are held in communal agreement. In addition, every teacher brings their own mandala—their spirit entourage—that likely informs their transmission of the practice far beyond what we consciously perceive.
From the moment the music started, I stepped into dance after dance of beautiful partnership, my breath catching at moments as result of the beauty that moved through and around me. My partnerships were sometimes very porous and I was often with two or three, or even up to five bodies at once, moving like water currents around the room.
After many brief partnerships and at moments moving with the entire community, I stepped into partnership with a friend like I stepped out into a clearing after a long trek through the forest.
It was in the rhythm of Lyrical that I stepped into this clearing; and I recall a snap of bright delight as my eyes met with my friend’s eyes. I tried on the close, quirky gestures he was experimenting with and found a new expression I hadn’t yet encountered. I sunk completely into it, beaming, not even considering whether I should stay with him or move on. We played with rocking our feet diagonally to move in little increments: heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe. These tiny little, foot-planted steps became the refrain during the first phase of our dance. We worked in minute, contained, cross-over steps, too; though I couldn’t resist throwing in an occasional big, crossing, back step. Another dancer passed between us, perhaps not noticing our partnership. I wondered if this partner might disengage, but was happy when we came back together after just a moment. (These moments when the dance could naturally shift out of partnership can be so pivotal. Sometimes that is when the dance dissolves, sometimes that is when the dance gets more intentional and, too, deeper…) Slowly, slowly, the dance opened and became briefly expansive—ice capades in an exhibition rink. Before long, it tranformed into a silky Stillness. We then moved into contact, extending into balance after balance, each causing the other to grow into still gestures with gently applied pressure, moving in arcs, rising and falling as we faithfully enacted our living breath.
June 11, Brooklyn, NYC
This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.
(Note: The image is a drawing I created as part of the “Everything Is Perfect” body of work. If you are interested in learning more about my visual art please visit meghanleborious.com)
On Friday, I spent much of the afternoon listening to the funeral service for Muhammed Ali that took place his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky on June 10. One reporter said that she was concerned that the driver of the hearse carrying Ali’s body might not be able to see, given the massive volume of flowers thrown onto it by thronged onlookers along the nine-mile procession route. I went to the beach in the afternoon after I got out of work, and sat meditating on the sand, feeling the pull and relax of the waves, and the tangling dynamics of complex tides. On the way to and from the beach, I listened to the many eulogies, and reflected on what a perfect combination of militancy and humor Ali had employed in his activism, and on what a fearless humanitarian he had been.
I arrived right on time to Tammy’s Friday Night Waves class and was happy to see that Kierra Foster-Ba was guest teaching. Kierra, like all 5Rhythms teachers, has a unique perspective on the 5Rhythms; and I particularly love her non-didactic approach. For example, I have often heard her suggest an exercise and follow her teaching with “I invite you, not I command you.”
I was very happy to be there. The week before, I wrote,
“I did not attend a 5Rhythms class this week. (list of good reasons here) Is this a sign that my commitment to 5Rhythms practice has gone flat? Despite a sometimes crushing schedule and a great deal of responsibility, I have always managed to get myself to at least one class a week. All of my excuses seem excellent, but I am looking at myself with my head tilted and one eyebrow raised right now. Although some flexibility is welcome, I will be having a serious conversation with myself if another week passes without formal practice.”
Muhammed Ali’s famous discipline comes to mind. He said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” It’s not like he just woke up one day to be one of the greatest boxers and human beings in the world—he understood that commitment is a decision that happens every day, sometimes in every moment. He also said, “I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.” I am not trying to be a champion 5Rhythms dancer, but I am deeply inspired by Ali’s integrity and by his commitment to his practice.
Arriving, I was nervous about several mild injuries and wrapped my knee with an ace bandage from the medical kit. I was surprised to find the binding very effective, and that no persistent injury presented during the course of the class.
During the first wave, Kierra offered almost no instructions; and the dance unfolded patiently. Near the end of the first wave in the rhythm of Lyrical, I partnered with a friend who I love to dance with. The night before, I had been to a Taikoza concert—a kind of theatrical, Japanese folk drumming that totally captivated my small son and his friends. The influence presented strongly in this partnership. We leapt and bound, with theatrical pauses, strong eye contact, and bursting, spinning gestures. At moments, we moved as though we were in ceremonial costume, twittering, with big, fanned-out bustles and high, sharp collars. In our closing gesture we looked into each other’s eyes, each spun quickly one at a time, then returned to eye contact. Then we both bowed, smiling, and moved on to different parts of the room.
In the interlude between the first and the second waves that often features verbal teaching, Kierra asked if there was anyone in attendance who was doing the 5Rhythms for the first time. Three or four people raised their hands in response. She said that she would talk about the practice of 5Rhythms first, explaining what we actually do, then she would talk briefly about the philosophy of 5Rhythms. To paraphrase, she said that in the first of the five rhythms—Flowing—we drop down into our feet. We can be Flowing in our arms and upper body, too, but if we do that we tend to stay “in the head.” The reason we drop into our feet, keeping them in continuous motion, is so we can become fully embodied. She then said that the second rhythm—Staccato—is the opposite of Flowing. It is directional, angular and specific. In Chaos, we let it go, then in Lyrical, we let go of the letting go—lightening up. We move into our hands and arms, (which are considered to be the messengers of the heart in many cultures). In Stillness, we are still moving, it is just that we are moving with still energy. One person’s Stillness might be Flowing Stillness, another’s might be Staccato Stillness, another’s Lyrical Stillness, but it is all moving with that still energy. During the entire litany, Kierra moved as she spoke, demonstrating what each rhythm looked like for her in that moment.
Later, contemplating, I couldn’t really identify which part of the teaching was the philosophy, but I think it consisted of the following. She talked about what it would be like to really not care what you look like when you are dancing, to really let go of the ego. “Sometimes I wonder if I was really like BLAH! If I was really out there, If you would let me be your teacher? Do I always have to say, ‘You have to be on the beat!’ to myself?” She went on to say that her ego says, “I don’t think so. I don’t think you would let me be the teacher.” This, she continued, is because the ego hates to be laughed at. She concluded with, “That’s really the point of this practice, to drop into the body, to find the wisdom there.”
Kierra then invited (not commanded!) us to experiment with being goofy, with not caring at all about how we look, with even being wiling to look silly. In addition to mentioning the word “goofy,” Kierra said something else about Staccato, and Muhammed Ali came to mind again—what I had been contemplating earlier about how the great boxer, humanitarian and activist had so masterfully combined militancy and humor to great effect, epitomized, perhaps, by his most famous quote, “Float like a butterfly; Sting like a bee.”
Kierra said something curious about partnering that I have been contemplating. Speaking about how the ability to sink into the wisdom of the body is central to 5Rhythms practice, Kierra said, “Sometimes we partner or we dance in a group, and it’s OK to be social, but the point is really to find the body’s wisdom.” I’m not sure if part of what she was expressing was that partnering can be interesting, but that the true practice happens on your own, or if I read into her remark, but it gave me a jumping off point for consideration.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the role and function of partnering in 5Rhythms practice. You might note that in my most recent text, I wrote that Jason Goodman brought up partnering when he taught the Friday Night Waves class the week before. The way I see it, we are born alone and we die alone, but the rest of the path is completely filled with people. Lately, I have come to believe that being alone and partnering with others are like two wings of a bird—to borrow a metaphor from Buddhism—both completely necessary for flight. Deeply connecting individually allows us to deeply connect with others, deeply connecting with others helps us to connect more fully with the depths of ourselves, and so on. I love this statement by Muhammed Ali: “Friendship…is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
It occurs to me that relationship is the arena of ego, and that it makes sense that in relationship could be the most productive place to work with ego.
On Friday night, in my journal I wrote, “I have been completely subsumed by the all. Both being with others and being alone are key components of my personal path.”
A dancer—someone I have spent hundreds of hours in sublime, moving partnership with—appeared shortly before Kierra’s talk. As soon as our paths crossed, I jumped enthusiastically into his field and began to bound and leap. I remembered that the last time I had danced with him, I had completely overdone it, injuring my back and suffering for days. I reminded myself that I had to be gentle or I would pay for it later. For years, he and I met in enthusiastic and athletic Chaos and Staccato. On this day, the refrain in our dance was an enlivened and energetic Stillness, a thread woven through all the rhythms, that we kept dropping back into. We fully embraced Kierra’s wonderful goofiness invitation, even vocalizing and making absurd faces, falling to the ground and tumbling, then rolling back up—sometimes with one of us on the ground and the other upright, still engaged in a related gesture, arcing and playing around the other’s field. At certain points in our dances, all activities of selfing ceased completely; and I moved simply in the energetic field. In our final turn of the evening, I experienced myself in what I understand as the Body of Joy, visibly surrounded by light in the shape of my body. I dispensed with all armor and energetic defenses and my field intersected with my partner’s and with the people in close proximity.
Re-reading this text, I realize I am struggling to express the depth of my admiration for Muhammed Ali, and to express why he is so important to me, personally. It is not only Ali’s words and actions that touch me, but that the world, despite its continued brutality and racism, loved and still loves Ali—saw his genius and his beauty and his power—gives me hope for humanity. Gives me hope for all of us. Thank you, Muhammed Ali, for believing in yourself, for believing in the basic goodness inherent in all human beings, and for your tireless generosity in the face of a world that could not get enough of you.
“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.” -Muhammad Ali
“If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” –Muhammed Ali
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” –Muhammed Ali
June 11, 2016, Brooklyn, NY
This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.
(The image of Muhammed Ali in Africa comes to me by way of the website https://atechnologyjobisnoexcuse.com)
“When we dance together, even when we dance near each other, I feel so good. It is like you bring out the spirit in me, somehow. You are like a little shaman.” This compliment, delivered by a friend after a recent Friday Night Waves class, was perhaps the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. It made me very happy to hear not just “I love this thing about you”, but “I love the way you make me feel about me.”
During the week, one afternoon I got down to floor with my forehead touching the rug. I started to move through the spine and began to experiment, wondering how much movement I could find. I had been feeling constraint, but great undulating movements overtook me, originating in the spine and slowly whipping through my head, arms, and the rest of me, curving and twisting, prostrating emphatically and then rising again, the spine stacking and moving in all of its increments, and at once as a whole.
Jason Goodman guest-taught Tammy Burstein’s Friday Night Waves class this week. I enjoyed many of his musical selections and found it easy to move. Jason seemed to be drawing on multiple themes, but at the very end of the teaching interlude between the first and second waves, he briefly talked about partnering in a 5Rhythms class.
I thought about my friend’s generous compliment, and about my own way of relating to partnering. It is important, of course, to investigate both the state of being alone and to investigate the state of partnering. In a given class, many spontaneous partnerships may arise. The teacher might also suggest that everyone take a partner, with the understanding that we should turn to the person closest to us and enter into some kind of relationship—sometimes with specific suggestions by the teacher. I love to connect, love to see and be seen, love the many interesting insights that arise when I am happy with my partner, and, too, the insights that arise when I am not. Partnering also gives me the opportunity to be curious about when I am lead by intuition vs. when I am simply compelled to escape discomfort—for example in deciding whether or not to exit a partnership. For me, another thing about partnership is that I take on new ways of moving, sometimes leading to new insights, sometimes leading to creative inspiration, and sometimes leading to deepened empathy with my partners.
A personal practice that is part of my own 5Rhythms path is to say internally to each partner, “I see you there; and I am grateful for it,” a practice that is adapted from a teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. I wonder if what my friend expressed might not be related to this practice—my secret magic formula.
I have been experiencing back pain for the first time in my life; and it has me worried—afraid, even. Whenever I feel pain, I fear that I will lose the ability to dance. During Friday’s class, I had no pain, but I was careful to move gently, staying out of my extreme edges, careful not to cross-step behind myself too far, careful not to twist too emphatically on the floor, careful not to step deeply and sharply at once. Sometimes this very softness, this conscious holding back, opens unexpected doors.
On Friday, I was happy. I realize that a majority of the time that I am dancing, I am really, really happy. Beaming, little-flowers spontaneously-growing-where-you-step, the-room-is-filled-with-angels-and-I-am-one-of-them, leaping-and-sailing, life-is-perfect kind of happy. On Friday, for the first time this year, it was hot enough that everyone in the room was slick with sweat, indicating that my favorite season has arrived, which made me even happier.
There are also plenty of times that I am not happy at all. It is ok with me, that I am not always happy. It is only through accepting whatever arises that I find my way to joy—the real joy that arrives, uncontrived. Curiously, it seems to be through delighting in the people around me that joy is most likely to open up, not because I set out to be happy, and not because I think it is a measure of my practice.
June 1, 2016, Brooklyn, NYC
This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.