“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.