Wheel of Fortune: Dance of Surrender

June 25, 2010

The Wheel of Fortune Tarot card can be read as a sudden stroke of good luck but it has a much deeper meaning: surrender to all the changes Life brings, knowing that when you are on top of the world, you may fall into rough times and rise again… much like the economy! Learning how to be graceful and fluid with change is one of the great gifts of the ecstatic dance practice. Currently, we are doing a series on dancing the archetypes of the Major Arcana Tarot cards which was easier when working with the initial ten, the people cards, like the Magician or the Empress. The Wheel of Fortune marks the beginning of the more metaphysical and conceptual cards.

Surrender to change is not a comfortable place for most. We’d rather hang onto the familiar, even if it’s not really serving us well,  instead of jumping off into unchartered territory. Fifty fifty chance it could be worse…. or better! One thing for certain, change is bound to happen whether we care for it or not. It’s the only thing that’ we can be sure of in this life. Undoing the fear habit of resistance is learning the art of let go. Ecstatic dance is one of the best meditation practices I know to understand change on a cellular level and become comfortable with allowing. You may hate a piece of music… it will be over in a few minutes…. you may enjoy dancing with someone….it too, will end in a few minutes. Like  a river, the dance flows forward. It becomes so instantaneously clear that if you cling to or resist a particular moment, you create misery for yourself. Buddha truly understood the core issue: desire creates suffering.

Easy to say…. society’s messages usually point to creating security…. marriage, homeownership, bank savings, insurance. Lots of fear-based advertising tries to convince you that you can successfully guard against unwanted change. The main attitude in the Western world  seems to be one of protecting oneself from life’s twists and turns. Different in places where there is belief in re-incarnation. Better luck next time!

How to practice surrendering to change lovingly? When we danced the Wheel of Fortune, we first shared stories about the greatest moment in our lives where we felt clearly “out of the driver’s seat,” and the most distinct sensation of “karma” at work, tuning into the concept that there are forces beyond us over which we have no mastery. When I visited Ramesh Balsekar, an Indian guru of the Advaita tradition, he forever blew my mind with the concept that we have zero control of our destiny, that the idea is only created by the ego for the ego, that there is no personal doership… talk about surrender, off with your head!!!! So as an avenue to physically ground the sensation of letting go and getting out of one’s own way,  we started by letting our bodies fall into a simple, repetitive pattern. We had to stay with the movement and let it transform organically without trying to manipulate it. Practicing this with others, it was obvious how difficult it was for everyone to just allow and not want to try to make “something” happen.

It’s a powerful exercise. Next time you dance, try starting with a repetitive motion every time a new piece of music begins. LET IT TAKE YOU. Remain curious with the subtle changes that start to unfold and follow them into unchartered territory. Watch the mind  making comments like, “This is boring,” or “My arms are tired doing this.”  The idea is to practice coming from a place of no concepts and letting things happen in THEIR time… not your ego’s. Becoming comfortable with letting go will foster greater peace and acceptance that will ripple out into all aspects of your life.

Leaving you to contemplate the question put forth by guru Ramesh Balsekar regarding free will. Years later it still shakes me to the ultimate core!

“Now, let us investigate the supposed free will you have to make a decision. What is ‘your’ decision based on? If you investigate this point you will find out that you always base your decision on your ‘programming’, i.e. the genes or DNA and your conditioning which includes your education and practical experience, over which you truly have had no control. Recent research has brought out the fact that many of your actions – both good and bad, positive and negative – can be traced to your genes. So consider for yourself: how genuine is my ‘free will’?! (..) There must be an honest and thorough investigation into what you think are ‘your’ actions from day to day. This investigation is really one step further from Ramana Maharshi’s famous ‘Who am I?’. This investigation that I suggest is based on theory: ‘Am I the doer of what I think are my actions?'”



  1. Thank you for this beautiful truthful reflection…going with the flow is the answer. Thank you for helping us get there by being here… as we dance thru our pain and resistance to transitions. See you soon:)
    much love, Vigi

  2. Heeraa

    Your work bringing together the archetypal and theatrical magic of the tarot (to contemplate the theme and the invitation to wear costumes and share stories in a circle) with ecstatic dance is a flavor of alchemy I’ve been so blessed to have experienced in this life.

    Where did you come up with that exercise starting with the repetitive movement? I loved reading this, hearing your voice through this.

    aloha, Erzsi

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