Posts Tagged ‘conscious dance’

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Dancing with Chaos

March 22, 2011

Massive sigh, a much needed exhale…!

These last few weeks’ global upheaval has left me feeling pretty raw and vulnerable. It’s challenging not to be swept up in collective hysteria and anxiety. More than ever, I am so deeply grateful for having a dance practice to move some of this energy and keep my feet on the ground. It is a huge part of why we engage in a conscious dance path: to hone our gut instincts and intuition, to remember our feet and be embodied, to return to center, to grow our awareness into greater presence, to keep our energy and our emotional body flowing so as not to get stuck.

“Ecstatic dance” can be somewhat misleading though also the perfect name. The ecstasy for me  comes from the experience of letting go and that may manifest as a soul-shattering catharsis. That’s not going to necessarily feel all that blissful in the throes of it. Many people I’ve encountered have the misconceived notion that they need to feel happy to come dance. Ecstatic dance, thankfully, invites us to come as we are, to move with what is happening for us in this moment which may be sad, angry, frozen even… what a relief to be able to express our emotional bodies in movement! We are so socialized about having to be “happy”; we set ourselves up for an inner battle of rejecting part of our psyche and a dualistic struggle of wanting this, not that. Self-acceptance is a much more effective route to being content. Even for our physical health, we need to move the energy of those “dark” places for there is enough research to support the fact that cancers and other dis-eases are repressed emotional energy.

“In dancing and singing, you are discovering and releasing the energy of emotion, allowing it  to flow through you and out of you.  The result, for instance, of dancing through the rythyms of anger is to reach a calm, grounded position from which to effectively and appropriately deal with the source of your anger, rather than just chaotically erupting or simmering until you explode, or jabbing away with slights and insults like an overmatched boxer.  At the same time, you become familiar with the emotion and begin to feel natural with its phases and expressions. When emotions come, as they inevitably will, dance them, move them, and confront people, situations, and challenges from a point of centered stillness.  Blocked emotions end up exploding or festering and having much more impact than they should.”~ Gabrielle Roth, Founder of the 5Rhythms, from her book “Maps to Ecstasy.”

So get on the dance floor and move it, shake it, breathe into it, give it all space ! Your giving yourself permission to be authentic reverberates to the whole of humanity and this dance truly heals the planet. ‎”The moment you come to trust chaos, you see God clearly. Chaos is divine order, versus human order. Change is divine order, versus human order. When the chaos becomes safety to you, then you know you’re seeing God clearly.” – Caroline Myss, “Spiritual Madness: The Necessity of Meeting God in Darkness.”

Today, rather than writing much myself, I feel like sharing these quotes of wisdom from great teachers that have helped me navigate this particularly challenging time on the planet. I hope it encourages you my friend to keep dancing, releasing and opening your heart. LOVE

Here’s  a great video of Gabrielle Roth speaking on dancing with chaos.

This wonderful piece written by Dee Smith, a Native American, is about dedicating your dance to healing the planet. Really drink in this invitation and send out your dance prayers. This piece is copy-righted so if you intend to use it for other than personal use, please visit www.starstuffs.com for correct usage.

Dance to Heal the Earth by Dee Smith

Whenever you dance, wherever you dance, dance to heal the earth!

Dancing is power. Dancing is prayer. Some say that all is dance. Maybe. Now there’s a big dance coming, a dance to heal the earth. If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of it. You take part whenever you do whatever you do to help heal the earth. When you recycle. When you choose to show love, to fight for justice, to bring healing, to bring out what is good in others. When you avoid cruelty and dishonesty and waste. When you are outraged. When you speak out. When you give. When you consider the generations to come. When you protest to the oppressors and encourage those who feel the cutting edge of injustice. And, of course, when you dance. There is a tree that all the prophets see, and whenever you let your love show, you make the flowers grow.

Soon this dance will be done in a big way, in the old way, on sacred ground. All living things will take part. If you want to, you can take part. No one is twisting your arm. You can stop any time you need to, and start up again whenever you’re ready. If you’ve read this far, you probably know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably been doing it in one way or another for a good while. Soon will be the time to make no bones about it! Cut loose!

Anytime you dance, anywhere, whether at a party or in church, dance to heal the earth! Let your feet beat a healing rhythm into the earth. Let your feet beat a strengthening rhythm for those who struggle the hardest. Let your feet beat a life-giving rhythm for all peoples, regardless of race or national boundary, regardless of whether we’re human or whether we’re the trees, the air, the fish, the birds, the buffalo, the bear, the crow. We come out of hiding, we come back from the dead, and we dance, and our dance is a prayer, and our songs and our rhythms and our breath give life.

Is the music they’re playing some mindless jingle? Never mind, as long as it’s not bad music, and you can dance to the beat! Make your own words, and make the words a prayer. A prayer for the end of exploitation, a prayer for the end of lies, a prayer for healing, for justice, for life. Remember your prayer-song, feed it and let it get strong and pass it along. Dance and pray, whenever you dance, dance to heal the earth.

Have you seen anything? Wear it out! Make it so that all can see what you see! Take a white T-shirt and mark it with your dreams. Is there anything you’d like to tell the world? Take your shirt and mark it with your song! This is the way it has been done, so you can do it too. Use any color except black (there are reasons for that that will become clearer later), and you’ll probably find that a loose, pure cotton T is most comfortable for dancing in. Because this is an actual dance, you dance hard, you sing and breathe hard and sweat. Wear it when you plan to go out dancing, to dance to heal the earth.

Some people do this dance while fasting, and dance for several days straight. But even a few minutes of dancing helps, and joins with all the other dancing going on, everywhere on Earth. Not everyone can fast these days. Besides, you never know when you’re gonna dance, and you have to eat sometimes! But if you plan to dance, hold off eating till later, or just have a little. It’s easier to dance if you don’t have a hotdog weighing you down.

Some people say, do not do sacred things where people are drinking and partying. But all the universe is a sacred place. It really doesn’t matter what others are doing, you can make a place sacred wherever you are, with your intention and your prayers. Some people use smoke to make a place sacred; a cigarette or incense stick will do fine. You can dance to heal the earth anywhere, even a party or a bar! The earth is everywhere, so you can dance anywhere to heal her. Only one thing. Please hold off drinking or using any other intoxicants till you’re done. It works better that way.

The Lie has gone far enough. It spreads and makes everyone sick. Now is the time for this dance to begin. It, too, will spread, and it will bring healing to all. In the beginning, they say, God put a rainbow in the sky, to let us know that Spirit never forgets. Now is the time for us to put a rainbow across the earth, to let God know that we, too, remember.

Dance to heal the earth. Not just when you’re dancing, but always. Live the dance, whenever you move, in all you do, dance to heal the earth.

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New Year’s Re-Solutions for the Conscious Dancer

December 30, 2010

Groan….New Year’s resolutions….hate them and yet they nag at the consciousness…maybe this year I can actually hang on to one and follow through! Nope, not going to make any… but there’s that wee voice urging you to just try to improve some aspect of your life that may be bugging you… you’ll feel better. That’s the hope at least.
Ugh and double ugh…at least that’s how I feel about it. There’s a definitive lack of joy in this approach… a “should.”  Already doomed to failure….

So how to restore joy to conscious growth? It’s all in the dance.

The only New Year’s resolution you may need to keep is a weekly commitment to a conscious dance practice. Twist my rubber arm! The dance is truly meditation in motion and will reveal ego layer upon ego layer to you. While this may sound slightly terrifying… that is to the ego….we are anyway, constantly confronted with opportunities for self reflection in our daily lives. I just find that ecstatic dance is a delightful, conscious way to approach self-discovery. Number one, it’s fun. That really is the key to sustaining any sort of resolution.

The dance provides us with an ever-changing field where we can foster greater awareness and let go, practicing our perceived “self” disappearing into the One, the truth of who “we” are. Our bodies in motion unclench holding patterns and habits. Bound to…the dance is change. Every musical note, every step we take arises and evaporates like waves on the shore, never to repeat themselves quite the same way. We develop an ease and eventually an un-attachment to change and that is a true gift…how much suffering people cause themselves by resisting the inevitable!

And yet as dancers we have little habits that we hold fast… our choice in dress, the section of the room we tend to gravitate towards, the people we dance with, the kind of music that rocks us, the way we move our hips. Don’t get me wrong… I am not knocking our preferences as that self-expression is also part of our beauty. What I am suggesting is bringing greater awareness to our habits and perhaps having some fun experimenting with trying something new on the dance floor in the new year. What have you got to lose?

I notice in myself, for example, that I tend to stay in a certain area on the dance floor and that some other places in the room feel mysteriously awkward. The habit is to stay where I feel good instead of exploring the “weird corner.” I flirt with it for half a tune perhaps, conclude that it is still funky and move on. What if I were to stay there the whole time? I get nervous just thinking about it. There may be a gem in self-discovery that I may be missing in my habitual avoidance.

And then there’s the character that I call the “Energizer Bunny,” the fun, crazy party girl that wants to rev you up into a frenzy on the dance floor, a knee jerk reaction that is often my tendency. “Let’s go wild!” she says, “I’m hot and I’m happening. Happy, happy!” Trying to make “something” happen is more like it… instead of just meeting you. At times, I am covering up my vulnerability, other times it truly is fun to encourage wild let go. Walking this razor’s edge of awareness, seeing my ego, all is revealed in the dance and dissolves in it. Perhaps your inclination is to meet people as the soft, sensitive type, that you want to pull people exclusively into that sort of dance encounter… I have met you. The Energizer Bunny wants to shake you up and the softer side of me is attracted…the ego is afraid of not being “good at” sensitive…the oceanic self is ready to dive into the mystery with you. Aaaaah…such reflection and wisdom we can share! Above all, let’s foster a sense of humor about our masks… make that part of our re-solutions this new year… drop the habit of seriousness!

Here’s a fun re-solution for your dance wardrobe…and you know you’ve got one even if it’s your favorite ripped T-shirt and sweats… maybe approach unclenching your dance persona like a theatrical piece. It would be radical for me to wear a flowing, goddess outfit or come as a hippie queen with a leather, beaded halter top, feather arm bands and long skirt. Just to imagine it, I can sense how it would inform my movement with a fresh approach. I’m always in pants.

And those folks you’d rather not dance with…or your tendency to always be a loner…perhaps gently invite yourself to open to connect. There just may be a treasure trove of understanding in there about all your relationships. I see for myself that I want the dance to be a pleasurable experience so I might avoid “odd” people, parts of the room, clothes, “bad” moods…seeking pleasure is the function of the mind. While it’s also perfectly good to care to enjoy myself, I can really limit my experience this way. I’ve danced with people who were sad or angry; it was so beautiful to just be with their emotion and not try to change it or make it better. We are so socialized to put on a smiling face or to try to make ourselves happy…as part of a renewed approach to conscious dance, encourage yourself to come as you are…moody, tired, angry, joyous and share your truth on the floor. And if you are the ever moody, dark cloud dancer, explore this attachment…who are we beyond all this? Thank God we have the dance and community to help us see and celebrate it all.

And then there’s our attachment to certain music…I love techno and have trouble getting into Balkan sounds personally. Others curdle when they hear Tracy Chapman or rock and roll. Over and over again, we are asked to practice un-attachment, neti, neti, neither this nor that. Re-solution: dive into dancing your resistance instead of going out to refill your water bottle. Move your contraction, your “no.”

Honestly, all your New Year’s resolutions can be solved in a regular conscious dance practice…saying “yes” to change, trying on a new self-image, total self-acceptance, exploring relationships and resistance, peace within… and it doesn’t have to be some grueling task like diets or 100 daily crunches or name your own self-torture. There’s a reason why the dance is called “ecstatic.” As the layers of ego fall away, the pure joy and peace that You are is revealed. That’s something to be ecstatic about!

Wishing you a glorious new year on the luminous dance floor of Life!

The earth has disappeared beneath my feet,
Illusion fled from all my ecstasy.
Now like a radiant sky creature
God keeps opening.
God keeps opening
Inside of Me.
Hafiz

 

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Conscious Dance: Provocative or Positive, That is the Question?

May 18, 2010

A request for sharing song suggestions about “Mother” for Mother’s Day went out to all in the Conscious DeeJay group, sparking quite a fascinating debate amongst some members regarding the content of lyrics and the nature of the dances. The basic issue revolved around whether the dances were places to just uplift and raise consciousness or whether they were a place to process shadow sides of ourselves, both ways supported by particular lyrics to experience these states.

It began with one  deejay expressing his disappointment in the type of songs being offered and that all lyrical content should be thoroughly reviewed. He felt that “conscious” deejays should be playing tracks that were only elevating. “This means no demeaning, sad, shagging, negative, womanizing, put-downing lyrics…….,” he specified. I felt a pang of angst. Being a fairly new member, I may not have been totally aware of the protocol. One of my suggestions that I sent out was “Dear Mama” by Tupac, perhaps considered uncool because of his use of profanity at times. Yet, this particular song that he wrote for his mother is so heartfelt. Yes, he does mention that she was a “crack fiend” and expresses how it was hell “hugging on my mama from a jail cell.” However, he spends the whole song praising and thanking her…I consider it fitting for Mother’s day.”There’s no way I can pay you back…But the plan is to show you that I understand…You are appreciated.” I felt awkward having perhaps offended some people. I wondered if I should apologize and yet I wasn’t convinced that it was my submission that was in question or whether I actually really felt honestly apologetic.

Not sure  if something needed to be done, I was relieved to see the following response and decided to be fine with my choice of music. “Interesting, I thought being conscious means that all is welcome without preference, without attachment to things being one way or another,” a 5Rhythms teacher wrote. “I found a lot of sad people in my class today, missing moms, hating moms, etc. To make those feelings a dance and to make space for it all to move, that is a gift. I would agree that I am not fond of violence, and especially violence against women, yet even some of those dances evoke feelings that can be moved and released….The harder we push the shadow away, the harder it comes to bite us in the rear….”  I am definitely more in this camp. While I deeply care to uplift people in the dances, I also love darker songs that evoke anger and sadness sometimes. I feel that moving the energy of these emotions in dance is an extremely potent de-tox and release. Agreed totally that violent and profane lyrics should be avoided.

“I prefer and would love to see more CD (conscious dance) DJs choosing inspiring, uplifting music, still with a theme [anyone can do a theme] … Folks still move through stuff. Missing Mum or hating Mum still comes up even with inspiring music “Cos it’s there.” And cos the facilitator has created a container/safe place to express. And a release happens,” came another passionate response to the debate. “Since you are a 5R (5Rhythms) person you can do this BUT not all of us are……. You choose to do Shadow Work……..I choose not! And encourage others the same. Cos there are LOADS of Unconscious DJ’s out there and WE need more Inspirational Dances not less.”

This discussion invited some soul-searching on my part as a dance facilitator. My preference is to create some focus for most sessions, whether it is a certain chakra or totem animal, a body part such as hips, a state of being like “surrender. My idea is that it invites a richness of exploration and greater self-awareness. Yet, after this exchange between deejays, I wondered if I wasn’t manipulating the energy or narrowing the field too much. Honestly, I don’t have the answer to that and continue to be with the question.

People can decide whether they want to do shadow work or not; some like vanilla, some espresso. Therefore, they can choose whether they want to have dance be strictly positive or be open to a more provocative experience…. and sometimes, release happens regardless, even if you are not searching for or encouraging it, “…cos it’s there.” Hallelujah for the luxury of choice! For me, this dance practice is a meditation in motion, a being with “what is,” fostering greater self-awareness. Conscious equals aware… and that is ALL inclusive… as it is all one truly…no divisions. One love.

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Conscious Dancer Magazine. Great resource for lovers of freestyle dance!

April 15, 2010

Yoga Journal step aside… there’s a new kid in town. Conscious Dancer magazine is now celebrating it’s third year of publication. It’s an amazing resource for anyone interested in exploring conscious dance forms… and there are many!

All great news. First, that a magazine exists to support this growing dance phenomenon. And that there is such a richness of offerings within the realm of “conscious dance” practices. The current  issue explores innovative paths that blend yoga and dance. It seems to be a current trend and there are many delicious variations on the theme. How fabulous! You can truly find a practice that sings to your heart and soul. The luxury of choice… truly we are so fortunate.

The existence of  this publication clearly indicates that ecstatic dance is no longer a fringe activity, something “hippies” do. That image is still persistant but thankfully changing through exposure like this magazine provides. There are weekly sessions and workshops world-wide, even in less obvious places like Serbia, South Africa and Kansas…. although Dorothy, we are no longer in Kansas when we step onto that floor….definitely Technicolor and on the yellow brick road into magic land. Off to see the wizard!

The online magazine has a great directory of dances world-wide. You can view back issues online and for a mere $18 a year, you can subscribe. Supporting this magazine helps the world dance community grow. I truly hold a vision of humanity dancing this planet back into balance, into connection and love. Getting the word out about the soul magic and healing that is happening on the dance floor is vital to that vision. Thank you to the courageous entrepreneurs at Conscious Dance Magazine for taking the risk to create this publication and see if there might be a readership out there. Absolutely! And growing daily. Amen!!!

www.consciousdancer.com