Posts Tagged ‘ecstatic 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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Permission Granted: Dancing our Insanity

August 4, 2010

“Permission granted.”  With one wave of the magic wand, the dancers zealously transformed into lunatics. As I was searching for an image to illustrate this piece, it suddenly occurred to me that I felt like a fairy godmother bestowing everyone with mysterious powers and that I needed a photo of a magic touch.The “big hair” theme emerged from the choices offered… a delightful happenstance that caught my creative whim…had to do it… too good. Hysterical. Perfect for paying homage to the creative genius unleashed when the dancers were invited to explore their insanity.

This dance was dedicated to the Tarot card of the Tower. The Talking Heads tune “Burning Down the House” kept running through my brains, egging me onto dismantling our fundamental structures, our castles in the sand. What could be more undone than lunacy? Whether we care to admit it or not, I’m sure every one of us has had moments when we perceive our own manic-ness. Rather than sweep that under the carpet, why not expose it and give it space, giving ourselves the chance to embrace that as a part of our wholeness? Frankly, I feel we are all on the edge of “reason” whatever that even means… allowing insanity can be pretty darn funny and wildly creative.

What is fascinating and a bit sad perhaps is that generally, permission needs to be granted to go to places that are “dark,” “crazy,” “sexual.” People usually don’t go there of their own accord. An invitation by a “leader” however, is met inevitably with great enthusiasm. Curious. What I am finding is that there are such amazing gifts to be discovered in going “there.” I write this to dare us all to give ourselves permission. Invite ourselves to our own party. Truly, what are we waiting for?!

Observing everyone dancing out their madness, people moved in ways I had never seen them express themselves in several years of dedicated practice. Sometimes the driving beat was categorically ignored taking dancing to the beat of one’s own drummer to another level. Voices engaged in wild expression. Rampant creativity  and total presence were never more palpable. Most of all, people were having tons of fun. We get to be whackos every day when we are kids, spinning ourselves out on our own delirium. How ever do we lose touch with cracking ourselves up on our own bellybuttons and drool? Note to Self…

When we shared our experiences after the session, someone felt that it was more exhausting to dance madness. My take on this is that you had to actually be more present in order to embody this state. You couldn’t just trance out or dance on automatic. Your imagination responding to the music and to the people in the room was full tilt boogie. Not that it isn’t otherwise but the invitation to dance crazy evoked a super fresh response. Most people agreed that they had discovered ways of moving they could never before have imagined.

I guess that’s my longing here, that this may inspire you to dance and live outside your box, to be your own invitation to creative adventure, to see your “madness” as your genius. The only permission needed is your own. You are truly the master of the magic wand.

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Dance of Entanglement: Exploring Our Attachments Literally Tied Up

July 17, 2010

“I’m tying my students up tonight,” I toss off gleefully to my sweetheart as I leave to go dance. I am giddy with excitement to play with this new experiment. Was it OK to feel so elated about this? I wasn’t sure but oh well, I was! Felt like a mad scientist on the brink of discovery.

“I knew it was sexual,” he replies.

“No darling, we’re exploring our  addictions, bondages and attachments. I thought being literally tied to a corner in the room would help illustrate that point.” Somewhere in my memory was a Butoh performance I’d seen by the brilliant  Sankai Juku dancers where, bald and completely painted chalk white, tortured figures moved across the bare stage with huge red sashes around their waists. Intense.

Giddy and anxious… never having done a dance like this, the outcome was a wildcard…. could be a disaster. Creative risk compelled me; I have been trying to listen to my guts and go for it, especially when it scares me  a bit. Encouraged by watching the making of the HBO series “Queer as Folk,” a very edgy and ground-breaking show about gay life, the directors talked about how they chose to do scenes because the material made them nervous so they knew they had to go there. I admire the courage in that attitude and am grateful that they embraced risk as the show goes to brave new territory, refreshingly honest and real. Undoubtedly, the dancers would initially be less than enthusiastic to be attached to a leash as they come to dance freely. Here goes nothing!

To start, we shared about potent addictions and attachments we have and how we react when we find ourselves caught up in one. Sugar, computer, people-pleasing, self-doubt, stress, shopping, alcohol, fear. Reactions varied from indulgence, denial, anger, self-criticism to enjoyment. What I hoped to achieve in the session was a graphic and visceral exploration of attachment ultimately to foster a sense of humor and greater consciousness with regards to our entanglements. Mission accomplished…phew! It seemed pretty chaotic at times. It was only after the dance, when everyone shared their experience, that I understood it had indeed, served everyone more open.

All of the participants were tied by a long colorful rope from their wrists to ballet bars around the room. The instructions were to dance feeling the connection to their ropes and also to engage with others’ ropes and investigate relationship. At first, all seemed to be enjoying their new toys, wrapping themselves up in cocoons, engaging in sensual tangos,  playing tug of war. As the music got faster, ropes began to intertwine and turn into enormous knots; people got stuck attached to this big mess and frustration ensued.

“Oh no,” I thought. “People are stopping to dance and are simply trying to untangle themselves.” I inserted myself into the knot and encouraged those imprisoned to dance with their current limitations. It was an “Aha!” moment and a new dance emerged.  So easy to get sucked into wanting to be free at all costs, becoming locked into the problem and freezing into anxiety and seriousness; creativity and joy disappear. Tugs of war became more heated… the leash became shorter… no more Mr. Nice Guy. Towards the end, bodies were on the floor seemingly defeated by the rope, exhausted.

And then they were set free….Susheela Raman was singing “I’m set free,” and everyone was invited to undo their bonds and dance. Arms reached for the sky and the whole room began to twirl. The atmosphere instantaneously lit up like a blazing comet… it was that radical.

Individual experiences were shared when we concluded. For most, the graphic imagery of many ropes intersecting and feeling the bodies attached to them clearly illustrated this web of connection, how we get caught up in it, the stickiness of it, the frustration. Liberation felt so joyous but one person was surprised by their sadness to lose their rope and longed to keep a piece. Interesting to observe even our attachments to wanting certain results and I was certainly no exception as I wanted the session to be a “success.” A big discovery was how we forget to dance when we are stuck in a mess instead of dancing creatively with it and continuing to have fun. Really something to remember… how to stay fluid and creative given the limitations you may find yourself in…and really “limitations” are simply your attitude about the situation. Your rope is simply shorter…only a problem if you make it one.

Someone also could not physically remove their wrist tie and I had to cut them loose; they saw this as a metaphor for asking help from friends when we were too deep in the quagmire… you can ask for help when you cannot liberate yourself. Someone may have the golden scissors…

May all beings be free.

“Attachment increases desire, without producing any satisfaction. There are two types of desire, unreasonable and reasonable. The first is an affliction founded on ignorance, but the second is not. To live, you need resources; therefore, desire for sufficient material things is appropriate. Such feelings as, “This is good; I want this. This is useful,” are not afflictions. It is also desirable to achieve altruism, wisdom, and liberation. This kind of desire is suitable; indeed, all human development comes out of desire, and these aspirations do not have to be an affliction.

…when you have attachment to material things, it is best to desist from those very activities that promote more attachment. Satisfaction is helpful when it comes to material things, but not with respect to spiritual practice. Objects to which we become attached are something to be discarded, whereas spiritual progress is something to be adopted–it can be developed limitlessly, even in old age.” ~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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Freedom: Enter at Your Own Risk!

July 14, 2010

I’ve been contemplating the fear of freedom  lately. That seems to be the prImary stumbling block for people who have never attended an ecstatic dance. When I’ve attempted to explain the nature of the dance, and it’s challenging, I’ve had quite a number of responses like “I need to be drunk to dance,” “That’s scary,” “ There are no steps to learn?!” or silent looks of mistrust that say, “Danger… keep away!” It’s as if I am trying to seduce people with poison apples…not dance for heaven’s sake!

Has the world always been so frightened to step outside the box or is this a current issue? It deserves some exploration. Having grown up in California in the Sixties perhaps has warped my sense of the global Big Picture. Sausalito was full of artists, barefooted musicians hitchhiking, women rejecting their bras including my mom! The Seventies, coming into puberty, I witnessed crazy stories of swinging couples, wife-swapping and all manner of spiritual experimentation. Nude beaches were plentiful and have since disappeared. All this felt “normal” as I had nothing to compare it to as a youth. At the risk of sounding like an old fogie reminiscing about “the good ol’ days,” it felt like there was a more fertile atmosphere for encouraging risk-taking and freedom than I come across today.Especially in light of having encountered so many people terrorized by the idea of non-structured dance, yoga devotees in particular… go figure! After deeper analysis, it makes sense as yoga is linear, controlled, structured and ecstatic dance is non-linear, an open field, the chaos of creativity….hmmm…a wee epiphany… freedom = chaos or the possibility of it and that is part of the fear factor…. out of control. That belies a belief in a personal Pandora’s Box that would surely engulf one so better just keep a lid on it. How little we trust ourselves.

Having recently DJed a clothing optional dance journey for women, the revelation that it was a first-time experience for many to be even topless in public astonished me. Tears of gratitude poured down young faces. It was a totally healing and liberating event for all involved. Women of all ages and shapes celebrated themselves without inhibition, shedding clothing and self-repression. “Self” is the key word here. As adults, we can no longer blame family, religion, teachers or society for repression; it has been internalized and we are now our own jailers and judges.  Much easier to blame and not take responsibility for our liberation because that entails some deep soul-searching and work. And it might not feel great grappling with our self limiting behavior…I’ll deal with it next New Year’s resolution… yeah, right…

Who is afraid of freedom? The ego. The ego is afraid of looking like a fool, being shamed, embarrassed, not knowing, others’ opinions, being exposed. It is the internalized judge and jailer. The sad part is that the ego structure is a fiction and yet we constantly fall for it’s horse manure. It keeps us small. Tenderly bring awareness to judgement of self and others and investigate the truth of your beliefs. The Pandora’s Box is a mirage of our own making and we therefore also have the power to un-make it.

I write this to encourage us all to take the loving risk to question our own authority and be free. It doesn’t mean having to get naked necessarily but on a spiritual level it does… what have you got to lose? Only the ego that operates on fear. Burn the bra that binds you!

“You cannot control an ecstatic man; it is impossible. You can only control a miserable man. An ecstatic man is bound to be free. Ecstasy is freedom. He cannot be reduced to being a slave. You cannot destroy him so easily; you cannot persuade him to live in a prison. He would like to dance under the stars and he would like to walk with the wind and he would like to talk with the sun and the moon. He will need the vast, the infinite, the huge, the enormous. He cannot be seduced into living in a dark cell. You cannot make a slave out of him. He will live his own life and he will do his thing. This is very difficult for the society. If there are many ecstatic people, the society will feel it is falling apart, its structure will not hold anymore.” ~ Osho

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Express Yourself: Dancing the Fifth Chakra

May 10, 2010

“I missed the freedom of expression,” a dancer answers when I ask how they feel about the fifth chakra dance session we’d just concluded. Hmmm… I was hoping to create a context where greater creativity of movement could be fostered. Suddenly the demons of creative insecurity raise their ugly heads wanting to engulf me… perfect. We had danced a piece on expanding self-expression: I had gone out on a creative limb with the structure of the evening’s session and this feedback touches the core of my own self-expression.

Many people have received very little positive feedback for their creative endeavors and experiments in their lives. We started the session sharing stories of the messages we’ve been given about our artistic abilities: being told we can’t sing, that we had poor fashion sense, that we couldn’t cook, and so forth. Scholastic achievement gets much more attention; art, writing, decorating is just that “cute” thing you do. My mother was always hoping that I’d grow out of my love of theater and become a business major… the prevailing idea being that you can’t make money with art. Granted, it’s challenging in a society that doesn’t value it highly. Never did make a living with it but I have never regretted the enriching experience of following my heart and doing what I loved.

The fifth chakra deals with expressing one’s truth, being authentic in communication, The idea with the dance session was to cycle through different body parts, letting them express their story in their own language. For example, I’d call out, “Feet,” and everyone would explore their feet, first on their own and then with other dancers.  My intention was to encourage everyone to break out of their patterns and expand their movement vocabulary. Ecstatic dance usually has very little structure so I was taking a big risk departing from the norm and what the dancers were used to. I came to the session excited to play with this creative experiment. I was going to draw outside the lines…

What was curious though, was that the structure I imposed on the dance seemed to get some people more in their heads than breaking barriers. Conversely, other dancers totally moved beyond their comfort zones into fresh new territory and expansion. What was the challenge here? Observing the participants, I really could see how differently people approach creativity. For some, the task of dancing a particular body part opened the door to adventure; they relished the problem-solving quality of the exercise. There was something specific to work with, just enough of a parameter to use as a foundation to jump into the unknown. Without the invitation to intimately delve into their feet, they would not have necessarily gone there on their own and missed this rich experience. For others, structure became a head-trip, a nuisance, and closed down their self-expression. These folks operate more fluidly with an empty canvas. The blank page terrorizes others….

“I missed the freedom of expression,” says the dancer. “Ah, but what might be interesting to see,” I answer, “is that the invitation is for feet AND freedom of expression, spine AND freedom, hands AND freedom. They don’t exclude each other. Just see how your resistance to structure  prevents your flow when it is there actually to help. ” I remember hearing Osho, the Indian spiritual master, give a talk about creativity and how we could approach and engage in the most mundane acts as artists…. things like washing the dishes, doing the laundry, shopping. It really is a question of being present to whatever act you are doing and enjoying it. You will never wipe the windows in the same manner again…. you are dancing over the pane with the cloth, swirling this way and that, zig-zagging, making wide sweeping gestures. Next time you do this same act, you will probably do it differently. The window becomes your blank canvas. Windows AND freedom. Creativity is that simple and we all are artists. Take a risk and draw outside the lines. Express yourself!

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Dance of Power: The Third Chakra, Manipura

April 26, 2010


An ancient council tribe of warriors meeting in a circle…better yet, peacekeepers or Superheroes…grounded, spines straight, hearts and eyes ablaze, fully present…that’s what we all were radiating when we closed our dance dedicated to the Third Chakra, Manipura. Everyone was relaxed and rooted in their power, very earthy feeling until you caught the fire burning in a dancer’s eyes, challenging you to match them in greater integrity and strength. So inspiring to behold! Personal power embodied and not ego-driven. It feels important to experience our friends and family more often as warriors and warrioresses, fighting for their and others’ highest good, co-igniting ourselves towards achieving this ideal.

The Third Chakra deals with issues of power and will… enter the Ego. How do we get what we want? Manipulate? Dominate? Beg? Or simply ask? Watch out for the “selfless” act too, a wolf in sheep’s clothing…Yikes! My ego’s already squirming, comparing and wanting to feel “better than” as I write these words! That’s it’s job. So we might as well have fun with it and learn to laugh at our ego masks.

When I was researching the third chakra qualities, I came across a great explanation that emphasized the ability to laugh; to laugh at oneself or a situation is to have power over it. Makes total sense…you have to be detached from your trip to find the humor in it. This concept inspired the evening’s dance experiment.

Normally, an ecstatic dance experience is an open field for you to explore your inner world. So I wondered how it would be to very specifically direct the energy of the dance, enacting roles…loved what transpired from this creative risk, thanks to courageous souls who went for it with gusto. We cycled through a progression of five archetypes of the Manipura energy: Beggar/Victim, Anger, Diva, Clown/Fool and Warrior. I asked everyone to exaggerate these masks, to really become a caricature of these roles, with the intent of ultimately being able to laugh at ourselves. Great exercise to do with yourself if your ego is getting difficult…let it have a voice, daring to say the most outrageous things that you are too polite to say…”I’m the best. I am the hottest. I totally suck. I am the most pathetic. I am the most giving…”  Go for it… put a costume on and play it up and let it go bananas! That’s what it’s doing in your head and what you are trying to resist. It’s not going away… might as well enjoy your own hissy fit and  be able to crack yourself up at your own ridiculousness.

As part of the role-play dance, I invited the participants to connect with the energy of trying to out-do the other, try to out-victim or out-diva one another. The Beggar role had everyone on the floor in a wee ball of misery….no connection really wanted to happen. Anger… whoa! The room exploded and we got in each other’s faces. As in the sacral chakra, we had to be invited to explore our sensuality in dance, anger was also by invitation. And by the sound of it, most were thrilled to go there. Talk about fire and energy! It’s exactly that fire that helps us burn through our own inertia. The room was so alive… it was a celebration! The climax of the music came on with the Diva. That character was more cool and controlled though, an interesting juxtaposition. The Clown character helped us start to laugh at the whole thing and to allow ourselves to be even more ridiculous. Ending with the Warrior and meditation, we were brought back inside to a state of dignity and inner strength. And from that place, we gathered into a closing circle, silently acknowledging our power.

Giving space to anger was a huge piece of reclaiming our power. It needs healthy expression. And not taking ourselves too seriously, having a good laugh. You feel so cleansed after. De-toxing the physical body is all well and good….yet we neglect doing an emotional de-tox from time to time. Find a fun way to purge your sludge… no one however, should get hurt in such an exercise, especially not you. Be sure that if you don’t do your sludge, it will do you. May the Force be with you!