I had been in a stage of darkness for some days. An allergic reaction in my skin led me to antibiotics and corticoids, which made my character sensitive and reactive. Fighting a viral infection from the inside out made me feel every imperfection of the world as if I had a magnified glass in my pores. I lost hope. I stopped believing by default. I became sarcastic, critical, fearful and felt that nothing made sense anymore. I entered a space of non-engagement. Blank. Closed. Lost.
I had to touch the deepest darkness of my soul to remember the edge of what being alive feels. Even while navigating the unbearable ambiguity of inhabiting a stranger’s perspective, there was clarity in the polarity. After obscure emptiness there is calm and truth.
And so I returned to what I knew was true to me. The body, the breath, the rhythm as a path of service and learning. I offered my blessings to my ancestors. I build a ritual to honor their lineage and their presence. I offered them flowers, stones, incense, seeds and a dry snake skinI found while hiking, to remember that we are all made of the same matter, yet something keeps the heart beating and the flesh changing.
And then I danced “because I believe in the power of motion, the wisdom of gravity, the emptiness of true love, the fact that there is no way out but through the body, no way up unless we all go together, no way down unless we follow the beat, no way in unless we embrace the dark. And in the darkest shadow of the brightest light is the dance that moves us all” said Gabrielle Roth, founder of 5ryhthms, who passed away just a year ago, around these days.
Last year, for Dia de los Muertos, I honored my father and my grandparents with an altar. That same morning, I attended Sweat Your Prayers at The Moving Center for the first time, on the day of Gabrielle’s memorial. So we danced not to cry, but to make her cry. To embody our fullest selves, to allow life to be manifested through us. And then I remembered it all again. Now everything indicates. And presence is enjoyable.
The 5 essential rhythms are recognizable patterns in music and movement. Yet they are also paths to understand different ways of being.
- FLOWING is the pipeline to our inner truth, the impulse to follow the flow, to be true to oneself, receptive to our inner worlds.
- STACCATO is the gateway to the heart. It shows us how to step into the world connected to our feet and our feelings. It is the rules of our linear world, the warrior, the part that shows up as truth and clarity.
- CHAOS breaks us free of our illusions and throws us headfirst into the beat. It frees us from all ideas of who we are and gives us a real experience of being total, free, intuitive and creative. Chaos is the gateway to big mind.
- LYRICAL is surrendering into the depths of fluid, creative repetitions of our soulful self, to the integrity and dignity that we often forget is within us. It is expansive and connects us with our humanity, patterns and cycles.
- STILLNESS moves, both within and all around us. The dance is our vehicle, our destination is the rhythm of stillness, our challenge is to be a vessel that keeps moving and changing. Being still in motion transforms the accumulation of life experiences into wisdom.
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.” Buddha
*edited from reflections I wrote after last year’s Dia de los Muertos.
** photos by Carson L. Bowley while we traveled to Berlin, Germany. Summer 2013.
*** location The Jewish Memorial in Berlin, designer by architect Peter Eisenman. The cement stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.