Have you noticed that there is a dance craze going on? Conscious dance, Swing dance, Flash Mob, Zumba –these various dance forms are popping up everywhere from yoga studios to health clubs to public parks. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise – communities have been dancing together as far back as we can trace human existence. And many spiritual paths include the body, movement and music in its practice. Dance is a fundamental form of expression. I think of it as an expression of the mystery of life unfolding.
I have been practicing various forms of conscious movement for the past 10 years. AuthenticMovement, Soul Motion, 5 Rhythms, Trancedance, walking meditation, Contact Improv, and a sundry of other practices. Most of these dance forms fall under the category of Conscious Dance –a practice of moving freely, without choreography or planning, while maintaining mindful awareness. It is practiced for the sake of the experience without audience or performance.
Initially (read “for the first 8 years”), as I moved, my mind was full of chatter. “Am I doing thisright?” “Is this movement authentic enough?” “I wonder what this movement means?” “Why isn’t anything happening?” Comparing, criticizing, controlling. Loudly. But over time, as with any practice, the experience deepened. My mind would quiet for short moments, then longer. It was here that the great discovery was made.
In the silence between thoughts, I arrived in a magnificent field of potency. There is a vast “space” that seems to exist both inside and out. If I open to this, dissolve into this, I experience a sense of unity. Oneness. Or All-ness. Where everything exists as potential. This is where words begin to fail… Nevertheless, I will continue. This space, which is neither temporal nor physical, is what I have come to know as Creativity. For what happens here is that when I pause in this vastnothingness, and rest in simple awareness, something eventually emerges. As Jung puts it, “your inner emptiness conceals an even greater fullness, if only you allow it to penetrate into you”. If I prioritize my bodily awareness – sensation, impulse – over mental awareness – thoughts interpretations, preferences – another universe of experience unfolds. I maintain a disciplined awareness and follow sensation as my body begins moving. There is no agenda, choreography or purpose save the precious beauty of experience of being in the flow of Creativity unfolding. It is oneof the most intimate and sacred experiences I know. Freedom. The late Michael Jackson wrote, “… On many an occasion when I’m dancing, I’ve felt touched by something sacred… I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and creation merge into one wholeness of joy.” While I think Michael Jackson lived with great psychological suffering, this writing reveals that he also experienced something profound.
Many conscious dance practices, especially Authentic Movement and Soul Motion, offer an embodied and effective way to learn mindfulness. The thinking, evaluative mind is de-prioritized and an inner witness is fostered. The inner witness observes sensation over story, felt sense overopinions, the present moment over past or future. In archetypal language, I would say this practice cultivates the Feminine – body, being, surrender, presence. In our Masculine dominant society, conscious dance offers the balance of Feminine needed in individual and communal life.
Stay tuned. Beginning in August, 2013, I will be offering a weekly embodied movement class, Dance Portal, in Petaluma at Yoga One on Kentucky Street. Beginners and veterans welcome. No dance experience needed.