Notes on Practice: It Speaks Very Much For Itself

January 20, 2016 - Meghan LeBorious


I had an urgent errand this morning, but it cooperated and I was able to make it to this Sunday’s Sweat Your Prayers class, which was taught today by Daniela Peltekova. Stepping into the already vibrant room, I happily greeted many friends, found a spot on the floor, and fell into circular movement.

Today I was exceptionally grateful to step into a 5Rhythms class. Being away for the holidays kept me out of classes for nearly two weeks. Also, during my time away, I attended a brief not-5Rhythms dance retreat. I wanted something satisfying to do for New Year’s Eve and the retreat seemed like a good option. Although I am not one to bounce around to many different spiritual practices, I remain receptive. If I find that if I am insisting on 5Rhythms, I know I am in danger of making a dangerous identity affiliation that could deaden my very vibrant relationship. The practice doesn’t need me to validate it. It speaks very much for itself.

In Maps to Ecstasy, Gabrielle Roth, the creator of the 5Rhythms practice wrote, “Identifying completely with one spiritual way is not spiritual freedom but imprisonment. You can’t see beyond it. You make the teacher a god, the teaching becomes absolute truth, and you end up unable to see the value and the meaning of anything else.” (184)

At the retreat, there were a number of people in attendance who had never in their adult lives danced. I was touched to witness their joy and awakening as movement began to unfurl.  Despite how powerful it was for many people, I had a hard time getting into it.

One aspect of the retreat experience that is relevant to the writing I am doing here (this will make the most sense to those who read my last post about attending Tammy’s recent “Rhythms in Waves” workshop) is that the not-5Rhythms workshop included a huge dose of tribal-type exercises. That is to say, exercises that involve one person leading the group with a simple movement and the others following the movement. A bit like aerobics class, some might say. One of the dominant threads in that last post was how much I hate tribal exercises. I had to laugh, noting the irony. There were no easily-narrated, cathartic insights—only the universe insisting on a particular point it is trying to make.

Today’s class with Daniela, for me, began with a lot of joyful energy. Though I arrived fifteen minutes late, Flowing was still unfolding; and I continued to investigate the category of flowing movements that have been coming up for me lately. As I write, I realize that I have gotten good at this particular way of moving, and that it has lost some of its creative energy.

Staccato eluded me slightly during the “Rhythms in Waves” workshop last week, but today I found Staccato without much difficulty—at one point, bounding with angular front-and-back, diagonal gestures inside the joyful resistance the music offered.

A long selection of drum music somehow zapped me halfway through. I have a sore neck that has been constraining movement and perception and it started to exacerbate at that point.

In conversation with my (much adored) father on New Year’s Day, I reflected that you have to have deep faith in something in order to be transformed by it. For example, at the not-5Rhythms workshop I just couldn’t give myself over, and in part because of that, my experience was not deeply transformative. Maybe the biggest part of the challenge of transformation is finding something that deserves your faith. Faith, for me, isn’t a decision, but is rather an embodied process of inquiry.

January 3, 2016, Brooklyn, NYC


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