Notes on Practice: Individual Practice and Multiple Threads

July 3, 2015 - Meghan LeBorious

Today I danced the 5Rhythms by myself at the farthest reach of Playa Pelado in Nosara, Costa Rica. I am here in Costa Rica for a month, but just arrived yesterday, so everything is new and is an adventure. The place I am staying (we are staying—I am here along with my five-year-old son) is on a mountain, overlooking the ocean. It is remote from the town and beaches, so I needed to figure out a vehicle. The best I could do was an electric golf cart, so we are bumping around town, trying to hold our breathe when a faster vehicle comes along and kicks up dust.

I walked north from Playa Pelada today. Before long, I reached a cabo, and couldn’t walk any further. I decided it was a perfect place to dance, and found a spot in the shade of a high, wave-carved cliff. From there, I moved in and out of the sunlight, drawing huge loping circles in the sand with my feet. The only music was my own occasional humming of a song stuck in my head from my son’s favorite playlist, “Let it Go,” and the sound of crashing waves.


In Flowing, I loved the feeling of my feet dragging in the sand and that the sand touched all the parts of the bottom of my feet—in a way that they do not on a flat dance floor. I noticed that my feet were making an expressive drawing of Flowing in the sand, as I moved in open, linking circles, working with gravity and momentum.

I strongly considered staying exclusively in Flowing for the day, but realized another calling. The waves, at first, seemed to typify Flowing, but as I stayed and moved, I realized that the sheer cliffs and rough, jagged rock had been slammed into shape by millions of very powerful waves.   With this realization, I moved into a languid Staccato that picked up energy and expression as I exhaled sharply, telling myself it would be best to stay in the shade, but needing more space as I explored my body’s response to the landscape—to the ocean, the cliffs, the rocks, the jungle plants, the soaring raptors and the distant, hazy horizon. The drawing my feet made in Staccato was as beautiful as the Flowing drawing they made. I moved to a different spot before too long, or it would have been eradicated. It featured powerful, directed lines in the sand, often with deeper heel digs, and sharp angles, just the way I had been moving.

An interloper appeared, someone on a hike from Playa Pelada. I grew shy. I paused and took out my camera to take pictures of the Flowing and Staccato drawings on the sand. I got back into motion, bashfully, then moved into Chaos regardless of my wish to be invisible to humans at that moment. The drawing my feet made in the sand during Chaos looked like the sand was ripped up. Truthfully, the drawings my feet made in Flowing and Staccato probably would have looked the same if I hadn’t stopped at a certain point and moved to a different place on the sand, but I enjoyed creating some kind of visual representation of the rhythms, even if they were partly contrived.

After Chaos, I sort of trailed into yoga-influenced movements. I was happy to let myself move however felt good. I note that that is one of the biggest arguments for group practice, however, that helps us to retain the form and the discipline of practice. I think part of my investigation this month will be how to sustain my own practice individually, and for now that will mean attending to each of the 5Rhythms in sequence once I start a wave.

When I was at a Buddhist retreat center in Vermont, I danced the 5Rhythms every day alone in the woods—in concert with the sun, the wind, the trees, the spirits of the tradition lineage, and the spirits of the land. The woods revealed many secrets to me; and this period in my own practice offered me insights that probably would not have been uncovered in a group practice situation.

I was mildly concerned that I might become trapped by high tide, so I moved a little way down the beach to practice sitting meditation. I made a mental note to check the tide charts before my next excursion. Sitting, I found my mind active. Little crabs scampered around. Jungle plants behind me moved with the breeze, rustling. Yellow leaf-like butterflies wandered erratically through my field of vision.

In the evening, my son and I played in the waves. It was high tide and the waves were impressive, but many little kids played in the waves near the water’s edge. I stayed close to my son, but at one point a wave knocked him over and I couldn’t put my hands on him for several seconds. When I grabbed him, he was disoriented. I don’t think he would have been able to right himself without help. I realized how easy it would be to lose him, for a wave to sweep him away from me. My heart chilled, though I tried to appear calm. I explained that we don’t have to fear the ocean, but that we certainly must respect it, and insisted that he hold my hand after that as we let ourselves be pummeled by the last traces of the waves which had already broken many meters out.

I am living the threads of many stories: of traveling alone with my small son for a month, of returning to a country that gave me many stories to cherish when I first visited it fifteen years ago, of political realities, of my own emotional obstacles and talents. Within this forum, I promise to keep the story focused on practice, but I hope you will bear with me if other threads drift in.

July 3, 2015, Nosara, Costa Rica

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