“When there is stagnation in your dance, just keep moving.”
That was the latest instruction and metaphor to hit me as I shook my booty at the weekly Santa Barbara Dance Tribe. Our local Dance Tribe is an eclectic, freeform, 2-hour long Sunday morning shakefest, full of people of all types,with no rules except “no talking on the dancefloor” and “be respectful of others.”
For me, discovering conscious dance has been on of the major spiritual growth points of the last few years. I owe it to my wife and her colleagues in the Somatic psychology program at CIIS, and to the extraordinary RhythmWave camp at Burning Man.
So what’s it all about? The basic practice is to get on a dancefloor and let go of your shame and judgments, and just move. A DJ or playlist is set up to take you through a varying set of rhythms and experiences.You try to really tune into your body. And you just see what happens. No matter what, you keep moving. I am amazed every time at how the shimmying and the sweating can clear my mind, can bring things to consciousness I didn’t know were there, and when things really settle in, can lift up very clear and precise insights.
Like meditation, the best way to understand this practice is to do it. Check out the 10 minute video below, with instructions by Gabrielle Roth, the founder of 5 Rhythms. Just put this YouTube video on in your house, and see what happens.
To me, conscious dance is a special way to attend to the wisdom my body has to offer. It’s about letting our amazing human bodies do what they were engineered to do – move. It is about letting rhythm, one of the core elements of human culture and first tools of spiritual practice, take its place in our soul explorations. It’s about tuning in to myself, not on a meditation cushion, but on a dance floor. It’s about finding your own groove.
The Sunday-morning model is pretty common. Recently, I had the joy of attending the famous “e-dance” at Kalani on the Big Island of Hawaii. Now that was one big, hot, sweaty gorgeous gathering in the tropical heat! In fact, the experience can be so profound and the gathering so joyous that up in the Bay Area, the Sunday morning Sweat Your Prayers session is commonly callled “church” by those who attend regularly.
If you haven’t heard of it, the conscious dance, or ecstatic dance, movement has truly taken root. There are many dances happening around the world on any given day. 5 Rhythms, Ecstatic Dance, Soul Motion, and Dancing Freedom are some of the big names, and you can even read Conscious Dancer magazine.
So give it a try. Take your practice off the cushion, out of the pew, and onto the dancefloor!