Every month, when the moon is full, I am privileged to join together with a group of women, and dance the 5Rhythms. We meet together in a church, already a beautiful and spiritual venue, and each month, a different women prepares an “altar” at the front of the room.
Sometimes, it is full of candles and flowers, other times images relating to that particular moon, and once, there were “goddess cards” laid down at the front for us to pick and read what our message was. Apart from the altar, the soft lighting and big sound speakers, the rest is space, a vacuum to be filled.
5Rhythms is not a type of dancing, there are no steps to follow! Rather, a facilitator, will guide you through what is called a “wave,” that is the five different rhythms in consecutive order. Each of the rhythms have a different feel to them, and they create the structure by which you can explore.
There are no rules except to dance whatever your body feels, to communicate through movement not words, and to keep your eyes open, as part of a community. It is a kind of movement meditation, where you give attention, first to your own body and then possibly to other dancers or groups of dancers.
By being attentive to ourselves, we learn more about how and where we are internally.
On arriving, many dancers warm up with gentle stretching or yoga moves. The evening is a full 2 hours of dancing, which definitely takes a lot of physical energy!
Then, the music changes to what is called “flowing.”. The dance is grounding, earthy, feminine – a sense of rooting oneself in the present moment.
Then, we move into “staccato,” the beat, that masculine fire and opportunity to burn aggression or unexpressed anger through our movements. The tempo ups and ups until we come into “chaos;” structure breaks into a waterfall of surrender.
We become one with the group, away from our own individual dance to something more primal and communal. At the peak of this chaotic energy, we break into the sweetness that is “lyrical.” It is as if the body and psyche have been purged, and we open out into a spacious, delicate, graceful and playful dance. It is the dance of the air.
And then, we move into ether, “stillness,” the silence of wonder and awe at the Divine presence within and with us. At the end of the dance, we are invited to join together in a circle of solidarity, to share silence or our experiences or gratitude.
The dance is always so powerful, it hits the non verbal places of us. We may have pushed against a block, and discovered something new.
For instance, I dislike the “staccato” rhythm, and often hold back from fully letting out all my power and masculine spirit; I dance half heatedly waiting for my favorite rhythm, “lyrical.”. But I discovered, when I push myself to fully experience “staccato,” the beauty of the “lyrical” dance that I feel so at home in becomes all the greater.
We may have learnt something about ourselves in relation to others.
For instance, once I was dancing with a very aggressive, in your face man. In life, my natural instinct is to step back (or run away) from conflict. But, on this occasion, I pushed back, into his space, and there was power in acknowledging his energy, rather than running from it.
We learn so much on the dance floor, and when experienced in a safe space, of can transform us in our every day life.
I cannot finish this piece without reference to the founder of the 5Rhythms, Gabrielle Roth. Much has been written about her, but I will leave you with this quote, which struck a chord when the facilitator shared it this week:
“Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit?”
Find your dance, and your body will lead you to your true self; she never lies. If you are unable to find a group near you, start off dancing alone at home. Podcasts of music have generously been made available at ecstasyradio.net. But, if you can, join with others so that you can share this wonderful meditation in community and celebration.