If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I had a series called 5Rhythms Fridays where I undertook a regular 5Rhythms practice and blogged about it once a week. I did it for 3.5 months, give or take a leg injury. I started digging deep and healing myself with the dance. And then I stopped.
I didn’t just stop writing about the Rhythms, I stopped doing them.
And I’ve been feeling guilty ever since.
I know that a bunch of new readers have joined me since I last wrote a 5Rhythms post (Hi there!), so just in case you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, my comrade-in-arms, Jennifer at Flowtation Devices has written a fantastic introduction to the Rhythms.
Jennifer is lucky. She lives within driving distance of a 5Rhythms class. I, on the other hand, would have to drive for about 19 hours (one way) to get to a teacher. I’ve never taken a Real Live 5Rhythms class. The only reason I know about the Rhythms at all is that one day, years ago, a Reiki Healing Dance teacher at a weekend workshop recommended a book called Sweat Your Prayers to me, and I bought a copy. Any kind of 5Rhythms practice I’ve ever had has been based on what I’ve read in the book and heard in the vocal prompts on Gabrielle Roth’s CDs.
Sweat Your Prayers changed my life. It opened my eyes to new ways of moving. It gave me inspiration and insight and confirmation that there was, indeed, another way of dancing. And my experiments with the 5Rhythms have also been life-changing…I just read through my 5Rhythms Friday posts, and they are full of insights and healings and Beginnings of Big Things.
So why did I stop?
My original draft of this post listed 4 reasons why I stopped. But I think that, really, it boils down to two:
1. I was totally effing terrified.
One day I found myself engulfed by misery and wracked by huge, animal sobs, and I got some idea of the sheer extent of the rage and pain my body was holding onto. And it terrified me. After that, 5Rhythms sessions were harder to do because I was afraid that it would happen again. It was harder to get out of my head. I was resisting and avoiding.
In the time since I stopped doing the Rhythms, I’ve still been dancing, but I haven’t moved with the intention of healing. I haven’t peeked below the surface. I haven’t had the same meaningful movement experiences I had when I was doing the Rhythms. And I’ve been creeping back into stasis (which is my term for not-moving-at-all). Yes, fear was definitely part of the problem.
2. I was doing it wrong.
Yes, yes, I know that you can’t do the Rhythms wrong, that there’s no such thing as a bad dancer or bad steps (that’s the backbone of my own philosophy, after all)…but as I look back at my practice, review Sweat Your Prayers, and start playing around with the Rhythms again, I realize that, actually, you can totally do the Rhythms wrong. In a manner of speaking.
In Sweat Your Prayers, Gabrielle Roth says,
“The only discipline it requires is for you to show up and be true to the part of yourself that is committed to moving. Although there are five rhythms, today you may only do one and tomorrow you may do three. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it. You’ll soon learn to listen to your body and to do what’s appropriate for you in the moment.”
In spite of all of my breakthroughs, in spite of all the times I’ve written about dancing from the inside out and listening to your body…when it came down to it, I was still letting my head lead the dance. I obsessed about whether I was doing the rhythms “right,” and I got down on myself if I stopped before completing all five rhythms. My mind was a continual chatter of thoughts.
I was still, after all these years, doing the trained dancer’s trick of dancing from the outside in…and that meant I was “making” my body do steps instead of letting my true dance come out. I wasn’t listening, I wasn’t doing what was appropriate in the moment, I was going by the book and not by the body.
As far as a technique in which there is no “wrong” goes…that’s about as wrong as you can get. And even though I didn’t know exactly what the problem was, I had this sinking feeling that something was off. Dancing the Rhythms was a struggle (far more so after the aforementioned fear kicked in).
But the thing is…this work is important. I want to heal. I am so close to deeper understanding and Knowing. And this is what I set out to achieve this year: Homecoming. So screw the fear. It’s time to take another leap (or at least a gentle step).
I’m coming back to the 5Rhythms. Very very slowly. But with a difference this time:
1. I will not commit to writing weekly 5Rhythms posts.
That puts too much pressure on the practice. If anything post-worthy comes up, I promise to share. And I may give occasional progress reports. But the weekly post thing was just not working for me, at least not as a hard-and-fast rule (if I find that every week gives me something 5Rhythms-y to write about, I will absolutely do so…but I don’t want the point of the practice to be finding something to write about, you know?).
2. The only thing I will commit to doing is showing up.
I’m starting right from the beginning. I’m not even going to try to do the Rhythms, I’m just going to commit to putting on some music and doing the tuning-in/warming-up “Body Jazz” part of the practice. If I feel like dancing more after that, I will, but I will stop if my body tells me to, with zero guilt and zero expectations. Just like I tell all of my students to do.
3. I’m returning to the source.
I skimmed through a bunch of Sweat Your Prayers before I started my practice last time. This time I’m going to really read it. Sentence by sentence, highlighting and note-taking all the way. It’s going to take me a long time…there’s not much time for reading in my day, but I’m going to inch my way through and really digest it as I go.
After all, the point of this is to focus on the journey, not the destination.
If you want to find me, I’ll be shut in the guest room with my eyes closed, listening to what my body has to say.