Why is Dance a Medicine?

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Dance is my first medicine.  I started dancing when I was 13, locking myself in the wresting room at my highschool to create dances about war and peace, relationship and spiritual states beyond name and form.   It healed me.  It made my life make sense.  It made life possible.

And, because it is a true medicine, because the dance was my first true teacher and has shown me everything about life and love and community, I created Dancing Freedom.  These days, I teach all over the world, and train others to spread this work around the planet for healing, awakening and evolution.

But, I’ll confess…

Every once in a while, I begin to doubt this practice.  I look around our world at all the challenges we face, at global warming and species extinction, at clear cutting and factory farming, at injustice and inequities of all kinds, and I think, is this enough?  Are we contributing enough to this magical, broken world that so desperately needs healing?  Are we giving people the tools and the skills needed to mend the broken hoop?  Are WE helping to mend that hoop?

Then I pull my thoughts back into mindful stillness.   I pause, take a deep, dissolving breath of clear air, and listen.  And, in my way, I pray.

Every time, guaranteed, I get the same answer:  the world needs this dance.  The world needs this medicine.  The world needs people who are alive in this way.

The answer comes not from thinking, but in the quiet spaces in between thoughts – from the space where god makes a home in my body and soul.  The answer comes from the whispering trees, from the rushing stream, from the moist soil, from the frogs- all celebrating the way the dance opens my heart and cells more deeply in communion.  And it comes almost daily, in email after email, Facebook post after Facebook post, from people like you, telling me that this practice has changed their lives.  Often they say things like this, “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this practice is different.  It’s special.  Thank you.  It’s the best thing in my life.”

Why?

When I say “medicine” I don’t mean it in the limited way that Western Medicine uses the word, but in the ancient sense, referring to anything and everything that wishes us well, and the deep things in creation that we can align and co-create with in order to live a more full, loving, divine and human life.  The word medicine used in this way refers to the animating force within creation that is amplified through our right relationship with specific objects, practices and ways of being.  The most basic medicine is love.  Other medicines that may be familiar to you include sage, sweetgrass, cedar, tobacco, Grandfather Peyote and Grandmother Ayahuasca.

I was overcome with this truth today as I prayed with water and sage and the slow dancing of rain. I felt all those who are dancing and teaching all over the world. And I knew – we are remembering the old ways and creating new ones as we go.

Dance is an original medicine. The first peoples danced and sang to create the world. They danced and sang to heal, to thank, to align, to sustain, to destroy. They danced with the Ancestors and with the Circle of All Beings to remember and sustain wholeness. They danced to be one with Spirit. This is the essence of Dancing Freedom – freedom to belong fully to life.

We came to this earth with Original Instructions.  The instructions we received from those who sent us were simple.  We are here to care for and steward the Earth.  We are here to tend and propagate the plants.  We are here to befriend and support harmony with the animals.  We are here to live in alignment with these universal instructions, and to give the unique gifts each of us has been given as a soul.  And, we are here to create beauty.

Dancing Freedom, first and foremost, is a creation of beauty, disappearing just as soon as it arises.  It is also a space that supports both universal and personal alignment with these instructions.  As you dance and pray, the very nature of the practice reminds you of how to harmonize your life and actions in integrity with the Earth and All of Your Relations.  At the same time, it is fruitful ground to receive very specific reflection and instructions for your Unique Self and purpose in the world.

Because it can do all of this, it is medicine.  And, while it is not a panacea, it helps.  So, begin here.  Come dance.

The dance, as with all true medicines, will help you take the very next step.  And that step is the only step that can possibly set you free.

Love,

Samantha

Embodied Leadership Basics

Rec3How do YOU embody leadership?  It might not be in the way you think.

I felt to publish this excerpt from the Dancing Freedom Facilitator Manual today as we launch into a two week training immersion here at Seven Seeds Farm.  We’re all in this lifetime together… and, if we want to co-create a viable future for our species and all of life, we have stuff to get done!  Let’s do it together beautifully.

 

Embodied Leadership Basics

 

Hey Embodied Leaders! Here are some basic principles that apply holographically to every aspect life and action. They are equally applicable to whole-being, psycho-somatic health, co-creating healthy relationships and co-creating healthy systems (businesses and institutions) that function in integrity with life. They are alchemical principles. Alchemy describes the actual process of being the change: when you change yourself, you change your world. And, as the world changes, you are also changed. (As above, so below. As below, so above. As within, so without. As without, so within.)

 

Leadership is both an archetypal position that some people hold and an attribute that all people have. Some people are simply “born leaders” – they radiate archetypal qualities that people trust and follow. They attract attention and move large amounts of energy. They are charismatic and easily take the lead. Not everyone has this quality. (Think of JFK, Gandhi, MLK or Winston Churchill.) OBSERVE: Who do you naturally “follow?” Why? How do people naturally follow (or not follow) you? How do you radiate the archetype of leadership?

 

On another level, leadership is an attribute that every person exercises in different ways at different times. Each of us leads through example as we co-create our lives in integrity with spirit, soul and all of life. We lead when we be, do, and create our lives as true expressions of our heart-knowing. You lead by being you. How do you embody and exercise the attribute of leadership in your home? Your workplace? Your relationships? Your communities?

Embodied Leadership means showing up in integrity with your core values, purpose and soul essence.   It means actually integrating who you say you want to be into your body, your personality, your habits of thought, word, and action and your ways of relating in the world.

 

Leading is not always about “being the lead.” It is also about following and supporting– being a strong follower, letting others shine, flowing with “the energy”, letting the collective heart lead, following divine directives, letting life lead. Much leadership is invisible. True leaders are not “out there for themselves”, they are great listeners, great followers. They place their lives and their actions at service to something larger than themselves.

 

Embodied leadership means having a certain level of integration – maturity. It is never “achieved”. It requires ongoing practice – living consciously in dynamic balance with life itself – with the changes, challenges and opportunities life offers. It means putting Embodied principles into practice daily as we structure our lives, our work, our relationships, our communication patterns and our social, economic and political systems. It is an ecological approach – a whole-being, inter-relational, life-centric approach to the harmony and interdependence of life.

 

Love,

Samantha

 

ps.  Check out this Summer’s VISION, Soul Quest, July 24-August 4, if you’d like an opportunity to more deeply explore your authentic path of leadership with me.

Improbable. Incredible. Indomitable.

ImageWhat do dancers, Burners, organic farmers, artists, healers, conscious parents and sacred activists all have in common?

1.) We choose to live life at the improbable edge of beauty and simplicity, giving our time, energy and attention, our blood, sweat and tears back to the earth, into our prayers, and in service to the continuity and interconnectivity of all of life. (We know that real abundance can be found not in more stuff or bigger bank accounts, but in awakeness, relationship and the physical structures that perpetuate and empower real health and ecological balance.)

2.)  We daily meet feeling and sensation, fatigue and elation, destruction and creation with incredible courage, self-awareness and persistent compassion, not because it’s easy, but because it’s the only thing that really makes sense or that makes us happy.  We like to be happy.  (We choose to show up instead of walking away.)

3.) We embody the indomitable intelligence of life itself, being and behaving as the water, going with the Way, engaging our energy to create more love, light and life, flowing as the coherency of soul-in-action.  (We turn off the death channels of addiction, dissociation, despondency, despair, apathy, anxiety, materialism and rage in favor of YES to the challenges, growth and grace of life.)

WE ARE THE ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.  We – the dancers, the farmers, the sacred activists, the parents, the artists, the incurable lovers of life – embody wise and fierce innocence, a chosen innocence we have won through the hard initiations of years.  We manifest the true spirit of creativity, vitality, radiance and learning-through-play as the art and practice of our lives.  We constantly re-blossom in the prayer for more life, more love, deeper into-me-see, more meaningful service, and a more elevated yet connected experience of being LIBERATED INTO LIFE.

ImageToday, I bow to you.  I bow to the improbable, incredible, indomitable beauty that you mirror back to me.  I bow to the intensity of our creative fire, the magnificence of our passion, the trembling of our vulnerability, the disorientation of our ego dissolution, and the numinous emergence of ALL of our dreams.  You take my breath away.  You shatter me with your grace.  You startle me with wisdom and humility.  You mirror me to myself and remind me where my heart, body and soul are at home.  Without you, I could not fully be myself.

Thank you for who you are, who we are becoming, and who WE WILL BE as we continue to co-create the living architectures and ways of being that are the hope for the future of humanity.

Today, I say YES, MORE, PLEASE.  Yes.  Let us live, let us dance, let us create the improbable peace we continuously seek.  Let  us be simple, humble, beautiful and wise.  Let us be the the ones who cause a regenerative human presence on this earth

Today, I say thank you to you, for the seeds within you.  And, I invite you to plant them, to water them, and to bring them fully into fruit.  We need us.  We need you.

If you’ve been feeling small, insecure, insignificant, lost or out of control… ok.  Guess what?  We all feel that sometimes.  And, we all are that sometimes.  But, it’s just a temporary state.  It’s normal for anyone who is really living at the edge of mystery.  Just take a big, sighing breath and flush that feeling out of your system.  Let it go.  Take a new breath.  Remind yourself that you are living your life in relationship with something far larger than yourself.  You are living in alignment with life.  Life has your back.  Bring those less-than-awesome feelings into the dance and shake them loose.  In the perfect prayer you already have for yourself, you will soon make the next step, and the next.  You are improbable, incredible, indomitable…  we know who you are!

As Dostoyevsky said, “Beauty will save the world.”  What improbable, incredible, indomitable dream is latent and waiting to be birthed through you?

Make the prayer.

Do your dance.

Love,

Samantha

Ps… if that dream is all about DANCE, please join me in BALI, November 1-26 for the Dancing Freedom International Teacher Training and Soul Immersion – an initiation into movement as medicine that will launch you into the next expression of the dream of your life.

Wanna Really Love?

To Your Independence

ImageThe people I love the deepest and the truest all have something in common:  a fierce independence that finds its center in god and the soul. 

They all hold in common that the arbiter of their actions is not located out in the world, but in a deep and personal connection to inner guidance and listening to a greater intelligence navigating their lives.  Of course, this means that there is absolutely nothing I can do to control them.  It’s impossible for such people to be fully themselves in the context of control.  They navigate by an authority that is divine, human and entirely emergent through their own listening.  It’s terrifying to love such a person – because one never knows what they will decide or what God will decide for them.  But, it is this kind of love that shows us what love really is, not on romantic human terms, but on the terms the universe offers us to understand what life and love and consciousness really are.

To love such a person is to really love, to love unconditionally, to love as an art of setting another free.

In my experience, this unconditionality is both a prerequisite to and an ongoing foundational practice within any relationship that “works”.  It’s not easy.  It’s the hardest thing, and the most beautiful thing.  The pleasure it offers is it’s own reward.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s just that, if you want a  relationship that is really honest and true, courageous and surrendered, and authentic to your soul, it’s the only way to go.  It’s the only path to soul level, sustained intimacy, whether with a lover, a friend, a child, a parent or a colleague.  Unconditional love empowers each person to be wholly themselves.  It supports each person to engage the other and the relationship itself (which  is a third intelligence) from what is truly present rather than from what is past or what is projected into the future.

It takes a lot of maturity, softness and courage to create a relationship that lives in the present moment – a lot – because you don’t get to lean on future guarantees or projections based in past experience.  You don’t get to create contracts to control each other or keep the other safe from experiences projected into the relationship from the past or onto the future because the past was scary. Rather, you operate from a primary contract to protect and uphold each others’ liberation.  You get to gather yourselves into the present moment continuously as you do the healing work that inevitably comes up around the past and around what shows up on the path of your relating in the present.

This is the only true union –  a moment by moment dissolution into love, honesty, co-creation, trust, presence, vulnerability and all the pleasure, pain, wonder, stillness, inspiration, awareness and responsibility that arises when we give ourselves totally. 

Why would we do this?  Simply because we can.  Simply because we are given to do so.  Simply because we need each other in order to truly know what it is to be free.

The Movement Is Moving

Reaching For Change ~ Photo: Karina Louise

Moving The Movement:  One People Flashmob at Occupy SF & Oakland

“You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.”

The Occupy movement is far more than a series of police clashes with tent cities.  It is a movement for justice – economically ,socially and environmentally.  It is a cry for meaning, dignity and shared power.  It is a vibrant critique of a broken system and a calling for true participation in transparent democracy.  It’s not going away any time soon.  As police resort to violence, the movement is moving.

You can’t evict an idea that has been embodied.

On Saturday November 19, over 100 people danced at both Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland in the One People Flashmob, produced by Magalie Bonneau-Marcil, founder of DancingWithoutBorders.org and choreographed by members of Destiny Arts and DancingFreedom.com Founder, Samantha Sweetwater.  Movers from 8-80, of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, converged from around the Bay Area to dance a high-energy message of connection, resilience, reconciliation, solidarity and creative response.

In San Francisco, a huge crowd gathered to witness the action, staged in the space between the Occupy SF encampment and the bustling Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building.  In Oakland, the dance kicked off a march to reinstate the Occupation that was raided on November 14th, moving it from Frank Ogawa Plaza to 19th and Telegraph.

Enough! ~ Photo: Karina Louise

The dance illustrated a cry of pain against oppression, control and degradation, and invoked a powerful bridge of reconciliation between the 1% and the 99% – a bridge that can only span the chasm of class divide through the recognition of shared humanity.  The dance began with a freeze, drawing the attention of passersby and showing how stuck and hopeless people have been feeling.  It culminated in a dramatic moment where two actors, representing the 99% and the 1%, shake hands, reluctantly then heart-fully hug, then rejoin the circle of dancers.  In Oakland, the whole crowd got involved in the action, yelling, “take his hand”, and “DO IT.”  As the two actors came together, many people, both dancers and onlookers, had tears in their eyes.

 

Why a flashmob?

On the surface, dancing in the streets might appear as a frivolous, impractical, simplistic and childish.  What is the practical value of using our time, energy and attention in this way?

It’s more than it might seem.  As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  Dance deconstructs limiting social and mental norms and gives participants and spectators alike a fresh way to see and experience the world.  It brings people together in a non-verbal, celebratory and universal way. It helps people to discover round solutions to square problems that cannot be solved with square thinking.  We’ve got a lot of square problems, and we need some new approaches – now.

Laid Waste ~ Photo: Karina Louise

The One People Flashmob made activists out of dancers, some of whom might not otherwise be involved in the Occupy movement.  Others, long-time activists, gratefully stepped into the concerted action with a sense of renewed purpose and focus.  The dancers brought unified action, hip music and a flair for celebration to the streets, illustrating how our human dignity needs beauty in order to be felt and that meaningful participation can only be sustainable if supported through person-to-person connection, creativity and levity.

Expanding Activism

Flashmob producer, Bonneau-Marcil reached out to her allies at CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepink.org) and the National Organization for Women’s San Francisco Chapter for support.  For her it was important to have women-led organizations cosponsor, to show the principle of the feminine energy which is largely absent from corporate and political discourse, and even within the Occupy Movement.  The flashmob was in alignment with CODEPINK’s core mission to use creative tactics to illustrate the much-needed shift from corporate greed and war profiteering to sufficient funding for education, healthcare, green jobs, renewable energy and other life-affirming resources.

The 1% ~ Photo: Karina Louise

Bonneau-Marcil and Sweetwater intend to continue producing dance pieces to contribute to the Occupy Movement and have already received requests to do One People in other cities on future dates.  This flashmob falls into the context of Occupy, in which activists have been using creative new tactics that bridge social media and flashy street action to create the perfect synergy for engaging the next generation in social change.

Occupy Dance Principles

We danced to reveal the beauty, power, wisdom and unity of this movement, to lighten the energy, and to bridge connections.  Our dance is a mentorship, a medicine, empowering the deep, indefatiguable human capacity for creative response.  Our dancing is not THE answer, but it is a key strategy to reveal, maintain and amplify the vitality, dignity and resiliency of this global movement.  You can’t evict an idea that has been embodied.

 

The movement is moving.

  • We occupy a deeply felt sense of meaning in our actions
  • We occupy for creative solutions
  • We occupy for whole systems transition
  • We occupy for human dignity
  • We occupy to remember joy
  • We occupy to bring connection
  • We occupy to experience our sufficiency
  • We occupy to build new CULTURE
  • We occupy CREATIVITE RESPONSE
  • WE occupy unity & diversity
  • We occupy our bodies, relationships & communities as the locus of power

~ S.S. 11/22/11

Embodied Bridges ~ Photo: Karina Louise

 

•  Special thank you to Rae Abileah, national organizer for CODEPINK, for significant editorial contribution to this article.  Thank you’s to Magalie Bonnea-Marcil, Dancing Without Borders, Destiny Arts, N.O.W., Mass Transit, Ecstatic Dance, Ben Flanigan & Film Crew, Conscious Dancer , Karina Louise and Richard Power!

Living Questions #1: Intimacy

Living Questions Part 1:

Somatic Sensing and The Real Conditions Of Intimacy

Think of yourself as an experiential scientist.  You are the researcher.  Your life and your experience is the laboratory.  The dance is the experiment.

In this laboratory called LIVING, what you can see, sense, feel, test out and replicate for yourself is proof, it is the evidence, the verification, of what works.  It reveals an experiential (or phenomonological) condition of reality.  It reveals the true conditions through which consciousness arises.  So, If it is true for the body & heart… it is probably TRUE.  If we can embrace this in mindfullness, we can actually start to live non-dually – in body and spirit, in transcendence and immanence, AT THE SAME TIME.

Here’s a collection of questions about INTIMACY that I use when teaching Movement Genius, Dancing Freedom, Contact Improv and Partner Yoga.  They are sourced from a lifetime of work in embodied leadership & practice, and from my coaching & healing practice.  The basic premise:  What is true somatically is true holographically.  We can test things out for ourselves through real experiences and integrate what we learn on a CORE LEVEL through somatic awareness and mindfullness.

If we can feel and know it through the body, we can learn how to apply it to life.  If some way of being is out of alignment with the body or heart’s well being, it is probably out of harmony with the universe, as well.

When I do this work, I create an agreement field that we are all on a level playing field in terms of our basic equipment.  In other words, in a class filled with able-bodied people, we are all equipped with with two legs, two arms, a spine, the same sensory organs.  We all have the capacity to move, the capacity to respond and the capacity to react.  Most of us are dealing with hidden bumps, bruises or pain – either physical or emotional.   We are all mammals; we are all people.  We are all Spirits in bodies.  We all have hidden vulnerabilites, and part of compassion is to allow presence for this.

We are all the same; and, each of us is an-other alive, creative & entirely unique self.

The only RULE is YOU CAN NOT DO IT WRONG.

For the first half of class, I ask you to focus primarily on the direct body-based experience, to dive into the minutia of our sensations.  It is important to slow down and build the depth of feeling and sensing (direct perception) before asking questions that take us emotionally and imaginally beyond the our immediate awareness.  Once the field of somatic sensing is awake, the the bridge between immediate somatic insights and the capacity to mindfully apply them to your life is totally open!

~ • ~

Questions:

Photo by Sean Stutchen ~ Epic Eden Hot Springs Retreat

• How are you listening to your partner?
• How are you listening to yourself?
• How are you meeting your self and this person in a new, fresh way?
• What do you know about them right now just by how they breathe and how they hold their body?
• Can you relax into connection to invite a deeper connection and trust from them?
• How are you bringing luminous awareness and presence to your actions?
• Where are withholding your awareness and presence?
• How are you attending to your body, to your own needs, boundaries and desires?
• Are you willing to articulate boundaries and needs?  Can you do this with an open heart?
• Are you moving from INTEGRITY?  Do you compromise basic needs for the sake of “the other” or in order to “get it right”?
• Are you willing to feel all the sensations that are present?
• Where is the sense of pleasure in your body?  Be specific.  Go more deeply into it.  Breathe and move from there.
• Where do you feel deadness, dullness, pain or stiffness in your body.  Be specific.  Are you willing be present with this and to move and breathe into this place?
• Are you willing to be vulnerable?
• Are you willing to NOT KNOW?
• What new possibilities arise when you stay present and curious with not knowing?
• How do you experience your CENTER in partnership?
• What are the motives behind your actions?
– Are you trying to please your partner or the instructor?
– Are you trying to prove yourself?
– Are you trying to “do it right?”
– Are you trying to control the situation?
• CURIOSITY.  How can curiosity support you to innovate, open and thrive?
• How is power showing up for you in this exercise?  What are you learning about cooperation, feedback, balance, listening, trust & levity in relationship to power?
• Can you give and receive at the same time?
• What does “giving” mean for you?
• What does receiving mean for you?
• The way you are experiencing this exercise is a reflection of how you experience relationship in every other aspect of your life.  What do you notice?
• Is competition showing up for you in this situation? How does competition support your success & excellence?  And, how might it undermine collaboration and compassionate leadership?
• Are you willing to trust your partner?  Can you trust yourself?  What do you get when you CHOOSE this trust?  What happens when you don’t trust?
• What is the difference between supple and rigid strength?  Can you cultivate one while releasing the other?
• Are you more comfortable leading or following?  Can you balance following withleading?  What does this mean to you and your work?
• Can you balance effort with relaxation?
• Where is the “sweet spot” for you in the balance between striving and surrender?
• Do you feel more safe, present or empowered when you are giving or when you are receiving?
• What does this tell you about the ways in which you lead and build relationships?

• How do you want to apply the simple lessons you have learned from your body and your experience of your partner in this exercise to your life and your work?

• How can experiences like this support you to work and play more from your heart rather than your head (your ideas & goals about projected outcomes) or your will (the desire to maintain control over the outcome)?

• What qualities do you notice are most supportive of collaboration, shared leadership and ease?

• What did you learn about your own impulse patterns, motivations and commitments?

• Where were your growing edges?  Do you want to commit to any particular mindfulness practices as a result of your experience today?

….Well, that’s maybe enough for a lifetime.

Next post: Questions on PURPOSE.

Love,

~s.s.

Dancing Freedom – Chapter 1

“Imagine then a dancer who… has attained such a degree of understanding that his body is simply the luminous manifestation of his soul; whose body dances in accordance with a music heard inwardly, in an expression of something out of another, profounder world. This is the truly creative dancer; natural but not imitative, speaking in movement out of himself and out of something greater than all selves.”
Isadora Duncan – The Philosopher’s Stone of Dancing, 1920

Photo by Wes Carson

Photo by Wes Carson

Creation Dances. The universe dances. When existence was born out of the great, undifferentiated field of the One, the dance was born. Since the beginning of time and the beginning of existence, being has been dancing with essence. Our souls are dancing the space where our spirit and our bodies meet.

The dance is the great unifier. Dance invites us into union with the masculine and feminine, seen and unseen, being and doing, spiritual and physical aspects of ourselves. Gently, fiercely moving us in the tides of our own bodies and emotions, it brings us right to the center of soul. To dance is to celebrate being human – being a spirit in the body living on this miraculous planet called Gaia.

Dancing Freedom is my spiritual practice. It is not a religion. It has no dogmas, no boundaries. It welcomes all bodies, all gestures, all gods. It invites diversity, and through embrace of the wild multiplicity of expression, teaches the truths of Unity. Dancing is spiritual because it is a way of joy. Joy means saying a divine yes to life – to the movement that IS life – all of IT – and, to our divine creatorship. When we move and just keep moving, we become one with all parts of ourselves and with the great cosmic dance.

I believe the dance can set us free. Freedom means that we are at home in our bodies and in our spirits. It means that we have fluidity between our inner connectivity and outer expressivity. When these two parts of ourselves are in dynamic flow, we live with soul. WE dance in the fire of love that is at the center of hearts. Freedom means embracing that fire – being ok with the full spectrum of our experience, at home in all of our stuff AND in our exaltation. I call this divine OK-ness. It is a place where there is no separation between the sacred and the mundane – a place where we KNOW that THIS is the true essence of sacredness. When we live here, we are free. Incredible magic happens. The world opens before us as a place of wonder, color, authenticity and beauty. Our instinctive, intuitive and worldly aspects reconnect. We stop going through the motions of life, and instead really feel the vibrancy and joy of existence pulsing through us.

No true freedom can emerge from resistance. What we resist persists. We are learning how to really love what is, how to embrace. The path of liberation asks us to surrender everything while we simultaneously hold the mother wisdom of creating safe space. What does this look like in the dance? It looks like working within a clear container of practice where we can really let go to explore. It means developing the clarity of our own sense of yes and no. It means exploring how our physical and emotional experiences are holographic reflections of all dimensions of our experience. Our skin is a sacred boundary. Our hearts have boundaries and borders that can be contained, entered, held, opened, surrendered. It is through naked dialogue with the bounded aspect of experience that we come to the blissful experience of boundlessness. It is through the existence of a contained self and a distinct other that we give and receive. When the flow is open in both directions, we can open to the infinity loop of creation.

Freedom does not mean being without boundaries. It means choosing boundaries, keeping agreements with our self and other and communicating clearly and cleanly. It means giving and receiving. It means knowing that we create our realities through choice. The dance teaches the total creativity of the moment. We be, do and act from an inner creative impulse that is always our own, always available for us to claim. It teaches us ownership of this creative impulse, and how to share that impulse without giving away all our energy. The dance teaches us healthy, heart-full ways to be authentic. This is freedom.

Dancing takes me home. This is my practice. My cells speak many languages: jazz, rock, samba, techno, dub, trance, silence. My body knows many paths in time and space: slow, fast, chaotic, graceful, high, low, lazy, energized, linear, circular, sweeping. I connect to the filaments of consciousness that flow through all things, all time and space. And, I surf the textures of dimensions far greater than this one. I ignite in the downward spiral of Love, Light and Energy: the core frequencies of embodiment. I release into the upward spiral of Love, wisdom and power – in action and in essence. Immanence and Transcendence. I return, again and again, to stillness.

I have seven sacred agreements I keep with myself:
1.) I will show up.
2.) I will pay attention.
3.) I will love.
4.) I will be myself.
5.) I will breathe.
6.) I take responsibility.
7.) I honor my body, my emotions, my mind and my spirit.

I keep these agreements …ask others to keep these agreements with me as we re-birth a culture of spirit in the body. As we return to these fundamental ground rules for spiritual practice, we create a powerful field for transformation and a safe space for all souls to dance.

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

So. You say you don’t dance…. It is a gift of life and right of passage to dance. Once upon a time, everyone danced. The world was born dancing. Mother god seduced father god with her great beauty, and thus, the universe was born. Original peoples everywhere on the planet have danced communion since the beginning of time. It is in your blood. We have danced the cycles of the seasons, the hunt, the harvests, the birth, marriage and death portals of life. We have danced to recognize the girl becoming the woman and the boy becoming man. We have danced for praise, gratitude, forgiveness, harmonization, re-genesis, and transformation. We have danced to become one with the elements, the directions and the devas. The Sufis swirl, the Quakers shake, the bushmen of the Kalahari jump, the Hawaiians hula. South Indian Kathak dancers tell the great Hindu epics in the exquisite detailing of fingers and eyes, while aboriginals, Tibetan Buddhists and Cuban Santeros invite divine energies to take over the body in states of trance.
Our dances reflect our connection to the earth, our beliefs, and the ways in which we relate with each other. They are the backbone of culture.

In this now time, we are coming together to dance a revolution of dancing evolution. We are bridging the mind and the body to create a culture of heart. Dancing is a path of truth. We come to truth through authentic connection and expression. We are not here to seek the truth, we are here to live it. We remember how to do this when we dance. If you feel this call, Dancing Freedom is your tradition. Certainly, it is my tradition. It is a choice. It is my choice. It is a re-birthing of cultural backbone and a celebration of peace. We create Oneness as we dance. WE re-weave the wholeness of the world and the coherence of community. We remember that being human is ok, and that, in this humanness, we can be ONE.

We are luminous bodies. We are light. We know this mentally as a truth of Quantum Mechanics. But, let us dance it – as Truth. Let us touch the knowing that true stillness is moving and that true movement holds all stillness. Let us dance to know our selves, and that which is greater than the self. Let us dance and come home. Let us dance and be Freedom.

Liquid Beauty – Contact Improv – The Skill of the Sensuous

I return again and again to this form as a foundation for skillful surrender, luminous awareness, nourishing intimacy, authentic expression, play and non-violent communication.  In this dance/art/sport/healing form I constantly see the resonant potential of TRUE INTIMACY, supple listening and liquidity in form.

Courage

Mid-August.  It is Monday night in Tokyo: hot, sultry weather and a room full of bodies in full motion.  Thirty dancers reveal the soul dancing as I “hold space” – just being fully myself and weaving light in the room.  The whole place vibrates, and I feel the earth sending waves of gratitude to us through the floor.

It is a remarkable and brave thing to dance your soul.  Naked, vulnerable and free, I see dancers opening body, heart and spirit in the motion.  Sweaty and blissful, I see people in divine radiance.  I see courage.  I see the whole person.  I see the dance of life, death and birth.  I see timelessness.  It’s exquisite!

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As I witness, I begin to contemplate this remarkable courage, expression and beauty.  I think about who these dancers are as people, as spirits, as wisdom keepers.  I shiver.

What is a person? A person is a collection of perceptions, feelings and actions.  A person is a skin bag full of bones, blood and heart.  A person is a miracle – with arms, legs, spine and a mouth to speak.  A person is a spiritual event happening one moment at a time.   A person is a body that includes the physical, emotional, mental, higher self, soul and spirit, all weaving together in one unfolding conversation of Self.    A person is a dance.

What is a dance? A dance is an act of essence.  It is a set of motions dissolving in space and time, never to be repeated again, known only through the experience of the dancer or the awareness of the witness.  A dance is a deeply courageous act.

What is courage? Courage is what I witness every day when these remarkable beings called humans come to do this incredible action called dancing.

Courage is naked self. It requires a willingness to perceive, feel and act.  It requires presence.  It takes guts.

When I see people connecting deeply to what their senses perceive, their bodies and emotions feel, and their dances express, I see raw humanity.  I see incredible, wild, truth.  I see diversity, and I see unity. I see divinity.  Courage is what I see when a person deeply perceives him or herself in the movement, allows that perception to be totally felt, and finds the willingness to express that into the dance.  It is risky.  There are no guarantees.  The gamble is our own freedom.

Tokyo Dance Curtains

Courage means being your self totally, without apology, shame or doubt.  It means being vulnerable.  It is a tool for being wide awake – totally alive and free.  Without the courage to be vulnerable, we can never know true power.  True power comes from embrace of life, not control over it.  The dance asks us to loose control and thus experience being – totally.  It asks us for real embrace.  You can’t dance if you are busy editing your own feelings and actions.  You have to be unconditional.  This is how we learn self-love.

Here in Tokyo, we are dancing.  People are coming together – body and soul – to Dance Freedom and sweat prayers.   Everything is breaking open: hearts wide open, pores wide open, voices wide open, expression wide open!  I am in AWE of what I see.  Awe.  There is no other word for it.  It get kundalini waves just thinking about it.

The freedom to experience and express the self is such a radical thing here in Japan.  Just the concepts of self-awareness and self-leadership are radical.  There is no word for sovereignty in the Japanese Language.  In this culture, there has been so little space to feel, so little room for individuation. Space is tight.  You get by.  You do what you are told.  You fit in and work hard and live in responsibility to your family and ancestors.  You live in the context of a larger culture, an older order and continuity over which you have no control.  Yet, there is an incredible momentum towards self development and a growing drive towards sovereignty.  There is also a call to release the old pictures of cultural identity to enter new possibilities of beauty.  People are claiming their power and recognizing that they are creators.  There is a spark of passion – soul fire! – coming alive everywhere, like the day glow colors on the billboards of this endless city.  These people are so courageous!

This new Soul Fire is idiosyncratic, self-affirming and radiantly alive.  It arrives as a wordless drive, or a will to know, and it opens the gates of the heart.   People are shedding the skins of culture and asking WHO AM I?  WHAT DO I WANT?  WHAT AM I HERE TO CREATE?  HOW CAN I LOVE – MORE?  HOW CAN I BE FREE?  WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?   HOW CAN I LET GO OF EGO?  Each place I go, I meet people struggling with the Great Questions.  It is time to dance.  In the dance we arrive at sensation, feeling and action: the simplest building blocks of our humanity.  We remember that the answers are not external, like new clothes or new jobs, but are held in the heart and in the ways in which we experience our lives. We find the courage to be ourselves, and THIS is the only real answer.  Let life be an endless question.  It is much more interesting that way.  This is where the Dance of Freedom begins.

Tokyo Crew 4

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes