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Movement is a natural doorway to get to know ourselves more deeply.
On the dance floor, it is harder to hide from ourselves, and vulnerability is a constant friend keeping us awake to the present moment. It is easy to hide from ourselves in the stories that we tell ourselves and the illusions we often create to keep us in our comfort zones.
Paying attention to the body brings us into what is real. Movement can wake us up to the deeper inner call that is waiting to be born from within us and can make us more aware of what keeps us from living that call.
The late Irish theologian, Dr. John O’Donohue, writes,
“One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them. This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise. We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wildness that is in our own hearts.”
Dance allows us to get in touch with that inner wildness of which O’Donohue speaks. Showing up for this practice, over time, can transform a life.
What is Sacred Dance?
Sacred Dance is a practice that connects us to ourselves and one another through movement. This practice is NOT about learning steps or choreography. The purpose is to explore the range of who we are through connecting to our bodies. Participants are guided through a structure that allows for transformation and deep self-discovery. In each of the stages described below, the music changes and invites us into distinct aspects of ourselves.
Here is the form:
Embodiment: We begin by connecting to our bodies through breath, intention, movement, and sound; we connect with our bodies, from our feet up to our heads. In this practice, we explore intimacy with self and other. We turn up the volume on our bodies to meet the incredible power of the thinking mind and the powerful presence of the heart and soul.
Being and Foundation: With our feet rooted on the Earth, we experience the ground below us and within us. We begin to explore the root of who we are at our very core - without titles, without our best and worst actions. When we do this, we begin to experience our humility and our humanity. We dance our way back to an infinite, and sustainable, Love within us. And when we root with our feet, and our breath, in this unconditional love, we are free to explore the mystery of who we are.
Action/Expression: When we root our feet in the compassion and unconditional love of the Earth, we spread our wings with confidence into this big, beautiful world. The voice within us speaks to us and says, “You can do it. Get out there and live your life. Make mistakes, do great things. Be human and love every minute of it.” We begin to connect with the hips, and, in doing so, we come in contact with our creativity and authentic power. We uncover old stories, those that have held us back, and we discover new stories of hope and opportunity. We fill up with love, and, through the quality of expression, we let it spill out onto this planet.
Integration: This is the experience of body and soul coming together. When the beat is in the feet, we are rooted in the breath that breathes us and the body that holds us. When we come into our hips, we experience the power of that Love. When we have our roots and know their power, we can let go. We can surrender and invite that Love to penetrate every cell of our beings. We can let go of our bodies because they are held by the Love; they are held by the dance. In archetypal terms, when being and action come together, creativity is born. Truth is alive in this rhythm, and it wakes us up.
Authenticity: When we surrender and dance through the darkness of the coming together of body and soul, we experience light. We reach for the heavens with our arms and hands, as our feet and body are safely rooted on earth. We build relationship with gratitude for the wholeness of life. We begin to appreciate life on life’s terms, the movement of our emotional life, and the organic nature of that flow. We learn to trust that our interiority and the life within us are both untouched, and completely involved in, our humanity. We come alive in body, where we experience the strength and sustainability of the soul.
Space: The dance is held in Mystery, no matter what we call it, and we are held safely in this Mystery. We breathe the holy in and out. We rest in the Love that we began in, and end in, and begin again. This is where we land, for now, and where we pick up from again. We reflect - heart, body, and mind - on what the dance has taught us. We are invited to listen to, and embrace, the wisdom that reaches far beyond us, and straight into us - the wisdom of body and soul and the mystery that holds it all.
Who is Sacred Dance for?
Sacred Dance is available to all ages, can be applied to all stages of human development, and is accessible for all bodies. This practice invites us to show up fully and with intention. It is not technical or about what you look like when you dance.
This practice brings communities together. It has been offered in schools (from pre-kindergarten to universities), hospitals with doctors, nurses, social workers, and patients and their families, churches, mental health facilities, to police and parole officers, and more. It has even made its way around the world on a ship with a study abroad program for college students. Through the vulnerability and authenticity experienced in this practice, it never fails to strengthen the bonds of the group.
Springhouse Community School is currently offering this practice to teens and adults on a weekly basis. To learn about the impact this practice is having, please read the blog posts in the "media" section. To experience this for yourself, come to Springhouse for a Sacred Dance retreat.