All the therapies and techniques described on these pages are ones I have experienced myself, and while descriptions of techniques are factual, all opinions are personal.
Gabrielle Roth calls her dance technique The Dancing Path and describes it as a moving meditation and as a shamanic journey.
The basis of her teaching is that it is only by using and acknowledging one's body that one can find one's true self; not the prescribed or conditioned mask which one's culture dictates, but the real person within. For many of us (she says), "the body is a feared enemy whose instincts, impulses, hungers, are to be conquered, tamed, trained for service, beaten into submission." However, the body is "the ground metaphor of your life and the expression of your existence, and everything that happens to you is stored and reflected therein. The body, therefore, is where the path to wholeness must start, and it is only when you truly inhabit your physical self that the healing journey can begin."
The way to true life, for her, is ecstatic dance. To reach one's centre one must use the body in one's own individual, self-expressive dance.
There are (she says) five sacred rhythms which are the essence of the body alive: Flowing...Staccato...Chaos...Lyric...and Stillness. These make up the whole of our experience and can be seen reflected in every genuine action and emotion we undergo. They therefore need to be evoked and acted out in order to bring them into conscious awareness.
The rhythms are not only healing but energising and relaxing. In exploring the full range of our body's natural movement, we can connect fully with our native animal energy.
The rhythms can be done alone or with others, and by anybody, of any age and fitness. (Even, in fact, in a wheelchair.) The dance is free-form and spontaneous, but should be done in the order she prescribes, as a progression. She has produced a music tape to be used for the dance (called "Initiation") - which, in fact, has a good warming-up exercise on the other side, called 'Body Jazz' and encouraging movement of each separate part of the body.
In the Five Rhythms, Flowing is first; stretching, undulating, moving in circling waves. Then the music changes for Staccato - sharp, explosive, moving in lines and angles with short percussive movements. Then comes Chaos - everything taken to extremes, letting the brain and the controlling mind go, letting the body loose. (This can be disconcerting for many people but is worth experiencing.)
Then - as a relief! - comes Lyrical. This is light, joyful, airy - a feeling almost of floating. It is the moving of serene joy and celebration.
Finally comes Stillness. This is not the stillness of paralysis but the slow winding down of grounding. Everything is in slow motion, pausing and restarting, moving with strength and contact, feeling the floor beneath your feet, the depth of your breath. Finally you reach the cessation of movement altogether, in a strong awareness of the Now.
Experiencing the rhythms in full shows each person which rhythm is their most habitual one - and which feels the least comfortable. It is important to pay attention to the latter and to try to experience it totally to bring about wholeness. Any rhythm you find yourself resisting represents a lost dimension of your being. Understanding the rhythms (Ms Roth says) opens you up to new perceptions - about places, about relationships, and above all about yourself.
Dance is not the only way to experience the rhythms: they can be done through running, singing, even massage. What is important is to be aware of all five, and to practise and experience all five.
From trying them (and as one who does not normally dance!) I can say that they can be enormously satisfying and both calming and invigorating. You do feel more alive and more aware. Any music which fits the type of movement can be used - though Ms Roth's tape is the easiest if you can get it, since all the movements are there. (It is also good listening in its own right.) Don't, however, start to dance and let yourself be interrupted after or during Chaos - you really do need to "come down" after this one! (You could, however, do Lyrical on its own if you needed a lift of mood: it is extremely joyful.)
If the idea appeals to you, try it. Never mind what size, shape or age you are; find a private place and let yourself go! It may change your life...or it may simply be an enjoyable way of taking exercise!
Reference Book: Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth and John Landon. Published by Mandala, 1990. Tape: Initiation, by Gabrielle Roth and The Mirrors.
Here is what you do:
STOP. If you are moving, cease and be still. Detach your mind from what has just happened and what may happen. Be aware solely of your breath as you draw it in and let it out.
LISTEN. Study exactly what you can hear - however loud, however soft. Concentrate on this. (This is usually easier to do if you close your eyes.)
LOOK. Open your eyes and look with attention at whatever is in your line of vision. Don't think about it, judge it, or compare it with anything else; simply look in detail. Study everything about it, slowly, before you transfer your gaze to something else and examine that with equally minute concentration.
TOUCH. Be aware of your feet against the ground. Clothing against your skin. Air against your cheek, your hand, your arm. The stretching of your muscles. Touch something near you and feel its texture against your fingertips.
Do all these things slowly and with all your attention. Yes, there IS time! It is a mistake to suppose that unless you are rushing, life will get away from you: in fact, the truth is the reverse.
Judge nothing, simply acknowledge.
Come back to normal speed, and everything will seem new; your spirit rested and refreshed. While doing this exercise, the quality of your attention will show you a world miraculously beautiful - even such mundane things as the sound of footsteps or traffic, dust floating in the air, a brick, a piece of plastic rubbish, a grey and overcast sky...as well, of course, as the obvious glories like a single leaf with the sun on it, a raindrop on a window, a bird singing. For once, you will really have noticed them.
All it takes is STOPPING.
For Metamorphic Technique and Healing Sounds from previous issues, click on Archive
Back to Index
Forward to Lifelines