The Lion’s Cage

June 22, 2014

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

Two posts ago I wrote about how I have worked with having aversion to someone in dance.  In the last post I wrote about how I have worked with really wanting to dance with a particular person.  This week, I have been thinking about the ways that I connect with people who I don’t necessarily have a strong response to. 

Whether I connect right away or not, I often try to notice what part of my partner’s body is leading their dance, and put my attention on that part of my own body.  Some people seem to move from the forearms, the shoulders, the top of the head, springs under the arches of the feet, the edges of the arc of the arms, the high part of the belly, the low part of the belly, the line that draws the jaw.  An intuition about which part is guiding can help me to perceive key patterns in the way someone moves.  Perhaps it is just in my head, but sometimes when I key into something, my partner brightens and gets more into our dance.  Part of me hopes it can be a little gift—an acknowledgement that how they are is just right and I know it.

My own dance never leaves me, of course, but since my dance is always available, I don’t have to worry about insisting on it.  I can afford to open up to completely to anything that comes.  That is always my intention, at least.  In fact, I have often meant to ask people if my dance looks radically different depending on who I am dancing with, since it feels completely different to me. 

Along with seeing and connecting with my partner, there is another oblique benefit.  In testing something new out, for example moving from the shoulders and twisting the plane of my body, I often find a way to move that I never would have discovered on my own.  Streams of memory might open, I might find a new movement theme that I wind up investigating again and again, or I might just have a moment of delightful engagement and specificity. 

When I am dancing by myself, I bring my friends into the room with me, suddenly realizing I am doing a piece of their dance.  As I write this, I wonder if as my friends age and die, I will be able to keep them alive by moving like them—one friend’s happy knees that kick her heels sideways, another’s whoosh and rush from the heart and throat as he parts the seas of the room, another’s belly-low, hip-down birth story, yet another’s bouncing and coiling cadence coming right from the elbows.

Another thing I do when I am in partnership is try to catch my attention if it drifts.  I sometimes borrow a practice from the Thai Buddhist master Thich-Nhat-Han.  I look at my partner fully, saying to myself, “I see you there; and I am grateful for it.”  Sometimes, it just takes a few minutes to arrive in one another’s orbit.  Then we might wind up in an intimate, creative vignette.  At other times, no matter what, the dance is disconnected and contrived. 

Last week, Tammy gave a long, danced talk in the interlude between the two waves.  She touched on a huge array of topics, almost seeming to be channeling.  One thing she talked about was the idea that we are afraid to give all of ourselves.  We are taught that giving everything, holding nothing back, is like going into the lion’s cage, where we might get torn to bits. 

If it worked to hold back, if there was some benefit to it, I would be all for it.  I have been thinking, though, that in 5Rhythms and in life, there is actually no point in holding anything back.  It is not like something is saved for later-we are not saved for later, instead we are just wasted. 

Yesterday, I attended a fortieth birthday party for a friend.  Before the cutting of the cake, her husband made a generous toast to her.  He spoke from the heart and sang her praises, telling her and everyone in attendance how much he loves her.  It was very moving.  There was no reluctance, no hesitation, no edge, no distancing sentimentality, no string, no qualifier—just this wholehearted acknowledgement of his wife’s gifts and of his love for her. 

Writing this passage has been a little hard for me, since it has brought to mind the many times I have held myself back from loving fully and from being fully available to what is happening in a given moment.  I have written about some of the things within my own practice that seem to help my heart to open the world; and to surrender the illusions that cause me to waste myself in holding back, fearing the lion’s cage.

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