Staying in the Shade

Low tide is the best time to dance on the beach. I have found a spot I like, at the farthest reach of Playa Pelada in Costa Rica—where I can dance, move and rest in the morning shade of an impressive cliff. At high tide, I would be killed if I stood in the same spot. When I arrived this morning, the cliff was still wet where the powerful waves of high tide had been pummeling it just a short time before. This time, I knew the tide was going out, so I could relax without the fear that high tide would sweep in quickly.

greysky_ranchito

Today, my practice was languid. I danced the 5Rhythms for only a short time—taking care to pass through each of the rhythms, if only briefly. I danced as though I were not inspired, despite the gorgeous setting, the wave rhythm, the soaring birds. Sometimes it is not very easy to go it alone. Music, community, even drumming are all important elements of practice that I lack here, but I will keep setting the intention to move independently within the frame of the practice and see what arises. I have also contacted a few dancer friends of dancer friends and plan to meet with them soon, hopefully to dance.

A couple of weeks ago, in Tammy’s Friday Night Waves class I was not dealing with languid energy, but with a different obstacle. Lying on the floor in the beginning to get a sense of my body, I felt mean, tight. As she walked by, Tammy leaned down and kissed me tenderly on the forehead. I almost sobbed. Despite her kind gesture, I heard a litany of voices, “I am bad,” “I hate myself,” “I don’t like what I am doing with my life.” The volume of the voices faded as I began to move, but they were dimly vocal in the background throughout the class.

After this rather anemic wave on the beach, I switched into formal yoga practice. Today, yoga seemed easier to sustain than 5Rhythms since there are prescribed poses I could fall back on. After an hour or so of a mindful, patient yoga practice, I switched to sitting meditation and sat at length. Later, I walked more on the beaches.

In Tammy’s class the bright orange of sunset blazed on the eastern wall of the dance studio. I noticed my shadow in the orange glow and began to dance with it. Dancers came by, and I let my shadow dance along with their shadows. The shadows weren’t simply silhouettes, but instead were these overlapping densities of hue, darkness and brilliance. In 5Rhythms practice, each of the rhythms has a shadow rhythm, for example the shadow of Flowing is inertia (what I experienced on the beach today!) The way the shadows came to life that night seemed like an obvious metaphor for what was happening with my own limiting, ego-centric self-talk.

In the town where we are staying, sunset is the most social hour of the day. People make most of their plans for this time, and often think in advance about where they will be for sunset. Fifteen years ago, when I was near Manual Antonio, on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, people would gather on the beach for sunset, then clap and cheer as the sun finally went down. It seems like a sacred ritual, but there is also a practical reason for it, as the strong sun earlier in the day keeps most people in the shade and off the beaches. Even the many surfers stay in the shade of little wood and palm leaf huts along the beach called ranchitos when they are not in the water.

Toward the end of the yoga practice, a couple showed up and settled next to one of the tranquil low tide pools in the rocks—the woman immersing herself in the water and langoring there while the man sat beside her on the rocks. And soon, another couple came along. I found myself strongly wishing to be alone, far from humans, for hours. This does not seem to be possible in this immediate vicinity because after a relatively short stretch walking along the beach, you arrive at an impassable cliff whichever direction you choose. I recalled nostalgically the last time I was in Costa Rica, when the village of Montezuma gave me the opportunity to spend hours and hours and hours walking along the beach—sun crazy and ecstatic—completely alone.

Tammy’s class was not cathartic for me this time (how do I wish!) but it did seem to re-set me. I went in feeling pessimistic and self-abusive, and left feeling perfectly fine. Not at the top of my game, but like I had what I needed to engage with my life.

In the second wave of the class, we partnered and danced from one end of the room to the other four times. This was the highlight of the night for me. My partner and I swooped together in a dynamic investigation of push and pull—it was like we were skaters in the Ice Capades—we would rush, swoop, pause and fall, touching or making contact and bursting apart again, using the farthest edges of the space available to us like we were on ice skates in a big arena, locked in partnership.

Today in Costa Rica, I planned to meet a local dancer and her son for sunset, but my son, Simon, had other ideas. We were at a different beach, and he absolutely dug his heels in, not wanting to leave. I decided not to insist and he fell in with a group of kids. We ventured toward the giant waves of high tide, me holding his hand firmly, along with two new friends—one his age and one mine. The sky glowed with pinks and oranges. I didn’t notice the exact moment that the sun slipped away, since I was playing in the huge waves with Simon—a game requiring my total attention.

July 6, 2015, Nosara, Costa Rica

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

 

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