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Invitation to Dance: Arise and bloom

We continue our theme this month of “Arise and bloom” through the practice of dance (please visit our Community Lectio Divina practice, Invitation to Photography, and Invitation to Poetry which all explored this theme for April).

I invite you into a movement practice.  Allow yourself just 5-10 minutes this day to pause and listen and savor what arises.

  • Begin with a full minute of slow and deep breathing.  Let your breath bring your awareness down into your body.  When thoughts come up, just let them go and return to your breath. Hold the image of arising and blooming, planting a seed as you prepare to step into the dance. You don’t need to think this through or figure it out, just notice what arises. Let dance guide you on the journey, listen for how your body wants to move.
  • Play the piece of music below (“Comptine d’un autre été” by Yann Tiersen) and let your body move in response, without needing to guide the movements. Listen to how your body wants to move through space in response to your breath. Remember that this is a prayer, an act of deep listening. Pause at any time and rest in stillness again. Sit with waiting for the impulse to move and see what arises.
  • After the music has finished, sit for another minute in silence, connecting again to your breath. Just notice your energy and any images rising up.
  • Is there a word, phrase, or image that could express what you encountered in this time? (You can share about your experience, or even just a single word or image in the comments section below or join our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group and post there.)
  • If you have time, spend another five minutes journaling in a free-writing form, just to give some space for what you are discovering.
  • To extend this practice, sit longer in the silence before and after and feel free to play the song through a second time. Often repetition brings a new depth.

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4 Responses

  1. They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect.
    I wish they’d make up their minds. ~Wilt Chamberlain

    So What?

    What feels like way too many
    moons ago,
    just when the Kaballah was gaining in popularity

    long before Madonna put on a veil and believed

    when it was still a street corner ministry
    and Philip Berg
    the propagator of popular Kaballistic thought
    stood at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue
    with a square card table
    and leaflets covered with Hebrew letters
    asking people to join him
    at a gathering
    almost any night of the week

    I stopped
    fascinated by the calligraphy
    so into the Goddess
    and so not into my own Judaism
    that I was ready to argue

    He handed me a book
    with a pearly sky blue cover
    and black lettering
    round bulbous happy letters
    An Introduction To The Kaballah….

    I took it, greedy with my gift,
    and listened as he spoke
    he so involved
    me so yet to evolve

    But I don’t know Hebrew, I confessed.

    Ah, but you don’t need to, for it is not in the
    letters on the page but the space between them
    where the magic lies

    My brain lit up, the flame of recognition of this
    grand idea flooding my heart with heat so
    dense that my whole body joined in the

    Now I look between the forms
    and where others see an unscalable palisade preventing them
    I see the footholds of opportunity that I can climb into and on

    Now I listen between the notes
    hearing the waiting, the longing, the connection that runs rampant
    needing me to build the suspension rigging that bridges the was with the yet
    as I remain bonded to the experience

    Now, I read between the lines
    between the negative and positive
    planted on the page to tell its story
    and buried within are the seeds of my own story
    my own conception
    my own perception
    my own reception.

    When I teach improvisation sometimes
    I use a John Cage piece of extended silence
    and, before surrendering my audiocassettes
    to advances in technology and their own antiquity
    I used a piece written by my friend, Nicky – who has moved on
    as well – long, seductive sliding guitar notes bluesy woozy
    and my students were asked to dance between the notes,
    between the sounds, to dance into the emptiness.

    At the nursing home, we would stay active in the stillness
    holding a pose while listening to the emptiness travel within
    fostering the next movement and the next

    Or I would play a bolero, or, with kids, Peter and the Wolf,
    or my favorite – Miles Davis’ So What? – where the piano spoke
    the words and the other instruments talked back

    Each student would choose white key or black,
    Except for Tanya, too timid to try,
    and was assigned to be the piano legs
    and provide support

    I would demonstrate the riff on a little Casio keyboard – showing white keys showing black
    and each person would listen to the whole piece finding what was theirs.
    A trumpet, a drum, a bass, a piano, a saxophone – whatever was within.

    Afraid to be wrong, at first they stuck to the rules
    white black trumpet sax bass drums
    Tanya bit her bottom lip
    then I remarked: There are no mistakes. All that happens is meant to happen.

    And slowly then suddenly then magically they were so So What
    and Tanya took a chance
    embracing the musical phrasing and the literal phrase
    being imperfectly impeccably whole.

  2. I used to do worship dance as prayer. I love how dance involves my whole being as an expression of worship. It was wonderful to dance this morning. I feel rested and balanced. Time to fly.