“We tend to think of meditation in only one way. But life itself is a meditation .“
Do you like to put your body in motion? How about quieting your mind? Where does inertia fit into your moving meditation equation?
Most people have some way to calm the chattering monkeys of the mind. There is really no right or wrong way to do it, but it’s a universally understood truth that some form of mindfulness is good for you.
Some folks can reach Satori simply by sitting quietly on a zambutan. Runners reach a point they call ‘high’ after a certain number of miles. And as most of you conscious dancers well know, the gist of many modalities is the idea of “moving meditation.”
Having a reliable method to press the reset button in your brain is an invaluable asset. Left unchecked, the internal noise level of rampant thought can bring down the best of us. You have probably encountered that person who is so wound up inside that their external world is rife with drama and disaster.
Whether it’s woo-woo metaphysics or scientific fact, an astute observer of human nature will notice that unhealthy thought patterns manifest dis-ease and dis-order in the lives of the afflicted. Anxiety, worry, and obsession are all ameliorated by practices that quiet the mind.
It’s no wonder that action-oriented modalities are gaining so much popularity. Practices that combine fitness, flexibility, social interaction, and peace-of-mind are a winning combination in today’s world. My go-to definition for the term conscious dance that I coined has always been “movement with an intention towards greater awareness.”
It doesn’t matter which mode of achieving mindfulness you prefer, what matters is that you return to it often enough to make a difference. You’ve got to overcome inertia and find some way to make it a healthy habit.
In today’s modern world it can feel like every spare second is spoken for, and that there is no time to carve out a little space for serenity. But if you look a little closer you may find that moments for mindfulness are readily available during the in-between spaces of daily life.
Sitting with your sensations and feeling what you’re feeling simply requires a momentary decision. The next time you find yourself waiting in line or sitting on public transit, try resisting the urge to scroll through your newsfeed and just close your eyes and breathe. It only takes a few seconds to drop into the sounds surrounding you and to locate tension trapped in your body.
Likewise, your next full-on moving meditation class may be days or weeks away, so try leaving your phone at home and keeping your hands and eyes free during your next walk to the mailbox or post office. In today’s always-on world, even a few moments of somatic simplicity can make a difference.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of semi-closed eyes and the softened gaze. I look for opportunities where I can unfocus my eyes and feel into the texture of things instead of the details. That’s one of the reasons I like to spin vinyl records so much, when I DJ I’m primarily paying attention with my ears and feeling closely with my fingers.
I play records almost every Friday night at Dance Jam, our weekly event in Berkeley. Recently we expanded our offering into two rooms so that after the warm-up and welcome circle a second space for somatic expression and contact improv opens up across the hall.
This means that the big room where I’m spinning is free to become a full-on sweat. For me, matching the beats of upbeat modern dance music is an extremely satisfying moving meditation. I have yet to find a more effective method of silencing my internal dialogue than seamlessly blending dance tracks from one to the next.
There is something about the combination of moving my body in time with the music that’s playing off of one record through the PA, while carefully listening to the next record in one ear through my headphones, that creates a vast amount of space in my mind. My hands are busy making microscopic adjustments to the speed and alignment of the beats on either turntable, so there’s very little room to think.
The feedback loop is instantaneous, all too often I’ve caught my mind wandering only to find the beats suddenly sounding like tennis shoes in the dryer. When my active listening is on point I’m able to smoothly blend the beats for several minutes on end, seamlessly creating a flow that’s like a wave for me and the dancers to ride.
You probably have parallels to this experience in your own life. Many activities that bring you into a state of flow provide some form of feedback to let you know that your mind is getting in the way. Any physical practice that demands a lot from your somatic senses, from juggling to riding a unicycle, are fast-tracks to flow that require a quiet mind.
Once you’re familiar with the feeling of somatic silence within, it’s much easier to access it at other moments in your life. Regardless of your path to presence, building those connections to calmness in your mind is a gift that keeps on giving. Inertia works both ways, just as regularly moving your body makes it easier to get started every time, regularly quieting your mind provides a more predictable pathway to peace.
With peace, presence, and positivity till next Monday, have a great week!
Dance First Member Spotlight :: Heartbeat Gathering hosted by Wren LaFeet and Cocréa!
This week’s Dance First Members Spotlight shines on Heartbeat, a Summer’s End Celebration hosted by Wren LaFeet and the Cocréa team at the Heartland Community in Wheatland, California this coming weekend, September 13-15th.
Enjoy two full days of Fusion Dance workshops by Wren LaFeet, Usha Rose, Chrissy Mehnert and Joe Gray with special guests Shantala Davis and Antje Schaffer, plus Contact Improv with Rebecca Lin Bone and Soul Motion with Wendy Phares!
Plus three full nights of dancing with an incredible lineup of musicians and DJ’s: Releece of Dimond Saints, Yohm, TH!5, Amae Love and Friends, and Lindsay Bellows plus fusion DJ’s Tony Sciscio, Joe Gray, Shantala Davis and Chrissy Mehnert.
This event emphasizes Fusion Partner Dance, over 3/4 of the music sets will have song breaks. Cocréa is a pioneering modality in the realm of mindful movement, renowned on the conscious dance and transformative festival circuit for creating conscious connection and inspiring improvisational experiences.
Fall in Northern California is our sweetest season, and this lovingly curated micro-festival event is the perfect way to send summer off in style. Kids attend free for this multigenerational event, there are two amazing Elder Wisdom Holders offering space for dialogue, and cosmic punctuation will be provided by the FULL MOON on Friday night!
The theme for this event is “Storytelling” where you can dance. play, and dream into the story that you’ve always wanted to tell!
“ Beat the Truth of your Heart on the Earth with your Feet. We dance to know our aliveness. We dance to open our hearts. We dance to know ourselves and the truth of our way here on this earth.”
Make plans for Heartbeat this coming weekend and reserve your spot today!