Dance to digest

Digesting the miasma of misery

Reflecting more on what I wrote earlier today, I see that the state I described of doom, despair and paranoia is like a creature, a shadow, that attached itself to me.


One day as a child I walked down the road and saw my mother approaching from the distance, carrying shopping. To my clear child’s eyes, she looked  unhappy. I could see the thoughts like a cloud around her head. I could see the conversation of internal dialogue moving across her face, even at a great distance. When I finally reached her, I asked her what was wrong. “Nothing’s wrong” she said. “Why do you ask?” “Well, you just looked so unhappy just now” “Oh, that’s just my face” she said. “I’ve got the kind of face, that if I’m not actually smiling, I look unhappy”

That confused me and caused me to lose trust in my intuition and ability to see. Because naturally, I believed my mum. But what she said did not tally with what I had seen.

Another day, many years later. I have recently returned from a month in Guatemala. I am in London, shopping in a supermarket. The people seem to move around like ghosts, lost in their heads.  After the bright clear colours of central America, and the barefoot people who would look you directly in the face, where everyone seemed to be in focus, here were people lost in some floating, disembodied dream, absently searching the shelves for something to eat. In Guatemala I ate the same simple, delicious food every day, never tiring of it. Back in London, what I saw was shocking.

Another day, today. I’m on the tube in London and it’s rush hour. I’m looking closely at people’s faces. On some of the people around my age, I’m seeing the shapes and textures of worried, anxious, bitter faces. I know that I am one of them and I, too can look like this. I also know that if they were to smile or laugh, these features and textures would disappear and their light and beauty would shine through. I decide that I will make a point of catching the occasional person’s eyes and smiling, to see what happens. I know from my own experience of misery the power of a simple smile.

What I think:

There is a miasma of misery in our culture. There is a shadowy cloud of undigested disappointment in the air. There is anxiety, resignation, resentment,  hurt, and a whole lot more, and it’s visible on our faces and the way we hold our bodies. I think some of it is personal to us and  also think some of it is not personal; it’s there, like an option in the space. It might be left from our ancestors. I know when I feel it, it takes a lot of presence, sobriety or desperation (! see what I said about 6 o’clock this morning!) to realize what is going on and determine to do something about it.

In 5 Rhythms practice, we say yes to whatever is in the moment and put it into motion. The 5 Rhythms are an alchemical formula that can digest this shadowy gunk.  They are healing medicine for the individual and the collective. These miasmas are real. They form the shadow mind and will eat us up if we give in to them. Our power lies in our courage and determination to include their energy in our dance, to eat instead of being eaten. As we dance with the discomfort, making it our discipline to keep moving, stay with the physical experience and out of the stories, we can breathe life into the whole thing and find ourselves invigorated and enlivened. Part of the Solution!

Let’s do it, let’s dance! In celebration of the people! In celebration of life!

Jeanious got her Mojo back

Wastwater, from my recent visit to Cumbria

Jeanious is back! I've missed her. It's been a good couple of weeks since I/she last posted. There was one week when I was up in Cumbria looking after my Mum as she had an operation, (now recovering famously, by the way; that woman is a Force of Nature!)
... and then another week when I was away on an epic interpreting marathon, traveling a lot, spending all my time in the interpreting booth, on trains (Luxembourg, Brussels, Luxembourg, back to Brussels, Eurostar ...) and in hotel rooms of varying levels of comfort and beauty. What kept me more or less together through this whole time has been my practice: writing, dancing, sitting (see a previous post). But I had no inspiration or energy left for blogging. So it feels really good today to be at home and feeling more or less human, with some love to share.

Had a great night (again!) in Glastonbury Town Hall with the 5 Rhythms yesterday. I was feeling as flat as the proverbial pancake. I'd done my preparation and somehow, feeling tired and lethargic, had managed to get changed, load up the car with all my gear and drive off into the wet and dark November evening. I noticed that being on the road was helping lift my mood just a tiny bit, and decided to see if giving myself a little smile would help. I so did not feel like smiling! But I turned up the corners of my mouth, just the same. Thinking of the wonderful teachings of Abraham, I kept asking myself, "what is the better feeling thought that will lift my mood?" For a long while there was nothing there, only my sense of doom and despair, which frankly, bordered on the paranoid. But I kept asking the question "what is the better feeling thought?" Finally it came, in the form of George Clooney! No, ladies, I was not fantasizing about his royal Georgeness taking me out to dinner then treating me to luscious passionate lovemaking... it was the memory of him in the movie "O brother, where art thou" that I had watched on my macbook on one of those train journeys last week. Have you seen it? It's well worth another view. George and co are so silly and goofy, and the thought of his daft face in that movie brought a Real Grin to my miserable mug. Eureka! This stuff works.

The wonderful James, my trusty "roadie" was there to meet me at the Town Hall and we got set up for the night and dancers started to arrive. It was So Good to see everyone, to get the music going and to start to warm up. I will not divulge the details of our journey together, but suffice to say that by the end of the night I was very, very heart-warmed.

One thing: Lately I have not been sleeping so well. Waking up every couple of hours to an internal mechanism that switches on then starts to heat me up. They call them hot flushes, but that doesn't describe the experience for me. More like a power surge. It's not just heat. It's an awakening energy that snaps me right out of sleep and then I slowly get hotter til I have to throw off the covers. I feel the energy through my whole body, and the eyes of my hands and feet opening to let it through and out. This can be accompanied by lots of unwelcome thinking (read:worrying) until I remember to snap into witnessing my thoughts ("Oh, look at what I'm thinking!") ... and all of this at bloody half past two in the morning, when I 'd much rather be softly dreaming, all nice and cozy.

It was only at about 6 o'clock this morning, when I was having yet another of these surges, and another lot of unwelcome thoughts, that something in me realized: "I DON"T HAVE TO HAVE THESE THOUGHTS!" ... yes, I remembered White Chestnut flower remedy (helps with unwanted thoughts) and Scleranthus flower remedy (helps with mood swings) ... so first thing I did when I got up was to take a few drops of each in a glass of water. As I drank the water, I thanked the plant world for providing the healing that I need, for their medicine of unconditional giving.

Sometimes it takes me a while to realize I need help. But when I do, I find help is always at hand. I get so used to "less than pleasant" (ahem...) states of mind, I forget that it's not natural to be that way, and that there is medicine, lovely, strong, no-side-effects plant medicine that will work with me to help me feel better.

So my practice this morning was beautiful. Yes, I suspect I am the only person in Long Sutton dancing to a mixture of the new Kate Bush (Listen to it! It's AMAZING) and some good old rocking techno ... before 8 o'clock on a Tuesday morning.

And I got my mojo back. Thank you plants! Thank you Glasto Dancers! Thank you George Clooney and the Coen brothers! Thank you Kate Bush!

The Bobulation Wave

“Discombobulated” is one of my favourite words. It manages to accurately describe that state of chaos, where I feel unsure, out of sorts,  disconnected with myself. It is a state I go into regularly these days as an essential ingredient of the menopause.  I reckon most teenagers are very familiar with it. And it looks like this is what the world is going through right now as structures rupture and dissolve, there is a mass disillusionment where things we thought would be here forever prove themselves to be fallible, vulnerable and impermanent. On a personal level, it’s as if anything that was a fabrication of the ego can no longer survive and is dissolving and melting away. The more we try to cling on, the harder it gets, until there is no option but to give way to the tide of truth arising within and all around us.

There was a funny post on facebook recently. It said “The truth will set you free. But it will piss you off first.” LOL. I thought that was a great way of putting it.  I think you could equally say “it will frighten the life out of you” or,  “it will make you really, really sad”.

Thank heaven for the dance. Our 5 Rhythms practice gives us the tools we need to ride these waves of discombobulation. Whatever is going on for us inside or around us we can grab a hold of ourselves and take time out to put the body into motion and do our practice.

In flowing, we can gather together our body parts and the sensations we are feeling, accept and say yes to it all and encourage it to move in a seamless flow of energy.

In staccato, we can explore the shapes of our current state, find definition, clarity and outward expression of what is true right now.  If we don’t judge or think about it and just do it, we’ll be on the right track.

In chaos, we go for the Discombobulation! We let go of the clarity of shape and let the body go into a deep and wild releasing, dissolving and “not knowing” state. We might move really really fast so that the body can outrun the dualistic thinking mind. Offering up the body to the breath and the thumping pumping heart can bring a release from mental conflict and a blessed catharsis.  At other times we might just allow the body to shake and tremble, harnessing our mind to encourage us by saying gently inside “let go, let go, just let go now, it’s OK, just let go ...”

In lyrical we are ready to “Recombobulate” ! What is left now that we have let go of what was discombobulating us? How does the body want to move now that it is much more open, released and free? What is the dance of recombobulation? What has our body now realized? What is this never-before-seen dance?

In stillness we are left in the “Bobulation” of  What Is. Stillness IS. There is nowhere to go, nothing to change or fix, only the essence of life itself to experience. Body slowed down, moved by the breath, present, awake, alert, at one with everything. Still point. The wave has travelled all the way up the shore. Soon it will be sucked back to the ocean for another cycle and the whole thing will start again.

you are the answer, but what is the question?


How can you know, if you don’t inquire?

Writing. Write every day. Get out of bed, pick up a pen and paper and just write.  Anything and everything that comes to mind. If nothing comes to mind, write that too (I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I can’t think what to write, I’ve nothing to say ...) until it changes and you do know what to write. Be honest and don’t censor yourself. Keep writing for at least three pages or at least 20 minutes. See what is going on in this mind of yours! Keep it, burn it, throw it away, frame it or publish it. It doesn’t matter. Think of your writing practice as cleaning the scum of your mind. Keep writing and watch how you get clearer.

Get physical. Get embodied. This body is you, is your life, is everything. Practice 5 Rhythms® Dance alone or in a class, or any other method that puts you in touch with your physical existence. There is so much that we all share, like “positive” and “negative” thoughts; they’re not unique and not personal to you. But this body, your body IS unique and totally personal to you. By knowing your body intimately, by making friends with it, feeling what it feels and letting it dance you come alive to the uniqueness of you. Being uniquely you is the only thing you really have to give. It is the answer, every time.

Practice meditation daily.  Any kind of meditation will do. The Awakening Network have great guided meditations you can get easily from their website. Or you may already have a method. Practice meditation and stop the world so you can know yourself. Know what is true, for you. Meditation is free. It costs nothing to stop, sit down, and examine the content of your own mind. Liberation is free. It costs nothing to stop, sit down, and find the part of you that is aware. Behind, underneath or around the thoughts. Liberation comes from understanding you are not your thoughts. You are the one who is aware of them.

Write, dance and sit. Give yourself time to do these things, even if it means setting your alarm clock early.

This world needs you now.

practice, practice, practice ...

It's all about practice. 

One of the wisest things I ever heard from a teacher is "don't do as I do, do as I say". 

It's taken me years to understand this statement. I've always been one to get seriously impressed, if not awed, by teachers. not my school teachers, I hasten to add, but the teachers who shared "spiritual"/life lesson teachings with me. Why would I not want to "do as they do", when what they do is so inspiring? 

But then what happens when they do something I don't like, or doesn't impress me, or just shows really clearly that they are not the god/dess I set them up to be; they are human, with feet of clay? Will I throw out what they taught me? Will I say "this method is not for me any more, because this teacher, who told me about it, and who practices it, is not perfect and does not measure up to my expectations?"

And besides ... what right has anyone to tell me to "do as they say" ? especially someone who has shown themselves to be imperfect, fallible, not having all the answers ... why should I do what they say?!

Why indeed? Here's why: because it was never about the teacher him or herself, it was about the method they shared with me, and they shared it with me for me to practice it, make it my own and come alive inside it so I can "do as I do", to the max!

So it is with 5Rhythms dance. It is a practice and it is not about any teacher. Not even about Gabrielle Roth, who created it, as she would be the first to point out. Gabrielle has extraordinary gifts and articulated an ancient system of wisdom and practice in a way that is beautifully suited to our modern chaotic age.

Even if you can't get to a 5 Rhythms class, you can take on this practice and test its value for yourself in the comfort of your own home, simply by getting hold of one of her recorded guidance CDs, Endless Wave Volumes 1 and 2. Gabrielle guides you through the wave. You can do it again and again and again. It is a wonderfully pure introduction to the Rhythms, to return to over and over again. Borrow it, download, get it out of the library, do it!

And if you dance regularly at a class, home practice is essential, too, as it will keep you grounded in your own practice/process, and you won't be overly influenced by your teacher, because you will be discovering that it's the rhythms themselves are the teachers, as they guide you closer and closer to meeting your inner teacher, the one you are really looking for in all of this.

Practice, practice, practice!

And if you feel the need for some help and support, or simply realize there is no better way for you to spend your time these days than dancing, come and join me to practise in a small group in my "Dance Awake" workshops/practice days.



ancestors dance


Last night was a very special night at our 5 Rhythms class in Glastonbury Town Hall. Justine had said she wanted to make a special samhain/hallowe'en altar and invite people to bring along pictures of their loved ones who had passed away. I loved the idea but wasn't sure at first. This is an open event, with new people dropping in most weeks and not everybody would know what we were going to be doing. I like to keep the space open and clear for anyone to turn up and get into their natural dance, whether they have ever danced 5R before or not. I know that I can feel excluded in any situation where there seems to be an "in crowd".

Anyway, I thought about it and realized there was no harm in planning a special night, and anybody new would be invited to light a candle for their ancestors if they wanted to. I posted on the glastonbury notice board and emailed my mailing list.

The opportunity to honour the ancestors resonated strongly with some people. It's funny how some people feel very strongly that we should remember where we came from. Some of us don't really know much about our personal ancestors, but even if we know nothing about them, we know we have them, or we wouldn't be here! I like to think of the ancestors as the ordinary and extraordinary people who came before us and left behind so much useful and beautiful stuff that we benefit from. We inherit all our skills and talents from them, we stand on their shoulders, so to speak and we dance in their footsteps.
It's a really life affirming thing to do to honour our ancestors. It's like saying, I know I won't live forever, just like you didn't. You had your life in your time. You did your thing, made your mistakes, felt more or less connected, were happy or not, fulfilled or not ... but whatever, we have so much in common! We all basically spend our lives standing, sitting or lying down. We come and we go.
I think our lifestyles nowadays don't help us remember ourselves too much. There is so much going on, so much speed and hurry and desperation. So many billions of people here, so many of us seemingly separate yet so fully interconnected beings. Can we take a bit of time in our hurry to fulfill ourselves, make our lives a "success", get noticed, change the world, heal the planet, to just say "THANK YOU!" to all who came before us. To say YES, we know you lived and you died, you had joy and sorrow and family and loneliness and pleasure and pain and we're sorry if we give the impression that we are the only ones of value around here now and sorry if we forgot you. Maybe you can help us get beyond everything being "all about me" ?!! "All about me" - syndrome is so depressing!!

I love my practice of 5 Rhythms dance: it helps me get out of my "all about me" brain and feel connected connected connected ... with this body and how it feels to move and breathe freely, with you and your dance ... when I dance with you I feel you and see you directly, and with US ... all of us and what we all have in common and what we all share in this magnificent dance of life.

Remembering my ancestors means: time to live my life to the full while I can! Time to DANCE AWAKE!
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