“We dance with ourselves to know who we are. We dance with another to feel into who we are with. We dance with a group to discover our place.” Gabrielle Roth, 5Rhythms® Founder
Hearing the words ‘relationships’ and ‘relating’ bring up different feelings, images and ideas for each one of us. Our human reactions are often based on past experiences which might be hindering our ability to be exactly as we are – no matter what or who we are with. Body-based tools guide us into deeper and holistic experiences, beyond the thinking mind.
Introducing the 5 Rhythms
I’ve come to think of the dance floor as a laboratory, a site for exploration. It’s a space for me to get out of my thinking mind and into my intuitive body, which allows me to feel and move with what is there. Judgement and stigmas evaporate as I dance. I let go of restrictive beliefs about myself and I dare to ask my body to lead me, as big or small as it wants to move. Are there any sounds or noises that accompany my dance? Can I give myself permission to feel? What happens when I’m dancing with others versus when I’m dancing by myself?
5Rhythms is a dance meditation practice that offers an embodied approach to self-inquiry and discovery. This practice follows a map of different energies – 5 different rhythms – where each rhythm offers its own teachings through the personal experience of movement, breath and beat. 5Rhythms invites us to investigate different layers of relating, such as:
- Flow – energy ‘inwards’: What is my relationship to myself?
- Staccato – energy ‘outwards’: How do I show up when I relate to another?
- Chaos – energy ‘in and out’: Where is my place in a group?
- Lyrical – energy ‘all around’: How do I relate to the world around me?
- Stillness – energy ‘in, out, all around’: What is my relationship to the Mystery of life?
The space created through the movement and dance gives me a frame to explore and the possibility for answers to arise to the questions in the form of emotions, sensations and thoughts. As I dance with whatever is with me, I learn to be with it and appreciate it.
Becoming aware of moving in relation
About 10 years ago and a few years into my 5Rhythms practice, I was in the middle of dancing with someone and I had this sudden realization that I was moving differently. I questioned if I was being inspired by the person in front of me, or whether I was changing my movements to unconsciously meet what I thought they expected (from me)?
“I discovered intimacy with myself in the quietest of moments”Samar Linn
This moment led me to months of exploring on the dance floor: who am I when I am alone and who I am when I am with others. I was curious about how I could maintain my “self” and connect to someone else. Even if the way each of us moves is different, can I still connect with them without trying to be like them or trying to ‘make them’ like me?
The more I danced, the more I could be present with whatever was alive within myself while dancing with another. My hips could move against the wall or in the center of the space. I maintained a small dance alongside someone who was dancing big and mighty. I cried while dancing with another as much as I laughed while dancing alone.
This simple exploration on the dance floor rippled and multiplied into my daily life. I learned to practice empathy: supporting a friend who was sad without falling into the same feeling myself. I stood on stage with 700 people listening to me without trying to be anything other than what I am. Not only that, but I discovered intimacy with myself in the quietest of moments. Without the need to ‘conform’, I leaned into groups and encountered a sensation of belonging. All in all, 5Rhythms has been a transformational tool to meet myself and others with embodied, curious and open expression.
Learning to hold this space for myself and give space to whatever arises within, I learned to expand said space to include others. Leading by example, I invite dancers to explore their “self” as they move and let the answers to the questions they carry arise, be they in relation to themselves or another. Open to possibilities of who we can be. Usually with a theme and intention, I guide fellow explorers to discover the different layers through the embodied practice of 5 Rhythms.
Foto credits: Samar Linn
YouTube Video about the retreat: https://youtu.be/n1A7BPQ3-B8
YouTube Video of the class: https://youtu.be/Wvx-OCBOrb4
: What dance can teach us about our relationships