A Study of Rhythm: Flowing like water

Last week, we began exploring the medicine of rhythm. We learned that rhythm is the primary medicine for the body, and we began exploring moving meditation, through Gabrielle Roth’s concept of 5Rhythms. Last week, we learned that the dancing path contains several shamanic tasks, the first of which is to free the body to experience the power of being. This is a grounding task, that brings our awareness and presence into the human body. Once we have connected with our bodies and breath, the next step inevitably is to free the heart to feel our authentic emotions.

I think we can all agree that the ultimate expression of the human heart, is love. Many of us try to feel love without properly immersing ourselves in our authentic emotions. The body, after all, is ultimately a reflection of the heart’s inner state. Feelings are real emotional energy, they are physical manifestations of energy that unite the mind and body, demanding our awareness in the present moment.

Many of us have learned to repress our emotions, we have become emotionally stunted, blocking the free expression of our authentic feelings. We deny our feelings, squashing free expression and denying the catharsis that comes from feeling our authentic feelings. According to Gabrielle Roth, we have become emotionally inert and stunted.

Unexpressed., repressed or suppressed emotions become toxic. As we associate feelings with water, I liken stunted emotions to stagnant water, It becomes stinky, toxic and disharmonious. Without proper release, these toxic emotions build up and become lumps, clumps, clots, and disease.

Many suppose the path to health, enlightenment and ultimately self-mastery, is through the transcendence of our negative thoughts and emotions. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, because there is no route to wellness and health and enlightenment without experiencing authenticity.

In his book, The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday tells us that happiness and success ultimately come through conquering our own fears. This does not mean running from them or ignoring them, this means we have to confront them head-on. We all have fear, anger, and insecurities, but those of us who experience these emotions, come out more successful on the other side. For the rest of us, we become inert, stuck in feelings and emotions of the past, unable to move forward and be present to our authentic lives. The only way to transcend the negative emotions is to experience them and come out the other side.

We are sensory beings, designed to feel. We are meant to experience all that it means to be human and our emotional selves are what makes us most human. When we freely experience our authentic feelings without attachment, without latching onto them, we come out stronger and more fortified, having experienced them. It is only when we leave our emotions unfinished, by stuffing them, ignoring them, and denying them, that we become stagnant and fester. Feeling authentically in the moment requires that we be present with what we are experiencing in the instant it happens.

When we are stuck in the past, we constantly relive old traumas and experiences. It is not until we bring these emotions to the surface and deal with them, that we can move on. The best, most efficient way I have of experiencing tough feelings is through movement. By allowing the feelings to wash over me completely, I am free to creatively express them through my dance. This is the rhythm Gabrielle Roth describes as flowing. We freely flow with the present feelings, experiencing them wholly and completely.

The first time I read of this concept, it was so much more appealing to me than the idea of drudging it up and talking about it. You mean I was free to express my anger, trepidation, and sadness through movement, without needing to talk about it?

When we are flowing with life, we are water, we free our hearts to authentically feel whatever is revealed, without grasping or latching onto them.

Gabriell Roth tells us to channel our inner two-year old. Two-year olds are walking, talking, expressions of emotions. They are intoxicated by their own life force and will and are driven by every emotion. An angry two-year old is a force to be reckoned with, but, if you pay close attention, after they are done expressing their angst, they are on to the next emotion. Kids at this age can be seen pulling each other’s hair one minute, and holding hands the next, riding the tides of the emotions as they arise.

Luckily, we have much more control over our emotions than a two-year-old, but this is not always a good thing. We need to freely express our emotions but have the maturity to do it in a way that is healing and cathartic rather than destructive to ourselves and others. When we have control over ourselves, we have the ability to find more creative outlets than tantrums. The point here is to embrace this creativty, to flow with the waters of our emotion.

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