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Welcome to my blog page. It’s mostly about the 5Rhythms practice and insights and experiences that come from it.

I hope you enjoy the posts and find them useful. You can see a list of all the posts if you click on the word “List” above here.

You can sign up below, then you’ll get new posts by email as soon as I write something.

Adam

A blindspot, a teaching, and a laugh

There’s only one thing Gabrielle told us during our teacher training that I really remember, but 23 years later it’s still as clear as a bell: “Get ready. You’re going to be doing your healing in public now.”

I’ve found that to be true a thousand times in front of a room of dancers, but since choosing to have a blog as a teaching forum that ‘public’ thing has become way more so.

I trust the flow of my feet, listening for my next step pretty spontaneously, both in life and in my teaching. It’s not a very safe way to move, but I rather like that. Often the consequences seem miraculous and magical, and sometimes I land flat on my face in the mud. That has just happened, so I have a disclosure to make, in order to set things straight and allow the field — including myself — to rebalance. It’s a deeply held principle for me that when I’m teaching and I mess up, then I will be transparent about that and make amends. In a room of dancers that might be as subtle as allowing a shift in my stance and perspective, or at the other extreme it might involve me literally explaining what I see and apologising.

In this case it’s about my previous blog post; the one about contact improv in a 5R space, within which I’d ebulliently pointed the finger at two dancers, criticising them for being caught in the shadow of Lyrical, the ‘Impresario’. A couple of good friends were kind enough to contact me and gently suggest I take a look in the mirror.

contact

As I did my homework, what I saw was so funny that I literally laughed out loud. There in the mirror I could see myself strutting around in exactly that same character, and not only generally so, but even specifically in the way I’d written that blog post!

What a classic.

Another of Gabrielle’s gems was to remind us to be a teaching rather than a teacher. I hope that offering up my blindspot as a giveaway like this will serve; that my mis-step and now this adjustment gives you a chance to smile, and breathe the sigh of relief that usually comes with the truth.

One last thing: I totally stand by the substance of what I said about mixing CI and 5R. It was just the way I said it that was off. I don’t think they mix together well, both because of the subtle quality of presence that’s different for each, and for physical safety. CI is a great practice, and as I said, I am very grateful for having some of those skills, but using them within my 5R practice (which can work really well) is very different from actually shifting modes and essentially practicing CI whilst everyone else in the room is practicing 5R. I’ve now edited the original version of that post to remove the finger pointing, having had conversations with both the dancers I was referring to, and acknowledging my foolishness personally with a good few laughs about it. 

With big thanks to Ya’Acov and Kinga.

Contact Improv and 5Rhythms?

 

This is a subject that comes up every now and then between 5R teachers — many of us find it annoying when people are basically doing a different practice on the dance floor, and contact improv is the one that shows up most often. If I was leading a Christian service and someone was chanting prayers to Krishna I guess I would find that annoying too, but that would probably have some dogmatic stuff in it which isn’t really what this is about.

Actually I love dancing in contact with people sometimes; I studied contact improv when I lived in Bristol where it was a big thing in the 90s, and have countless times been glad of those skills on a 5R dance floor, but then sometimes I’m dancing with someone and I can feel them suddenly shift into ‘doing contact’. There’s a subtle rigidity I can sense in their thinking which then affects their movement. I can feel it switch on as soon as they realise I’m up for moving in touch with them. Something about expectations, so there’s a listening for certain moves that might come next out of a repertoire. The emptiness of the moment is gone, filled with something else that is more like control than meditation.

GabrielleFreeSpiritThis touches into a wider question that I know many many people around the world struggle with on a 5R dance floor:
“Isn’t this about being free? And isn’t freedom just about doing what I want to do? What’s the problem?” And this is the rub: No, freedom is not just about doing what you want. That doesn’t work. It leads instead to moving in small circles within what’s familiar, trapped in your own ego.

Part of my job is to care for the whole field in the room. By caring for it, I mean to keep opening doors and tending to edges so that it expands as wide and deep as possible whilst staying focussed within the moment. This creates a space that facilitates connection: for each dancer within themselves, with each other, and with the One that moves us all. As individual dancers we all get into our shadows, caught by our own ego trips, and I’m as fallible as anyone so I’m not casting stones. But as group leader for the day, I take it as my responsibility to sometimes attend to a dancer individually if they’ve got caught. Partly to help them personally, but also because each individual’s consciousness affects the whole.

What I often see in contact improv dancers on 5R floors is a subtle pride, and a performance, mixed in with a whole lot of control. It’s a kind of shadow Lyrical dance masquerading as freedom, and it’s a drag; a sort of psychic lump in the room. Lumps in the room are not the end of the world, but… Added to which it’s physically dangerous — I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard of someone getting whacked by a stray leg of a CI dancer on a 5R floor. They don’t go together on a physical level or on the level of consciousness. So please don’t do it. Go do contact improv in a space where that’s the clear intent and beautiful practice which it is. Or even, allow your contact skills to soften and become less programmed so that you’re not ‘doing contact improv’ but rather letting that technique dissolve in the emptiness, then dance in contact with others by all means, attentive to the unfolding moment that is always calling to us through the unknown, quiet as a whisper.

 

Pause

I’m being more still the last two days than I’ve been for a while. So easy to miss the need for that. Easy to forget Gabrielle’s wisdom that the power of healing lies within the rhythm of Stillness, getting busy instead with eating the right food, doing the right practice, seeing the right people, getting the right exercise, etc, for my wellbeing.

What a profound blessing to just lie still instead, and very gently fall in and out of myself, occasionally drifting into sleep, soft waves rolling through colours of my awareness, the sheer bliss of doing nothing permeating me like a mist.

Then in a moment of difficulty staying there, I lean into the restless tides of my longings, and familiar grief comes as I feel the depth of fear that laid down tracks so long ago and still has me jumping guns. How deep the urgency to move is. What a subtle art it is, learning to stay quiet with that my selves which are busy.

They finally get the better of me as I get inspired to write this, but I swear I’ll go back to lying still once I’ve posted. Lol.

I reflect on how uncomfortable we have become with being still, whipping out our phones the moment there’s a pause. Rush rush rush to the train: a moment on the platform and out they come. Talk talk talk at the restaurant: a moment’s pause and out they come. All that e-communication is exacerbating our discomfort with stillness, because the thing about email and messaging services is that any moment of pause and we switch to another task, another app, another conversation. How often do we sit with a pause while we’re in a messaging dialogue, and just feel into the moment?

The moment stillness comes, intimacy deepens. We immediately start to feel stuff that was obscured in the busy business of doing, and that’s confronting if we’ve had any investment in not feeling it.

Instead, most of us are practicing a style of communication all through the day in which we don’t stay with the pauses.unnamed

Oops. Big mistake.

The pauses are vital to our wellbeing.

We’re habituating an avoidance of intimacy, with each other and with ourselves. No wonder the stats on loneliness are rocketing.

I went to Meredith’s class last night, and went through an entire wave hardly moving, just micro-moves. Being quiet within my body/breath dialogue. Great.

To practice: Stillness is inside all the rhythms, if we pay attention accurately. No matter what our movement style, it’s there in the silence that is always and everywhere.

To practice: when a moment happens… simply pause, breathe, and feel.

With thanks to Karen Melin and Andreas Huckele for teaching me how to stop. 

Liquid light

Walking down to the station from my house in gorgeous late afternoon sun; England is so beautiful on days like this. I love my home, yet there’s always a spring in my step when I’m out on the road again. I really am a pilgrim.

For that’s what it feels like each time. No matter where I’m going actually, but especially when I’m heading off to immerse myself in the amazing field that emerges through any decent practice. (I feel pretty much the same whether I’m in a 5Rhythms room, or Qi Gong, or chanting, or whatever.) As I’m walking I can feel the fullness of my body infused with the spaciousness of my consciousness, these two forces interfacing as the dynamic polarities of my nature doing a walking dance down the street, pulled by the intent and vision of the weeks ahead where I get to be part of the groups coming up.

sunshine

I can see clear as day, while I’m walking down this sunbathed street in meditation mode, that what happens is we become liquid light. My body, our bodyness — the earthiness of that — is infused with the totally non-earth polarity of consciousness, and in the combination of physical movement with awareness we become liquid light, which simply loves to dance. I walk as liquid light.

I have had a month of pilgrimage, travelling through many landscapes inside and out, but all of it with a backdrop of seeking something subtle in the moment. I’m always listening for my next step, always yearning for the experience of One, with endless waves unfolding through their natural cycles that have become so familiar to me through the rhythms, from unconsciousness through struggle and release to en-lighten-ment and no-thing-ness, then begin again. Countless cycles going on simultaneously with different wavelengths, from moments to days to months and even years. It’s all a pilgrimage, whatever I’m doing.

Yesterday was particularly intense, through my practice in the woods at first light; through reading aloud the final chapters of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to my youngest (which had me really fighting to keep my voice steady enough to get the words out, with tears rolling down my cheeks, such a beautiful story of pilgrimage, so elegantly told for children); through watching David Whyte’s wonderful TED talk in the evening on the same theme.

The last three years have been so incredibly challenging, leaving me ragged and broken at times. I’ve wept more than the rest of my life put together I think. Seriously. And now I cannot escape from the mirror, always dogging me to see what a load of BS my patterning comes up with. Endless waves of entanglement. So it’s become necessity to constantly listen for the empty space and feel for love, and I’m grateful for that — for the nagging of my internal dialogue being so unpleasant in it’s constancy that I am compelled to practice more consistently.

Really, three years ago I thought I was doing alright. Then life took me by the scruff of my neck and has been rubbing my nose in the dirt relentlessly. I’m a nutcase. Crazy. I think we all are. I’m so tired of it. And so grateful for people close enough for love and hard truths, as well as a sound practice I can fall back on. I know some of you reading this look up to me, and I know some who won’t read this look down on me, but really, that’s all nonsense. We’re right alongside each other. We’re all on the same path, walking with the same feet, pulled by the longing in the same heart, the yearning for One.

Nonsense

Stop practicing as though your body is all there is!

It is only from the point of view of the body that Stillness is at the ‘end’.

From the point of view of Spirit, which is also you, seeing Stillness as the ‘last’ rhythm is nonsense!

The nature of Stillness is omnipresence. From that perspective it’s more accurate to say that what’s happening when we ‘get to’ the 5th rhythm is that all else disappears, and we’re left with that which has been there all along. That which is every-where and time-less.

Even that word ‘stillness’ is misleading, as the talking mind can only deal with things. The word gives an impression of a lack of movement relative to other things, almost an impression of lifelessness. But that which ‘Stillness’ refers to is not relative to anything; it is everything. Or the No-thing inside everything. Rather than lifelessness, it is the total opposite – infinite fullness and presence.

Stillness

The body is specifically in a particular place at a particular time. It moves through space and time. Your body naturally goes through the rhythms from 1 to 5.

But as Spirit you are already everywhere.

Divinely intertwined lovers Body and Spirit: you are here, now, and everywhere, all the time.

The rhythm of Stillness is only at the end for your body, your heart and half of your mind. For the rest, it is everywhere.

What happens to your practice if you open to this?