What's the rhythm of your free dance?
Those who know me will know I am a big fan of finding ways to release emotion and energy. A key role of psychotherapy is to help clients find ways to be with what they are experiencing, and to help them find ways both to contain it and to let it move through them. I encourage a wide range of ways of expressing and experiencing to this end, and am always on the look out for more. I really like to give things a go before adding them to my smorgasbord of potentially useful outlets.
This week I’ve been experimenting with Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms Dancing, and wanted to blog about my sense of it so far. Gabrielle described five ways of being: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness.® The 5rhythms website describes these as “a map of everywhere we want to go...inner, outer, forward and back, physical, emotional and intellectual” and goes on to say “They are markers on the way back to a real self, a vulnerable, wild passionate, instinctive self.”
Well...that is quite some billing, having heard of the 5rhythms before, I was up for giving them a go. I’m pleased to say I’m glad I did. It felt a little awkward and clunky initially as I invited my body to just move and take shapes that embodied each of these rhythms in turn. I noticed quite a self-consciousness the first time out.
As I relaxed into it, I began to notice more and more that was interesting. As a psychotherapist I’m not going to move into personal disclosures, but instead comment on the process of unfolding.
I found the dancing really insightful as I became more aware of which rhythms were comfortable, and familiar, and which were less so. I was able not only to notice my own experience, but also to learn about the rhythms and their symbolism and reflect on what this meant to me and for me. As I danced more, I became aware of the differences on different days, of where in my body was tight and where loose, of what felt natural and what felt awkward. I noticed when emotions were released, and the pattern of these.
In short, I found the dancing engaged not only my body, but also my mind. Sitting quietly after a dance and being with my experience has been important, just as dancing freely has been. I sense this meditation is a place of integration of bodymind that is a useful part of the dancing process, an extension of the stillness with which a 5Rhythms dance ends.
Dancing is not for everyone, but emotional and physical expression are. The opportunity to really embody and be with what we are experiencing is an important aspect of self-knowledge and growth. I’m delighted to have another tool in my toolkit to be able to do this, but then, I do so love to dance!
If you want to find out more about 5Rhythms, this website is a useful starting point: