Kripalu Notes: Dance Healing
I am sensual in order to be spiritual.” –Mary Oliver
I woke this morning from dancing hard, and hard and long, for six days in a row, and though I’m sore, I feel as full of intense energy as the busy spring birds.
I was at Kripalu, teaching, the past five days. Five hours of focused moving each day, plus tramping speedily down the very long halls to get to the excellent food before the meal hour ended. (At home my food is a the end of a very short walk from one room to another.) This year the Kripalu work was shockingly intense. The group who attended went through the whole gamut of transformation. Amazing. Strangers coming to the fun bellydance party and being willing to stumble, for most part, uncomplainingly, into the maelstrom of Sufism.
I watched one young woman have a heart opening. Not a nice blossoming under the breastbone. Not that. But the scary kind, where your identity dissolves and energy charges all through you so you think perhaps you are having a heart attack, or will explode, or maybe are some kind of weird sick that you should go to the hospital about even though you know it is isn’t really that…She was shaking for a day and a half. And when she could put words to it said she could see the inner lives of everyone. She could see too much. This is what saints and prophets from centuries past mean when they say that Truth and Enlightenment are not for the unprepared. It is extraordinary to see it all, but then the window closes. It is like getting home from the Grand Canyon–you remember the images as photographs, but your breath is back in your lungs. I was happy I could reassure her, as I lead us all out of the intensity, that she would have normal days soon again.
I remembered my early time in Sufism and am surprised at how normal I feel now. I used to hang in thin strips all over the ceiling and walls–Straw Woman after the monkeys were done–and now I’m fine, conducting the ceremony, and actually enjoying my own experience of the deepening inner quietude, of fana. I feel about this as though I have been ascending a steep slope and, stopping for a breath, turn to look out to see that I’m miles up. Base camp is a tiny speck. How did I get this high? I still feel, in the center of my climb, as if I’ve just started out, but I’m far from the beginning. I adjust to thinning air, the vast view. Its a long way down; I might not have time to descend again, might have to cross to an adjacent country, or live with mountain goats.
I danced every day. It didn’t hurt. It healed me, healed my body discombobulated by a long sojourn in the Injury Land. I danced back into self-harmony. All the little crannies yawned, stretched their stiff edges, saying ‘come in, come in’. Then last night, leading the Boogie in NYC (this was a delightful honor!), I was jumping and hopping; I was almost entirely back. I wonder, as years in dance pass, if the return will be so, or if the last injury is it: if I might never find my way out of the pit of aging. But there I was, my spine completely mobile, and my legs swirling and striding and bounding. My legs reacquainting. My legs grabbing the ground rather than mincing. (I had a great dance with Stuart and Marjie!)