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Dancemeditators Describe Their Room

Here is a wonderful string from a Facebook conversation amongst Dancemeditation™ practitioners. Our goal with this conversation is to inspire and support a daily practice or teaching of Dancemeditation. Each month we work on a suggested topic.

Sanctuary

November 1  Dunya McPherson, Principal Teacher
Please describe in excruciating detail exactly where and when you do your daily practice. Where is the space? What time of day? What do you wear? What do you sit on? What music have you been using? How long have your practice sessions been? How many each week for the past two weeks?

November 1  Jessica Iscah Tkach Paquin
In the last two week I have practices 2-3x a week. I have a dance/meditation room. It has teal walls and big bright windows. I sit on a yoga mat and on top of that a blue and turqouise mirrored quilt I picked up in India. I use a round meditation pillow as well. I keep my journal by my side and little pink mole notebook that I use as my practice log. I have been either done it right away in the morning, right when I get home after work, or later in the evening. I like in the morning or late evening because I like the lighting better. I’ve gone for 20-45 minutes. I normally wear my pajamas or whatever work out clothes I’ve been in. I’ve only used two playlists “Amazing Eyes of Rita” and “Susurro” I have been using a free-flowing process instead of picking a structure before hand. This are some of the things I have done: Super slow opening sequence, sitting breath only meditation, yoga, extending slow hip circles, silent chanting Hayy, free dance, a lot of just laying and focusing of breath and music and where I feel it in my body. I have been very very slow the past two weeks. No rapid movements or funky dancing for me. I also count my yoga class, where I work on applying seamless concentration through out the class. This is actually a lunch-time work class with 4 other ladies in a dimmed out conference room.)

November 3 Teresa D Long Hawkes, CDMT
I do my practice first thing in the morning in my living room: fluid yoga. I wear loose, comfortable clothing. I sit on the living room carpet. I don’t use music. I put on inspiring stories I let roll in the background as I move. I move for 30-45 minutes. I do this 4-5 times per week. In the evening I do standing continuous flow. I do not use music. I just move from my front porch to my back porch and throughout the house. I wear loose comfortable clothing. I do this for 30-45 minutes 4-5 times per week. Then I have a long hot bath and let the sensations of the day roll through me and exit into the hot water. I have been doing this type of practice for the last three months. It keeps me alive.

November 7 Carleen Bevans
The move to New Mexico is finished, finally settling in. My room is full of light as there are windows on three sides. I am almost surrounded by light and Mother Nature being here high in the trees and mountains of Santa Fe ( a little snow now adds to the beauty). I have a small space where I put my yoga mat with my multi- colored quilt the floor has radiant heat. Sometimes I use no music and sometimes I use Zanzibar (one of my favorites) Staying connected to my breath I stretch slowly then gently move in to rocking my pelvis, feeling the soft waves gently awaken my body, exploring the many ways my body likes to rock. Chanting, clearing my thoughts so I can listen to what my body wants, how much it wants etc. My intent is to expand slowly as this has been an incredibly long, emotional and exciting part of my journey. The above practice has just started and I am curious as to where it will lead me, my body and mind. I practice three times a week for 35 minutes and will slowly get to five or six times a week as it is something that my body, mind and soul really desires. Oh, yes I wear loose comfortable clothing as I start work right after. I am hoping to add an evening time also. Still have a few major projects before I can feel truly settled in and have the time. It seems my part time job is really a little more than that  I am amazes at how close I feel to the earth, sky and all my surroundings…. life is delicious.

November 7 Anastacia Kaser, CDMT
Practice notes: I teach a weekly class on Wednesday evenings. It’s in a sweet little studio with sprung wood floors (my knees love that), gorgeous silk wedding kimonos hung on the walls (one in white brocade, one in black/white/red design with cranes), and relatively good lighting (could be a bit softer, but not bad). It’s clean – that’s super important. It’s run by an actor who uses the space for Suzuki method to train actors to use their bodies. It’s not a yoga studio, so there aren’t blankets and mats – we have to bring our own. The sound system is good, but the equipment and hook up for my iPod is at the wrong end of the studio – in terms of cardinal directions and my sense of geomancy + placement (Vaastu) – it’s in the southwest. If I want to set up at the “right” end of the studio (northeast), I have to bring my own speakers, which weigh a lot. So, I alternate between the two ends, depending on if I feel like toting the speakers. Class is supposed to start at 7, but there’s an unspoken agreement that we start at 7:15 to allow for one of the consistent attendees to get there from the BART station (public transit). She works in San Francisco and can’t make the earlier train. Then, we extend the end of class from the official 8:30 end time to 8:45/9:00. No one uses the space after us.

I start to think about the upcoming class way before Wednesday. I don’t make a class plan – or if I do I know that I most likely won’t follow it. But I like to start to think about the energies of the week. Is it a full moon? Have there been earthquakes? Has it been extra windy? All of that influences what I feel like would be good to do in DM class. What would feel good to me. It influences the music I’m drawn to when creating my playlist. Sometimes I wander about on iTunes looking for new music (or check out the titles/ artists that Alia is listing on her 40 day challenge site!). Sometimes I pull the songs into Garage Band to create new, longer, seamless tracks to play. I usually pull together the playlist on Tuesday night after work, since I don’t have too much time after work and before class on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, I race home from work, strip out of the corporate/office gear and try to have time to lie down and let my energies settle a bit. Then I “suit up:” yoga pants and top or (current favs) loose/flow-y palazzo pants with an attached mini-skirt from sense.com. I re-assess the playlist, pack up blankets (for myself and an extra or two for those who forget), zills, beaded hip scarf, and maybe the speakers, and head out. The studio is very close to home, about a 5 minute drive. Which is good as I have maybe an hour between getting home and needing to arrive at the studio. I try to get to the space at least 15 minutes early (no one’s there) to warm up or air out the space depending on weather and to start to fill it with music.

People arrive, we check in a bit while waiting for the BART commuter to arrive, then get down to business. I almost always start sitting cross-legged and draw my energy In and Down, and extend my antennae to palpate the energy in the room, the energy of the music. I drop into a different state and feel myself start to move. Inhale. Exhale. We move, we rock, we lengthen, we contract, we expand, we lie down, we get up, we dance, we feel, we (hopefully) don’t think, we resolve, we settle, we cease moving. ??After class, I enjoy the “perfume” of the practice and then start to reflect on what worked well, what worked less well. ??And start to think about next Wednesday…. There’s a part of me that’s always in that studio.

November 7 Alia Thabit
My dance room is the south end of my house and has a 5-sided bay window, so it is bright and nice. A black love seat nestles in the bay with a blue-green Egyptian applique hanging over it. If facing that window, the entrance to the room is behind. On the left are wardrobes for all my costume stuff and another window; on the right are the stairs going up and a door to the outside. Further back are mirrors and more mirrors behind, next to the door. The dance space is about 10X12. It has sweet energy. There is a faded carpet on the floor, kind of soft warm pink, and the walls are very pale warm pink. The floor is painted pine boards. Theater lights hang from the ceiling. There are paintings and art work here and there and musical instruments, drums, nays, finger cymbals. It is only during this 45 day challenge that I have danced every day, so I have few rules other than at least 20 minutes, and lying on the floor breathing with the music counts. Recently I have begun adding in White Tara mantras and Bodhisattva vows that I have not said in years, mixed in with Sufi chants (usually fah-ti, sha-fi, and al ilaha ilallah)–plus have been working with moldavite so that affirmation as well. Quite the hodgepodge, but I am very happy with it, and very pleased to be saying the refuge prayers and all again, and have them appear so effortlessly. Anastacia’s post above reminded me about the perfume. I mostly end up dancing at night, like tonight. I want to extend the practice. My vision is a morning of dance, playing music, and writing, but I am grateful to be doing what I am, and i am grateful for the requirement to do the practice, because I would probably not be doing this without it. Thank you.

November 8  Andrea McCullough
just about everyday, usually in the early morning between 5:30-6:30, wearing green rubber boots two sizes too big and multiple layers of wool, i slip and slide down a steep narrow winding muddy path, groping my way through wet douglas fir tree branches guided by a flash light and a few solar lanterns sticking out of the ground. it’s dark and cold and damp in the circular cabin, 16 feet in diameter with 2 small upper windows, like black eyes seeing nothing; feels like you’ve entered an underground world in a fairy realm. It’s very quiet…..until i turn on the electric heater which blows hot dry air. i turn a dim light on at first so i can find the cd player and then turn the lights off again. the carpet is a tibetan wool throw rug, with cream, rose and grey colors, lotus patterns repeating themselves, thick and rough to touch. almost big enough do full body rolls a couple of times in either direction without falling onto the wooden floor. i always begin by aligning my breath with movement happening in my body and just let That take over. the felt sense of my body is strong, i don’t feel much emotion these days, just go into Presence mode quickly and let the Stillness come whenever it wants, buzzing and boring its way through my brain until i feel at ease. for music, alternating between amazing eyes, sussuro, astrakan cafe, hic, new moon, mirrors. often step out of the cabin door with some reluctance– no matter how long or short the session is, it feels as if i were dangerously walking away from life source. notice feeling more connected, whole and alive. thank the time and the space before i go.

November 10 Mary Bond
Today, “Desert Blues”. It was perfect–from the first invocative, plaintive call, to American funk and dignified Spanish rhythms. Permission to express Everything, to shape shift–to rebel, to mourn, to be grateful. And to keep going, keep moving, keep breathing, no matter what. I begin in my bodywork room which has a peaceful ambiance—blues and greys and morning light—mostly because it’s carpeted and kinder to my morning feet. But there isn’t a lot of space to move. I usually wear a pale yellow chemise under layers in case the movement heats up. Pajama bottoms or yoga pants, depending on the time of day. Today I had to get out of there though—not enough room for the funk. My living room window looks out through the upper branches of an oak. There’s a Chinese carpet, rose tones with animal figures in green, mock Mission style chairs, and more room for storming around. But that’s Desert Blues. Susurro and Rita take me on entirely different tangents. So, dance med like that maybe twice a week for an hour. Other days I simply can’t stay inside, so I walk my neighborhood for 40 minutes, streets of increasingly less modest homes the farther north of the main drag I climb. After the recent rains, and with the more southerly sun of Fall, sights are clean-edged, dimensional. Some days I chant the whole way–Ya Sha Fi mostly. When random thoughts intrude I change the rhythm or pace of the sounds. Two or 3 of such walks each week. Though yesterday, I couldn’t summon the discipline–too tired to do anything but walk and feel grateful for the scenery, for the ability to walk, for a morning in which I was not committed and didn’t have to cope. Eventually, though, a chant emerged out of my footsteps—Hayy, hayy! It seemed like confirmation, that for that day, not practicing was my practice.

November 10 Dee Powers
Thanks everyone for sharing so beautifully – My practice is very flexible & eclectic. Some days I am solitary & quiet. On these days I am in my bedroom on either a sheepskin or blanket – Soft velvety clothing is a must. The music is usually slow and sensuous or a chant cd. My movement is usually very slow – I love to touch in with every cell that I can. Slow, and very deliberate are my movements on this type of day. On other days I do my practice at the gym while doing a weight program. On this day the music is usually rock & roll classics. Great fun – The movement is still slow and very cellular. My abdominal strength really improved from this practice.I have also been able to let go of my inhibitions re: being who I am even while at the gym. The slowness of the movements has increased my strength. The gym is very bright with lots of windows – it has just been repainted in a very interesting color scheme. Blood red walls with random black painted splotches of color – very progressive for this little Maine community – The atmosphere energizes me. Most days my practice continues for about 45 min to 1 hour. I also love to do this practice in the evening with candles & latin music – energizing & sensual – I am seeming to live this way more & more as opposed to scheduling a practice time – Even during an invigorating Zumba workout , I have been able to go into & be in my fluid body – I love Dancemeditation & all it brings me.

November 20 Joanna Shellenberger
I still haven’t settled into a daily practice. Lately I’ve been thinking about my lack of discipline and fear of committing my time to a schedule. I’ve been exploring this in a more questing kind of way rather than making a judgment on it. Trying to look at what is blocking me at the moment. I see the upside of an open schedule as I can indulge my creativity in the moment of inspiration. I can have a 20 min practice or a 2 hour one, and be completely engaged in the activity. But the downside is I’m not attending to practice daily and just not getting enough time in. I’m not letting it just be. I am working on a goal to do 20-30 mins., 3-4 times a week and then leave an open morning on the weekend for at least 30 minutes but it can go as far as I feel. I usually practice in the evening during the week as I like moving in candle light and feel less distracted in the dark. On the weekends I like to dance in the morning since my space is bright, golden and sunny. There seems to be a natural flow to this arrangement and has its own balancing of light and dark, shorter time and expanded time. It looks less chaotic now that I am writing it down. Also, this use to be my practice schedule in my old life at my previous apartment, so it would be good to get it back.

My practice over the last two weeks has been just 2 sessions of a 2hr. dance jam in each one. I’ve been drawn to the idea of using music and lyrics to express what I am feeling in the moment. Dancing as a storyteller. One song I’m working on is ‘It’s Amazing’ by Jem, a positive, empowering song that also brings a lot of gratitude for the ups and downs of my journey, my current transformation. I’ve also been listening to this N.African desert blues group called Tinariwen, their current album Tassili feels right at home with my practice.??Dunya, When you spoke about seamless concentration at the last SMM you mentioned a student of yours that has brought the energy of Dancemeditation into her job, into the world, into other aspects of her life. That conversation has really stayed with me and I see it happening naturally in my own life. I find myself going back to my breath and tuning in to where my body is in the moment. This sensation comes to me often through out the day.. at work, in class, at home, while I’m out with friends or alone. Again so simple but I feel really grounded with it.??So my space is small but lovely. I live in a tiny studio but most of my furniture can be moved to fit the activity for the day. Plus I have high ceilings so I can do veil work. But my day to day spot is right next to my bed in front of a marble fire place (I’m enclosing a picture). I’m finding with less apartment space, that I actually appreciate what space I have and want to make it beautiful and the most functional. Oh I wear pajamas or whatever exercise and/or belly dance wear I have handy. As you could probably guess, it just depends on my mood for the day.

November 21 Sandi Longhurst
A few weeks ago something shifted in my morning practice, I had several weeks of nightmares and did more yoga practice to build up strength and be in community while processing. DM practice was small pieces around the edges, mostly playing with letting my spine unwind both standing and resting on the floor, some really luxurious releasing. A lot of tears including sobbing in the hallway at the yoga studio while two teachers held me and let it process. My dreams have shifted to tender romantic desire. Tentatively back to a full practice. Gayla – the beautiful pink hoody from retreat has been my companion in this.

November 21 Aliandra Starre
My practice takes place on a blue Mexican blanket over a blue yoga mat, on a blue, soft red and white Chinese rug. I have to move some furniture out of the way to make enough space. This morning I listened to Bayat Turk. I felt some sadness or longing as I moved, it is probably because I miss being with a group after Kripalu, and also there’s some sort of love/longing for and with the internal aspect of my body. The impulses it has to slowly stretch into movement with the breath.?I always do some sort of opening sequence for at least 20 minutes and then usually some rocking. I’m always on the floor if it’s daytime, because I don’t want people seeing me through the window and I don’t want to make it all dark by drawing the curtains. I’m attempting 3-4 times a week at this point. Sometimes it’s at night but I’m more likely to do it in the morning. It’s not as easy to go really deep when I’m by myself, but after this morning, at least, I still feel a fuzzy contentedness.

November 23 Elizabeth Abbene, CDMT
I sit in my favorite room and look out at the pond blanketed with the season’s first snow; Accoustic Arabia is wafting from the ipod dock. I’m working with beautifully raw material today, silken fiber curls tightly interlocked, freshly cut and shampooed. I position one comb on my lap, one in hand and begin to stroke the curls, encouraging their fibers to line up in one direction so whirling will be smooth, effortless, seemless. One might think I am preparing for a luscious Dancemeditation session, but I will confess, I am cultivating a relationship of the most intimate sort. It is that kind of relationship that evokes true change, the kind of change that is self-initiated and lasting; the kind of change that has more chance of happening in a relationship that doesn’t hide its shortcomings… I’m spinning wool into yarn.?The wool has been gently washed in warm, sudsy water, but much of the natural lanolin remains and transfers to my hands as I untangle the locks. Flecks of grass and other plant matter that have taken refuge in the woolen curls and are revealed as I begin to spin. I treddle slowly enough to be able to pick out any errant organic matter I come across, but there is something about those impurities that I am fond of, so I leave them in. I am careful to make appopriate adjustments that will allow for an evenly filled spool. As I spin images arise and inspire, so I incorporate other fibers or pearls or glass beads into the wool, transforming it into art yarn.The wheel spins at the volume of a whisper. My movement, my breath, my concentration is seemless, I am enjoying a luscious Dancemeditation session…of sorts.

November 29 Gayla Reilly, CDMT
My practice today lead me to my purple yoga mat covered with a rose patterned blanket that a friends mother made. I wanted to feel the hands of her hard work during my practice and make a connection to her. I selected Kerala Dream for my music. I streamed it through my i-tunes in my computer out my apple airport that creates a wireless sound system in my home. It is wonderful. I decided to practice in my living room which is a large room however, I never did leave my mat. As the music began I slowly rocked and stop…and repeat this for a short time. I rolled over to my side and rocked more and rested a bit. I came to a spot where I sat up and engulfed myself with several silk veils. I massaged my feet as the music played in the back ground and the veils smooth my rough cold feet. I wrapped my feet in the veils and also wrapped the rest of my seated position in veils…over my head…around my waist…across my back and began my movement by swaying back in forth, around in circles and side to side. I continue this portion of my practice until the music stopped. I finished off by chatting Ya Shafi and rested to Suzanne Teng.


November 29  Dunya McPherson, Principal Teacher

I am loving the collage forming in my mind of the practice that you each describe. It makes a painting in space of our school and our practicing group. The details are magnificent. As well, they are grounding. The details also give me a sense of each individual and her world. By relating the circumstances of your practice, I perceive that there is in fact a practice happening. Thank you for your true and beautiful efforts.

If you’ve been to retreats, practice Dancemeditation, and want to join our practice group conversation on FB, please let me know. Thanks ~ Dunya

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    One Comment
    1. Shakeel chauhan #

      Hi Dunya !
      Thank you for Ur mail & Ur blog is great.
      I have read some of the comments, not all
      & they R pretty interesting & different from
      each other.
      Im also a dancer & meditator & I do it in my
      way. Actually the traditional Sufi way, but they
      too have many styles, like Rumi is a popular one.
      But I think & feel like its more of a show & less of
      active meditation.
      Any how I would love to join Ur FB practice group
      conversation & study the experiences of others,
      & share some mine, Im mostly on FB daily.

      Thank you.
      shakeel

      December 1, 2011

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