Emailing with friend, Maggie, about the recent Dervish Dancemeditation weekend in Asheville where 5 Rhythms is regularly practiced—she mentioned that she loved Lyrical—I wrote this in agreement: I find the Curvilinear Flow—my preferred descriptor for Lyrical (the 5 Rhythms aren’t actually rhythms but textures)—is certainly my native movement habitat. Since it benefits the entire fascial system, if I had to take one movement arena to a desert island, it would be Curvilinear Flow. I shot that off in email, then afterward got to thinking about verbal cues for movement and what they invite.
Doing vs. Being
Curvilinear Flow generally does appear to be lyrical, though if you sped it up and drove intensely into it it might resemble martial arts. Calling this ‘Lyrical’ is where I lose a little blood. I prefer a practice’s verbal cue to give me something to ‘do’ rather than ‘be’, since ‘doing’ is an action cue; it occupies my anxious mind and helps bring my gaze inward. ‘Being’ a quality—as in ‘be lyrical,’ ‘be beautiful,’ ‘be sexual’—inevitably draws me to thinking of how I appear to others. Like a stage direction, I find myself becoming a performer, rather than forgetting my persona and simply engaging in an activity. This verbiage is subtle, and may not be true for others. As a teacher, however, I’ve noted that ‘doing’ is universally involving for practitioners, thus my cues for practices are action cues.
What is Curvilinear Flow?
Curvilinear means moving in curving lines of motion—Figure 8, circle, arc. You can draw these in space or along the floor with limbs or trunk, or locomote through the room in curved paths. Flow suggests moving smoothly and continuously. These easy-to-write words look flat. Doing Curvilinear Flow opens an infinite, living garden.
Embodied Spiritual Development
Curvilinear Flow is a general jewel cask out of which we can pull many exquisite, specific gems. It is also a fine practice just as is: move in Curvilinear Flow. I have decided to revisit this open terrain in my personal practice because I need to strengthen my entire body. I enjoy the integrated, well-sequenced way that moving in curves accomplishes this task. Moving in curves accesses small, in-between muscles. It prods little impulses from sleep into sparking. It shares effort across a swath of muscle groups; more groups participate and nothing gets overworked. It melts fascia. (More about melting fascia.) Perhaps the best feature, for me, is that emotions and psychic material that may have gotten snagged in my flesh gently work their way loose, making space for Unique Communion. There it is: embodied spiritual development.
Three Phases of Deepening
Embodied Spiritual Development engages a rich terrain of interior stimuli—sensations of pressure and intensity and electricity as well as dream-like imagery that is felt as well as perceived by inner gaze. This internal field awakens as we move and draw our attention inward to our moving body.
- Effort – In the initial phase, a practitioner nudges out discursive thought by focusing attention on sensation and motion (just as some traditions put attention on mantra.)
- Expansion – As time in the focused movement practice extends, sensation becomes less globally vague. It reveals detail. It opens from inside itself. This is the second phase of the meditation.
- Deepening – In the third phase, a practitioner moves beyond investigation and awareness of sensorial material in its blunt form—intensity, pain, affect—to underlying streams of subtle sensation and energy. These only become perceptible as we move from an ordinary states of consciousness into a deepening meditative state.
Practice: Curvilinear Flow
Here is the cue: Move in curving paths of motion. Move in a smooth, continuous flow. Do this every day for 20’ for a week and let me know how it goes.
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