I happened upon Biodanza during a very low point in my life. I was seven years into my fourteen year journey in Africa, having given up my secure, independent life in the US and a tenured teaching job that defined me. I had married and had two children, but had lost myself somewhere along the way in the morass of new motherhood and the difficult task of adapting to new and challenging environments in poverty stricken African cities.
BIODANZA, poetry of human encounter
Discovering Biodanza was the product of pure serendipity in the form of a flyer on a gym wall. With trepidation, I made my first encounter, pregnant with my third child, in an outdoor Biodanza class.
I was initially taken back by the personal connections during the sessions, staring into someone’s eyes or holding hands with a stranger during the walking exercise. However, as the facilitator wove specific exercises into each class, I began to develop a comfort level with these connections and in time, a deep desire for this authenticity. The constant pulsation from me to the group and back helped me acknowledge that in my own adventurous and nomadic life, I was indeed strong and quite capable of embracing life’s authentic flow.
Peeling off the layers
With passion in my heart and a newly born baby, I decided to join the Biodanza School in Johannesburg. I was challenged by the level of intimacy that was carefully and progressively introduced. However, I felt safe connecting first with myself. What is that mask I am hiding behind? How is this showing up in my dance? As I began to peel away the layers with self-regulation and feedback, I felt the emergence of the real me within every dance. These are two important concepts reinforced in the Biodanza space. Self-regulation allows you to care for your physical needs in the dance—if you need to slow down, speed up, or even rest, you need to make the decision. Extending this concept to the other dancers, being in communication with them through awareness of their space, gestures, and need for contact is also stressed.
Connecting to presence
Next, and perhaps the biggest challenge, was learning to be present with others. Not superficially present as we tend to be in our busy Western society, but really connected with someone else in the dance. Holding hands, gazing into the “eyes of humanity” as Biodanza creator Rolando Toro describes it, or lying in a warm nest or “puppy puddle” on the ground, I felt increasingly comforted, contained, and liberated from cultural constraints of how we are supposed to relate to one another.
Deepening this ability to be authentically present with myself and others also allowed me to connect more profoundly to the Divine. When I dance now, I am filled with the presence of the numinous and feel this awesome energy in dancers with whom I ignite on the dance floor.
As a wife and mother of three, I am more connected in mind, body, and spirit ways that replaced the distraction I felt before. I look people in the eyes, focus on them, and don’t answer my ringing phone or look away with disinterest. I can say that I know what it truly is to be present with someone and I know that each moment of life is sacred and precious My “poetic encounters” now extend beyond the dance floor and spill over into my daily life.
Biodanza, the dance and blessing of my life...
www.biodanzausa.com for more on the dance of life
When it comes to dancing, people think about ballroom or putting on ballet shoes or doing choreographed steps in jazz. It's hard for us to think of dance that goes beyond aesthetic standards, and even more unlikely to envision a system of dance designed specifically to induce existential modifications in life.
Well, that's precisely the innovative proposal of Rolando Toro Araneda with the Biodanza system which is relatively new in the USA but spreading organically.
To create this system, Rolando Toro, a Chilean teacher,
anthropologist and psychologist, researched ways to humanize medicine and to create system health advocates (facilitators) beginning in the 60's.
Through his anthropological studies he noted that dance had always been used since ancient times as a tool of communication and commitment and expresses deep emotional human meaning.
A vehicle that generates communication and unites group members, establishes rites of passage and celebrations, dance can evoke and translate many dimensions of deep and revealing humanity.
This is the greatest invitation of Biodanza : the dance as movement full of meaning with integrated movement.
Integration means that mobility, perception, affectivity and
behavior are part of a single whole. Integration…to do, say and feel the same action,thought, feeling and not to say one thing, but do another, etc. The simple act of achieving integrative consistency is healing in itself and the possibility of acting with faithfulness to your own feelings can lead to profound and magical changes in your life. The idea is that this consistency can incorporate and expand many possibilities in our existence.
This consistency is gradually achieved with the process of regular Biodanza classes every week.
The primary purpose of Biodanza is, thus, to generate integration:
Existential Level: integration between feeling, thinking and acting, seeking consistency and spontaneity in everyday actions.
Physiological level: integration between body parts and creating homeostasis in the body by dissolving tensions, creating regular rhythms, integrating one’s emotions. Biodanza classes address a respect for the body, dissolving stress and aiding you to shed poor physiological functioning generated by a hectic lifestyle.
Existential Level: integration between the individual and the group, rescuing the possibility of creating affective bonds, carefully dissolving competitive and defensive patterns of communication.
Biodanza does not mean simply to dance, but rather to let your movement express its truth.
This movement is what leads to experience. Experience means being in touch with everything that's happening in this moment here and now: How I feel, what I think and how I act. This contact with the present time gives you the possibility to become aware of your own needs and desires. This is a seemingly simple process, but often lost within our educational standards and the rhythms that are imposed by our hectic urban lifestyle and cultural dictates.
Biodanza is an extremely broad system and difficult to explain in a few lines, but to recap, we propose that through dance, listening to your body and feeling your feelings, you can generate real integration: feel what you feel, communicating authentically with others, moving in existence to meet your needs while respecting the cycles of life.
Only your body and your movement can connect to its own depth.
No doctor, guru or confidant can do this for you.
Biodanza uses the sacred body along with music, movement and heartfelt emotion to shift towards integration and a fuller expression of our uniqueness.
The actual experience of a class of Biodanza is the best way to understand its life changing effects.
Join us in Maryland for the dance of life!
Getting out on the Biodanza dance floor connects you immediately to LIFE from the first song.
The rhythm is beating like a heart.
Other shiny humans are present.
You are breathing in the air of first-time excitement or the knowing of the bliss to come.
Connecting to the sacredness of you and of life weekly in the Biodanza space creates movement in the universe that only the collective unconscious can feel.
We Biodanceros become more emboldened to speak up for life, defend it and fight against the injustice that prevails with each dance we make.
Feeling like you can't do that just yet?
Join us in Maryland every Thursday evening at 7:30pm and let the magic of you begin.
Are you willing to take the next step to a higher consciousness?
It all begins with you. On the inside.
Then we spread our essence outward.
And the collective will follow suit.
And if enough of us awaken to our true nature, we can make a difference.
One person at a time. One heart at a time.
Biodanza, the poetry of human encounter.
Creator of Biodanza, Rolando Toro, called Biodanza a revolution of love. He called facilitators the "priests of life" connecting life within our Biocentric Principle and all Biodanceros "warriors of love without limits."
Biodanza is not an ideology.
Biodanza is about life. The right to life is absolute. It's the only absolute that exists.
"The maximum expansion of consciousness is to experience life here and now", he stated.
In Biodanza, we feel it first unconsciously in the body. We live out our genetic POTENTIAL in vivencia throughout the 5 lines of vivencia that support LIFE in the center of all: vitality, sexuality, creativity, affectivity and transcendence.
How do you experience the "vivencia", the here and now, of your life?
We have come to be danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the belly
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance
The blow the chip off our shoulder dance.
The slap the apology from our posture dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance
One two dance like you
One two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
Tearing scabs and scars open dance
The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
Shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
The strip us from our casings, return our wings
Sharpen our claws and tongues dance
The shed dead cells and slip into
The luminous skin of love dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
But the meeting of the trinity, the body breath and beat dance
The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
The mother may I?
Yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
The olly olly oxen free free free dance
The everyone can come to our heaven dance.
We have come to be danced
Where the kingdom’s collide
In the cathedral of flesh
To burn back into the light
To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
WE HAVE COME.
by Jewel Mathieson
Seeking extracurricular activity that won't turn me in to a pretzel, exhaust my energy, or make me wish I didn't have to take so much ibuprofen afterwards! Must calm nerves and promote zen-like tendencies. Have to be able to practice at home daily solo. Benefits must include easy exercise that clears my mind, connects me to spirit, lessens my aches and pains, and leaves my body with a lighter feeling. Needs to deepen my process of enlightenment, too....large request, I know!
You are in luck, seeker!
QiGong might be what you are looking for! Say what? What the heck is QiGong?
What will QiGong do for my BODY?
QiGong is a form of moving meditation that balances the body and opens and unblocks the energy flow of all your meridians (energy centers in the body).
For example, gentle movements with proper breathing promotes increased agility of the wrists, hips, shoulders, ankles and will help your blood circulation and unblock stagnant chi (energy) in these areas. The movement also massages all of your internal organs stimulating healing.
QiGong exercises are directly related to finding balance in the body, so with time and practice, your body will experience more feelings of equilibrium.
If you suffer from any kind of pain, QiGong has been shown to relieve pain in fibromyalgia patients (Dance of the Phoenix, U of MD Pain Clinic clinical study). Breathing into pain helps ease it and Qigong focuses on the breath.
QiGong incorporates breathing techniques. Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins and other systems in your body must work overtime which could eventually lead to illness. When you exhale air from your body during the Qigong form you release carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body's metabolism.
Oxygenation of the brain also reduces excessive anxiety levels. Good breathing techniques will also promote better posture.
By the end of a class your body will feel lighter and better and ready to conquer the world!
What will QiGong do for my MIND?
What fires together, wires together. You can rewire your brain with QiGong exercises. The ability of the brain to forge new neural connections and develop new functions is called “neuroplasticity.”
Remarkably, QiGong can be done standing, seated or in the imagination due to mirror neurons that exist in each of us that fire when we ACT and/or OBSERVE an action, thus rewiring our brains.
Qigong’s mental training has proven in case after case that when we mentally lead energy (our chi/Qi=energy) across the map of the body, the circuitry of the brain is rewired.
Practicing a 20 minute form of QiGong daily will help you to embrace a slower paced life. Little by little, you will find yourself able to be still as you perform the gentle movement prescribed.
The goal of the class is to experience deeper, more relaxed breathing, to awaken the mind and experience pleasant physical sensations throughout the body.
What will QiGong do for my SPIRIT?
QiGong is a spiritual treasure.
The ancient Chinese practice of QiGong dates back 4,000 years and means literally "Life Energy Cultivation". Many different "forms" of it have been introduced to humanity since then.
As meditation, QiGong is a means to still the mind and enter a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity, and bliss.
Taoists (practitioners of Chinese religious tradition) feel that it is best for one to begin with the energy of the body, then progress through to the emotions and thoughts to one's spiritual power, before going for the ultimate...enlightenment.
One's ability to connect to something greater than self deepens as one sinks into the graceful meditative movements surrounding the body with love, light and peace while collecting heavenly and earthly energy and allowing it to flow around the body.
Answer to classified ad:
Dear Zen seeker,
Please try a GiGong series closest to you until you find one that is just right that resonates with you and your body. Let me know what happens afterwards!
Yours in movement,
The Life Dance Coach
I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.
You can stay that way
And even bloom!
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.
You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!
O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter
And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Now, sweet one,
Cast all your votes for Dancing!
Persian spiritual poet and mystic
1315 or 1317 to 1390
Trauma can happen in many forms and is often debilitating for people. It overwhelms the capacity to cope and the potential to embrace hope and leaves one feeling the gamut of negative emotions...frustrated, depressed, helpless, sad, angry.
At the core of trauma is one thing, fear, and fear is what needs to be treated...with love.
The memories of trauma imprint themselves into our body/mind/spirit and the body naturally registers this fear. Over time it will react quite negatively to being placed in permanent negative eco-factors as the cortisol pumps through the system keeping it on high alert. In fight or flight mode most of the time, the body has no real time to let go and relax...to release. It gets sick.
The mind won't let the body surrender, because it (the mind) does not feel safe. That's understandable when one is suffering from any kind of PTSD.
Part of the issue is that the brain is often working overtime. Whether experiencing trauma or just life itself, we have this human tendency to think a lot, analyze, regurgitate the stories to therapists story fondling our life path, talk over the incident ad nauseum with friends, belaboring our suffering when in fact many studies have show that this only works up to a certain point. Any many readers can attest to being in therapy now for years with no real relief.
The bad news about story fondling is that whatever we put out attention on in life will grow stronger.
What to do? Where to go? Most are left with a great conundrum about how to deal with their deep seated trauma and lingering depression. Therapy can be quite useful for many, but if countless hours of therapy are not working, what will? Drugs? Maybe they can alleviate some symptoms, but pharmaceuticals just mask the underlying issue of fear and who wants to take pills for the rest of one's life?
Have you ever thought of embracing a BODY modality to heal your woes?
Anecdotal evidence has been suggesting for years and now science is proving that being more in the body and less in the head space offers a tremendous amount of healing to the sufferer.
Exercise has always been touted as a major pick me up releasing all those feel good hormones into your system. Zumba is now the new aerobics and gyms are full of people trying to be physically fit across the country. It feels good to get out there and MOVE! Yoga has finally been accepted into the mainstream in western society after years of demonization and studies are showing great benefits from this gentle and soothing body modality. It feels equally awesome to sink into the body space in a gentle way.
Slowly, the world consciousness is evolving back to embracing the body as wise and all knowing, capable of healing and repairing itself like the ancients once thought possible before modernity took over!
But there is one KEY element missing from what is being offered to us on the platform of goodies that adorn the Groupon pages and which is the essence of healing anything in life.
Profound healing requires that human beings connect at a relational level with each other to create affective nets of love in safe spaces.
Understandably, this might be a scary proposition for many who suffer from trauma meted out at the hands of another human being and it's the last place we'd want to look for healing. It's too scary, right? Fear keeps us away from connecting.
But remember, what we resist the most is often times what we need in great quantities.
I present to you a unique way to embrace what ails you, love it, release it and live life again.
The system of Biodanza is a part of the complementary health services available to humanity all over the world. Created in the 60s' by Chilean Rolando Toro it is now practiced on 5 continents, in over 50 countries, by 100,000+ people weekly, with 2,500+ facilitators bearing witness to the healing beauty of humanity, love and life lived in the present moment.
Biodanza creates the space for all people to begin the process of coming back to self and letting go of fear, anxiety and depression. Biodanza will offer you a weekly space to embrace joy, vitality and all of the yummy potential of self.
So what is it and how does it work?
You join a beginning group and show up weekly. Showing up for life will unlock doors for you!
You dance. That's it. You dance.
You embrace joy and vitality, awareness and a sense of peacefulness.
You connect to life on many levels...with yourself, with others, with something greater than you.
You learn to begin to feel with no filters in place. The release process begins.
Wordless for one and half to two hours. You close down the rational and remain heart centered.
You surrender to the process you want to heal and begin to trust again in the universe and mankind.
You commit to your healing journey.
You show up the next week and do it again. No excuses.
Maybe you share in the opening share circle at the next class. Maybe not. You work your way there.
Maybe you continue your work with your therapist/life coach adding the verbal component to the Biodanza vivencial aspect. Both are valid.
You slowly start to see that your trauma will no longer define who you are. You are more than a happening in life.
You are glorious and special.
This starts to reflect itself in your relationships both at home and at work.
Life is getting better and better every week!
What is happening in the body?
...so many things too numerous for a short blog...
In a nutshell, because the human being is wired for happiness committing to a weekly Biodanza class where positive eco-factors are created by the facilitator and embraced wholeheartedly by the dancers the body and the brain are entraining to a new way of being, perceiving and thus thinking. This is done not through words, but through movement, connection and music.
Slowly, shifts are being made both internally as the positive environment works on your biology and physiology and externally. Each sessions reinforces the positive and wonderful potentials in your life.
Beware: Biodanza is not an immediate fix for your ills. It's not a daily pill to make it go away. It's not an ayahuasca trip for sudden enlightenment, nor a passive journey of lying on a table or a solo class of relaxation.
It is the "poetry of human encounter", as we say.
Your enlightenment happens in its own time, at its own pace. With love and tenderness in a safe space.
It is being present and active in healing your fear.
It is feeling what you need to feel.
It is asking and receiving what you need out of life and people.
It is establishing boundaries for yourself.
It is gradual acceptance of what is and a loving forgiveness of what was.
It is affirming and good.
It is your dance of life towards wellness and good health.
Peace and blessings
In Roman times, it was considered bad luck to get out of bed on the left side. Hence if you exited from your slumber on that wrong side, your day was fated to be a bad one.
Which side do you get out of every day, metaphorically speaking? Left or right?
Every day we humans wake up from our hopefully comfy beds and there is a new story to be unfurled. Some days are glorious and sparkly. We are emotionally up and feeling exuberant. Some are just so-so. Things may not work so well for us on those days and everything seems blah. And others, well, are downright crummy and depressing. We sleep late, veg in front of the TV and a general malaise can overcome our mind, hearts and bodies.
Sometimes we even have droughts of so-so and crummy days that seem to never be quenched despite attempts to nurture ourselves. What do you do when that happens?
Many can't imagine how to crawl out of the abyss of such an existence and resort to addictions, depression and some, tragically, suicide.
But life can be better if you take turtle steps. Little by little, with great care and compassion for yourself, you will get to a place of peace and calm which will give you vigor.
But here's the thing. You have to.....
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST!
You know what they say...put the mask on yourself first in the airplane so you have your wits about you to care for others. If you are the selfless giver in your world, stop it now! Put your mask on, breath and self care! Take that first step to loving you.
#1 Take time to do nothing
How boring, huh? Nothing. No TV. No books. No housework. Just be. Take a walk with no electronic device. Go sit in nature. Walk your dog if you have one. Walk the neighbor's dog!
Maybe you can begin to incorporate a daily 10 minutes silent/still or even walking meditation into your life. Direct your attention to your breath, not your thoughts. Feeling the blues coming on? Go ahead, feel them, cry if you need to. Let go of the emotions and don't stifle them inside.
Be mindful. Listen. Don't give up. There are messages in the nothingness of life.
Oh, and did I say to leave the phone behind? :) Your boredom will turn to bliss.
#2 Connect to humanity in person
"What people need to feel to live is a feeling of intimacy, of transcendence, of joyful connection and of stimulating happiness". Rolando Araneda Toro, founder of the movement system, Biodanza.
Embracing joy and vitality in life begins with your connection to humanity. A life of loneliness and Facebook envy is not well lived or felt.
Creating space in your life for at least one or two weekly activities that involves joyful in- person communication with other humans beings doing something that pleases you will increase your capacity for joy and connection.
Human beings need to smile, laugh, be playful...everyday.
What could you do that increases your intimacy factor with others, the feeling of being connected to something greater than you and that also stimulates your happiness?
Choose one thing now. Go do it! Then do it again and hour later! And so on and so forth!
#3 Be more in your body and less in your head
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche
I think a lot. All day. I read. I am constantly using my brain and my cortex is mostly on overdrive...I am a Gemini, for sure. And a mother. That's exhausting in itself!
I am aware that some people think I'm lovingly odd with my bent for Biodanza in my life...all that hugging and connecting to other people, looking them in the eyes and, God forbid, a gentle caress and connecting to my sexuality through movement.
But I respectfully don't care.
For me, I am happiest when I leave my head space and allow my heart space and body the opportunity to expand and live in authenticity. Sometimes when my heart is hurting, I just need to dance...to let it go. Nothing else works for me. I find healing in my dance and my dance community who support and love me.
When I dance to my own personal beat with no choreography involved, my heart grows bigger and I am more able to embrace the chaos of my life in my dance. I am directing it. I get a total say in my chaos. Will it overwhelm me or will I allow my body to let go of it through movement...disperse the negative emotions?
Movement helps me to create the shifts I need in my life. And it can help you, too. Even if you are in a wheelchair without use of your lower limbs...it is possible.
When I dance, I am not thinking rationally or logically in my movement. I am just there. Being. Dancing. Feeling. Releasing old stuff and rejuvenating my essence.
So you, too, can do the same.
Dance allows us to embrace JOY & VITALITY in life in the body and heart...and we carry that outside the dance and into the world.
#4 Reach out to someone who can help guide you into joy & vitality
On the days that are crummy, it's so easy to sit and wallow in your pity party.
This is when you REALLY need to ASK FOR HELP and create the shifts you need to happen. Stop taking care of and pleasing everyone else and focus on you. Take that first step somehow.
A counselor, a trusted spiritual adviser, a life coach, a best friend....reach out. Make a plan to create the JOY & VITALITY that you deserve in your life.
Ask and thou shall receive.
#5 Focus on bringing the positive out from life
Don't focus on the trauma in life!
Story fondling over and over again will NOT create joy and vitality in your life. Just the opposite, in fact. You will remain entrenched in despair.
Instead, tell yourself what is good about your life? Make lists. Tell yourself every morning ONE good thing about life, yourself. DO something fun and joyous and above all, MOVE IT, GROOVE IT, SHAKE IT!
Take a baby step by ACTING on one of these ideas above...be still, connect to others, dance it out, reach out to a trusted guide.
Don't forget that love is just a heartbeat away....you are loved!
Blessings to you on your journey to joy & vitality,
And now to introduce you to three more writers:
Sarah O'Leary is a life and wellness coach certified by Dr. Martha Beck. She helps women reclaim their radiant vitality at midlife and beyond, so they can choose and live the life they've dreamed of. Find out more at Holistic Hot Sauce, www.saraholeary.net
Wendy Gauntner is contributing blogger at www.MondayLunchTrio.com, a weekly blog that marries family friendly recipes and life lessons. She’s a certified Martha Beck Life coach who likes to think she embodies old soul wisdom in a manic modern world. The rest of the time she’s a busy mom to her 11-year-old adopted son who defies every parental paradigm and inspires her to read parenting books others might never take off the shelf.
Julia Bushue works with recovering perfectionists who have trouble making progress on their goals, whether it’s finishing a project or finding a dream job. She writes on topics both specific and universal (from learning self-love to making good decisions) over at www.juliabushue.com.
"small talk about rEVOLutionary