How dance can change us.


 Some people love anxiety and guilt and anger and greed and all that stuff, more than they love life. They get so identified with these emotions they don't know anything else.

 They spend a lot of time trying to expiate these emotions but really all they are doing is accumulating more, and life gets quite unpleasant for them, and for everyone around them. And then they cycle, guilt, destruction, illness, anxiety, guilt, ad infinitum. That cycle leads us to use artificial stimulants, drugs and foods, etc, to stuff the body, hold the body as a prisoner to the most damaging behaviors so that profit can be gained, walls can be maintained, separateness can be manipulated.

And now it’s getting so bad the planet seems in danger of responding like a dog with fleas, and shaking us off like we were irritating pests.

 Dance can be an amazing way of making ourselves free of these emotions. Here we are in this age seeking out frontiers in space, in the last areas of untouched nature and destroying it as we get there, for the sake of profit.  But profit could become like hiding under a table in a nuclear storm, not really protective.  But the most interesting frontier is really sitting underneath our heads, neglected often, subjected to very uninteresting repetitive movements that limit its expression to near zero. Our bodies, our bodies are an unexplored frontier and dance is one of the best ways to get inside it.  But it takes the right kind of music.  We have this incredible access to music from so many cultures now and all these cultures have developed their music through the lifestyles they lead. When you want to dance to free yourself of all the clutter of stressful negative emotions what is the best kind of music for that.

Well think on it. A group of traditional musicians and singers are playing together. Their instruments are made of wood, skins, hand wrought metals and all these beautiful sounds come out with the experience of sensitive musicians that know and love their instruments. As they play together the energy they generate is happiness, harmony, energy and creativity.  If you think on it you could describe it as organic music, natural, coming from pure nature, humans creating with nature together. And we are all mad about organic now. We want fruits and food to be natural, to be nourished by a good earth, an ethical practice so we can feel that nourishment when we eat it and feel better. And we don't feel like eating artificial pesticide ridden foods. So wouldn't we choose organic music to nourish and really deep clean the body of poisonous emotion. Digital and electronic music is, well its not organic. Its often made on a computer by someone pressing buttons, generating digital rhythms while they smoke or sit for hours or its electronic, and controlled by mixers and dials and electrical sources and the context, “woe is me, the planet, life sucks, or “we need to manipulate those emotions for about 3 to 4 minutes and then stop for the sake of market value and its definition of the time to profit ratio.

 And electronic music and songs don't actually generate happiness. If you listen to music with depressing lyrics or music that ramps up the beats and the rhythms so much that it overwhelms the body then your body is not really going to release or venture further into subtle deeper ranges of experience. It’s probably going to take on that energy and enable more negative emotions or need more and more ramping up to feel relaxed. Like if I listen to the music today I am not going to come out of listening to it and feel happiness or love. The organic music created by live musicians in a good state of concentration and harmony will infuse your body with an elixir that should be called a superfood, for all the benefits it brings.

So what is the disconnect here? We spend a lot of money on organic food, healthy lifestyle and then listen to electronic music, artificially contrived with machines that are robotic. In some context the music is fine. It is clever, artistic and dance can shape an expression to create a story with the body with this music. But for the purposes of clearing the body of clutter and unnecessary woes, for the purposes of engaging the breath as a tool to explore, for the purposes of releasing the negative sticky, unfriendly virus like flem of negative emotions then traditional music of cultures who really understand the healing power of music is the way to go.

 The beauty of traditional music, apart from it being generated naturally is that it goes on for a long time. Traditional Middle Eastern music, African music, Indian music, Aboriginal music. It has a different time frame not geared for market. It goes on and on and lets you go deeper and deeper into the sound. It fully immerses you in a world of sound that generates new feeling and energy in the body. Its musicians have a whole culture of being in a community, being within a group and acting as a group to generate an experience for their people, which is healing and exultant, rejuvenating and cohesive. It binds the people together in a shared happiness and harmony.

 And so back to the guilt and other poison emotion. Harboring these. What good do they do.  And the inheritance factor. Do we pass this clutter to your children. Do we want your children. I don't have any children, but I would not want your children to end up so cluttered that they need to be attached to devices that get them to function enough to work for a wage but don't leave them with any residual energy for life.

 What kind of positive outcome do these emotions create. Possibly “nada”.

This is where the breath comes in. Thank God for breath.  Breath is like a horse. Put a bad, inexperienced rider on its back day after day and it will bow its head and resign to boredom. That is like hell for a horse. But put a good experienced rider on that same horse and he will instantly know that he can gallop and feel the full strength of his horse energy pulsing through his veins as he feels his mane whipping in the wind. Breath needs understanding and practice to know what it is capable of. Think on these ancient practices, on these people that confound science because they use the breath to master the responses to extreme colds or illness. Think on this, this that you do every moment of your life. Why is it not obvious it has potentials for developing the human being. Breath functions in a flow between opposite purposes. Inhale, breathing in the new air that nourishes the blood, the brain, the nervous system etc. Exhale, takes out the garbage. Who can live without taking out the garbage. How would we be without trash services, septic tanks, sewers, all that nice expulsion stuff that keeps our cities livable. So you consider breathing nothing more than getting oxygen. Why not utilize it for wellbeing? Why not? So you breathe and dance using the natural function of the breath to expel the negative and bring in the positive. You don't need to be a hippy or be new age to do this. This is a free resource for any human being on the planet who can access good music and a place to move and time to do it.

 And that's the rub. Even the richest people have not yet understood the value of breath and dance and so their time is for the sake of these negative emotions that make their time a slave, and that is a shame, because anyone who experiences the value of a body without the clutter of negative and poisonous emotions and thoughts realizes it is priceless. The flow of the breath un-fettered by tension after dancing is a time where you have explored a mysterious frontier without bringing harm to yourself or to any living creature or sphere and on top of this you feel different, in a good way, like you have actually existed in your whole body, not just in your head.

 So what would it take to just dance with this intention of clearing the cells of the pollution from negative emotions and chronic tension. Everybody occupies a space on this earth. We may or may not have access to cool pure water to swim or oceans to surf or mountains to climb or spaceships to launch but we do have a body sitting underneath our heads, neglected, waiting for us to explore it, to release it and to investigate the possibilities of where it could lead us. When we take the time to simply breathe and dance and move to “organic musics” we take back our minds and our hearts from the fragmentation of polluted things to the harmonious experience of feeling ourselves in a state of “oneness”. Again this does not need to be just for hippies or new age. It could be for the women living on Madison Ave that are too frightened to let their children look at something unusual. It could be for the executive with the million dollar bonus that can”t fit another Maserrrati in their garage. It could be for the check out women in Walmart who just is tired of looking like a stack of tires. It could be for the IT specialist who can’t feel his feet anymore. It could be for the man that contemplates the bad stomach pain he gets with feeling so much anger. It could be for the parent who wants to engage with their children in a more relaxed and open way. It could be for the academic who looks at the plight of bees and has never known what it feels like to be in nature.  It could be for anyone who wants to lift their spirits and is willing to crawl out of the veminous roose of their egos into an experience of authentic wellbeing. Hard work yes. Of course, at first yes, hard indeed to experience firsthand ploys like self consciousness, silliness, lack of meaning, blockages, stiffness, but then. But then, the organic music, the breath, the little motions that trigger a feeling of happiness, these are the pathways to be explored, to follow. And there we go, off into a better place. Like immigrants who must walk out of the country of danger, they will walk thousands of miles if they have to. So why not dance out of the misery and ignorance and explore what this thing is that sits below our head.

 And dare to imagine where this might lead us. Imagine, what a dangerous word now. Imagine, you are without any tension, no guilt, no anxiety, no worries. You are here, having danced and shaken yourself down to a cellular level, are having an intoxicating experience without any artificial stimulants to get you there, no harm done to anyone, no overstimulation of the desires – just here, breathing quietly, no thoughts, no anxiety, no fear, no guilt and even possibly you have forgotten your problems. And from here you look at the world and you are still, and you take it in, you feel things as they are. The desires that ran you like a slave are quiet. You feel the air. You start to know, just know that most of the things you had identified with are really “non- existent”. The only time they actually were able to exist is when you generated them. Now you generate a feeling of content bliss, just breathing here, and on the first day after your first dance all the clutter in your space is removed, things you never used are given away, the attachment to things that are not useful is gone. You gift things to people who need them. Your finances improve because you are not buying what you don't need. Your health improves because you are not stuffing down feelings. Your zest for life comes alive because you have moved your body and made yourself happy. You begin to think about using this new energy to do something good, like for example you are a chemist and you make plastics and then you start working in your spare time to find a healthy and nourishing alternative to plastic. Or maybe you are the executive guy and after dancing you think “gosh I use so much plastic, and I see how it chokes sea turtles and birds. I will find someone who will make an alternative and use my clout to get it to market and get plastics off the market. Or maybe you are the Walmart check out women and you think. “My gosh I felt so good after dancing and I thought I saw my legs for the first time, and my gosh if I continue I’m going to really be able to walk with my children again, wow.” And she does, she dances till she can see her legs again and walks with her children, and she automatically reaches for an apple, not for the apple turnover she used to almost spill on the ground because she couldn't get up to reach it. Or maybe you are the Madison Avenue woman, and your daughter ran towards a girl in the park that was dancing with hoops, and instead of looking away, you just looked at that girl and saw how flexible and fit she was and you introduced her to a bunch of women who now all shed their Versace for some time dancing with hoops with the cool looking young women in the park, and frankly you just haven’t felt like vomiting anymore after a good meal because you are “happy”.

 Whoever is changing the moment from a negative moment to a positive moment, this is a step forward for humankind, not onto a quiet moon, not sucking oil out from between the dead polar bears, not paralyzing the children with dread for the future but simply stepping into a mood to dance into the frontier that sits beneath our heads, and finding the food for nourishing, authentic, lasting, gentle happiness, that will accumulate good feeling, and ripple into life, and connect us to a positive force that will inevitably drive us to step forward for humankind in a positive way.

 Just shake, move,  feel and breathe for a while and then think on it. See how you feel. My teacher Adnan Sarhan said “Experience is the best way of knowledge”, and then he says, “The Americans say don't knock it till you try it.” Traditional music is like a new language but the body will respond. Like Adnan says God gave us lots of joints to move, to bend, to stretch, to shake and we can do it with a good intention and just see what happens. This is your body and it needs to say things to you and when your mind says “Oh no, this feels……” Just ignore it. Tell your mind to, – as my Australian friend would say “Go play on the highway.” You don't need to judge yourself. Just see what 30 minutes of dancing and breathing, with your eyes closed, will do. What harm. You may have to hide yourself from judging people but we are good at hiding things when we want to. So try it.


Here are some organic musics that I think are inspirational to exploring the body and the breath. They may seem weird at first to you but give it a chance. Some of them are for dancing and some for soaking in and listening. The new sounds introduce us to ways of moving that we don't normally do so it is waking up the body in a good way and nudging it into a different way of responding to sound. Kalthoum Inta Omry  Sabri Brothers  Nusrat Fatih Ali Khan music Drums of Passion Barton on Didgeridoo Reza Lotfi