There is an awareness amongst the old cultures of the world that whatever ails the mind can often be healed through dance. The beating of drums, cacophonies of voice, bells and musical instruments flood the body with an intense need to move and shake. The people hold the space for the one who needs healing, bringing their intention, feeling and love to a communal focus so the person can let go, release, expunge the physical hold of a negative force. Afterwards the person is often empty, free, abandoned by the dark that was present in their physical body, in their mental state, in their emotional feeling. The negative force behind the illness is spent, reduced and the body, the soul can breathe freely again into a calmness and peace that returns their positive life force to balance.
In some cultures it moves from the healing into the ecstatic where everyone can release the stress and tension that accumulates in the daily life and find their connection to the divine in the immersion of movement, feeling and sound that supports this spiritual intention.
I had a funny experience when I was 17. I went to a transpersonal conference in Canberra, Australia by Stanslav Grof and his wife. It was my first experience of workshops.There were teachers, professors, psychologists, therapists and people from intellectual backgrounds. As a 17 year old I felt hope that in their company, I could begin to know the maturity of adults, whose spiritual intent would help me find my path in life. I guess it did in a funny way but it was not what I expected. On one day there was a workshop based on primal therapy. It was attended by about 200 people in one big room. Christina and Stanislov Grof both told stories of the experiences that were had by people being led into the prenatal experience of birth. They did this with stories, images and music. There were about 10 people in the room to assist the workshop, and soon enough we were all invited to go into that experience and feel our births. A friend and I were in the far corner of the room, furthest away from the door. As it began people slowly crumpled to the floor, writhing and making odd baby sounds. It very quickly changed into a very loud cacophony of screaming as bodies writhed around us, some in apparent agony, others in a complete babylike abandonment to sounds and moving. As we watched them I saw the adults relinquish all their restraints and abandon themselves to a hectic and savage re-enactment of trauma and childish need. It kind of finished for me the idea that as an adult life becomes serenely manageable by virtue of status or maturity. I thought, "why do they need to do this?" We slowly extracted ourselves from the room tip toeing through the salivating elders of society. Heironymous Bosch would have delighted in the challenge of bringing the event to canvas with his brush. As we sat below in the dining room, the screams above lasted long into the afternoon as other attendees raised their eyes to the ceiling in cautious curiosity.
Our culture of physical repression over centuries and denial of the bodies right to be featured in the act of healing through physical expression brought us into a period of chaotic explorations into the world of movement and that spontaneous release held in the body was often restrained or managed before the journey into calm and peace could manifest. And then teachers like Osho brought the chaos to such an intensity that the excesses sometimes inherent in our physical being looses its way in the shadow of the ego.
Today the culture embraces certain movement practices like yoga, ecstatic dance, belly dance and we are becoming comfortable to move our bodies. And there is a certain wave of awareness pulling us toward the acceptance of moving in awareness by our own creative volition. A kind of return to the possible freedom in being an auto-didactic. What seems really critical is holding the space for that to happen.The right experience, the experienced teacher, the right mood, space, music and feeling and intention so that judgement, self consciousness, shyness, and all other ailments of our controlled physical self drop away. And what is our intention, where does it lead, what outcome do we find in this, what need of movement without purpose or task? "Thats the rub." I guess. Where do we want to go? What is it that is beyond what we are familiar with? Ourselves? Our hearts? The part of us that was lost to trauma? Perhaps the trauma of centuries of being controlled for the sake of driving it into us that we need to give our power to another in order to find God or to find a freedom from want that keeps us enslaved to the manipulation of desire. Whatever it is, the value of "Something pointless and elegant," (Breath by Tim Winton), is perhaps one of the most understated gifts we can explore to find something far more valuable than the materialism that is strangling all of life.
Breath and movement can lead us, music can leads us into improvised melodies of deep concentration through our breath, our joints, our feeling, accessing something very human, non specific to race or culture. For all things that breathe there is movement and why not join that constant eternal movement of the life force in everything and leave destruction in all its forms.
Tamsin Murray - Feb 11, 2019.