The 5Rhythms are:
- FLOWING – the fluid, continuous, grounded glide of our own movements
- STACCATO – the percussive, pulsing beat that shapes us a thousand different ways
- CHAOS – the rhythm of letting go, releasing into the catalytic wildness of our dance that can never be planned or repeated
- LYRICAL – the rhythm of trance, where the weight of self-consciousness dissolves, where we lighten up and disappear into our own uniqueness
- STILLNESS – the quiet emptiness, where gentle movements rise and fall, start and end, in a field of silence
The dis-ease of our times is that we have stopped moving:
- Our bodies sit sedentary until they are stiff and rigid, and no longer a source of sensual pleasure;
- Our hearts tighten around old hurts, limiting the flow of love until we feel a chronic loneliness, no matter how many relationships we have;
- Our minds grow narrow and forget how to stretch, becoming attached to comfortable beliefs about right and wrong and the way things should be, until we are living life from the neck up.
Movement is the medicine for our malaise. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world practice the 5Rhythms each day in studios and gyms, retreat centers and living rooms, schools and meditation halls. Why?
Because the 5Rhythms directly touch the essential human need to move and be moved, to connect gracefully and intimately with other human beings, to be part of a community of diverse yet like-minded souls.
As we practice the 5Rhythm moving meditation over time, the effects spiral through our bodies, hearts and minds:
- We feel radiantly alive and calm at the same time
- We move from thinking about life to intimately feeling life with our bones, our feet, our muscles, our blood
- We enjoy the miraculous bodies we have, rather than lamenting their limitations
- The tight spots in our hearts soften – so we can cry when we’re sad, jump when we’re joyful, reach out when we’re touched, love and be loved without hesitation
- Our minds settle, and the jagged world of thinking, planning and strategizing fades into a sense of peaceful silence
"To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self.
Keep moving. As we move, we stir things up. You may hit patches of fatigue, frustration or discomfort. Even if you can only wiggle a finger or nod your head to the beat, stay in motion that until something changes. Movement opens the door to the alchemy of this practice.
Pace yourself. No matter other people are doing, honor your own body and physical energy. If you rest in the beat when you get tired, you’ll be ready to ride the next wave of energy when it comes. Respect your body’s needs and limitations; there’s no need or reason to push.
Practice respect. Is your ‘partner’ sending signals that he/she wants to be left alone? Do people have to dance around you while you stop for a chat on the dance floor? Are you so lost in your own excitement, swinging yourself or a partner through the air, that people have to come out of their own meditation to avoid being whacked by one of your limbs? Mindfulness in relation to others is a basic tenet of meditation, especially here.
Practice silence. We spend many waking hours, too often our whole lives, listening to the endless thoughts in our head, socializing and talking as we skim the surface of ourselves. This meditation is an invitation to drop the words, speak with your body, turn your being into a moving work of art, let your very self become a dance. If you can’t resist talking, please go outside so others may enjoy the silence.
Stay present. As with any meditative practice, you will deal continuously with distractions. You may have the sudden urge to admire the décor, find a partner right away to entertain you, seduce someone, get lost in judgment about the temperature or the teacher or the music, compare yourself to that amazing dancer (coming out on top or in the cellar) – in other words, to get away from yourself. Just notice when you get distracted, and gently bring your attention back to your feet, the beat, the breath, the dance.
Release your expectations. You might be ready to play today, but what if no one else is in the mood? What happens when you have a hankering for a certain kind of music and the teacher has different plans? We might prefer dancing to our favorite song, in our favorite outfit, with our favorite partner, but clinging to ideas of “how it should be” cuts you off from what is actually happening.
It’s not just about the music. The teacher uses music to catalyze and support what’s happening on the dance floor. While a certain piece of music may evoke strong emotions for you, how you respond is up to you. The music is a platform for your practice. You don’t have to love it - just respond. Sometimes not liking something is a great way to access creative movements.
Stretch yourself. If you always dance alone, you might try including someone else in your dance. If you are constantly on the prowl for a partner, maybe it’s time to ‘go solo’. Slow down - or speed up - and see what happens. Experiment with different ways of moving. Of being still.