a little over a week ago i stood in a room of full grown adults; all of us looking sheepishly around at eachother as we began to breathe heavily through our noses…
and then ever so slowly some timidly began to dance. “was this the start to some strange erotic, orgy-like group ritual”–you may be asking yourself (well i suppose that remains to be seen)? but for the moment it was merely an experiment in “getting cooked”!!
“oh now she’s gone off the deep end” you say, “i’m not reading any further”, but lest you sign off this downright righteous tome without discovering my topic and going to your grave convinced that my soul will rot in purgatory i urge you to stick with me for a few more lines…there was a time in the history of the world that in addition to getting very still in prayer and meditation to invite a closeness with spirit, or indeed being bathed in spiritual guidance, people from wisdom traditions all around the world used to really get their spirit moving (cooking things up), breathe in and out as if their lives depended on it, and move their bodies like their souls had something to dance for.
“why in god’s name would those crazy wisdom tradtionalists do such a thing”? you may be asking
i’m told and am now learning for myself that it was exactly that, in God’s name–is why the Quakers did it, in Allah’s for the Sufis, it is Brahma, Ganesh, Vishnu and Shiva (among many others) for the Hindus, and the “Big God” for the Kalahari Bushmen. and “what is it exactly everybody’s doing?” you ask again. among the many traditions around the world it has been called
and it is ecstatic breathing, dancing, movement–what has been described by Bradford Keeny, author of Shaking Medicine as “sound poetry, and sound poetry then turns into singing. Shamans, whether they’re in the Amazon or whether they’re the Lakota medicine people or the Bushman healers, are all about “catching” the songs. Their belief is that the Big God who expresses the Big Love can only share love through the rhythm, the beauty of song.”
for our crazy little band of experimenters it was just that, an experiment, a foray into the unknown(surely unknown to us) to see what there was to see. and what did we see there? well nobody fell to the floor overcome with the spirit, no one was immediately called upon to be saved, but what i like to think happened was that we were called upon to remember, remember and awaken to something our wise ancestors knew for generations, centuries and eons before we let our “big minds” get in the way. In the middle of feeling silly, breathing heavy and shaking our tailfeathers one of our number reminisced out loud about the best time he can ever remember being moved by the spirit when it came to music was listening to “in a gadda da vida” the long version. he and his friend danced like wild men for a full 17 minutes…two teenage boys unaware of space and time and self and self-consciousness for almost 20 minutes. As he painted the mental picture for us, for a few short minutes we all returned in space and time to the moments when music, dancing, breathing heavy have truly removed our attention from our physical space and put our attention on something entirely “otherworldly”. these are the moments when our skin just doesn’t matter anymore and true essence starts to leak right through.