“You’ve got to move to change the state you’re in.”- The Levins
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
~ Martha Graham
“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
This past Sunday, Julia and I joined some friends at The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County where Stephanie Miner-Berger of another group called Peace Forest Sanctuary led a guided dance celebration for a multi-generational community with the help of DJ K. She picked very specific songs that would appeal to the range of folks there. It was done with such a purity of intention, it engaged people without having them feel self-conscious or instilling a need to demonstrate ego or prowess. It brought me back to all the weekly parties my friends and I would throw during high school and college. We were able to almost fuse our hearts together as a group because our love for one another was able to dance freely. There is a freedom in dancing that takes you out of your intellectual grasp of reality and opens you up in ways you are not even aware of.
During the cool down yesterday, we were asked to make eye contact and sing “Lean on Me” to various people in the circle. My friend Michelle was next to me and there was such a generous earnestness in her connection with me that even before we got to the line, “no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show,” I was so chocked up that I could no longer sing or look at anyone. I have certainly sung “Lean on Me” hundreds of times but there was something about the intention of this community dance combined with the direct contact with an honest friendship that broke me open. It made me realize that we hold on to so much. We may not be a stiff-upper lip society but even if we do express ourselves and have people to talk to, we are taking on what is being broadcast all around us as well as our mind’s minute to minute updates. We are inundated with information and suffering that we have no way of fully processing or understanding. Even with the desire to heal and be healed, there is no way to do that intellectually. This is of course one of the best reasons to take up meditation but there is also something about dancing that puts you in the seat of Being where the internal meets the external.
Someone reminded us after the dance of the Hindu myth where Shiva dances the universe into creation. Buckminster Fuller said that “God is a verb, not a noun.” When we are dancing, even if we were not able to physically move a muscle, we open ourselves to being a part of that same verb. This of course reminds me of Daniel Ladinsky’s rendition of Hafiz’s poem “The God Who Only Knows Four Words” and The Levins’ lyrical take on it called “Every Child”:
Every Child– Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013
Every child has known God.
That’s quite a claim.
For they don’t know God
as a ‘God of Names’,
as a ‘God of Don’ts’,
a ‘God of Shame’,
of stormy moods or any strange behavior.
Not a king or a queen, a giant, tyrant or savior.
But every child knows God. Not as someone you can see,
But the God who only knows four words:
Come Dance with me! Come Dance with me!
Come Dance! Come Dance! Come Dance!
—with me. Oh, Come Dance with me!
May your stillness give way to a peace that cannot help but trip the light fantastic.