Would you like to feel that you are really having an impact on your life,and the world around you? I know that I do, and I know the most assured times that feeling has arisen has been during the Dance. I’m going to add more here shortly (right now we’re off for a walk in the sunlight).
Contrary to popular belief… we don’t have to agree with each other to get along. We don’t even have to agree with each other to create and be in harmony.
This is something that is embodied and experienced in the dance circle. We join hands, learn a simple song, and simply start moving in harmony. Some people may like Reiki, others may not! We have Democrats and Republicans in our circles. We sometimes sing a song from the Christian tradition, and then turn right around and do the same thing with Arabic or Hebrew phrases. Sometimes we do songs that I think are just dumb, sometimes we do songs that I think are profound. You may totally disagree with me! But we dance and it is good.
We aren’t even always that perfect and peaceful with each other. Personality problems happen in dance groups, and all sorts of difficulties arise amongst us. Yet when dance time comes the circle and the song evens us all out and we still connect.
Dancing with each other in a circle helps us to relax our fixed positions. In fact, studying other religions, and honestly trying to understand how all the various traditions create our societies can really help us understand each other.
There are two similar sayings, from two different traditions, that I really love. One is an old Chinese saying, and another from a rapturous Sufi poet.
Wisdom from the ancient Chinese:
To hold the truth firmly before you, never be for or against.
When I first heard this phrase I was struck with how difficult it was for me to do. I’m a pretty hardheaded person, and I used to really believe that my opinions defined and created me. I had to actually post this on my wall for years to start working it into my life. But I’ve found it to be very true.
People wouldn’t hold to fixed positions if there wasn’t an opposite to that position. The opposite position has a lot of weight, and is worth honestly examining. We can’t examine the opposite position unless we are willing to relax our own fixed ideas of what we are for and against. With practice it becomes easier and easier to be able to see both sides.
Ecstatic Sufi poets
Out beyond ideas of right and wrong there is a field… I’ll meet you there! (Rumi)
Here is Rumi saying the same thing with poetic passion. Not only can we, as individuals, hold our fixed beliefs at bay, but we can meet each other in the clear field it creates.
We can meet and dance in the dance circle and experience, first hand, this open way to be with others. I’ll see you there!
All people, up until us, have danced in circles. In fact, all people (up until us) have made their own music and the majority of that music was sacred community music.
We get it still, a little bit, in church. We’ll still sit down in a church and sing together, but that’s about it.
Dancing Makes Us Real
I believe that this lack of touching each other in the circle, the inability to look around at all the faces, the bond formed from moving together is causing a hole in the way we related to each other as human beings. Our DNA literally needs us to dance and sing together, and we are missing that.
The reason I believe this is from direct experience. I remember the first time I every stepped into a dance circle. It was like something cellular woke up on my body, in my mind and soul, and I knew this is something that people are supposed to do. A part of me came alive that I didn’t even know existed.
And I’ve seen the same transformation happen in many people in the dance.
I remember the last dance camp we had at Lava. This gal was just driving through town and stopped by the Center looking for someone to ask for directions. She walked in the door and whoever she met said she should stay and dance. I was introduced to her briefly and tried to explain a bit what we were about to do. It was literally minutes before the morning dance session started.
We picked up our guitars and started walking around in the circle. Then we joined hands and learned our first dance.
I remember looking up at the circle during that morning and seeing this gal’s face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smile that big! It was like a kid who tasted her first candy! Here she was, a total stranger, just driving through. And yet she stepped into this circle of friends and fell into the music and dance like we had all known each other forever. She not only stayed the whole weekend, but stayed to the very last moment on Sunday morning helping us clean up. She must have carried 20 boxes of stuff out to our van for us!
I can still see the look of surprise and delight on her face, and I know she was feeling the same thing I felt when I first danced. Like I’d come home. Like something important had woken in me. Like I knew what it was to really be a full human being for the first time.
So let’s dance!
There is a serious vitamin deficiency going around in our parts of the world. It is seriously affecting both our health and the way we relate to others. It’s even undermining our ability to work on important issues like world peace and climate change. Fortunately, it is easy to cure.
First of all the diagnosis! This Vitamin “M” deficiency is caused by a severe lack of Making Music and Moving. In our language we have to use three words to describe it -whereas any native culture would simply use one word meaning dance.
This is an epidemic that has crept up on us slowly. Even in white man’s culture, a mere 60 years ago, people made music all by themselves, and occasionally moved to it! All civilizations, up until us, have danced together in circles. All native cultures did it!
It’s dancing in circles. It’s participating in both the music and the movement to become the musical instrument of a community itself.
Why Making Music and Moving
When we hold hands with other people in a circle we have immediately joined an organism that is larger than us. It’s the organism of a community. The “USness” of individuals together instantly creates something that is both dependent on each person in the circle and bigger than the sum of everyone together.
Partly it’s because of the hearts and minds of everyone in the circle joining together. We so rarely touch, or look each other in the face. We so rarely interact in a way that is devoid of the concepts and ideas of conversation. We so rarely see each other in a beautiful musical state. The circle brings out the magic of our hearts very simply this way.
Partly it’s the sheer physics of a circle. When you are in the circle, and the circle starts walking to the right – you gotta go right… well… eventually! Even for those of us who are awkward and shy, the momentum of the circle in movement brings us into a rhythm and harmony.
Everything about the circle dancing just works.
Music in our world has become something we merely consume. We buy it, we listen to it, we watch it… but we are brainwashed into thinking we can’t “Make” it!
Just think back to the reality of native cultures. (As much as we can imagine about it at least.) In a native culture it would have been absolutely impossible for any member to ever say, “I can’t sing.” Because it would have been impossible for anyone to even think such a crazy thing! Such an idea would never occur. When it was time to sing, everyone would sing!
But today I hear this all the time from people. “I can’t sing.”
What do you mean? Of course you can sing! (Unless you can’t even speak of course… but then they couldn’t have told me that they can’t sing, because that is speaking… but I digress.)
If sounds can come out of your mouth you can sing! It may sound horrible. Especially at first it may sound horrible. But sing it is. And sing you can do.
Miracle of the Circle
So back again to the miracle of the circle, music and movement. Maybe you don’t sound all that great. Maybe you’ll never sing a solo in Carnegie Hall. But all of us together sound great!
Singing like this opens the throat, assists us in taking in deep refreshing breaths. It helps us find our voice. The voice that we need to be powerful and beautiful so we can make our change in the world. Moving helps us in creating the momentum we need for our purpose. We create magic together.
It’s the magic of music and movement.
And come to think of it. Right there is another vitamin M we are missing – magic. We can create it together and heal parts of ourselves we didn’t even know was broken!
Here’s a great message I just discovered from the NAMM Foundation.
So why is it that we are willing to work on learning to think positively about our own lives (especially when it comes to money as taught by money gurus) but we feel free to be entirely negative about our collective reality and collective future?
When you think about it, it’s a lot more important to think and speak positively about our collective future because other people can hear us and may believe us!
Inside your own mind things work very quckly. You can think a thought and then actually reconsider and take it back in the matter of seconds. Radical transformations are possible when people have awakening moments. At those times whole paradigms can change in an instant.
But it’s not so quick for the negative thoughts we share. Once spoken they can have immediate and profound affects on those around us. These negative thoughts that we continually share are a big part of the problem when it comes to collective change. Negativity is like a magnet that sucks into the brain of those around you.
It’s easy to prove. Stand there talking to someone and say, “What’s the world coming to?”
I can guarantee they will all agree and nod in a knowing way. It’s like we are all in on this huge secret about how awful everything is. Is this really the way we can move forward in building a cool new world?
I don’t think so!
Building a cool new world is a give and take, test and retest, try and measure sort of a thing. We are going to go in a million wrong directions in order to slowly steer ourselves towards a better way of living. So please, dear readers. Lighten up on the future and give it a chance to bloom.
Understanding climate reality is simply a matter of admitting that we already believe in science. We might not really understand it… but we do believe the results we get from science.
Think about this – flip a wall switch and light comes on. Tribal cultures from a couple hundred years ago would think it’s magic. We don’t even think about it at all. We flick the switch and the light comes on. If it doesn’t come on we know that maybe the lightbulb has blown out, or maybe there is a problem with the switch, or maybe we didn’t pay our electric bill. But we expect it to come on, and basically we know how it works.
That is believing in science.
The lightbulbs in our houses are the culmination of many scientific minds, over many many years, collaborating until they understood, and could finally build it. And yes, it’s also the culmination of centuries of social and cultural evolution until we had the systems in place for businesses to produce the wiring in your house, and the lightbulbs themselves, and hook it all up to that switch that you so mindlessly flick.
We all, also, believe in the permeability and evolution of culture. In simple words – we believe in science and we know that culture changes.
Get in your car and drive to the grocery store. It’s science and culture at play. For us it’s easy. A couple hundred years ago it would have been impossible.
Scientists have been telling us about Climate Change for years. And we are now all starting to feel it. Really we’ve believed it all along – we just didn’t see the advantages in acting on it. So time for some active imagination.
Imagine getting to the end of the month with some extra money in your pocket because you didn’t spend so much on transportation and housing. Such a happy thing is possible in the very near future if we have enough brilliant scientists at play and move our culture in that direction.
Imagine never having to worry about eating something and getting fat, because we’ve listened to science and learned how to produce and distribute really good food to everyone.
Imagine waking up in the morning with less stress because the world-wide community has simply gotten over the need for dictators and war.
I leave you with those happy mental pictures!
Last week I had a cold and I was feeling pretty crummy. Some evil entity had tied a thick rope around my chest and I hadn’t drawn a full breath for 3 days. My energy was so low I could barely drag myself to my car to drive downtown for necessary errands. Me! the person who usually walks with a bounce everywhere I go leaving my car to pout in the driveway. I had reached the point where I couldn’t remember what it felt like to feel good. I was beginning to believe that I was going to be miserable for the rest of my life. It was bad. Continue reading
Creativity cannot lead to enlightenment because nothing can lead us to where we already are, but creativity does have certain similarities to the experience of self realization, and that’s worth exploring.
As I’m writing this article I am enjoying my “Little Zen Calendar” quote for the day. It’s the Zen saying, “Zen is like looking for spectacles that are sitting on your nose.” Continue reading