Over the course of the last several years, I have had many friends, women in particular, ask me to describe in greater detail what it is that I am doing and working with in my creative life. I’ve begun more and more to share some of the practices which help to generate the work. My desire has been to help facilitate an experience for others in relationship to the mystical journey of the self, in the land. Along side this experience is the use of ritual or ceremony as a gateway towards transforming the experience of life and attaching ourselves to the greater mythological stories that call to each of us.
Who are we truly, and what are we doing here?
What I have found, if anything valuable, I have found through the wisdom of my body. Before deepening into that truth and experience, these ideas remained just ideas, caught in the hurricane of my mind as seed thoughts and wishes that had no real reference in the physical world. The gateway to such experiences for me has been, in large part, somatic practice. These are practices of deep sensing and inner listening, tuning to the systems of the body and the cellular wisdom contained within each of us. I turned to these practices as a young dancer, and only out of physical suffering, which is usually the case with these things. I had to work with this physical pain, to move through it, to rewire, so that I might be able to continue to do what made me feel most free, most alive.
And so began my journey into the vast and exploratory realm of somatics: developmental movement, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, Body Mind Centering, Skinner Releasing technique, Laban Movement Analysis. Through years of study and practicing these different forms, I began to rewire my nervous system, creating healthier inner pathways so that I no longer was dancing in pain.
But these practices miraculously opened many more doors for me, doors that were intricately connected to so many of my interests and so much of what has mystically propelled my life. These practices became my greatest teacher and guide through the deeper terrain of my own self, and further into the world of magical thinking. These practices gently took me into the layers of experience held within the cellular memory of the body, the joy, the sorrow, the darkness and ignorance, and the beauty. All of it there, laid bare in the body for those who will experience it.
As I deepened into these movement practices of inner listening, other things began to happen. And I know that I am not alone in this. It has taken me years to begin to articulate these experiences well in language. Even now, I know I fumble and fall short. It is because these experiences are not language based, if anything, they are poetic experiences. Poetic experiences of the deeper strata of ones being, poetic experiences of the living mythology inside of the body, poetic experiences of the past, present, future, visionary and dream experiences of what has been and the possibilities of what could be.
These experiences became more and more profound. I began to feel the shape and colors of my life as visceral experiences held as energies within the body. I began to feel my movement patterning as reflections of these energies, and my own consciousness. I began to see imagery like waking dreams as stories washed through the terrain of my body. I began to feel the ancestral wounds that held me captive, determining the dance and the story of my life, and the spirit in me that wanted to be set free, as all beings want to be set free.
But each of us, each of us contains our own beautiful and unique stories written within the cells of the body, coded within our DNA. And if we listen quietly, truthfully, to the body in motion, then these stories, these mythologies, begin to unfurl and play themselves out in our own unique and tender ways. For some people, they come as sensations attached to color or feeling, for others they come as imagery and visionary revelations. For others they move through the vibration and current of inner sound, singing like songs of the self through the bones and organs and fluids of the physical form.
I began to see a relationship between these experiences and the awakening of the body on a cellular level as a greater re-awakening in our culture of an ancient body of knowledge, a body of knowledge which has always been with us, the gateway always here and now in the physical experience. It is the revelation that the body could be harnessed as an instrument of consciousness to access visionary states of being and deeper understandings.
This information is not new at all, but as ancient as our human race is ancient, and as true as our bodies are true. Shamanic cultures throughout time and history have used this wisdom to access these states and to enter into threshold spaces to bring back knowledge, truth, and healing, to the people.
These states are available to everyone.
These states of being in the body have basis in scientific research. I don’t feel that I need this research to justify the experiences that I have had. Science is only recently catching up to this body and consciousness research and to these practices, which in some way or form have been experienced since the dawn of human kind. But for some who want to understand what is happening in these practices on a physiological level, there is information that sheds basic light upon it relating to the brain waves and patterns of the mind.
There are four very basic brain wave frequencies that induce different states of consciousness. Our basic active and alert waking state is Beta. We prize this state in western culture above all others as the state that propels us forward. This is the state associated with active concentration, with anxiety and worry. The Alpha state is a state of relaxation and daydreaming, and is the doorway into meditative states of being. The Theta state is deeper still, and lies just at the threshold between waking and dream, a liminal trance space where the realities begin to overlap and merge. The Theta state is associated with deeper states of meditation, peak experiences, and expanded states of consciousness. The fourth basic state is the Delta brain wave state, associated with deep sleep. There are other states as well, but these we can consider common to all.
Alpha and Theta states are extremely powerful states to enter into. This is the terrain of creation, generation and regeneration, healing and meditation. Artists know these states well, as the state that you enter when in an uninterrupted and inspired field of creation. Healers know this state as a place of healing.
To enter into the Alpha or Theta state and remain present to the experiences of the body is what somatic practice can offer. These are states that I have been working within, unknowingly, for years. Truly, any movement practice done with great attention, relaxation, ease and breath support has the potential of accessing these powerful states. But somatic practices offer the unique experience of wandering through the inner landscape of the body and connecting to the layers of it on a cellular level through the body systems, patterning, and makeup. In this way there lies the potential to unearth ones own body wisdom and awaken cellular intelligence.
As we move into this liminal space, the space between waking and dream, the unconscious, subconscious, and perhaps even collective unconscious begin to bubble it's way to the surface of our experience emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually. And if we stay connected to the physical body through practices such as these that cultivate inner sensing and embodiment, then these experiences express themselves very uniquely, and magically, through the physical form.
These experiences express themselves poetically, as sensations, inner sounds, colors, waking dreams and visions. The stories locked within the body, non linear, spiraling, mythic, archetypal, begin to reveal themselves to us through practice. This is the magical, alchemical land of somatics, where mind, body and spirit have the opportunity to unify, where buried narratives are revealed, where through the practice of intuition information can be gathered, assimilated and used for greater purposes: for creation, healing and integration. And these stories, these mythologies, then have the opportunity to be re-written, re-cast, redefined. In this way we can begin to re-create the living mythologies of our lives, to activate our use of free will, and begin to work closer to the very blueprint of ourselves.
These are the practices that are so much of the foundation of the work that I have been exploring both creatively, and through teaching. The self and the cosmos remain a great mystery. But I believe each being to be a magical creature with untapped and enormous potential. May we all have the continued courage to listen to the song, and engage the dance.