Be Still and Know: Embodied and Contemplative Dance
“At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point,
There the dance is,
but neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (1943)
During this week, viewed by many the world over as a holy week, give yourself the gift of being still and knowing, sitting quietly if only for a few moments each day. I recommend doing this at the beginning of your day, and encourage you to really think of serving yourself a generous portion of meditation as part of your breakfast where you break the fast and open the gateway to receive the nourishment you of the day. You will find that on the days that you make the time to sit quietly you will be providing much needed nourishment to your nervous system, your metabolism, as well your gut-brain axis…These are just a few of the benefits you can receive by being still with self at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day, if you are able to give yourself a ‘happy hour’ that includes a nourishing meal, a few minutes of sitting in quiet, noticing and deeply listening within and without, you may find the day’s tensions melt away and your awareness and breath transforms you into a being that is able to let go, and allow the brain to turn towards the work of preparing for sleep, recharging and dream time. When you wake up the next morning, what do you remember, what do you notice, how might you want to dance? I encourage you to really anchor in the benefits of this practice this week, keep a note pad or a journal at bedside and write what comes.
The two dancers sit, appearing human but embodied in their human form, hovering between the worlds, completely still, on a slight diagonal, angled toward each other. An entire stanza of music is sung before any movement occurs. The dance is simple, sparse, ideally the feet of the dancers do not move until the third movement or third stanza of the song. The power of the dance is rooted in the grounding of the feet, the depth and intention of the breath, the simple reaches and rises and falls, all done in call and response. At one moment there is the impulse for the dancers to face each other and when they do, there is that spark of divine connection as surely we are gazing into the eyes of the Beloved and there is no other, only the true self and love. Yes, be still and know. The patterned call and response hand movements, who leads, who follows? The turning outward on the final stanza and inviting in the viewer, inviting what may have seemed on the outside to come in, where all become one and their truly is no other. And finally, at the end, the embrace, the hug, the dancers settle more fully into their human form, renewed in spirit, born again, if you will in that moment, stepping back into the earthly world hand in hand to walk amongst us once again.
“I am life, and life is the only truth. Every animal, every flower, every rock is life, because everything is full of life. All of us are only one living being, and we come from the same place.“
If you would like to share any of your journey email me at email@example.com or leave your comments at drcarolpenn.com