One of the first times I can remember experiencing this feeling was back in ’87. That was the summer just before I headed to Paradise. There was a two-day Dead show at Laguna Seca raceway (located just a little east of Monterey, CA) that consisted of three sets. It was during the infamous “Sunrise Set” with the sun just peaking over the top of the stage, a light drizzle coming down and The Dead playing “Box of Rain”. At that moment, while dancing barefoot in the mud, I realized for the first time in my life that it is my responsibility and mine alone to make the most of every day this life affords me, no matter what the circumstances might be.
It wasn’t until many years later that I was led (some might say kicking and screaming) to a practice that would finally allow me to experience this feeling time and time again. It is sometimes referred to as Ecstatic Dance or Movement Meditation and although it comes in many flavors, the one I prefer is called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is a movement meditation practice devised by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s. It draws from indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt therapy, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology. Fundamental to the practice is the idea that everything is energy, and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms.
Roth described the practice as a soul journey and said that by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential. The practice of the five rhythms is said to put the body in motion in order to still the mind. The five rhythms (in order) are flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. The five rhythms, when danced in sequence, are known as a "Wave”. While the practice is transformative and can be therapeutic, Gabrielle Roth did not describe 5Rhythms as a form of dance therapy. However, many therapists have used the 5Rhythms to support their therapeutic practice.
I have tried many different forms of meditation in my life, but I always felt like I just couldn’t get there from here. I guess the movement factor is what seems to force me to get out of my head much more effectively than just closing my eyes and thinking about it.
Keep Dancin’ in the Rain, Dude!