First there was the cough… since September (coincidentally beginning shortly after my son decided he would rather live with his father) and the diagnosis of a chronic nasty lung that would follow me all of my days ( a result of my youthful, less conscious choices). Then there was me trying to “get in shape” via Kinect’s rather demanding “games” which resulted in a set of muscles and bones that spat and clawed at each other. Then there was the call to dance. Dance? I thought. I can’t even walk. And I can’t even laugh without coughing my guts out. But the call was waking something coiled inside, something that uncoiled and swayed and tickled at the inside, and said, please, Deepam, we can do it.

I had already signed up for a Sanctuary Sunday, and anyone who has read my blogs know, these Sanctuary days of writing and reading are precious to me. I weighed and I tipped and balanced and then I wrote Sue to see if there was a waiting list, my reasoning being if someone wanted in badly and there wasn’t space for them, then I would make space and go to the Endless Waves workshop with Lucia Horan in Toronto.

And so it was. And so I did. And, yes. It was the medicine I needed. Even as I limped in, my mouth buried in my elbow, I knew it was where I was supposed to be.

I had been taking some homeopathic medicine for a few days prior to this event, with some remarkable shifts in my health, but I was still unsure how shaking up my bones and breathing heavy all weekend was going to affect my delicate condition.

I needn’t have worried. There is magic afoot on the dance floor. First, I saw a couple of people I hadn’t seen in a couple of years or more, people I’d danced with at other workshops, so those greetings provided an easy entry back into this challenging, ecstatic and turbulent world. Still, once I’d slipped on my little black dancing slippers and stepped on to the dance floor, the social aspect of things fell away to the background. I fell into the beat and began to unwind. In the beginning, I was very solicitous of my hip, softening the moves when I felt a twinge, easing in with as much consciousness as I could. The body loved this; loved the music, the listening between us, and it unclenched, unwound and unfurled, slowly and surely.

And I didn’t cough. A little ahem here and there between staccato and chaos, maybe. But otherwise, the lungs were clear and free and breathed so deep and wide. No restriction.

Lucia is wonderful. When one is in the hands of a person who has lived their art, one can let go, be directed and guided, and find one’s own way without interference. That is the gift of the 5Rhythms. You can’t do it wrong. And in the dangerous waters of opening, exposing, revealing, the dancer is safe there. Because after you’ve ripped open your heart and felt it broken afresh, it is given back to you, whole and sweet and beating in time with all the other hearts.

From the Gabrielle Roth 5Rhythms teacher site:  “No series of coursework makes someone a teacher.
It is only after one has completed the Teacher Training that the process of becoming a teacher truly begins: on real-life dance floors with broken hearts, broken sound systems, challenging students and great plans that fail in the face of the group that happens to show up that night.

My relationship to the dancing tribe is much like the writing tribe I hang with, and much like the yoga tribe I sometimes manage to join. The space is created and held; prompts or suggestions for exploration are given, and the rest is up to me. And the gift is, if I tell the truth, if I don’t flinch, if I say yes instead of no, if I go “fearward” as Barbara Turner-Vesselago calls it, then I break through. In breaking through I find space and ease. So whether it’s a posture or a phrase or a rhythm, it is the allowing, the listening and the alertness which is in itself the reward.

And then there is the cool bit afterward… the muscles are sore, but good-sore, not painful… nothing that an Epsom salt bath won’t fix. The hips are moving like I am thirty-something. And the cough? All but gone.

Such gratitude in my heart for the medicine of dance, for the dancers who have the courage to show up, to those who bring these master dancers to places that make it easy, and to Gabrielle Roth, the cartographer of the body.