Helping, fixing serving…

A few weeks ago a woman, started a discussion just leaving class one before last… well, it wasn’t a discussion actually, out came a river of frustration, indignation and hurt, for which she held me and my 5Rhythms colleagues responsible… I was browbeaten and stunned that this happened just after having shared such a wonderful, wonder full, empowering dance… I felt overwhelmed, intimidated and had no answer… not for her and not for me…

The days after I kept on chewing on what had happened… I tried to untangle the turmoil of those minutes, to break them down into bits and pieces to find some clarity… I did some reading; found some quotes, but not the words that I really would have liked to share with her.

And just this morning I found them. Thank you Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. Most of the time I am grateful for those artists who know how to express the world in music, now I am grateful for this woman, who knows how to say in words what I was looking for…

“Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.

Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

When we help, we become aware of our own strength. But when we serve, we don’t serve with our strength; we serve with ourselves, and we draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve; our wounds serve; even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy. Serving makes us aware of our wholeness and its power. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me.

Service is a relationship between equals: our service strengthens us as well as others. Fixing and helping are draining, and over time we may burn out, but service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will renew us. In helping we may find a sense of satisfaction; in serving we find a sense of gratitude. What is most professional is not always what best serves and strengthens the wholeness in others. Fixing and helping create a distance between people, an experience of difference.

We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. Fixing and helping are strategies to repair life. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy. Serving requires us to know that our humanity is more powerful than our expertise.

In forty-five years of chronic illness I have been helped by a great number of people, and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals. Service is not an experience of strength or expertise; service is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe. Helpers and fixers feel causal.

Servers may experience from time to time a sense of being used by larger unknown forces.
Those who serve have traded a sense of mastery for an experience of mystery, and in doing so have transformed their work and their lives into practice.

~Rachel Naomi Remen, MD~

Ridiculously Old, Surprisingly New…

We just ended the 7th edition of our three days end of the year workshop, in which we danced this time with the theme Ridiculously Old & Surprisingly New, in and around us.

The starting point was a picture of a surprisingly new version of the well-known Chinese Yin Yang symbol.  During the preparations of the workshop I got already surprisingly new insights; that 3000 year old Yin Yang symbol, of which I knew nothing more than being about the balance between masculine and feminine qualities appeared to be a calender and a compass as well…

By observing the sky, recording the views of the Great Bear and looking at the sun’s shadow from an 8-foot pole (Chinese measurement), ancient China determined the four directions. The direction of the sunrise is the East, the direction of sunset is the West, the direction of the shortest shadow is the South and the direction of the longest shadow is the North. At night, the direction of the Polaris star is the North.

The Chinese also noted the seasonal changes. When the Great Bear points to the east it is spring, when the Great Bear points to the south it is summer, when the Great Bear points to the West it is autumn, when the Great Bear points to the North it is winter.

From the pole the length of shadows were noted daily. The shortest shade was found on the day of the summer solstice. The longest shadow was found on the day of the winter solstice. After connecting all lines and darkening the Yin section from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice, the sun graph looks like this.

Yin starts (is born) with the Summer Solstice and Yang starts (is born) with the Winter Solstice. That is why a circle Yin is indicated at the Summer Solstice position. Another small Yang circle is indicated at the winter solstice position. 

So far all this amazing stuff for the thinking mind…

We danced with 32 dancers…

We danced our animal and we danced our spirit, we danced our masculine and our feminine, we danced our black and our white, our shadow and our light; we danced our control into surrender, our masks into truth, our shady grey into full colour, our duality into oneness,  our separation into love…

While dancing all this, we also let go of the old year and welcomed the new year to come… shedding off our ridiculously old and diving into something surprisingly new…

Yesterday, two days after the workshop, on the very first day of the new year I received a written experience from one of our dancers. Her words say it all…

“I realize that during our last dance I had a serious struggle with something inside of me… I was suddenly overwhelmed by grief. I cried for a moment and then I made the decision that I didn’t want these emotions to stop me from dancing. So I breathed and I danced and I went through it. The dance became more and more energetic and wilder and wilder. I felt in a kind of trance… still I could see the others and make contact with them, while also remaining in my own strength…

I experienced a kind of primal power… My body danced her dance unhindered… No matter what…

Words like ‘breaking open’ and ‘free’ come to mind now…

Thank you. You let me experience something that I did not know before and can’t equal anything…

I received a kind of blueprint in my heart from every person…
Naturally we all became cells that joined
Where everything was allowed
Exactly as it was
My opinions, judging, feelings about things faded and faded…
Until the last dance they continued to tease me a bit somehow, until finally I got tired of them … ha ha ha…

And then …
I had the clear desire to use every millimeter of the last dance, to stretch myself into using every possible opportunity…
And I did

I did it
I nailed it

And now I cry a lot … ha ha ha ha

So proud of us

I haven’t seen your appearance very well; I haven’t met you very close either. I have not been concerned with thatI have felt you constantly

Everything was created from energy… Whaaaauw

Love it…

It’s beyond words how this feels…”

~Hetty van der Vorst~

Out of my comfort zone, into life…

Just arrived home from a ten days 5Rhythms workshop with Mirjam van Hasselt, Dancing journey in the Desert; for me it was a first acquaintance with the Morroccan Sahara… not fully back on my feet yet…

The Rhythms brought me to an extraordinary place this time, totally out of my comfort zone… a place I was afraid of and now, that I have been there I am in awe…

We were guided by Morrocan men, Berbers, they kept us safe and sound and nourished… ‘Tea in the Sahara with you’ has a totally different meaning now… full of sacral respect, gratitude for giving and receiving…

We searched for deadwood, built fires to bake our bread in the ashes, such a richness in an environment of scarcity…

We walked sand dunes, riverbeds and endless plains, were carried by so many different types of soil; into the rhythm of walking, grounding, just putting one foot in front of the other.

One time we danced our earth dances on wavering white dunes, another dance was on magnificent, majestically flowing red dunes, always under an all embracing dome of cerulean sky – 360 degrees of cerulean is truly magical-.

At the end of the day we watched this beautiful blue colour change into all reds and violets one can think of, a colour palette from nature, mixing into an overall deep dark translucent ink blue, dotted with shining planets and sparkling stars… another sublime experience…

Almost at the end of our journey, we found water… a well… what a joy to splash around, to wash and shower… the touch of water… the abundance of a well…

Under the firmament of stars, sleeping outside, next to the camels of our caravan, I could feel my heart jumping from joy; my soul opening wide to receive the deep intense sensation of love and profound connection… here in the Sahara my total being understood about contrasts… the hidden harmony… bringing all together… essence…oneness…

A grandiose, humbling, purifying experience… out of my comfortzone, into life!

 

 

The woman I never met…

Last week it was already seven years ago that Gabrielle Roth passed away…

The woman I never met is still with me every day…

Reading her book Maps to Ecstacy was my very first acquaintance with 5Rhythms, which was a life changing experience; her words a revelation, a coming home, her vision an appeal and a challenge…

Reading that book and taking in her words were my first steps to becoming aware of the necessity to smoke the peace pipe with my past, to retrieve my authenticity and to bring into the world what I have to bring.

From the moment I started dancing I tried to meet her; I applied for several workshops where she was supposed to teach. I never succeeded. I missed her four times. The last time was with Slow Dancing in Chaos in New York, her ‘retirement workshop’. We danced intense and slow in utter chaos; she was dying while we danced. That workshop felt the closest I could ever be to her.

Quite unexpectly she came even closer; at the end of the teacher training at SLC two years later, the first training Jonathan led in stead of his mum, we went up into the mountains… Snowbird … on top of these mountains, surrounded by all brandnew teachers, Jonathan scattered Gabrielle’s ashes; at that very moment she turned the wind 180 degrees and showered us. The woman I never met showered us with her ashes…

The woman I never met… I meet her every day…

She backs me up every day;  in my dance, in my work, in my everyday life… Her simple map of five rhythms -flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness-  really grabbed me, totally, fully, utterly, completely… so deep, so vast the landscape of each rhythm, billions of miles of unexplored wilderness, ocean deep energies moving in waves… so much to explore and to discover…  to learn and to unfold, to trust and to follow… her words, her vision, her power and her energy back me up…

Gabrielle passed away and never left… the woman I never met…

Art made of me…

After loads of hours spent behind my computer, I just finished my series of fliers in which I announce the dance workshops I will offer between now and next summer holidays. Dance… I never thought the core of my life would consist of offering dance…

Art has always been close to me, I created since I could walk and talk, I made all kinds of art from drawings, paintings and soft sculptures to sculpting clay and stone, building video installations and creating haptic spaces… all kinds of art that I had to bring into the world, they all had to be shown, to be sold; I worked really hard to get all those objects, all those manifestations of me into the world… it was a quest to get recognition… it never brought me any satisfaction…

And now there is dance… another discipline… at this moment I enjoy sitting with my face in the sun after a hefty autumnal downpour, like a lazy cat I savour light and warmth… I ponder about how dance became my way of living, my form of art to express and communicate, to convey and to share… a form of art that cannot be saved, cannot be touched… though dance touches…

A floor is my home base now, a playground, a safe place where I can move who I am and turn all my suffering into art… my dance disappears at almost the same moment as it comes to being… art I cannot keep, cannot hold and show, cannot stick to… I move, breathe and let go, move, breathe, let go… my dance is a precious expression of the present, of who I am right in that moment, of how I feel just in that second, already moving and changing into a next…

I sculpt time, from moment to moment going with the flow I sculpt space, I create art in a form that is constantly in a state of dissolving. I find it strangely beautiful to be creating art that is made of me – made of my breath, blood and bones, coming from my heart, mind and soul… from all parts of my body…

I love dance… I trust dance… dance is my safe haven.

 

It takes courage…

I am still under the spell of England where we visited such beautiful and romantic places… places I know from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Brown and The Crown… places I know from my daughter’s thesis about the chantries of Winchester cathedral… places I saw on iconic pictures before and now I had the privilege of experiencing them live…

I deeply enjoyed roaming the white cliffs,  sensing Jane Austen’ s feet strolling through the fields around Chawton and sleeping next to Stonehenge… it was an experience beyond words…

Sounds lyrical, doesn’t it? The thing is… there’s 5 rhythms and inevitably me and my own mr. Darcy danced them ALL, in all flavours, in all colours of the rainbow, from bright to dark, from full shadow back into the light…

We were not the dream couple… we quarelled, we struggled, we worked hard these last four weeks…

We lived the difference between strength and courage… and finally found each other again… We are more intimate than ever… that’s worth everything…

This poem from an unknown author tells a bit about our journey and our all rhythms explorations…

It takes strength to be firm, it takes courage to be gentle. 

It takes strength to conquer, it takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain, it takes courage to have doubt. 

It takes strength to fit in, it takes courage to stand out. 

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain, it takes courage to feel your own pain. 

It takes strength to endure abuse, it takes courage to stop it. 

It takes strength to stand alone, it takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love, it takes courage to be loved. 

It takes strength to survive, it takes courage to live.

 

Yes, for sure, it takes courage to live! Thank God, we can dance this ALL!

 

Feet first: Feet on earth know, feet up in the air know too!

Wow, one moment I am down and out and the next I am in the midst of new adventures… I was in New York last month to join, support and cheer the new trainees on their way to become 5Rhythms teachers. So, I was back at the Garrison Institute, a former monastery, now an inspiring spiritual centre, beautifully situated on the banks of the Hudson. Being there again brought up sweet memories of my own teacher training some years ago…

The module of this recent teacher training was about embodiment. Focus on the body; we practised our rhythms, we moved and danced for hours and hours, day after day; bodyparts, bodyparts, bodyparts… emphasis on feet, where it all starts… feet first… feet on earth know…

All our body wisdom comes from feet… I began the training with stiff ankles and rusty calfs, rigid feet, strained muscles… but after some days of feet first, letting the dance start from feet, some miles of walking meditation and barefoot walks outside, I developed new connections with my feet… the quality of my foot tissue changed, my feet softened and opened… I experienced more space, more mobility, more sensations, vibrations, more information coming through; I started listening with my feet, breathing through my feet, following my feet, trusting my feet; amazing what my feet did tell me, how lively they became … I didn’t know my feet had all of that in them… my feet felt released and reborn…

At some point during this teacher training Erik Iversen, member of the teaching staff, stated that our feet generally are bored, because of spending so much time in shoes… and yes… I must admit… that was exactly what occurred to me after some days…. sorry dear feet, for neglecting you for such a long time…

Now that I am attuned to these stunning vivid connections in all 52 bones of my feet,
their 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons, I am in awe of the complex movements my feet are able to make, so that I can walk, go everywhere, take in information from earth, nourish my whole body with sensitivity and mobility… feet on earth know… feet up in the air know too…

A next step for me is to orient on buying barefoot shoes… another adventure…

We dance… that’s life!

While preparing for my trip to New York, where I go dancing to refresh and to cheer others on their path to become a 5Rhythms teacher, I had some reflections on how life treats us and how we treat life…

These meditations brought me to Charlie Chaplin’s speech at his 70th birthday on April 16th, 1959. I like it, because it tells us something about how we develop growing older, it tells us something about the practice of life…

To me what he says resonates deeply with what I experience from practising the 5Rhythms, all the threads that we dance, all the threads that we move, all the threads that we weave; weaving wave after wave, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, a life-time… All the threads that we weave into our endlessly creative, own designed, unique fabric; retrieving our amazing body, our dear heart, our beautiful mind, and authentic soul… our pure essence…

I would like to share his words with you… as an inspiration for our dance, for beginners and oldies, for teachers and teachers to be…

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know this is AUTHENTICITY

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.
Today I call it RESPECT

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today, I call it MATURITY

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today, I call it SIMPLICITY

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health-food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right and ever since I was wrong less of the time.Today I discovered that is MODESTY

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know THAT IS LIFE”

 

Soulfood!!!

There’s people who wake up on Monday morning, who have a coffee for breakfast and go for another day at the office, come home around six, do some sports in the evening, watch some telly, and go to bed a bit later than planned. The Monday an exact copy of the rest of the week… a routine…

That was one of my thoughts this Monday morning, when I woke up at 9am, in a tired but vibrating, tickling, bubbly body, pulsing all over the place, like butterflies fluttering from flower to flower…

While looking back at last weekend’s SOULFOOD 5Rhythms heartbeat workshop, I followed the deeply nourishing energy travelling through my heart and lungs, muscles, bones and veins; from top to bottom receiving richness from being alive…

These are my true colours for now: Tickling, bubbling, vibrating beneficial tiredness… down and out on the sofa this Monday morning, down and out… and… fully enjoying this benefaction… ruminating … marvelling the Soulfood we received from movement and dance and sharings…

I am in awe for the amazing dancers, more and more trusting their movements; digging deep and flying high, opening up, not holding back, courageously exploring empty space in all its possibilities, shapeshifting effortlessly in all the colours of the rainbow… Soulfood… that is exactly what it was and is…

I am utterly grateful for these dancers, for their generosity and their trust in the 5Rhythms…

Yes, these rhythms do work miracles…

I know, sometimes I feel like it would be easier for me to just have another day at the office, I also feel that nothing of that would align with my true colours…

With ALL that it takes to offer these workshops, today… I sense in every cell of my body that it is worthwhile…

Teaching is an honour and a blessing… today is a day of sheer bliss…


When your fire starts to burn out …

A month ago I wrote a blog about me dancing on the edge of a burn-out again; sharing that place which is so familiar to me… a place I have to pay attention to and take care of… also ten years later… still an on going dance…

I put this blog online on my website, posted it on facebook and put the first part in my newsletter with an optional link to read the rest of it…

I never before got so many responses to a blog… likes, sympathy, support, stories of recognition, people giving me advise, others saying I was brave to share this personal experience so openly, while being a teacher and last but not least more than ever before people unsubscribed from my newsletter…

Okay, this was not just a blog… this one really talked to people…

What happened to me ten years ago was that I saw a documentary on television about burn-out which annoyed me and made me feel rather sceptical: really… is that a burn-out? I know all these symptoms, I have them all, and I am still working… is this what they call a burnout? These people really are overreacting… To put in short: I was in my phase of denial…

Later I went to the GP because of an increasing amount of physical complaints… I started my list of 25 and after five minutes my GP stopped me from talking and said to me she was ready with her diagnose: total burn-out… I had to pull the plug immediately, let go of all my activities… I was totally surprised and disbelieving… it was just two weeks before my summer holidays…

I went home and called my boss – I was a coordinator, running a European exchange network at a medical university – and told him about the GP’s diagnose and that the next two weeks I would round off my work and then take a long holiday, starting with three weeks and maybe prolong them with another three… My boss was very determined and made it crystal clear to me: “Pulling the plug, is pulling the plug… I don’t want to see you at work, pulling the plug means NOW.”

I can’t say that it dawned upon me then… that only happened in the week that followed, doing nothing… my heartbeat went up to almost 200 per minute, I got really ill and scared and panicked and the only thing that seemed to keep me together turned out to be laying myself down and sleep…

I alternated panic and sleep for more than three months, three horrible months, a hard lesson that is in all my cells and that I will never forget. Sleeping, being up, going into panic again and back to sleep… After three months there was a moment I sensed in my body I really went all the way to the bottom… I was on the bottom now… I wouldn’t fall any deeper… time would come to get back on my feet again…

It was in that very moment that I sensed moving would be healing and sports were out of the question, so I started dancing the 5Rhythms. Actually, they danced me while I was lying on the floor… after three classes I knew I wanted to become a teacher and that I would quit my job at university… a crazy insight considering the situation I was in, but I never gave it any doubt. It took me three years to get back on my feet, three years of baby steps… reinventing me… discovering another world… my world… my needs and my wishes… my desires, my dreams, my qualities…

This blog is to cheer all the burnouters out there. You know you are not alone, hope you can feel it too… Take your time to rest, then turn your suffering into art, step by step transform this disaster into a huge chance… the chance to reinvent yourself, to live your life like you!