Sometimes you just need to get away.
Last April my friend Danielle and I drove to Moab, Utah, for the last two days of Shiva Rea’s desert retreat. We talked the whole way down, effortlessly, as we meandered down the highways of Utah, stopping to take pictures along the way–of deer antler heaven, decrepit houses and barns, yoga altars, and gorgeous majestic red rock formations–all the way unwinding.
We didn’t know that Saturday night’s class was trance dance. When we found out, we weren’t thrilled. But sometimes isn’t that the way we respond to something unexpected, holding on to expectations of something we know or understand? Even better when what unfolds transforms you.
We started meditating and chanting to the sunset. The clouds parted just as the sun was setting, so Shiva had us turn to face west, and we watched the sun descend through the arched windows (The Moab arts and recreation center used to be a church, so it was a beautiful setting).
Staring at the sun made it challenging to see the text we were chanting. The page glowed. But after several repetitions, it started to make sense:
Om Agniye Swaha
agniye idam na mama
prajapataye idam na mama
It was a metaphorical fire-keeping, staying connected to our core truth and tending to our inner light.
And then we danced. So hard that I got this lovely blood blister on my big toe.
“In our bodies, our heart is the seat of our inner sun-fire circulating the sun’s energy through nutrients on our bloodstream as well as a vibrational information from the pulse of the heart to every cell in our bodies,” she writes. The Agni Hotra mantra got us ready for the trance dance, which shakes and moves everything. We started with slow yoga-like movements, then rolled around on the floor, moving spontaneously to music. We gradually got the heart rate up, dancing to our inner rhythm, eventually jumping, slapping the floor, laughing, and totally boogying. Shaking out the crud, liberating ourselves from sadness and fear and shame. Not caring how hippie we might look, or what anyone else thinks. We danced until the dance danced us.
Once, at a global mala project event in LA, Gurmukh led us in a 20-minute simple kriya–we shook every part of our bodies. We jumped, shook out our hands, wrists, arms, feet, legs, bellies, chest, and heads … It literally felt like we were retuning our bodies to a higher frequency by shaking out all the negativity. Trance dance reminds me of that kriya. The result was shaking free of depression and negativity. What a gorgeous way to fire up the weekend.