I was so excited to see the sun today. After a mostly miserable/dreary morning and afternoon yesterday that had my husband and I in our pajamas until 3 p.m. trudging around the house like those depressed little wind-up dolls from the Pristiq commercial,

a 70-degree morning with sun blazing through the blinds and lighting up my beautiful carnations was enough to get me giddy.

I made an ambitious to-do list of everything that needs to be done before I leave for my parents’ house for Easter dinner, started sipping on my coffee, and felt the caffeine fly through my system. My body was buzzing with excitement over the weather–I wanted to frolic outside!–but I had other things to do first: throw in a load of laundry, wrap an Easter present for my mother-in-law, do my PT exercises…oh, and meditate. So there I was, attempting to do the most “still” thing ever, and it felt like I was tumbling around in a clothes dryer, my mile-a-minute brain thunking against everything thought it came in contact with. So although I was sitting there, hands on my lap, meditating…was I really doing it, or was I lost in some abyss of ungroundedness?

This mental frenzy reminded me of an analogy my 5Rhythms teacher used last week to explain the entire concept of 5Rhythms; specifically, a “Wave,” the term used to describe a linear completion of the five rhythms: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. The analogy, not surprisingly, was surfing.

My high school friend Wendy, now a Hawaii resident!

Surfing, my teacher explained, isn’t just “getting swept away” by the waves. Although it looks like the surfer is totally just going with the flow, allowing the ocean to do the work and the person just happily cruising along, there is a very strong connection between the person, the board, and the water. A surfer doesn’t just quickly pop up from kneeling to standing without some kind of intention, without some kind of relationship (kinetic, energetic, etc.) with the board and the swelling waters around her. When the surfer stands, she is grounded. There is connection with that board, a connection running from her eyes to her arms, to her torso, legs, feet, nerves, blood, muscles, and beyond. But to the naked eye, it’s just a big ol’ wave with a teeny tiny person going along for the ride.

Dancing the 5Rhythms is so very similar. If a newcomer stepped into a studio and found a group of people sweeping around the floor in Flowing, it would be so easy to assume that these people are caught up in some kind of mystical flow, moving around like directionless kites on a breezy day. And during Chaos? Clearly, everyone is out of their minds, possessed.

But just as I’m sure surfers would say their sport is mix of being grounded and letting go, so is dancing. Even during the most wild, sweaty, head-tossing, feet-flying Chaos, we are still in connection with something. Maybe it’s not the physical ground (especially if you’re leaping and jumping), but it’s spirit, Self, god, an intention, universal connection, so on and so forth. We are only able to let loose by staying close to something. In yoga terms, rising into an inversion or bakasana is like taking that brave step up on the surfboard, but even then during flight the yogi is connected to the ground, hands firmly pressed into the mat, core engaged, breath and mind in sync.

A very literal expression of this was done in my last 5Rhythms class. During the start of Chaos, the teacher gathered everyone in a circle, holding hands. The music was frenetic, deep drum beats, and we were instructed to let everything go, move the body, shake the feet and legs, toss the head–but to keep our hands connected. It was one of most powerful moments of Chaos I have ever experienced, even though I wasn’t flailing around the room, corner to corner, wall to wall. Here I was, confined to this space between the person on my left and the person on my right, my arms only able to move so much without snapping mine or my partners’ out of the sockets, but I was letting go, being swept away, dancing outside of my brain. The connection was what had made it so intense, being supported by those other dancers’ hands, being part of this circle in which everyone was holding on tight but simultaneously letting go.

I have a few more things on my to-do list to check off before I head out to dinner. I’m going to try my best to surf my way through them all!

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