During a 5Rhythms class this past weekend, guest teacher Daniella Peltekova ended our first Wave by playing the closing song from the movie Babel, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Bibo no Aozora,” a simple and sweet piano-and-strings melody that accompanies what is perhaps the film’s most powerful and achingly sad moments. In this final scene, the deaf Japanese teenager Chieko, her handicap a giant wall hindering her ability to connect emotionally and physically with others, is so desperate to experience human connection and touch that she invites a police officer over to her apartment and stands nude in front him. After he rejects her, she moves outside to the balcony of her high-rise apartment, standing naked against the railing—perhaps contemplating suicide—until her father finds her and embraces her clothes-less body.
Even if Daniella chose this song simply for its melody, I found the connection so appropriate for the practice of 5Rhythms, where every class is a metaphorical shedding of clothes until we are standing in Stillness, so exposed, so vulnerable, so naked.
I think back to the days I used to go clubbing every Friday, when I’d be surrounded by women in halter tops and mini-skirts, my body packed tightly against others’ breasts and bare arms. There was a lot of partial nudity going on there under that disco ball and dry ice machine, but bumping and grinding to Beyonce in a tube top and jeggings is nothing compared to throwing yourself head-first into a 5Rhythms Wave, putting it all out there on the dance floor: screams, cries, laughter—everything–good, bad, beautiful, ugly.
Even in the winter, when my standard 5Rhythms dance attire consists of a long skirt, leggings, a hoodie, toe socks, and perhaps even a scarf, I am more naked than I am when changing in the gym locker room.
When I say naked, I mean vulnerable, being radically open to any and all possibilities and realizations. Reaching for another’s arm. Allowing another’s arm to touch yours. Making eye contact with that stranger with the tears in his eyes. Unleashing the angels and demons inside of you during Chaos and then caressing this new (and sometimes scary) sense of self during Stillness, exploring this new you with precision and awe, like an archaeologist tracing a magnifying glass over the walls of an Egyptian king’s tomb.
Emotions crop up. Hearts expand. Curiosity grows. Mysteries unfold. The naked soul is exposed.