No one ever craves Chaos, but during a recent 5Rhythms class I discovered just how necessary it is for transformation.
We were dancing in the tail-end of the second rhythm, Staccato. My body was being tantalized by the percussive sounds, which were gradually intensifying in beats per minute, the vibrations under my feet pushing me closer and closer to Chaos. Imagine a glass of water being nudged along a table-top by a heavy bass throbbing from a cranked-up subwoofer.
The glass reaches the edge of the table.
The pulsing stops.
The glass hovers.
It does not fall.
In my case, however, I needed Chaos. I needed that glass to slip. I needed the music to take control and bring that glass tumbling off the edge. I needed spilled water, broken glass.
What the teacher had chosen to do was play the subtlest of Chaos, a repetitive drum beat that lacked a crescendo, a percussive prelude to an anticipated explosive rip-roaring rumble.
But the rumble never happened, and after a few minutes the relaxed sounds of Lyrical came through the speakers. My body wanted to scream; instead, it was requested to be subdued.
I felt robbed. I felt lost. The music that usually makes my muscles melt and my face soften had the opposite effect on me, and I could feel my body slip into the shadow of Lyrical—Distraction. Instead of integration, I disintegrated, losing grasp of everything I had built up earlier in Flowing and Staccato.
Had this happened two years ago, I would have chalked up my disappointing experience to my Type A personality’s fondness of rules, regulations, and order. I would have thought, “Well, OK, the definition of a 5Rhythms Wave is to dance equally through Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness, and because the Chaos segment wasn’t really proportionate to the previous two rhythms, that is why it didn’t feel ‘right.'”
But now I know that isn’t the case. 5Rhythms isn’t a mathematical equation—it’s a practice that parallels so many facets of our lives. An honest, authentic, meaningful Lyrical is hard to find without first experiencing the Chaos that precedes it:
Double rainbows crisscrossing a gray sky after a violent summertime storm.
Lovers blissfully entwined in each other’s arms after the intensity of a chaotic climax.
A newborn baby in a mother’s arms after an excruciating, exhausting labor.
The outpouring of love, generosity, and humanity that surfaces after a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
It is easy to get caught up in our headspace and convince ourselves that a harmonious, Lyrical life can be achieved by avoiding Chaos. Maybe we can tiptoe around the edges. Stay in an amped-up Staccato until we are just miraculously pushed over or below Chaos straight into Lyrical.
And that is why this practice is so important, because the body does not lie. We can create story after story in our head about how things are supposed to feel, but when you put on music and let your body do the talking, the truth emerges. The body says, “This Lyrical doesn’t feel natural. I can’t fully take in the beauty of this moment because I am still clinging onto something I wasn’t able to let go of.”
The nature of Chaos—surrender—can be scary, no doubt. But what I learned in class that night was that the notion of living in an underdeveloped, partial, not-quite-authentic Lyrical may be even more frightening.