We are meant to be moving creatures, becoming one with the music of life that dances us. This week, an ecstatic dancer made her way to her next dance floor. Gabrielle Roth, creator of 5Rhythms, took wing and soared beyond this realm, leaving an amazing legacy among her family, friends, colleagues and students. An ‘urban shaman’, Gabrielle had made the world her home, although she was based in the metropolis of NYC.
I had the joy of two encounters with Gabrielle; one in 1995 and one in 1996. The first was when I had attended a weekend in the city that was sponsored by Omega Institute and New Age Journal. Gabrielle was one of the teachers and I eagerly anticipated being in the class and shaking it for all I was worth. On the day of the workshop, I awoke with a pulsating, throbbing, almost blinding headache. In retrospect, I now recognize that it was a reflection of the deep and intense emotional pain I was ignoring. The headache didn’t respond to medication, meditation or massage and I wondered how I would manage the drum beat/heart beat rhythms that I knew would be in the room. Not only did I make it through, dripping with sweat from head to toe, but absolutely headache free and euphoric by the time it was over. I had moved through the 5Rhythms, from ‘flowing’ to ‘staccato’, into ‘chaos’, past ‘lyrical’ and finally resting in ‘stillness’. Each had its own flavor and qualities. It went beyond words. Under her masterful guidance, I was able to safely traverse each paradigm without thinking my way through anything.I got out of my own way and was able to open and listen with the ears of the heart. I was able to simply BE, which was (and still is at times) a challenge for me.
A year later, I was thrilled to interview Gabrielle for my magazine called Visions. I will share some of that now. She spoke of how dance had healed her “a million times. Movement causes all healing, whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual. That’s because God is the dance. You can take refuge there. Just go inside your own energy and move with it. Know and trust that it’s true and real. The fastest way is to still your mind and move your body.” She described the 5Rhythms as “perspective; a way of looking at life, a map to the creative process. Birth to toddlerhood is a very flowing part of our lives, childhood is staccato, everything is in lines and boundaries, whether we’re writing or throwing a ball, we’re in a staccato period of life. Puberty is very chaotic. Maturity is very lyrical, we hope. The death cycle from 60 and beyond is very still.” She is in ultimate embodied stillness now.
As I was writing this entry and was on a facebook page honoring Gabrielle, I came across this article about the idea of Virtual Shiva (sitting shiva is something done in the Jewish religion for 3-7 days, depending on which branch of Judaism you practice. If you are Orthodox, it is a longer period). It is way of both mourning the death of and celebrating the life of a loved one in community. Certain prayers are said and rituals are done. The woman who posted this link, was expressing that even if we don’t personally know people via social media, we can still reach out.
When my parents died (dad in 2008 and mom in 2010), I felt embraced and supported by cyber family, some of whom I may never meet face to face. We are all so interwoven into each others’ lives~ http://www.amotherinisrael.com/social-media-facebook-shiva-mourning/
Her son and husband had indicated, prior to her death that her favorite mantra was Om Namah Shivaya which translates to: “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self. ” So by chanting this mantra, we are honoring the Divine within. And we honor Gabrielle and her eternal dance.
5Rhythms Gabrielle Roth http://youtu.be/qApDyOZKNbk