Restoring our Relationship with Possibility and Awe

Several people have been encouraging me to explore Continuum given it’s similarities to my work. I’m discovering that Emilie Conrad, who founded Continuum in 1967, engages the same elements of breath, sound, movement, sensation, and pleasure. We also share a background of dancing with Katherine Dunham, feeling the incredible undulations and rhythms Dunham shared from Haitian prayers. I’m thrilled to discover the similarities and look forward to studying with her this Fall. I am also reminded once again of how consciousness moves through us collectively, even when we think we are discovering something new in our own body.

I’ve been reading and watching some of Emilie’s videos and my experience is already starting to shift. During a sex meditation it occurred to me that the “opening the chakras” vision I often play with was taking on a new dimension. I have been focusing a lot on breathing this week, including assisting the amazing Barbara Carrellas in a full day workshop on breath and energy orgasms. I’ve been feeling the movements of the breathing diaphragm and realize that when the chakra “opens” there is a felt sense of the breath moving more and more of the body in the area of the chakra. For example, the belly (power chakra) swelling with energy literally became heat and the diaphragm started moving in a bigger range of motion, the ribs were moving more, the inner organs gliding with these deep impulses. The nature of life moving through us started accessing my body in a deeper way and this naturally increased the orgasm.

These are different than the voluntary musculoskeletal movements but rather have the healing and reorganizing power of a deep cry, laughgasms, and perhaps the most commonly identified physical experience that connects us to life force itself… orgasm. Emilie is one of the few somatic educators I have seen who understands the profound role of pleasure and spirituality. She says, “Sensations of pleasure create an inviting climate for self-renewal.” I’ve also noticed with my daily practice and when my students create a daily practice with pleasure, that the “pain body” Eckart Tolle describes as “the accumulation of old emotion” cannot thrive. We develop a new point of reference, we are not our emotions, thoughts, or even our movements. We are the exploration and experience of life energy. We have infinite creativity as we surrender to this mystery.

Often after a performance people will come up to me and share, not about the movements they saw, but about my spirit. I was really moved at a recent performance when a woman ran up to me repeating “There is no limit on your spirit! There is no limit on your spirit!” It is such a blessing to be witnessed this deeply. Dance across time has been medicine for self renewal, embodying the spirit, preparing for birth, healing… not because of the physical range of motion but because it restores our relationship with possibility and awe.

Zahava Griss