Bringing 5Rhythms movement into everyday life and making it an ANY day practice

This may sound crazy but I just did the 5Rhythms movement practice in a bathroom stall at a ferry terminal and created a shaft of freedom for myself.

Just 60 seconds of putting my body through these five patterns of movement, with intentional use of my breath, and I noticed a shift, an adjustment, a possibility for a new response. Really. My perspective changed.

Why? You ask.

An hour earlier I arrived at the ferry terminal in great time to catch the next sailing-plan. “Excellent, home early on a Sunday.” Unfortunately, not the plan to be had. The next two sailings have been cancelled due to high winds and there is a chance I have to spend the night in the car line up as the wind continues. A crisis? Certainly not. However, enough to get me very bitter, grumpy, impatient, angry and feeling quite stuck, emotionally and physically, in this negative state.

Not that there is anything wrong with feeling bitter, grumpy, impatient, and angry; it’s the reality of what my first response can be when I am presented with “this is not The Plan” and “frankly, I don’t like the New Plan”. However, it becomes a problem when I STAY stuck in this very bitter, grumpy, negative state and don’t let anything else move. It certainly prolongs my suffering, as well as anyone close to me, and, it really does suck to be in this (or any) kind of stale, fixed, and immovable pattern.

I have to confess, this is not the first time.

I’ve been a bathroom stall (empty boardroom, kitchen, stuck in traffic) mover before. Moved myself. Created inner space. Shook myself up when I could have stayed frozen in a pattern. There have been, and are, many opportunities (at work, with my family, with my extended family, when something unforeseen comes up and knocks me sideways) to put my practise into practice.

I don’t always make this decision and take the opportunity. But, right now, I make a choice to use this practice in a freedom fighting way; to get things moving in real life.

60 seconds of practice later I feel more at ease, loosened up, and, frankly, a bit daring and sassy doing something covert in my private stall in this busy bathroom. I did create freedom and used the 5Rhythms as an ANY day practice.

Well, tonight, I do get to go home. We are the second to last ferry to get across before they close the terminal. Today I made a choice, in my own small way, to get myself unstuck from a fixed pattern and use my 5Rhythms movement practice in everyday life.

5Rhythms can be an any day practice.

Who needs the 5Rhythms?

We can all benefit from the 5Rhythms practice. I really do believe this. Who wouldn’t be able to take great advantage from an activity that powerfully integrates the mind and the body?

We all could.

There are, however, some of us who could particularly benefit from this practice. Especially those of us who:

1. Have a tendency to do a lot of thinking and get confined in our heads. Think, think, think, plan, plan, rationalize, strategize…hello, body, where are you?

2. Have daily, weekly, and monthly life stressors that build up without a regular detox system to release them. The bombardment of external pressures (like jobs, kids, relationships and juggling it all) and the internal emotional forces (such as guilt, anger and frustration) store up in the body like a pressure cooker and keep us on edge and ready to erupt. Bottled up stuff in our bodies can really affect our health. We know this, but sometimes it still stays stuck.

3. Have routine ways and patterns of moving that don’t change much (like the ‘get up, go to work, sit at desk, come home, sit at a desk, move to the couch’ fixed way of moving through our day). We can get into movement ruts, even if we are active, where we don’t venture past our typical range of movement and do the same types of actions over and over again. Habitual patterns can really kill creativity.

4. Live in the past or in the future and are not living so much in the present here and now moment.

5. Are feeling stuck, scared, and trapped in a big life rut.

Are any of these scenarios you? They are common for so many of us.

We need this practice, the 5Rhythms. It gets us connecting to our bodies, releasing physical and emotional pressures, tapping into our imagination and creativity, living in the present moment, and creating a momentum that creates new possibilities and opportunities in our lives.

I’ve witnessed so many people: younger, older, male, female, different cultures and ethnicities, varying body shapes and sizes, physically and mentally able to those who feel physically and mentally challenged, come onto the dance floor, stay in their comfort zone or step right on out of it and leave shifted, altered and really benefiting from the experience.

It does take courage to try something new and to be willing to shake up the status quo. We can benefit from putting ourselves in a practice that moves us, changes us, and gets us unstuck.

This practice is powerful. It changes lives.

We all need the 5Rhythms.


What is the 5Rhythms?

Mmm, a good question. One asked of me frequently. And one that still, after 14 years, catches me at a bit of a pause every time. The pause of “How can I really convey the enormity of what this practice is, does and means to my, and your, possibility of freedom”. Really how can I convey this? Still stumps me.

I’ve called it dance, which doesn’t, for me, really convey IT. Yes it is dance, and, it is generally music you move to and moves you…but…it’s more.

I’ve labeled it movement; however, that too misses the full essence of what it is. At the end of a class or workshop you’re altered because you’ve been moving.  When you move, things are released, things that are in the way (emotionally, physically, spiritually). Still, the word movement, by itself, seems to fall a bit short of the ‘bigness of this practice’ mark.

Then there’s the moving meditation description, which is close but may not prepare people for the music aspect. I’m not sitting on a cushion observing my mind, I’m moving my body and in the process my mind gets, for lack of a better term, reconfigured. By the end of the session I’m here in the present moment, my head connected to my body versus my thoughts running my show.

It’s also healing and it’s exercise, did I mention that? Whew, so what do I say?

You’d think I would have my one-minute elevator speech dialed tight and ready to go…but no, not so much. I feel that I can do the practice, and those that ask me, so much more justice in the explanation of the 5Rhythms than I generally come up with.

What if I was at a party (or in a longer elevator ride) and someone says, after a few minutes of ‘what do you do’ small talk, “Ok, so, what is the 5Rhythms?

What I don’t ever say (and let me tell you, it would feel somewhat intense to dump out, with crazy monologue evangelistic conviction, all the things I’m really sitting on), and frankly, maybe I should say is:

“Truthfully? My life depends on it. It helps me stay on the fast path, no, really, it’s a freeway, to freedom. If the 5Rhythms weren’t in my life I know I would be sitting in a pit, or a sinkhole, or on a mental suffering-filled, messy-ugly boulevard waiting for the mind cops. Without the 5Rhythms I would be trapped in my mind: stuck, wedged, caught, jammed. Real good.”

“Do you want some freedom? Of course you do, why wouldn’t you? You can have it too. There’s so much more potential in all of us for letting go, for being real, and for being more and more brilliant as we are, in our own uniqueness. This practice is powerful, transformational, profound, yet so unassuming. Dude, come on, get yourself some of this medicine. What are you waiting for? Freedom is calling. Get moving with the 5Rhythms…get on the freedom train. Amen”

…Ahhh, that would freak people out.

Or, perhaps, it really would be so passionate, authentic (and slightly disarming) that they would say, “Sure I’d like me a side of some of that, how can I get some?” Maybe it’s not so bad to take a bigger risk in revealing what this practice really is to me…

The 5Rhythms: It is dance, movement, meditation, exercise, healing and a freeway to freedom. It’s for anyone. Try it. It works.

Why I do the 5Rhythms?

Why I do the 5Rhythms?

I do this practice because it works.
It has profoundly transformed me over the years. Really. It has. It’s like I’ve got these layers and layers of stifling bandages wrapped around my mind, heart and body and bit by bit the 5Rhythms unravels me.
It reveals me.
In the process I gain more and more confidence to show those parts that have been hidden. I get more emboldened. More willing to take a risk being just me.
As I am.
Which makes me want to do this practice more.

Underneath these constrictive strips is this fresh, unique, colourful, dynamic – me at my core – self.
I long to be seen.
And it also scares the complete shit out of me.
Then I want to hide: Because what if I showed you all of the inner stuff and it, I, wasn’t good enough? Then what?
So I play this back and forth game, I’m good enough, no I’m not, I’m good enough, no I’m not.
Yah. Whew. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
So, me doing the 5Rhythms means that I have less and less of these mental reindeer games.

I am way more comfortable showing you who I am, what I feel, what I think and stand for and what I really want to wear.
Seriously, what I want to wear has been a huge transformation for me over the years; directly correlated to me doing the 5Rhythms practice.
Before the 5Rhythms, I used to wear some crazy, baggy, non-revealing, black and dark blue shirts and pants, and short sleeved black ribbed knit turtlenecks and was scared to wear any make-up.
My first in-my-20s lipstick was called buff naked- namely because you couldn’t see it on the lips- and I would put it on and then immediately blot it out, because I was terrified of being judged for wearing make-up.
These were the things that were my self-limiting patterns at the time, the keep me in my tight box bound up in strips, patterns that certainly didn’t serve me at all.
You have yours. I have mine.
We all have the boxes that don’t fit and keep us caged, we each have our own cages that we chose, and chose us.
My main flavor has to do with you judging me as not being good enough, and, before 5Rhythms, a buff naked lipstick would lock my cage down and there would be no revealing.

Thank god I found 5Rhythms.

I walked onto my first 5Rhythms dance floor in August of 1999.
So scared. So limited. So NOT feeling special or unique.
Anxious that I would never break free of myself; of the prison I had created in my mind that kept me trapped and small.
When I left this class I was confused. I felt different.
I got a waft of the cool, fresh breeze from THE OTHER SIDE: The yard outside the prison, the free side.
This caught my caught my attention.
And kept me coming back. And back. And back.

5Rhythms has bolstered my courage. I take bigger risks, emotional and otherwise, to be seen, to show my uniqueness.
14 years later, I am freer than I’ve ever been in my life.
It has taken discipline to show up each and every time to this highly unpredictable 5Rhythms territory and keep moving.
I’m not looking back. I’m under the fence and running for freedom.

That’s why I do the 5Rhythms.