How’s your pleasure quotient lately? Can you feel how unrelenting stress has emptied our collective cups? So you’ll notice a recurrent theme rolling in my mat classes: “This is about pleasure…move toward it. Nothing we do here hurts. Feel enjoyment. Let this be juicy. Have fun with this. Attend to that dormant kid, the playful curious one. Follow the impulse, the whim, the instinct. The most intensity would be ‘hurts so good’. Be gentle with yourself. Move into breath and relaxation. Take pleasure.” You get the gist.
Pleasure deprivation is acute these days but this cushiony orientation to self-release has been emerging for years. Twenty years ago, fresh out of the clinical setting, I had students and patients using dense black rollers and spiky blue pokey balls. I let my own experience with uber-firm pressure for fascia release be my guide. Yet I was often showing people how to decrease the pressure so they could get started.
After awhile, I got it. I now offer three different density rollers and ditched Mr. Spiky a while ago. Except for the hard core who still totally “hurt good” love him. The double tennis balls are pressure-satisfactory for most. Especially when I modify using two sets at once and always begin with the most cushy techniques. I’m not sure why I was so slow to understand this basic fact: when something is pleasurable we move toward it and tend to repeat it. How many years of rut-building “it has to be hard if it’s going to work” does it take before we try something different? I know I am not alone.
Guess what? Now I’m softening even more. As of April 1, to fully participate in Friday Essentials, I’m recommending Smooth Balls in addition to roller and tennis balls. Releasing into a soft surface is a wait-for-it experience. Gentle, quietly pleasurable. Quite different than a firm surface. Release into density is a go-for-it adventure. We dive in and the pressure “hurts so good”. Firm or soft, we pause and breathe and await the satisfying sensation of release. One is not better than the other. I’m just inviting a bit more time on the soft side. Especially in the armpits, belly and hips. Come feel.
And what has inspired this slow unraveling? Perspective often reveals truth impossible to glimpse in the midst. How twenty years of dance has been slowly chipping away old stories, programming about struggle and fixing and working hard. Sometimes I hear Gabrielle’s voice so loud and clear: “You didn’t think this was about dance, did you?” The dance is so seductive and, for me, the first ten years of practice were totally about dance. Incredible dedicated hours, weeks, months exploring and working 5Rhythms. But the tables have turned.
During the last decade, I gave up working the rhythms and instead, the rhythms have been working me. They’ve become a subconscious lens through which I sense and feel and look and know. Softening is the most obvious permeating way the rhythms have worked me over. On so many levels. So it’s actually no surprise that my mat and table work have been softening, too. The serendipitous way 5Rhythms showed up in my life was perhaps part of the Big Plan. On a mission to wrench me out of a tough way of living and working and being. Pointing my compass toward easy and tender, pleasureful soft. Who knew? Just like Ms. G. said…maybe it was never really about dance.
This is an invitation to soften, take pleasure. Order a pair of those balls. You’ll know what to do with them. Come to class and feel. I’ll offer an intro class in a bit and add to the Video Intro Series . And we are LIVE back at Clara on the soft oak dance floor, four Wednesdays in April with the same theme: Taking Pleasure. Let’s fill our collective cups.
This from the lips of Anodea Judith, sussing out second chakra qualities in her groundbreaking book Eastern Body, Western Mind:
the body’s flexibility and aliveness.
The flow of pleasure and excitation through the nervous system
bathes the organism in sensation and awareness.
Movement has its own pleasure.”