How I regained my freedom through 5Rhythms®.
At the end of last week’s class, one of our new dancers asked, “so there are no rules, right?”, and I confirmed, there are no rules. Freeing ourselves up in this way can feel a bit strange, especially if you’re someone who is used to or likes structure and choreography. Allowing ourselves to explore movement with a sense of freedom is fundamental to the 5Rhythms® practice.
My Dad was in the navy, so I was brought up with a bit of discipline, but as a design student I relaxed many of his home rules! When I went to work in a structured business culture it was a shock and I felt I’d lost my freedom. After twenty years I’d learned to work with company policies and fit into the corporate mold, but I emerged a bit rigid and misshapen from the experience.
How I found freedom in 5Rhythms
5Rhythms® has given me many things but freedom, allowing me to be myself and learning the real meaning of self-discipline are top of my list. Freedom supports us in our practice.
Gabrielle Roth identified the 5Rhythms® which come together as a fluid Wave of energy.
It takes practice to become familiar, navigate and move these different patterns of movement, i.e. discipline. This has taught me more about me and how I move in my life than anything else I’ve ever done. I couldn’t have learned self-discipline with too many rules in place.
We have the freedom to show up as ourselves: we can turn up knowing we are not going to be judged, we do not have to pretend anything, and whatever mood we’re in is just fine… we can unwind, unfurl and let go of what’s being going on in our lives. There are no expectations, nothing to get right and nothing to get wrong…
Showing up as ourselves can be a big deal. I avoid using the word ‘authentic’ because I hear it being used as a label, sometimes suggesting inauthenticity. I’m not excusing any of us for showing up as less of the person we can truly be. But I know I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt stuck, cornered or constrained, and I haven’t been my best self. That awful uncomfortable feeling, when you want to do or say something and for whatever reason, you can’t. You don’t feel ‘safe’ enough to be vulnerable. In that moment I’ve had an ‘authentic’ reaction to the discomfort I was feeling. Without getting caught up in anyone’s story, I can empathise when I sense someone is in that situation.
Gabrielle understood if we’re going to get unstuck and move out of these inert situations we need a catalyst to get us moving, something which inspires us before we can inspire ourselves… this maybe our dance, practicing a skill, reading a book. We look externally to familiarise ourselves and imitate before we can become skilled and transition to doing it intuitively. This takes practice. Imitation is the vital stepping stone away from the old inert patterns we’ve grown up with towards new intuitive patterns. Intuition guides our sense of direction and freedom. As an embodiment practice, 5Rhythms®helps us try on and experiment with different patterns of movement, different ways of being. We can practice getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, find fluidity where we feel constraint.
I believe imitation is what Research Professor Amy Cuddy means when she says “Fake it until you become it”. She’s describing situations where people who had been feeling powerless had found confidence, calmness and presence by embodying more ‘powerful’ postures. And as I described last week, she believes power is about presence, and presence comes from our believing and trusting in ourselves in a real and honest way so we can meet life’s challenges. And this for me, is where our truest sense of freedom lives.