Earlier this evening, I attended an Inner Dance workshop facilitated by my newly-made friend Arianne.
I’d heard of Inner Dance before—mostly from friends in yoga circles who frequented the Palawan-based retreat community of Bahay Kalipay. I therefore reasoned that until I found myself visiting Palawan again, I wouldn’t have a chance to try this increasingly famous shamanic healing practice (for lack of a better description).
So when my friend Sarah introduced me to Arianne, who promptly told me that she was facilitating an Inner Dance workshop, I shrugged and thought to myself: “Why not?”
(This affable curiosity has allowed for a great many adventures, some of which continue to impact my life to this day.)
And that was why on the day of the “supermoon,” I found myself sequestered with a dozen other people in a modestly-sized room somewhere in the heart of the Loyola Heights district.* Some had already tried Inner Dance before; the majority were first-timers like me.
Arianne began the evening with a very short description of Inner Dance. I didn’t take notes, but what the practice sounded like to me was a movement-based meditation with an acute emphasis on letting go. (Inner Dancers may rightly object to this possibly over-simplified description; I beg the indulgence normally accorded to the novice.)**
When we finally began, it was with the following terse instructions: Allow your body to move of its own accord. Accept the validity of your own experience.
And then the music started and the lights went dim.
It’s hard to believe that the next two hours passed by extremely quickly. I was lucid the entire time, thankful for the privacy afforded by the lights being shut and my eyes being shut. The first thing I had to let go of was the notion (carried since I was a child) that I had no grace when it came to movement. (Strange how biting shame can be; how it can hold fast even in the absence of an audience.) I allowed myself a few tentative motions, my hands weaving uncertainly in the air, trying to find justification in the rhythm of the music, trying to replicate the movements of dancers seen before. As the minutes passed and one song gave way to another, I found that I had to orchestrate my motions less and less, that the music could bypass my mind altogether, that my body (surprisingly) possessed a wisdom of its own.
(The best moments were when I forgot myself entirely; but this didn’t happen very often and never happened for very long.)
When the session finally ended, I lay on the floor, neither spent nor relaxed, but just quietly grateful. For what exactly, I still can’t tell (and I told Arianne as much). But for those two hours I felt oddly…forgiven: absolved of the bodily failures of which I had accused myself my whole life long. And maybe, at the end of it, that’s all the healing any of us really needs: absolution, acceptance, forgiveness and grace.
So thank you Arianne and thank you Sarah. You are both the embodiment of the Sanskrit invocation lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
* A supermoon is the technical term for a new moon or full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the earth.
** For those of you wanting a technical description from the experts themselves, visit http://www.bahaykalipay.com.