Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dancing Like No One's Watching

September 11, 2012 – Dancing like No One’s Watching

The time at Ängsbacka is best summed up as motion. Slow motion. Forward motion. A lazy timeless changing motion. The sun, the clouds, the stars moving across the sky, birds flitting from ground to tree to air, insects milling about everywhere, children running in play, grownups running for the joy of it, chickens ambling (it seems pointless to ask why), plants growing, air shifting and me dancing.

I feel free. There’s nowhere else to be, no other place than here, no other time than now. For a short time this works. I don’t touch my computer, I don’t cart my camera or notebook around, and I haven’t had cell phone service for a while. I’m in technological isolation and it’s pretty damn great.

As I walk around barefooted, I find myself thinking terms like “This is really grounding,” or “I can really feel the earth,” and “This earthing is magical” and I know I’m letting myself go into the new agey mentality. It’s more than that though; it’s like being a child again. Not worrying about a little dirt on my feet—or a lot. Not stressing about keeping up with things. Climbing a tree because I want to. Skipping. Wearing whatever combination of clothing I feel like wearing and knowing that at this place I’m still on the conservative side of hippy.

At meal times and between festival workshops, I touch base with Pontus and his son, Isak. We sit together on this roof thing and eat gourmet raw food prepared by the German chef Boris. He looks like a character in a Brothers Grimm story and I love him for that. A wild, little blonde girl, probably no more than four years old, her mother and grandmother eat near us. The little girl sings,
“Kundalini, Kundalini, Kundalini,” in a nice repetitive melody as she flits like an impatient bird from rooftop to grass to her food and then back around again.

“Some kids,” Pontus says to me in a soft voice, “sing children’s songs. Some kids sing kundalini mantras.”

I let out my laughter. “I was thinking the exact same thing,” I say.  

Later that afternoon Pontus, Isak and I go for a swim in the nearby lake. “It’s my other office,” Pontus says. If I had to have an office, I’d take one just like that. We eat blueberries off the bushes as we walk through the forest. We play Frisbee, fútbol, and catch. At one point all three at once. Then we go back to the Ängsbacka grounds and to the start of the festival.

The days blend together into a continuous and perfect stream of color that looks like the Swedish sky; blue and white and huge. The Festival has a good variety of workshops to choose from; food prep classes for gourmet raw dishes, talks about raw food lifestyles, wild food walks, permaculture introduction tours, musical healing sessions, and dance. I’m in the mood for motion. So as often as possible I choose those sessions to attend.

One of the session leaders, Felix, one of the most graceful human beings I’ve ever seen, leads us through a slowemotion dance.

“Imagine,” he says. “You are a tree.”

I imagine it. I feel my legs thicker than they even are in real life. I feel my weight stretching through the floor, looking for a place to set my roots. But we don’t stay as trees. “Imagine now,” he says. “That you are a bird. Going up into flight as a bird, coming down to the earth as a tree.” My arms wave upwards, I’m light as a feather. I almost believe I could really fly. When I am a tree I feel the air between my branches, I feel the wind brushing my hair. With my eyes closed I feel graceful. I feel as beautiful as Felix makes his motions to be.

During this hour of dance I am perfect. Although the room is full of other dancers, there is no one judging me. It’s as if nothing I do could ever be wrong. I’m paradoxically exhausted and exhilarated at the end. It’s one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done; a mixture of yoga, dance, and tai chi. My muscles ache against the strain and yearn for more. I don’t want to do anything else. I can’t sit in a lecture after that. I don’t even feel up to listening to the musical healing concert. So I go for a walk in the forest with a new friend from Norway. His name is TJ. We’d met during lunch or breakfast when I’d wandered around looking for someone to sit with while Pontus was off working and Isak was off with his friend Mio.

TJ and I talk about life, raw food, love, friendship, family, the past, beauty, choice, soccer, martial arts, and dreams. I blab for a little bit about my time at the Vipassana ten day retreat. I’m suddenly thinking again about equanimity and balance and the two extremes of aversion and craving. About avoiding misery. We talk about the idea of enlightenment. We talk about spirituality and existence. We pick some blueberries and swat away mosquitoes. Rain begins to drizzle down and we make it back to the café before the deluge comes. TJ buys us some tea and a raw dessert. We talk for a little longer than bid each other goodnight.

Another day just like all these days, completely new, completely familiar, I attend the Five Rhythms Dance taught by lady named Prakteesha. Again, in the dancing, in the motion, in the moving, I feel just like a child, without inhibitions, without judgments, only with joy and the permission to move however I’d like. 

One afternoon I go on the wild food walk with our guide Ola. I eat weeds, flowers, plants, berries as we walk across the grounds. I learn about medicinal leaves and stalks and stems. I learn which plants work well for salves, teas, or as a mosquito repellent. I wish my memory were better than it is.

At another meal I sit with two ladies and a man. The ladies are volunteers. I never figure out who the man is. But they’re kind enough to switch from Swedish to English so I can join the conversation.

“What do you think about all this raw food stuff?” one of the ladies asks.

We all give a brief summary of our opinions or experiences. Then we segue from raw food to other types of life styles. The same lady goes on, “One of my teachers studied under a breathatarian.”
I’ve read about this form of diet before. I’d long ago decided not to try it.

“What’s a breathatarian?” the man asks.

“It’s a person who’s learned to live off breath. Off prana.”

Prana, in ayurvedic tradition, is life force energy. I’m all for life force energy, but I like food too.

“This person my teacher studied under lived without food or water,” the lady continues.

I’m thinking skeleton. I’m suddenly feeling like a skeptic. I don’t say a word.

“My teacher lived for a while just with a little water and an occasional piece of chocolate just to have some taste. But she said they received all the nourishment their body needed from their life force energy.”

“That makes sense,” the other lady says. The man nods as if to agree.

I sit still with my mouth shut. It does not make any kind of good sense to me. Except for the chocolate part.

Somehow we get from prana to coconuts. The lady sings some old Swedish coconut song. Translates part of it for me, discusses the words with the others. It’s a song about trying to crack the coconut and how hard that is.
“Sometimes that’s just how I feel,” she says. There’s a pause in conversation. Then she says, “We’re all coconuts in a way.”

And that statement, I think, does make sense.

That’s just the kind of place I’m in.
I dance with my thoughts and am glad there is a DJ concert tonight where I can dance again for real. Dance for myself. Dance because it makes me happy.

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