What if movement is the language of the Universe?
Since I first read The Universe is a Green Dragon some 15 years ago, I have been fascinated with concepts such as allurement and the creation of community, becoming love in human form, becoming beauty to ignite the beauty of others, and exploration through adventurous play. At that time I had been meditating for many years, and had begun to venture into movement meditation through Continuum, where I was also first introduced to the works of Sri Aurobindo and Mother. I had experienced the sun and stars within my own body, felt the ocean swirl through my pelvic bones, and so I felt mysteriously aligned with the truths in the book.
Thomas says “we need to re-invent ourselves as the mind and heart of the planet” (p. 118), and that to do that we must “live in an awareness that the powers that created the Earth reflect on themselves through us”. (p. 119) My heart said yes to this, and I have spent the ensuing years exploring how to be that intermediary between earth and sky. I believe our own bodies are the portals to our interconnection with all life. Not the body as an object to be exercised or manipulated, but the experience of the body as undulating movement, myriad rhythms, the continual becoming of the Universe through us.
When I experience my body as a living process, I awake to the wonder and mystery of the Universe as it moves in my cells and tissues. I feel the intelligence and beauty that is the wisdom within every cell. At this level the boundaries of skin and forms disappear, and it feels as if minute particles of divine substance dance through everything. At another level I feel the mysterious forces of gravity, magnetism and electricity moving through me.
A divine force shall flow through every tissue and cell
And take the charge of breath and speech and act
And all the thoughts shall be a glow of suns
And every feeling a celestial thrill.
Lighting the chambers of the slumbering mind;
A sudden bliss shall run through every limb
And Nature with a mightier Presence fill.
Thus shall the earth open to divinity
And common natures feel the wide uplift,
Illumine common acts with the Spirit’s ray
And meet the deity in common things.
Nature shall live to manifest secret God,
The Spirit shall take up the human play,
This earthly life become the life divine.
~ Sri Aurobindo (29:710)
I did not begin as a dancer, and I can remember a time when I was so self-conscious that I could not move. I understand what it takes to move from isolation to participation, and it is not unlike the journey from holding one’s breath to allowing oneself to be breathed. We are the creatures on the Earth who have forgotten how to move, who have lost the connection with our primal roots and our animal nature. The paradox is that in fully feeling our animal nature, our divinity becomes tangible.
In The Universe Story the universe is described as “ a single multiform development in which each event is woven together with all other in the fabric of the space-time continuum”. (p. 21) When I am immersed in movement, this is the truth of what I experience, whether it is my own walk on a city street or my breath resonating with a swaying tree. We are one unfolding holomovement.
I want to explore movement as both the language of the universe and the way that the Universe continually becomes. The initial ripple becomes vibration, rhythmic patterns that create form. These rhythmic waves are the archetypal energies underlying form. We are capable of being transparent to vibration. If I invoke “love” by repeating the word over and over, my body responds to that vibrational pattern. If I invoke “wisdom” entirely different feeling and movement emerges. What if our desire draws forth the initial spark of vibration from the all-nourishing abyss, setting in motion the pattern for a new form? This is the power of allurement, to draw forth, to bring into being new forms
As individuals we shape our world through our movement, which can range from the utter grace of flow to the disconnected and defeated gesture that further separates. Our power as the mind and the heart of the planet is to feel what is needed and to draw forth those energies into being. From movement and dance I have learned the joy of improvisation – exploring, experimenting, in moment-to moment adventurous play. By following what feels right in every moment, what is the most pleasurable or most elegant movement/action/solution, I spontaneously create and discover. I tap into the flow of how the Universe most wants to move through me in any moment.
When I pay attention to a movement pattern in my own body, between two people, or even the wind on water, I become aware of the ongoing rhythms in the world, the non-verbal language underlying our reality. My capacity for relationship, and my creative participation in relationship, grows as I attend to what is occurring. The matter within our own bodies is intelligent; Wisdom resides in our cells. My heart is pumping, blood is flowing, my breath is spontaneously moving in and out, and as my awareness attunes to these levels, I become aware that I am a complex symphony of rhythms. If I also attend to the breath of the person near me – or the wind, I may notice an interrelated pattern, or feel an interconnection that had previously gone unnoticed.
I may feel the pull of gravity affecting my tired body, yet shift my movement slightly and feel how energy is now flowing through me differently. I discover I am in relationship with the earth, and we are united by this mysterious gravitational flow. Chi moves through my bones and I feel the earth’s support. Our participation as a member of the Earth Community is intimately connected to how we relate to the matter within our own bodies. Without feeling through my body, I am an isolated object relating to the earth as another object. When I perceive at the level of movement, we – the earth and I – are dancing energy fields, part of the moving whole. I move from particle to wave.
As I pay attention I feel gravity, electricity and magnetism within me and through me. I feel the elemental forces of earth, air, water and fire, and the archetypal energies – Love, Beauty, Wisdom, Power, Joy, Strength, Peace, as they move in and through me. I see the Cosmic Dance arising and falling, creating and destroying.
Creating new movement
Paying attention to what is already occurring within us may not be enough if our movement patterns are very restricted. Depending on how an individual was raised, how her culture views the body and other formative influences, an individual may be moving in habitual and unexamined patterns that actually isolate her from the whole. For instance, if one’s arms hang lifelessly without connection to the center of the body, creative action will be impeded and life will feel like a struggle. The heart will not be able to be expressed into the world through the hands and fingertips. By expanding the range of movement possibilities we can open up new possibilities in our lives.
In Bone, Breath and Gesture, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen speaks on the effect of opening new movement patterns: “. . . if the body is the instrument through which the mind is expressed, then one can play more kinds of melodies, or different kinds of verse, kinds of timbre. As an adult, one’s compensatory patterns are also woven deeply into the emotional and thinking patterns, and need to be acknowledged and validated. . . . The more neurological pathways that are established in the body, and the more basic integration it has, the easier it is to express the multifacetedness, the wider and with more breadth will be the possibilities for expression and understanding.” (p. 194)
Through my own unfolding and my movement work with others, I have experienced that with each new movement, another aspect of who I am emerges. As my own structure becomes more fluid and relaxed, I experience my world differently. In looking at the moments that have truly changed me, these moments are actually physical openings in my body that allow new patterns to emerge. Recently I began to move the breath and awareness into my neck in an entirely new way that is allowing my spine to move more fluidly. My felt perception of myself is changing as I feel more grace, ease, and flow, and my heart energy is circulating more fully. I can feel myself moving closer to becoming love in human form. A freely moving body is also a joyous and youthful one, healthier, more adventurous and playful. When the body is in optimal structural alignment, it is in natural alignment with the Earth and the Cosmos, and we feel our inherent beauty, power and creativity. In the words of the Navajo, I can envision:
The world before me is restored in beauty.
The world behind me is restored in beauty.
The world below me is restored in beauty.
The world above me is restored in beauty.
All things around me are restored in beauty.
My voice is restored in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
Navajo ritual chant.
In The Universe is a Green Dragon, the wise elder Thomas asserts that “we become beauty to ignite the beauty of others” (p. 79) and that “alluring activity draws you into being.” (p.51) Movement and dance enable one to move deeply into beauty, and I have created, witnessed and participated in communities of allurement based on these activities. Only by being a truly unique and creative individual can one fully experience being embedded in the larger community – when one is truly one’s Self.
Johnson, Don Hanlon Bone, Breath and Gesture. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1995.
Sri Aurobindo The Centenary Edition: Savitri, vol.2.
Swimme, Brian The Universe is a Green Dragon. Santa Fe: Bear & Company, 1984.
Swimme, Brian and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story. San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1992