Dancing into the present

One of the most profound thought form changes my yoga practice has brought is relinquishing the constant need to do things to make anything happen. I wouldn’t have believed if you told me I could relax and trust, that the thing I work so intensely for will show up at my door step.

Taking my hands off the steering wheel, letting go of how things should be for myself and those I care about never figured in my radar.

The perfect justification was I loved doing them. Like the song goes, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making plans. My changing and ageing physical body was however the best proof it didn’t appreciate my restlessness. It couldn’t keep up with my cognitive universe.

My teacher Sat Sarbat said “We see the world in terms of success or failure. We are unable to be. In ‘to be’ there’s no judgement. We’ve to do to perform. We’ve to get it. That’s what they taught us in school. Nobody taught ‘to be’ is not enough.”

Unlearning a lifetime of conditionings is a work in progress. Last week was one such unbecoming. I spent an insane week in a retreat deeply immersed in Gurdjieff Sacred Dance, navigating the paradox of staying relaxed yet awake, dancing spirit back into the present.

Gurdjieff Sacred Dance is not just a dance of letting go. It’s an incredibly powerful way to restructure and rewire The Mind.

Ancient teachings write that one can gain enlightenment in three ways: The Fakir tradition where you renounce everything and live through pain; the monastic way through devotion; and the way of the yogi by experience and knowledge. Gurdjieff’s work is said to be the Fourth Way.

Like Yogi Bhajan, Gurdjieff said there has to a practice for householders. We can no longer sit on nails or meditate in caves for 10 years. We have to live here and be conscious here.

And just like Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan, Gurdjieff’s work is confrontational to say the least.

Gurdjieff’s movements were designed to create frustration. Certainly frustration was an understatement. I was compelled to confront and break my own long-held mental patterns and habits. It was non-negotiable only because suffering was the other option. Staying stuck was not a very attractive place to be.

Sat Sarbat said, “Frustration is a side effect, not the objective. Because you break patterns in your brain, you’re helpless. You should welcome it.”

Truth be told, it took a few days to welcome non-control, to relax the over-controlling and over-rationalizing Intellectual Center, to fully grasp how the Mind, powerful as it is, did little to ease me into being in the present moment.

Many moments, I was frozen in place and in my head, orchestrating the next step. All that was needed was a split second of scheming the future, I missed three steps. I missed life.

Gurdjieff’s approach to movement deepened my insight into the mind-body-spirit connection. How to lean deeper into the most important relationship, the one with my own consciousness.

By fully allowing my body, the Moving Center, and heart space, the Emotional Center, to move with my all-powerful Intellectual Center, I flowed with structured chaos designed to confound and confront. I was awake and relaxed.

Being fully present is being alive. Effortlessly. The present is a resting place full of vitality and grace.

The purpose of these movements is not perfection. Sat Sarbat reiterated, it is to use pressure, joy, or frustration, to keep the capacity to observe it without saying “I did it,” or “I am sh*t, I can’t do it.”

“When you’re not hooked by the past, hooked by hope, therefore you can be in the moment where trinity [of I, Am, Me] can be in action.”

And I danced and danced with all my centers engaged, a misstep be damned, fully stepping into spirit with nary a force or denial.