A room full of strangers seated in a circle greet me as I enter the dimly lit room. The faint smell of incense and holiday candles fills the air. He nods. She smiles. They softly whisper hello. White, black, Latino, Indian, younger, older, bigger, smaller…I’m pleased to see the spectrum of humanity and I’m curious what will happen when the DJ starts to spin his beats. Some have said diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance but this party carries no invite and nobody is expected to ask anyone to dance because anyone can come and everyone can dance.
A harmonic bell signals it’s time to set an intention for what will happen over the next two hours. The goal is to completely, freely and safely express yourself and to be free of any judgement or expectations. Hmm, what a strange concept? Nobody cares who you are, where you come from, your job title, your level of education or your socio-economic status. Just souls and beating hearts in a room together. Some bring joy. Some bring grief. Some bring trauma. Some bring hope. Everyone brings energy.
The DJ begins to fill the room with the melodic sounds of chants and drums and horns and like magic, everyone starts to move…in whatever way the moment strikes them. At first it feels strange. I don’t know the rules. How am I supposed to dance? What if I don’t even know how to dance? What if I look ridiculous? Funny how these would be the questions that my brain produces. Clearly I’ve been conditioned to expect something punitive from the process and my brain is hard at work figuring out all of the ways I can possibly fail. But then I realize that my abilities and my appearance don’t matter because there are no rules, just rhythms. Anyone can come and everyone can dance.
I close my eyes, consumed with the sounds and the energy in the room and before I know it, I’m jumping, stomping, swaying and swerving. Nothing matters. When I open my eyes I see complete authenticity and freedom. A room full of people from all walks of life jumping, stomping, swaying and swerving in complete solidarity. Off in the corner I notice a man, older, small in stature, slightly disheveled and unshaven, bouncing ever so slightly to the beat of the music. I catch myself in a moment of stereotypical judgement. He looks like a homeless person. Is he homeless? STOP! These thoughts are not welcome here. I close my eyes and return to letting the music guide my movement.
I’m captivated by a new sound. The sound of a violin. It’s exceptional and beautiful. It’s not coming from the DJ however it’s created the perfect symphony. I open my eyes. I see a man, older, small in stature, slightly disheveled and unshaven, fiddling exquisitely. He’s no longer in the corner because people are now dancing around him. This room full of strangers is no longer so strange. I’m surrounded by resilience, joy and gratitude. It’s ecstatic.
To be ecstatic means to remove one’s mind and body from it’s “normal” place of function. This begs the question: how is our “normal” place of function determined? Who makes the rules that define this in our society? Why?
I’m grateful for this experience which began with quite a bit of discomfort and ended with a story to tell thanks to the amazing souls who gifted their energy to this space. Today’s lesson…Ecstatic more. Judge less. Anyone can come. Everyone can dance.