Dance life in BerlinPosted by Pablo Mon, May 08, 2017 12:39:49
While standing in front of the huge pyramid of Kukulkan in the Mayan city of Chichen itza in the south of Mexico, where the Mayan god descends from the top of the pyramid in form of light, I understood a little about how the Mayans lived their lives. They followed the organic rhythms of life and celebrated every aspect of them by performing rituals that bonded them with nature and as a community.
As I was marveled by the magnificence of those ancient structures and the magical way that the sunlight creates beautiful figures, I got to think about the way I, or we all live our lives. What are the rhythms that we follow? How do we honor those rhythms? How do we celebrate our bond with nature?
Living in the City
Living in Berlin, a city with a frenetic pace and endless opportunities, these questions were not easy to answer. I’m a student of human behavior, and my studies are conducted in everyday situations. A voyeurist some may call me since I love to observe the way people interact, the movements of their body, the gestures of their faces, the rhythm of breathing, the way people behave when they not aware that someone is looking.
After many years of observation, I realize that in Berlin most people live their lives following the rhythms of the BVG (Berlin Public Transportation). I know I’m generalizing and being very simplistic, but most of us design our days and nights making sure that we catch the U-Bahn or the Tran or the bus; we run from one place to the other trying to get there early, to leave on time, planning ahead, working so much so we can then feel useful because we produced or consumed what was expected from us. What we expected from us.
If we think of these routines in terms of dance, we would see people who live their lives that way, always in a frenetic techno dance that never stops. Silence is something that is not only not appreciated, but that is scary because they have gotten used to the frenetic (techno) way of life. And don´t get me wrong, I have nothing against techno music, but as with anything else, if it’s not combined with something else, after a while it becomes boring and meaningless. One side effect of the Berliner (post-modern) frenetic way of life is also the lack of rituals. This is not a Berliner thing, is all over the world. Besides birthdays, marriage and baby showers, we don´t have any other rituals that bond us as a community. We have lost the connection with what’s sacred. I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about spirituality in the broader sense of the word. Especially we lack rituals that connect us with nature. Besides than “using” nature most of us don´t feel connected or part of a living planet. I believe that the emptiness most of us feel, that the sleeping problems that a lot of people have, have to do with the lack of sacredness in our life. So, how should we find space in our daily routines
to connect with what’s sacred? Who to find sacredness in ourselves?
So far I haven´t described anything new to some of you who are also voyeurs, that are conscious of our connections with other human beings and with nature and that also feel the lack of sacredness in everyday life. Before I said that Berlin is a city with never-ending opportunities. And here are many that will reconnect you with yourself and nature. I’m especially drawn to those who use movement or dance to do the trick. In my opinion, Berlin is a city that dances. I’m not talking about the huge club scene, I’m talking about techniques that use dance and conscious movement in a different way. So far I´ve danced freietanzrituale, contact/improv, 5 rhythms, authentic movement, vinyasa flow and some more that
create joy, connection and pursue transformation. I really appreciate the freedom and connection that can be achieved through them.
But there has been one that has really fulfilled my needs of freedom, connection, and sacredness; one that has taught me how to open my body and my soul to whatever life brings, that has taught me responsibility to create and design my life following my own internal rhythms and where I have learned how to listen to nature´s cycles and live my life in an organic way. I am talking about Biodanza, the dance of life. This system was created in South America, a subcontinent that is all about dancing, with the clear purpose to contribute to human evolution. It uses dances and bodily exercises to reconnect people with their own potentials, so they can find in themselves the possibility to live happy and meaningful lives. After 70 years of being created, Biodanza has extended itself and now there are schools and practitioners in more than 50 countries and of course, there are several groups here in Berlin.
Biodanza moves away from fitness centered or eroticized dance techniques and proposes a way to deepen the search for authentic movement and coherence in life. From individual dances to pair and group exercises, Biodanza is the ideal choice for people who enjoy free dancing, real connection, great music and the power of metaphors. Through the constant practice, I´ve learned how to put my mind at ease, listen to my body, allow myself to be moved by my emotions and find the deep connections that live inside of me between instincts and spirituality. This multi-layer work will broaden your experience of being alive inside your body and open new possibilities of connection with yourself, with others and with every living
Biodanza is the dance of life and joy. Through conscious movement and profound moving metaphors, in each session, we will discover what can be learned from Affectivity, Creativity, Vitality, Transcendence and Sexuality. Each session is a ritual of freedom and a complete transformational experience that nurtures the seed of authenticity and awakens the courage to live life to the fullest. For me, it has been the way to recognize what´s sacred inside of me and reconnect with the sacredness of life. I’m still running to catch the bus as most of you are, but I do it without losing perspective on what’s important, on who is important. Thanks to my regular Biodanza practice I have been able to open space in my everyday life to enjoy myself even when things don´t go according to plan. Now I flow being aware of the importance of being well rooted in order to be able to fly high.
Dance life in BerlinPosted by Pablo Mon, May 08, 2017 12:32:13
LET THE HERD INSTINCT BE HEARD
To sit in a circle, breathe together, become aware of our own place in the community and recognize the power that is present when we are all conscious of the connections that bond us is one of the most powerful experiences we will ever have. This simple act makes us feel safe, connected and part of something bigger. It fosters the sense of belonging which is directly connected to the herd instinct.
This article is about nothing new, surprising, shocking or revolutionary. It’s my take on something so simple that we, or at least I, often overlook. It’s about being in circle.
“Being” in circle?
One of my oldest and dearest memories is sitting among my parents and their friends in a dark night under the stars while on holiday in Colombia. I don´t remember how old I was, where exactly we were or if my sisters were also there. I have no clear image of the moment, but what I remember vividly is the feeling of protection and safety brought on by this simple act. I remember the way my body felt warm, happy and safe as I heard the laughter of the grownups while they enjoyed each other’s company.
Since the beginning, humans have gathered in circle to feel complete, secure and connected. The circle is a powerful archetype/symbol that can create an experience of expanded consciousness that emotionally translates into feelings of trust, tenderness, compassion and braveness. The circle has been an Archetype/symbol of completion, the feminine and masculine energy coming together, the sun, the moon, totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, and timelessness, among others.
By sitting in circle we can see and acknowledge every other person gracing the circle with their presence and open up to embrace a grander image of ourselves as our figure is reflected in the others pupils. Our ancestors knew this and constantly practiced sitting and dancing in circles to connect, create and strengthen the sense of community. Our children when growing up do it intuitively as well, even if they haven´t consciously learned it. But somehow as adults, the practice of sitting in circle and/or the awareness of its power gets lost in the everyday life.
For me there is a difference between sitting in circle and being in circle. The experience of having surrendered our ego to serve the community while at the same time expressing ourselves through it, has a powerful emotional and physiological meaning which strengthens the bonds we have to our peers. This experience is best achieved when being in full presence with one another. Being in circle doesn´t necessarily happen every time. It requires intention, presence and mindfulness to embody the power that being in circle represents.
Of course you already knew, or at least intuited the power of intention and presence to give meaning and deepness to any act we do. Intention is the purpose we give to our actions and depending on it the same action may feel and be totally different. Presence is being here and now.
A great example of the importance of intention and presence is to dance. When I dance I do it for different reasons: to have fun, to learn a technique, to connect with people (and if there are women I like, this can be especially sweet), to feel free, to inspire my son to dance, to connect with my inner energy, to become one with god (or at least try), or sometimes just because my body needs to move. The same body acting (moving) in a similar way, with the same music and in the same place will have a different meaning/color and of course a different outcome, depending on my intention and presence.
Examples like this are everywhere: when having sex, sitting down to meditate, staring at somebody´s eyes, having a drink, meeting colleagues, etc. The experience and the outcomes will depend directly on the intention we set and on how present we are. Intention will give power to our vision and presence will support us to commit to make this vision come true. For me intention and presence go hand in hand with the transformative power of the ritual of being in circle.
When trying to be in circle, our ego sometimes gets in the way. I have nothing against ego, we need it to affirm ourselves, but sometimes it gets in the way of experiencing connection and surrendering to the community. Our ego doesn´t particularly like to surrender. This is especially true in corporate contexts where more often than not, competition, individuality and self-interests are presented and embodied as values. In my experience, sometimes the challenges that we face to create a shared, safe and trustful environment by agreeing on a common intention and staying present to follow through, are just too big.
How people and systems normally behave
I have coached many teams from a wide range of clients that range from large multinational corporations to academic institutions, NGO´s and public institutions. It doesn’t matter if you work for a family owned company in Kampala Uganda, a Finish NGO, a Houston-based oil company or IT start up in Delhi, every institution holds meetings.
I view corporations, institutions, and organizations as systems, which behave in a similar manner (or at least try) to living organisms. What I mean by that is that the parts that constitute the system need to be acknowledged, taken care of and seen in order to interact well with the rest of the system. The actions of the individual parts of the organism will impact not only the other constituent parts but also its surroundings. Corporations, for example, affect, positively or negatively, not only the people who work there but also the surrounding community. At the end, we live in a world of interactions, where individuals, and collectives affect each other constantly.
One of the key skills that teams ask for or need without knowing it to reach a new level of performance is to conduct effective meetings. This means communicating effectively about objectives, figures, numbers, tasks and responsibilities. It also means acknowledging the presence, energy, creativity and opinions of all present. It also means co-creating a shared vision (intention) of what they want to achieve and have the courage to set up agreements, and follow through with presence to achieve that vision.
To say this is relatively easy, but to actually embody it and make it part of the organizational culture is a big challenge. It means learning how to create a safe environment where people can communicate and share their opinions openly, without fear or anxiety. It means learning how to create a space where people feel part of something bigger instead of feeling separated, attacked and competing. Contrary to popular belief, many organizations have already acknowledged the importance of addressing the human aspect of teams to effectively achieve the expected outcomes, and have a positive impact in the well-being of collaborators.
But I still see teams and systems that act without acknowledging the human aspect of being together. They fail at recognizing the person that is behind the title and tasks they perform. The problem is that if organizations intend to achieve a concrete outcome without strengthening the bonds and nurturing the sense of community, the individual commitment of their employees won’t be as strong and will lack the necessary passion to pursue and achieve the desired goals.
I’m writing about organizations, because 2 of every 3 people work in such an environment. Humans have always felt the need to come together and most of us now do it to produce goods and services. The intention of building community is hardly there in our everyday life. Our post-modern societies don´t encourage that felling of togetherness as much individuality, competition and independence. We are taught that relationships are there to provide services and that money is the mean to ensure everyone wins in the interactions. Somehow this method works to foster economic development and growth, but now we know that when we only relate to others in terms of an economic interchange, it has a devastating impact on human relationships and the environment.
The eternal circle
The herd instinct, as any other, cannot be denied or suppressed; that´s why in every generation there have been people who recognize the power of the circle and have used it in a conscious way to foster community. But somehow I feel that today´s mainstream society is far away from embracing the power of human connection through being in circle.
I believe that the seed of consciousness is inside us and that trusting our instincts is the key to unlocking our hidden wisdom. The herd instinct is for me is one of the most important aspects of life. It’s the sacred impulse of coming, being and staying together. Community living is a trend nowadays in the circles I frequent. I know people who after thriving in some of the most exciting cities in the world have decided to move back to the countryside to live a simpler life among similar-minded people in communities. Other circles practice Poliamori as a mean to connect and expand love. They believe that love is an infinite energy that can be lived through many people. This is another way to practice sitting in circles.
Many people are now really interested in shamanism. One of the things people interested in Indigenous wisdom always do no matter which tribe you are with, is that they will always sit or dance in circles. The power of the ancient Indian wisdom resides on its simplicity. And circles are always present as a powerful symbol of togetherness.
As for my work, in Biodanza we always start and finish our dance sessions in circle. We do it as a metaphor of being together as co-creators of the eternal dance of community. I always work with the circle as a symbol of being together, complete and integrated.
In corporate workshops, AA meetings, group therapy, kindergartens, women and men groups and in many more contexts circles are everywhere, we just have to open our heart, set clear intentions and be present to connect.
What is our challenge?
If you have gotten this far into this article it’s because you recognize the power of being in circle. So let me ask you, how often are you in circle? With whom? And where can you bring it to foster a feeling of togetherness?
This is a call for mindfulness and action. What I’m about to suggest is so simple that you may think that it’s not worth trying, but I challenge you to do it at least for one month. Every time you sit in a circle together with people (to work, eat, drink, dance, etc), do it with the firm intention of using that time to connect and bond. Actively speak up and share your intention with the people you are sitting with and see what their reactions are. Invite them to be present, to share their intentions and create a common vision. I have done it with different crowds and I´ve been amazed with the impact a shared intention and active presence have on a circle and the lessons that each person takes with them.
Let us reclaim the herd instinct and use it to foster the new communities we as species need to assume our responsibility of guardians (not owners) of this planet and of every living being.