cultural fear of letting go
November 12, 2017
Our ancestors sure knew how to shake it up! Before wildly embodied spiritual expression was codified and subdued into formal rituals and heady discourse, humans communed with the Holy and healed themselves and others by entering trance states that were often brought on through music and rhythmic dance. One of the oldest forms forms of ecstatic movement, still practiced today in various cultures around the world, is shaking.
Despite its presence in some Christian sects, the history of trance and shaking in western culture is laden with negative connotations. Some disturbing images of trance and spontaneous movement haunt our collective memory; such as demon possession, the so-called hysterical uninhibited woman overcome by frenzied passion, the mentally ill convulsing in insane asylums, the hypnotized lacking free will, or “primitives” practicing witchcraft. Seen through the lens of the Enlightenment, these culturally-biased and misogynistic fears served to prop up our civilization’s claim to superiority of the reasoned (male) mind over our instinctual (feminine) nature, and detachment from the body as a spiritual ideal.
Even if these images seem antiquated to our modern 21st century mind they remain in our subconscious, and as a result many of us have inherited a general discomfort with feeling out of control. Our cultural fears of “letting go” were seeded during the time of the early Christian Roman Church’s proscriptions against pre-Christian practices. Combined with a general disdain for the body, the worshipper was thus severed from direct mystical experience in order to establish the Church as the only true intermediary of God. Sadly, this legacy of disdain for embodiment and suspicion of direct revelation has left us with an imprint of distrust when it comes to the wisdom of our own bodies.
But ecstatic movement is making a comeback, and contemporary research in somatic-based therapies confirms through science what traditional cultures have known for thousands of years. Many are rediscovering the healing potential of heating up the body through intentional shaking practice, reigniting the flame of embodied mystical experience and rediscovering the value for our mental and physical well-being of allowing the body to speak. Indeed, new research reveals that 10 times more information is going from the gut to the brain than the brain to the body. Maybe it’s time to rethink our mantra of “mind over matter”.
Join us this Sunday for “When the Spirit Moves You” to gently explore the powerful benefits of shaking, swaying, and spinning to release stuck energy and revitalize the body. You will also learn how these movement techniques are used in spiritual traditions worldwide. We will end the workshop with joyful bonding community dances based on authentic women’s traditions that will leave you nourished, energized, and light of heart! No previous movement experience necessary.
Know someone special who could use a pick-me-up? Register now and gift this experience to a friend for free! http://scheherazadeschool.com/offerings/workshops/
FREE GUIDED JOURNEY
A week later and still relishing in the magical afterglow! Seriously, much to my surprise I am still reaping the benefits and riding the waves of such a weekend. Personally it was an end of an era, and what better way to initiate a new beginning, than to breathe in new life with ritual, spinning, baddass women, wonderful food, perfect location and gorgeous weather. Outstanding!
For the past three years Hannah’s performance and teaching has been a highlight of my annual women’s weekend. She is a gifted, creative, expert dancer who engages and amazes the audience with her style and skill. It’s beautiful to watch her flow, bend, glide, and shimmy. Dancing with her is a blast! All my women friends loved it.
Hannah’s workshop was exhilarating, joyful, and educational. I felt uplifted afterwards, and emerged with a positive feeling of lightness.
Hannah loves transmitting her knowledge of world dance to kids and they feel it. She engages them in both the movements and the understanding of the traditions of the dances. The kids learn to appreciate the pure joy of moving, the history of the dances and choreographing their own pieces. It’s great to see the kids enjoying the discipline of the different traditions while having a lot of fun.
The potency of sacred women’s spaces was made evident to me during this beautiful two day healing dance ritual. That experience of learning, of playing, and of connecting to our feminine power through community and the container held so humbly and graciously by Hannah will stay with me forever, and has become fuel for a new passion in my life to explore Sufi and Berber traditional, meditative dance. My deepest gratitude goes to all women of the dance, now, and throughout all of time.
Hannah radiates an inner joy, a celebration of the divine, that glows and grows inside her audience. Dancing with Hannah, one is finds herself channeled into the timeless essence of feminine grace, connecting to all women past and present, freeing us to express our true innate beauty
I just spent two days with Hannah and a diverse group of spirited women on the Spin, Shake, Sway workshop exploring whirling and the Moroccan Guedra, and the experience made me reconnect with dancing at a very deep and intense level. I felt so alive and free in the space where your body and your soul intersect, and beauty and healing naturally happen. The location was magical and the perfect setting for our group.
I first saw Hannah dance Persian style at a party and was immediately in awe of her self-possessed beauty that comes through her style of dance. I wanted to learn that! I had gone through a tough 18 months of sorrow and grief after loosing my partner of 15 years and mom within six months of each other. Hannah choreographed a Persian dance specifically for me that would help open my heart. And she helped mend my heart and soul through private lessons and learning her dance. I would recommend h…