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”.

by Gustav Klimt

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!