The dance of welcome

I moved recently to a new town in the UK, Totnes, where I wanted to live and explore for a long time. I arrived with no rush in my feet and let myself land softly. The landscape of this area in Devon has filled my heart from day one. I’ve been checking all the fiercely independent shops and wandering side streets. I started with small connections, a friend of a friend, a small chat in a coffee shop, and little interactions that made this place feel like home.

However, I can say I only landed fully the night I stepped onto a dancing floor.

It was a 5Ryhthms experience, a practice where the invitation is to drop deeply into your body and move from what’s inside with others. I was surprised to see how immediately attuned I felt in that space.

In an instant, the feeling was of a complete relaxation of my system, a sweetness in the pit of my stomach, an overwhelming warm sensation in my chest, a quiet smile on my face, and an impulse to start moving my legs through the floor and meet others. My body was at home. Grounded, seen, embraced.

More and more, I’m finding the sublime not in vertical prayers but in eye-to-eye, side to side, contact with others. In the horizontal, I often sense the divine and feel more human.

We are made to ground and touch. That’s how we go around and walk and dance. When we want to fly, because we try, either we go on a machine or we disembody.

That evening we danced for two hours “with the space inside, the space around, and the space between us”. At the end, as normally happens in these sessions, we all sat down in a circle.

“It is remarkable, how everything changes once you feel you are welcome”, someone said.

It resonated strongly. We are so wired for that. We’re designed to anticipate a certain quality of touch. That’s what we yearn for and why we welcome each other. That’s how we are received, from birth.

The newcomer

There is a virtuous circle here: a loving present community helps you to appreciate yourself as you are. Building up the muscle of self-welcoming opens your capacity to welcome others as they are.

These days I’m re-reading the words of the writer and psychotherapist Francis Weller, who points out that a sign of maturation is to become the welcoming one, to be the one who stops longing and starts offering belonging, the one who goes and sets another place at the table for the newcomer.

This “newcomer” is another person arriving, of course, but it is also one or two parts of me showing up at any moment.

This pilgrimage of friendship toward our own life is essential to any move we wish to make into the larger and more fulfilling life that awaits us.

Self-compassion is a fierce and challenging practice. Every day, we are asked to sit with pieces of our interior world that lie outside of what we find acceptable and welcome.

Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow

This is a root practice. To welcome ourselves, entirely. Every day. The parts of us that thrive, and the parts that ache. One guest at a time, as Rumi puts it.

Loving all parts of ourselves is the foundation of our relational lives.

I danced briefly with two or three people. One of them was Rowan. Our eyes met and we started moving together. It was the most tender of all dances.

“Thank you, for that”, he said when I met him later in the grocery shop. “That was the dance that brought me to life again”.

Stay attuned

Jesus S. Acosta

An invitation to dance into the places of heartbreak

Rosie Perks led a Movement Medicine session on my third week in Totnes. It was an embodied meditation in motion mixing incredible music, and precise words, dancing on your own, acknowledging others, and even singing softly together.

Ashes and Blossom is one of her upcoming offerings.

The science behind touch

Photo: Dekler Ph, on Unsplash

A groundbreaking study sheds light on something instinctively known yet often overlooked: the transformative power of touch (Hat tip to Aydan Dunnigan)

The Guest House