I grew up in Berlin. Many nights of my teenage years and early 20’s I spent dancing the night away in the underground clubs of this magical city. I was especially drawn to the house scene and quickly learned about the seducing quality of seamless beats. Offering my body to those beats induced a dream like state and profound happiness. I felt connected to the dancers around me and to the world at large.
Years later I found myself on a wooden dance floor moving barefoot at Esalen Institute, a retreat center in Big Sur, California. Drummers were lining the edges of the sunlit space. They fell into rhythm together, a soundscape of sweet percussion that made my body move in ways I had not experienced before. It literally felt as if the beat took me over and I was being danced.
Both of those experiences describe what I would call a trancelike state, one in which more than just the ordinary reality exists. The term “trance” comes from the Latin “transire”, which means “to go over” or to move from one state to another. To experience a state of trance or enter into a heightened state of consciousness, means to achieve an ecstatic awareness and perception that extends beyond the physical senses and functioning of the ordinary mind.
Many cultures cultivate practices that lead into trance using different instruments, dance, breath and plant medicine. Ecstatic states are part of their coming together and their wellness. A lot of us in the Western world live in a state of ecstasy deprivation, as the anthropologist Felicitas Goodman calls it, yet the ecstatic experience is a fundamental need. Our brain is hardwired for trance.
In my personal search for gateways into states of trance, I became a student of the 5Rhythms® founded by Gabrielle Roth. The 5Rhythms® –Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness – form a wave of energy and map how things naturally move and change. During this movement meditation, each rhythm accesses a different state of being in which we find our own expression.
I have chosen this dancing path and its on-going journey from inertia to ecstatic trance.
I invite you to join me in the exploration of different Gateways into states of heightened awareness and freedom in motion.
Bettina is teaching in Toronto November 24-26, 2017