Gabrielle Roth, 1941-2012: Disciple of the Deep Dark Divine – Eliezer Sobel

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-99th-monkey/201310/gabrielle-roth-1941-2012-disciple-the-deep-dark-divine

‘You didn’t really think this was about dancing, did you?’

This is the follow up to yesterday’s short film showing 5 Rhythms dance, a wonderful article by Eliezer about Gabrielle Roth, the movement’s founder. There is a lot in this enlivening piece to love – and indeed, it is a deeply loving testament to friendship.

Gabrielle was clearly possessed of immense wisdom, and lived her truth in a way that was of service to many people – those who knew her personally, and many more like me who know her through 5 Rhythms practice and through her writings. One of the aspects of her that appeals to me – and Eliezer speaks to this – is her down-to-earthness. If ever anyone can be described as a spiritual teacher, that must include Gabrielle – and she seems like someone without interest in ‘guru’ labels and trappings (which, from where I am looking, tend to speak more of the acolyte than their object).

The descriptions in Eliezer’s piece of 5 Rhythms practice resonate with my own experience of the incredible power of dance, as journey inwards, as transformative process, as a path into presence and connection, a tapping into the creativity and sacred wisdom of the human spirit:-

‘We dance to fall in love with the spirit in all things, to wipe out memory or transform it into moves that nobody else can make because they didn’t live it. We dance to hook up to the true genius lurking behind all the bullshit—to seek refuge in our originality and our power to reinvent ourselves; to shed the past, forget the future and fall into the moment feet first.’

By way of footnote, the opening to Eliezer’s piece is amusing, and also holds a truth….

‘Perry later told me that he had been very uncomfortable talking to Gabrielle, because “She was looking at me in a way that only lovers have looked at me, and her husband was sitting right there.”

“Oh,” I responded, “that’s how she looks at everyone.”’

Authenticity, presence and the invitation to real, deep connection can be experienced as unsettling, even frightening, to someone conditioned to expect the surface, inauthentic interactions that are normalized and endemic in our culture. The potential for mistaking this for sexual intent is there – because it tends to be principally with lovers that many of us have experiences of intimacy.

I have described before an experience over a decade ago, early in my counselling training. I asked one of the tutors a question. The woman made eye contact, and in that moment I became aware of having her complete attention. Abruptly, in a sunlit room with others coming and going, getting hot drinks, there were only the two of us; presence; the invitation to deep connection.

It felt overwhelming, terrifying – even invasive. That was not to do with what this tutor was offering – whole-being, respectful attention to me and my question. It was to do with the unprecedented nature of that, which my shrinking, fearful, inauthentic, wounded self experienced as threat, even as something in me also uncurled like a parched plant in a desert…

‘Look at me, don’t look at me!’, my personal signature at that time.

This is now something I hold in awareness in therapy sessions, especially early on. It’s an empathic sensing in – I want to offer the potential for deep connection (and I certainly want to be present in sessions from a place of deep, underlying connection with myself), whilst also remaining mindful that the task is to meet the other person where they are, matching energies in some subtle way. Otherwise there is a risk of overwhelming or frightening.

Lindsey Talbott, Therapist

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

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