What’s the best medicine for a really fucked-up Friday at work?
A Friday evening doing JourneyDance™ – that’s what!
JourneyDance™ was started by Toni Bergens. I first heard about it from an old, dear schoolfriend who, like me, had also trained as a yoga teacher at Kripalu. (Infact she was the person who introduced me to Kripalu) She said although she’d loved the yoga, what had really felt life changing was the few sessions of JourneyDance that she’d taken at Kripalu, with the founder Toni Bergens.
Strong praise indeed and I was intrigued.
However, there weren’t any facilitators in the UK at that time so I had to make do with a MP3 version which frankly left me feeling a little…self conscious. I got it intellectually but not physically – which is ironic, as it’s a practice that’s meant to get you out of your mind and into your body.
Fast forward a good few years and I finally got the email I’d been waiting for. JourneyDance was now in the UK, run by a teacher called Stella Stathi, who is also a psychotherapist and eating disorders therapist.
My first experience of JourneyDance was when Stella ran a wonderful series of classes structured around the chakras. It was a gently mind blowing experience. I had visions, insights and gut understandings throughout which surprised me – I just wasn’t expecting that – as it’s a pretty physical practice. It basically feels like you are putting your subconscious in the washing machine and getting it sparkly clean. It’s also akin to my experiences of ceremonies led by a shaman.
There is something so deeply healing and profound about this practice that I can’t quite articulate. It’s a wonderful hour or so, getting in touch with that which is powerful, wise and all-knowing and also deeply personal. Somehow it feels miraculously, tangibly, internal.
Stella does give some instruction throughout – not a huge amount – but enough to frame the movement and the music with a structure that makes it make sense, and feel safe, to be uninhibited and liberated in the dance.
At one point today we were given scarves and asked to imagine they were our hearts and to dance with them and give them the space they needed to move. I found it so moving and suddenly thought of my father and felt how sad he is at the moment that his brother is dying. Two fat tears fell out of my eyes. That was all but that was enough. It released the emotion that has been welling up inside me, but which hadn’t until that moment found an adequate release that felt sacred enough.
And then we were asked to dance with the scarf as something we needed to let go of. I was so surprised by the issue that floated up deep from my subconscious – connected to a dream I’d had nearly 14 years ago at a time of great trauma and emotional distress. It was almost freaky how powerful that moment was, as it also initiated an understanding around that issue which was laughably obvious but I hadn’t understood until then.
Also – on a mundane level – it really feels great to move one’s body after hours slaving away at the desk, and have a good old dance to some great tunes.
And how did I feel about my fucked up Friday at work after doing JourneyDance? Better. Much, much better.
In fact the magic already started working from the moment I read Stella’s email which was entitled “Emotions, Power & Letting Go”. Although the practice was definitely that, it was the insight that I got from her email before I’d even done the practice that really helped me survive the emotional demands of the real world.
“We’ll be diving in our personal ocean of emotion, exploring and expressing all that needs a way out (and it might be a lot!), turning our physical bodies into a conduit of emotional release and healing. We will open up to third chakra feelings, such as anger and resentment (also said to be triggered by this moon)” wrote Stella.
On Friday morning, when a co-worker of mine really lost her shit at me, I suddenly remembered what Stella had said in her email. Phew. Not blame it on the new moon exactly, but…as an explanation for the disproportionate explosion, it was one I was willing to take on board.
JourneyDance is a very special conduit for healing, creativity and insight. Stella is a great facilitator. I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to do more.
Not only did it sort out my fucked up Friday – it gave me wisdom that I know I’ll be able to delve into for a long time to come – or at least, until I can replenish it at the next dance. And it made my body very happy too.
Thank you Stella, thank you the Dance, thank you Toni Bergens (and thank you Eleanor for introducing me to it)