Monday, December 3, 2012

Inner Dance: My Explorations of Philippine Shamanic Wisdom

It's been an eventful few weeks, I can say that much. In the world of Nature, things move slowly. Changes happen gradually. A lot of time is spent sitting, watching, immersed in silence. Time is of little consequence. But in the world of people, a lot happens; the dynamic beings that we are, I guess.

I've now spent a good few months surrounded by many people, here in the city of Manila. It's funny how that happened, really. I had been intent on completely going into hibernation, locking myself up for days and even weeks at a time in my room and devoting myself completely to my solitude. But many times, events also pushed me out into the world. Even when I'd thought I would be completely retreating from the rest of the world when I went to the seaside in Aurora, I was still flung into activities with people there. So quite by happenstance, I met many new people and reunited with old friends and family members as a consequence. And now I've come to remember just how much I really, truly enjoy being around people. It required a bit of memory-jogging, as I had become so accustomed to the peace and quiet of Nature in the past 2 years of living on a boat at sea. I'd felt too overwhelmed by the busy activities of people during the first 2 months in Manila. But as I see it now, Manila rightly re-ignited a part of me that had been dormant for quite awhile now: a deep love for being a part of the daily world of human interactions!

My latest experience was in a workshop that practiced Inner Dance. A couple of years back, I had been introduced to this wondrous, mysterious practice when I stayed at Bahay Kalipay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, where the founder, Pi Villaraza, had been conducting it (besides conducting it everywhere else in the world). Being a resident of quiet, rural El Nido, I had found Puerto Princesa too nerve-wracking with its unending hum of tricycles and other urban activities. Bahay Kalipay, with its rural, natural setting on the outskirts of the city, served as a respite for the few days I had to be in Puerto Princesa. Back then, when Pi decided to initiate me to the practice, I felt a strange energy holding my arm that allowed me to keep my arm suspended in the air for a whole hour with no effort whatsoever, while I lay on my back. Something had kept my arm lifted in the air, and it wasn't me. I mean, if it were, how then was I able to keep it in the air for that long and not be tired from it, right? Still, I had my doubts about it then.

To give you a background of the Inner Dance practice, Pi came upon these mysterious flowing energies when he took on a pilgrimage around the Philippines with nothing more than the clothes on his back. The day he started walking was the day he left a successful marketing career and all other belongings he possessed. Something else had called him to take the walk, and he followed. About a year after journeying around Mindanao (Southern Philippines), he came to Palawan and settled himself on an island, where he remained for almost 2 years, subsisting only on a diet of coconuts. One day, a mysterious force suddenly consumed his body. His body started moving, prompted by energies that were coming from within. He found himself running up and down the beach in full vitality, as well performing strange stick-fighting techniques that he never possessed any knowledge about, prior to that experience. He was even doing somersaults and all kinds of acrobatics that he had no idea he could actually do! At the same time, he felt blissful and invigorated. Blessed by the experience, he decided to explore it further. He traveled through small towns to test the use of the energies, and found that they were able to heal people's illnesses, no matter how severe the illness.

Exploring further by visiting Philippine tribes, he then discovered through the baylans (shamans) that these tribes have known the involuntary body movements as “the hidden dance that heals and awakens people”. The tribes told him that they were the energies of grandmother spirit; a spirit very linked with the Earth, from my understanding. They were discovered one day, when a man started dancing wildly and joyously. So then, Pi started to heal people physically and emotionally. He discovered that the same energies were latent in each person's body, just waiting to be awakened. He was able to awaken them through the energies that were already awakened in him to be shared. Thus, Bahay Kalipay was born.

As I said, back then I still had some doubts about it. I didn't think I had enough of an experience to confirm the whole thing for myself. Well, if you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll remember that I had been talking about mysterious bodily movements that started happening to me one day while I was practicing yoga and meditating in my room, about a month ago. The energies made my body and arms dance and sway spontaneously, while I had looked on in awe. I had thought then that it might have something to do with Kundalini rising – the awakening of powerful healing energies at the base of the spine to unlock the human being's fullest potential, often brought about by religious yoga and meditative practice. But looking at things now, I believe that Kundalini rising and Inner Dance are simply two different names for the same thing...Inner Dance being the Philippine version of it.

I had been a bit scared about taking the energies further, as I knew nothing about them; but at the same time, I was unsatisfied with my Kundalini yoga teacher's suggestion to keep the energies under control by remaining still. I really loved flowing and dancing with the energies. When I asked her again later on if it would not be okay for me to explore these energies by allowing them to take their course, she finally said yes, but not during my yoga sessions. I needed to separate the two, as one practice (yoga) promoted self-discipline and control, while the other (Inner Dance) promoted free-flow and letting go. Two very opposite things. Yet I couldn't help feeling that they were somehow complimentary, as the first was more masculine, and the second, more feminine in nature. By employing the two methods by turns, I thought that I would perhaps come to a good balance between stillness/mental-discipline, and flowing/letting go. Besides, I don't think that experiences just happen randomly. There's always a reason for them. I took it that my body was telling me to explore Inner Dance.

So there I was then, in the Inner Dance workshop held by Arianne, who had been trained by Pi to facilitate the practice in Manila. My brother had been suggesting that I join the workshop. And right when music came on, my body instantly started to get swayed by the energies that seemed to move along with the vibrations of the sound. As always, I wasn't controlling my body; I was merely witnessing it. And right then, I knew it would be okay too, because everyone else started to move as well, with the same energies that I felt. The energies were a lot stronger than I had ever experienced them, and I found myself in a complete state of letting go to whatever my body was doing. Pent up emotions started to rise out of me powerfully...particularly those that I had been suppressing when a close friend took his own life just a few days ago.

My friend took his life one night, out of a deep depression at not being able to see his kids. He had rushed over to his ex-wife's house immediately after finding out that she and the kids had come back from Singapore. But upon getting there, his mother-in-law refused to let him see the children. I don't have to imagine the pain that comes with not knowing when you will ever see your children again. I had also experienced the same, a few years back. I wish I could've known that the night he called me was a night that he was actually pleading a friend to help raise him out of his hopelessness, because it was the same night he took his life. I didn't see that coming. He had sounded eeriely cheerful, was all I'd thought then. In fact, I had been annoyed that he seemed to start becoming dependent on me to fill whatever hole he was trying to fill up in him, so I kept the conversation short.

When I learned of his sad fate, I was in shock for a couple of days. Mostly, I felt afraid of facing the reality that he was really gone, and guilty that I hadn't been able to do more for him. Thanks to the support of good friends, though, I grew to slowly accept it. I didn't want to attend his cremation, but at the last minute, decided that I had to see him, if only to face reality full-on, that he really was gone. And I'm glad I did that, because then, a sense of peace in acceptance washed over me at seeing his body with my own eyes. Yes, he was really gone. And in facing that fact, I was no longer afraid, and for the first time, I was able to express the deep sadness that I really felt. No tears came though. They seemed to be stuck in my chest, still.

It was the Inner Dance workshop that finally propagated the full release for me, because I cried and cried then, the tears seemingly unstoppable, until a great big burden finally lifted off me. I became able to send my friend the love that I'd been withdrawing, out of the fear that feeling anything for him at all might hurt. After the session, I felt unbelievably light and grateful. The loss of my friend finally came to a healing close.

During the next part of the Inner Dance session, we were asked to take on partners. I ended up being partners with a girl named Mymel. We were asked to face each other on our mats and close our eyes. We were to get to know our partners on an intuitive basis. As the session progressed, the now-familiar energies came again. And as my body moved, the vision of a galaxy filled with many stars came to me. I started connecting with my partner so intimately that I came to a knowing that she and I had been great friends, sisters, for a very, very long time. I felt so much love for her. I just knew her! And what was crazy about it was that I never even met her until that day! But in the session, I felt so much familiarity and love for her that I was urged to extend my arms and pour all the love I felt out to her.

At one point, I felt compelled to open my eyes. When I did, I saw that our hands were in the exact same positions, midway up in the air, as if in offering. I thought that was strangely interesting, but closed my eyes again. My hands swayed to and fro a little more. Towards the end of the session, my hands rested on my knees. And when we were asked to open our eyes, Mymel and I discovered that we were sitting in the exact same position again! This emitted a burst of amused laughter from both of us.

During the sharing, Mymel and I found out a number of amazing things. She told about her vision of a galaxy filled with many stars – the same vision I'd had; she told of her body being taken over by a bouncy sort of energy, which she enjoyed playing with for awhile with her hands – the same bouncy energy I always felt when my body movements came on; and she told of feeling a great surge of love and warmth filling her at one point, coming from me! All these synchronistic events happened with our eyes closed.

And so this has left me in utter awe for our capacity as human beings to communicate psychically. Given the opportunity for our psychic faculties to grow, our currently limited means of communication through words would surely become obsolete. Words just don't suffice for the depth of love and understanding for another, that the psychic form of communication is able to reach. There's much happiness in psychic communication, due to a soul-knowing and understanding of one another. I do hope that one day, our world could grow into this. I mean, currently, we humans are only using a miniscule portion of our brain's true capacity. Imagine the wonders we could create when more avenues are opened up in our brains. Miracles would be a daily occurrence!

Okay, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here. But in saying all this, I'm truly grateful for the Inner Dance experience I had. It healed me of suppressed pain; it left me with a greater sense of awe for life, a more expanded view of the world; and most of all, it showed me my real capacity as a human being to love another, regardless of whether or not they're family, or even whether or not I'd ever met them before in my life. Love, in its deepest aspects, knows no difference in race, creed, personal history, or blood ties.

So I've made a renewal of vows. I've vowed to be a more active participant of this world of beautifully diverse human beings; to share more of those precious moments of life with others, even though that very same diversity in us as individuals often poses challenges in getting along peacefully. All it really is, is a little drama, a little more shape, splashes of color melding together to in the end, make the painting of life a masterful work of art. I've come to remember that God is felt as much in being with all the people around me as He/She is felt in the solitude of my heart. So I guess I'm not meant to live the life of a hermit. At least not in this lifetime. And you know what? I actually think that's a good thing.              


  1. Wow. Im blown away. Absolutely. please keep writing and sharing ur heart. Jai Ma

    1. Thank you so much sistar! Inner Dance definitely had a big impact on me, and I'm happy to share the experience. Jai Ma! :) Missing you loads!

  2. Liwanag at Pagibig sa iyo, Kapatid! napakagandang karanasan.