Monday, January 12, 2009

"Are You Out Of Your Mind?"

“Believe me when I say we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. I stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No, I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me but because of the path that lies behind me. I remember that for 100 years we have fought these machines. I remember that for 100 years they have sent their armies to destroy us, and after a century of war I remember that which matters most… We are still here! Today, let us send a message to that army. Tonight, let us shake this cave. Tonight, let us tremble these halls of earth, steel, and stone, let us be heard from red core to black sky. Tonight, let us make them remember.” And the drums beat and dancing begins

– Morpheus In Matrix Reloaded before the cave explodes into
the ecstatic dance

I remember the scene from Matrix Reloaded where after the speech, the citizens of zion break out into an ecstatic dance, what may seem oblivious to the impending attack on Zion. A friend sitting next to me said to
me “they are insane, who dances the night before such a big battle. They have got to be out of their minds to do that.” I laughed and did not think much of it then, but later it hit me, yes that’s the real question “Are you out of your mind or not?”

Fast forward a couple of years, it’s a September night in California and about 7 pm. The parking lot outside the quite gymnasium is full and the its getting a little chilly. The music is now thumping, and about 70 people are dancing, each moving to their own beat, to what would seem oblivious to the outside world. There is ecstasy, smiles and pain all intermixing in a medley of emotional movements. We are looking at the dancers from the outside, and not sure if this is something we want to do. Paul Rebilots words to us were “Check out Gabe Roth and her 5Rhythms.” We speak briefly to the DJ/5Rhytms teacher about what we need to do in order to
learn and participate “oh, nothing really, don’t think too much, just let the music move you.” It seemed insane a bit, a little out there, a little scary too perhaps given its rawness and that was all the reasons we needed to join. We have been dancing since, and during the seminars and workshops with Kathy Altman, Gabrielle Roth, Lori Smullin and Lori Saltman the key theme has always been “don’t think, feel the music, remember
feet first, move, move, trust yourself, find your own movements.” The key theme is “let the movements find you.”

As we danced more and more, the initial thinking am I moving ok? Do I look silly or do I look good? Can I impress? Etc all melted away and emerged pure movement, pure ecstasy. 2-3 hours of dancing leaves you “out of your mind, and deep into your senses” and the quality of sheer joy just sparkles in you and those around you.

Reminds me of another incident, in the early 90’s, we had been working with Sensei Sastri for a bit, and on our way for our Oku Iri (entrance to secrets) certification in Kaze Arashi Ryu (The wind storm system). We were doing randori and we were blindfolded now. I remember my muscles tensing, and my mind racing at a 100 miles an hour. The attack could come from anywhere, and I could be smacked in a million ways. The more I was thinking, the more I missed the attacks, the more I got smacked, the more I got smacked, the more I thought….. I could keep hearing sensei in the background saying “feel, feel, flow.” Tired and exhausted, my mind finally yelled and gave up ( a few good smacks do that) and I settled in and started to gently move to touch and feel the opponents, and finally I got the knack of feeling ones way through it, of trusting something other than just your mind, and seeing through with more than just ones eyes and one’s thinking. Suddenly the hit ratio improved, and was able to hold my own much better and divert the zuki’s (punches), feel my way out of throws and locks and even get into and destroy the power of kicks. How did this happen “by getting my mind out of the way, and allowing other intelligences to kick in.” Many Japanese martial arts call this Mushin or “no mind”

That evening on the way home a little bruised and in pain all over, yet with a smile on my face it stuck me that this was just like in Star Wars. When the Jedi are in training one frequently heard “use the force” or “trust the force” or “may the force be with you.” Even as the final battle unfolds, Luke lets go of the machines and uses his own force, his own higher instincts to guide him through the battle. I had always wondered would it not be cool to experience that, and now I had experienced it, in body and flesh, no longer did I need to believe in it, I knew it. I jumped and danced, and told myself, get the mind out, get the machines out, learn to trust those instincts. My fighting transformed that day, and I never looked back from then. I made a resolve, not to think too hard about it, but jump in and work it and let “it” flow through me.

Other good examples can also be found in works of great mythological fiction, both in Frank Herbert’s DUNE series and MATRIX. Paul Maudib trains while being blindfolded, and when the assassination attempts on his life fails and he is blinded, he discovers he can still “see great visions.” In Matrix Neo goes blind and yet “sees the truth.” What these wonderful myths of the future (good sci fi in my opinion are future myths, coming towards us) are telling us is that there is a truth visible only when we close our eyes to the so called system or world as we see it. Aligning to this higher truth, vision, force or instinct is what allows these heroes to pass through
their moments of greatest despair. Where the reliance has moved from man or man made technology, and moved towards something more primal, something we share with everything and everyone. Some call it the force, some call it god, some call it instinct or truth.

Call it what you may,I attest it’s the same thing. And one powerful way to access this is through “feeling the body deeply” and “sheer physicality.” The movement towards deep physical movement tends to bring one
into “one’s senses” and out of the prisons of our minds. Working on ParaTheatre Labs with Antero Alli, which has been inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowsky the same themes arise, the physicality. The idea behind the ritual technology is to start by feeling the body deeply and as Alli has told me a few times “don’t worry about understanding, do the movement, the no form, the mind can catch up later.”

Don’t get me wrong, the mind can be a useful thing, useful when you are using it. It is perhaps the greatest parasite when it is using you. Wen those thoughts don’t stop and seem to run amock and have a life of their own. Learning the trick of “stopping the world” as Castaneda put is crucial. This “stopping the world has been critical even in the development of NLP and almost ALL spiritual work. There are many ways of arriving here, of
stopping the world, of getting out of your mind, of connecting with your deepest instincts.The quickest way is  perhaps “through the body proper.”

It came a full circle recently at my dojo when one of my students when asked to take rolls across the football field said out loud “ I must be out of my mind to do this” and I smiled, thought back of all the incidents mentioned above and said “if you are not yet, I sure hope this will lead you there soon.” And with that we started rolling on the field one thump after the next

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