Blog Archives

Dancing the Wu Tao Way

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading:   Dancing the Wu Tao Way

By Michelle Locke

Everyone is getting on the dance band wagon right now.  Millions of people across the globe are becoming aware of dance as a medium for the individual expression, of beauty, passion, and joy, the qualities of the soul.  Just look at the increase of shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ to see how popular dance is becoming. It’s no wonder people everywhere are signing up for dance classes in all styles.

Welcome Wu Tao. Wu Tao Dance is one of the newcomers on the dance block.  Suitable for everyone, Wu Tao is essentially about healing.  Through the medium of dance, and using the inspiration of beautiful music, Wu Tao enables everyone to tap into their soul and express themselves while balancing out life energy and increasing physical fitness.

Wu Tao (translation: “The Dancing Way”) is a therapeutic dance workout that aims to restore balance.  Based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, it works by harmonising the flow of vital energy called Qi or Chi, throughout the body.  The Chi flows through channels called meridians and Wu Tao helps to rebalance, unblock and restore the chi flow in these meridians.

Wu Tao – The Dancing Way® was developed in 2001 by former ballerina Michelle Locke.  A career in classical ballet was brought to a halt when Michelle suffered a serious back injury that forced her to stop dancing.  Devastated by the loss of her career, but motivated to heal herself, Michelle discovered Shiatsu, went on to study it and in 1993, set up the first Shiatsu school in WA.  Her passionate love of dance and her on-going interests in eastern healing methods, led her to create Wu Tao.

Wu Tao is dance that balances the Chi.  It is unique in its style, as well as being beautiful to do.  There are no harsh or jarring movements, just flowing, expressive dance that energises and tones the body while calming the spirit.

Fundamental to the practice of Wu Tao, is its foundations in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the philosophy of Taoism. The ‘Tao’ simply means the ‘way’ or ‘path’, which in essence, refers to living life in harmony with the natural flow of Life.  Ancient Taoist sages lived their lives observing life in the natural world and attuning themselves to it.  Hence, being able to ‘flow like water’, be ‘flexible like a tree’, turn inwards and build energy in the season of winter, or harness the energy and move obstacles from the path in spring.

Many people these days are looking for ways to become less stressed, more peaceful and more joyful.  It is obvious that being in this zone is good for you! Recent scientific studies (see Molecules of Emotion by Candice Pert) show the benefits of thinking thoughts that increase positive feeling states.

It has been proven that one of the biggest killers of human beings is stress and its related conditions.  Hence, the increase in therapies and methods that reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation and psychotherapy have become very popular.

One of the unique benefits that Wu Tao has is that you are able to embody positive states of awareness, as opposed to just thinking about them.  You literally dance them into being.

Imagine this.  You have a problem with your boss.  It’s driving you crazy.  You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head.  It takes a few days for you to think up a solution, and by the end of that time you are stressed and fatigued.

Now imagine this: You have a problem with your boss.  It’s driving you crazy.  You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head.  You go to your Wu Tao class.  You take the situation with you into the dance.  In the first dance you embody letting go.  As you dance you let go of your thoughts, feelings, expectations and struggle.  No thinking is involved; you just embody release as you dance.

In the next dance, you become trust. You give yourself over to the energy that is greater than yourself, (also called God or Source Energy); trusting that in your surrender, the way will open up.  In this dance you simply rest, surrender and trust the process. Next dance is about self expression and clearing energy blockages.  In this one you consciously dance out all and any feelings that you have about the situation.  If you are angry, you dance it.  If you are frustrated or anxious you dance this too.

The next dance relates to the Fire element and is about celebration and transformation. The final earth dance embodies gratitude.  This is where it all comes together.  Here you give thanks for the gifts and opportunities this situation and person has brought you.

Working from the premise that Life supports you, you stop pushing and resisting. Instead you give thanks for everything that Life is bringing you, opening yourself fully to the energy.  This brings about a total realignment with Life and everything is brought into balance.

By the time you leave class, you feel peaceful, balanced and energized.  The situation you came in with is no longer a problem and you have accessed the inner resources to deal with it effectively and easily.  You are free of anxiety and tension and able to move forward knowing the situation has been resolved.  The energy is always available to show the way.

In Wu Tao, the dances help you to harness the power of life force energy. As you dance you begin to know yourself as one with this energy. It becomes easier to listen and follow your inner guidance.  There is a sense of flow and ease that is palpable. The mind is given ‘time out’ and bliss naturally arises as the body becomes fully engaged in the dance.

In a regular class the dances are done in sequence.  The class starts with some gentle stretches and warm-up, followed by the dances and finishing with meditation and deep relaxation.  When you leave the class, ready to rejoin the world, you are centred, peaceful and energized.  Many people sleep better after a class and the effects are enduring and sustaining.

Wu Tao offers classes and workshops to many different groups of people including children, the elderly, and the corporate sector. It is most beneficial to join a beginner’s class or workshop first, but many people jump straight in to a regular class and pick the dances up over a few weeks.

Also available are classes and workshops in Wu Tao for TwoTM, a version of the dances that are done with a partner.  The Wu Tao for TwoTM dances are unique beautiful, and great fun to do! They also help us to bring harmony, love and balance into our relationships with others by increasing energy flow and connection.

Wu Tao classes are now held in most states throughout Australia, as well as in New Zealand and London, UK. Those people passionate about Wu Tao and wanting to share this healing modality are able to take it a step further and become teachers.  The teacher training program which is now offered in most states of Australia as well as New Zealand is intensive, transformational and practical.  Wu Tao now has over 80 trained teachers, including 10 teachers in New Zealand.  For more information visit www.wutaodance.com

For people who are looking for a different experience where healing and balance are important, Wu Tao could be just the thing.  Differing from other healing forms such as yoga, tai chi or pilates with its use of music and dance, it offers the discerning participant a very enjoyable, powerful and energising experience for body, heart and soul.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Winter Spring Earth Wisdom

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Winter-Spring Earth Wisdom

By Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

Intro: In the Southern Hemisphere we have just passed the Earth holy-day of Winter Solstice, which was in late June; and are moving into Early Spring which may be celebrated in early August and is traditionally named as “Imbolc”.

Winter Solstice is the Seasonal Moment of the year when Earth’s tilt leans us furthest away from the Sun – when the dark part of the day is at its longest. The stories of Old tell of the Great Mother giving birth to the Divine Child on this night, as henceforth the Sun’s light and warmth begin to return, and the ongoing creativity of Earth is assured. This Earth holy-day was adapted by Christianity as the time to celebrate the birth of its Divine Child, but the Divine Child of more ancient Earth-based religious practice was understood as renewed Being itself, the promise of never-ending renewal – apparent eternal Creativity itself. And just so, may we re-story it again in our times, with our own renewed understandings. From this point of the year on, for the next few seasons, Sun’s strength will grow, until it peaks at Summer Solstice and turns yet again.

At the sacred site of Newgrange in Ireland – known by its indigenous name as “Bru na Boinne” – where the megalithic mound is dated at 3200 B.C.E. , the Winter Solstice dawn lights up a Triple Spiral motif that is engraved on the inner chamber wall. It is thought that this Triple Spiral represents the Triple Goddess as She was known by the ancients in that place, and also that it represents the heart of the sacred heritage of ritual celebration of eternal creation, that the seasonal Wheel of the Year expresses, and that this site records .*

Winter Solstice is the time for the lighting of candles, for embracing the miracle of being, for choosing a joyful response to the awesome fact of existence, for celebrating the gift of birth. Birthing is not often an easy process – for the birthgiver, nor for the birthed one: it is a shamanic act requiring strength of bodymind, attention and focus of the mother, and courage to be of the new young one.

Birthgiving is the original place of “heroics”. Many cultures of the world have never forgotten that: perhaps therefore better termed as “heroics.”(In pre-Olympian times, Hera was Amazon Queen of the Land and not the “wife of Zeus”. Heracles was her hero, because he did her bidding, thus the term “hero” is derivative of “Hera”).

Patriarchal adaptations of the story of this Seasonal Moment usually miss the Creative Act of birthgiving completely – pre-occupied as they often are with the “virgin” nature of the Mother being interpreted as an “intact hymen”, and the focus being the Child as “saviour”: even the Mother gazes at the Child in Christian icons, while in more ancient images Her eyes are direct and expressive of her integrity as Creator.

Winter Solstice and Early Spring rituals may be a contemplation of the Creativity of the Cosmos – Cosmogenesis … how it all unfolds. When told from within a “Mother-mind” – a mind that connects the biological creativity of the female body to Cosmic Creativity, to our “Navel” lineage, to the Nativity of every being, then we are all the Holy Ones. And we all – female and male – may know the skill and care required for “birthing” the New, whether that is physical, psychological or however one categorizes it.

In Earth-based religious practice, the ubiquitous icon of Mother and Child – Creator and Created – expresses something essential about the Universe itself … the “motherhood” we are all born within (not simply a “brotherhood”). It expresses the essential Communion experience that this Cosmos is, the innate and holy Care that it takes, and the reciprocal nature of it: that is, how one is always Creator and Created at the same time. We cannot touch without being touched at the same time. We may realize that Cosmogenesis – the entire Unfolding of the Cosmos – is essentially relational: our experience tells us this is so.

Subheading:  Early Spring/Imbolc

The Early Spring/Imbolc celebration is traditionally a time of dedication to the nurturance of the New Young Being. Once again, this is no wimpy task: it is for the brave and courageous, whether one is committing to the new being in another, or in one’s self. The Great Goddess Brigid of the Celtic peoples is traditionally invoked for such a task. She has been understood for millennia as the ‘One Who tends the Flame of Being’: a Brigid-ine commitment is one that is unwavering in its devotion to the central truth of each unique particular self. The stories of old speak of Brigid in three primary capacities – that may need spelling out in our times, as they are almost forgotten skills: She is imagined as blacksmith, physician and poet …   all three.

Blacksmith is one who takes the unshapely lump of raw metal, melts it, then takes the fiery hot form and shapes it. This is no stereotypical “feminine” act: the Goddess of old is not bound by such patriarchal dualisms. She is spiritual warrior, shaman – this is her eternal virgin quality, never separate from the ‘mother’ quality or the ‘Old One’ quality, and no need to characterize such power as “masculine” or dissociate it from “nursery” activity.

Physician is one who understands the “physics” of being, of matter – how a body relates within itself and within its context, functions harmoniously and thus may heal/ become whole. In this role, Brigid is scientist, healer – none of it is separate. Her physics are biologically connected – an understanding of dwelling within a whole and seamless Universe.

Poet of Old is one who speaks the metaphors, the stories of cultural knowledge, the sacred language of creativity – one who “spells” what may be so. It is a power of spirit: the voice enabled by air, resonant with the winged ones – the birds – whose perspective transcends boundaries. The ancients knew Poetry as a sacred and powerful task – that with our words, we do create what is so. Brigid’s “motherhood statements” are statements of the Mother/Creator, Who once again is never separate from her whole self – the Young One and the Old One – represented in the Triple Spiral dynamic.

The coming into Being that Winter Solstice and Early Spring celebrates, is an awesome thing. It takes courage and daring. It has taken courage and daring – always. In these times of change, it is perhaps particularly so. Our times require the melting down of so much that no longer works, that will not carry us through. These times require the re-shaping and speaking of new realities – an aboriginal magic of new connections, with what is already present within us, if we can but plumb it, open to it deep within. This is a great seasonal moment to get with the plot of Creativity, to align ourselves with our Native Wisdom …the Wisdom that in fact brings us all into being. We may respond to the gift of being by receiving it graciously – and thus become responsible. Though we may feel inadequate, we are not – and we need to begin.

It can be a useful exercise to re-write prayers or songs learned perhaps too well as a child or later, to re-speak them and imbue them with new understandings. It is a way of spelling one’s self, of changing one’s mind – to articulate with each word and phrase what one truly believes to be so. And besides, many of the prayers and praises that are found in patriarchal religions of recent human history are often founded upon the expressions of some earlier Earth-based Goddess religion that is now unmentioned and buried. So any re-writing and listening to one’s own interpretations of the pattern of the prayer may end up being closer to its original sense, as well as speaking a new moment.

I offer the following, addressing the Universe as Mother:

Our Mother

Who is with us,

Holy is our Being.

Thy Kin-dom is present.

Thy Desire is felt throughout the Cosmos.

We graciously receive your infinite daily abundance.

May we forgive each other our lack of skill and insensitivity.

May we understand our inner guidance,

and perceive each other’s needs.

For Thine is the Kin-dom, the Power and the Story,

forever and ever.

Blessed Be . **

© Glenys Livingstone 2008

* See Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland. Rochester Vermont, Inner Traditions International, 1994.

** Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. IUniverse 2005, p. 259, with acknowledgement of Karen Davis’ term “Kin-dom”, from “A Peacable Kin-dom and the Ethics of Eating”, EarthLight, Issue 51 Vol 14 No.2., Autumn 2004. p.54.

***Newgrange:  The Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange,  Knowth,  Dowth, Fourknocks, Loughcrew and Tara are located in the present day County of Meath on the east coast of Ireland. The Boyne Valley Mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth were built around 3200BC making them older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Built by Neolithic farming communities about 5000 years ago, the passage tombs have clear astronomical alignments such as the Winter Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange and the Equinox Sunrise at Loughcrew.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word