Sunrise Ranch

By Roshana Ariel

Dancing with the feet is one thing. Dancing with the heart is another.
— author unknown

Folks here at Sunrise Ranch are in a celebratory mood these days. In the lingo of this “vibrational” ministry, things are really moving, and we’re all feeling it.

Hi, I’m Roshana, a Full Self Emergence intern at Sunrise, bringing you my monthly look at life here on the Ranch.

If there’s one word that defines this community, it’s “creativity.” Sunday morning and Wednesday evening talks are often about living our lives as creator beings. We think about creative ways to solve problems, creative ways to cultivate relationships and creative ways to foster our individual growth.

And speaking of growth, Sunrise Ranch seems to be in the midst of rapid growth and progress on a number of fronts. More than two-thirds of our staff, it was recently announced, have been here five years or fewer, and half of that number have been here for less than a year. We are certainly a young community, in terms of length of residency.

But we’re growing in other ways too, expanding into the greater world community. It’s not my place to talk about all of the possibilities and plans in the mix, but we sure have been feeling the energy and the vibrancy of the potential for our community in recent weeks.

As for me, I feel I’m growing creatively too, in a number of ways: I play the flute for Sunday services from time to time, I produce daily “memes” for the Creative Field Facebook page, I manage the Community Kiosk (a big-screen TV with an ever-changing slide show that informs residents and guests about the weather, community projects, weekly activities, etc.), and I host a one-hour dance every Thursday night.
That one-hour dance session (called variously Ecstatic Dance, Trance Dance or 5-Rhythms Dance) is my favorite hour of the week. During that hour, there is no structure other than the ongoing beat. I simply show up, light some candles and turn all the other lights off, then push play on my laptop, which is dialed in to a dance playlist on a website that hosts thousands of playlists for every type of musical taste. Then, I just move and keep moving to whatever beat might emerge in any given moment.

I think of it as a kind of meditation in motion: I keep going back to the beat, focusing on the beat, moving to the beat … that’s all. And just like in sitting meditation, conversations and situations that have occurred during the week float through my brain and out the top of my head as I consciously let go of them, one by one. I guess it’s my way of “processing” those situations and clearing my head.

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet.
— Constanze Mozart

I see music as a language, just like English, French or Swahili. It communicates in moods and flow, rhythm and volume, repetition and nuance.

When I play my flute, I’m often thinking of the words of the song I’m playing, and I try to “speak” those words through the notes, the breath and the quality of tone. If there are no words to the piece I’m playing, I imagine what the composer had in mind when the piece was written: What compelled him to put those notes on paper, to bring those emotions into the physical realm? Was it love or longing? Joy or sadness? Pride or regret?

Singing birds are communicating, as are whales and dolphins, plants and bugs. Everywhere in creation there’s language, all the way up and all the way down.
And of course, language is not just in sound, but in our eyes, our smiles and the ways our bodies move—how we walk, sit, stand, and yes, dance. We communicate volumes, intentionally or not, with our body language.

The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.
— Mata Hari

As I move to the music on Thursday nights, I find myself imagining scenes playing out in the changing rhythms. The music carries me to drummers in an African jungle, to horn players jamming in a Chicago speakeasy, to wild young dancers in a Paris disco, to all-out chaos in a riot-torn ghetto, to monks chanting in the halls of a distant monastery.

Music is a language of stories, told in its mysterious and various dialects, expressing the ever-evolving nature of the human condition. And, as world-renowned dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once s aid, dance is the hidden language of the soul.

May your soul find its expression in your own hidden language, however that emerges for you.

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