Day 14 – Ecstatic Dance

This morning we are unsupervised. We all arrive on time to begin class planning; We are teaching a 60 minute class in groups of four starting tomorrow. We have breakfast as always, our papaya today is especially good. It’s filled with fresh Hawaiian fruit and sweet macadamia nuts.  

After breakfast Trish, Abbey and me walk down the driveway to hitchhike into town. We are going to the Ecstatic dance that Megan told us about. “It’s like Sunday church for them,” Megan said about the local community members. Then she giggled her famous laugh, “it’s a LOT of fun.” Her laugh is like a child’s who doesn’t hold back because they lack all knowledge of life’s impending evils. It is the angelic sound of youthful bliss. I am pumped for the local flavour we are about to experience at the local event. We are walking along the road for only two minutes when a car slows and stops beside us. We laugh, for the hatchback that stopped is full of the other yogis in our group heading to ecstatic dance. “Got room for us, too?” We ask.

We get to the doors before they are even open. The six of us: Lina the Rainbow child, Keisha the hula dancer, meditative Seva, cool Trish and dancing queen Abbey, gather around the community bulletin board to kill time. It is full of flyers for yoga teachers, Full moon workshops, Tarot card readers and $2 coconuts. I visualize what my yoga teacher cads are going to look like. I start to ponder my life beyond Hawaii. Questions like: how can I get my services to stand out amongst the saturated yoga market? What will the design of my website be like? What is the name, the feeling, the brand? What can I offer to the community that others don’t offer? I shake my head to rid my mind of these overactive thoughts, such the way a dog shakes excess water droplets from its fur. At 10:30am sharp the doors swing open and we pour in to the ecstatic space, next to the local Puna-tics. (*The correct name for locals of Puna, where ecstatic dance takes place)

The room is the combination of a massive dance studio and a greenhouse. Light wooden floors extend towards the DJ stand at the front of the room; there is a mini garden that I can see from a distance houses relics and figurines of Hindu gods. The two far ends of the room are clear and angled, allowing for the fickle Big Island sun rays to peak in. The beat is already going when we walk in. People are mainly focused on their own bodies and aren’t even looking towards the DJ stand. We put down our things and start to let the music take us over. We sway side to side and pretty soon we are jumping around, our hair tossed and sweat creeping upon our hairline.

We dance for two hours, and lose Lina, Seva and Keisha in the middle. They want chocolate so they hitchhike into town. Abbey, Trish and me don’t miss a beat. We talk later about how the moves were just coming to us, our minds clear as a cloudless sky. We don’t even think about what move we are going to do next, we just ride the waves of the beat, like surfers surrendering to a power much higher than themselves. People weave between us dancing, getting a feel for different energies. A woman with bells on her ankles and wrists hops around jingling. A pirate in yellow shorts challenges me in a short dance battle before spinning and galloping away. The dance floor begins to feel heavy. Heat rises and fans blow small pathways of air into the crowd. It is too weak to balance out the heat we’ve created and so we dance to lose ourselves, dance to go further into our own bodies. Dance to feel the highly vibrational, passionate energy of unity and love and sheer bliss that we all encompass while we move. I close my eyes as tribal electric sounds pour out of the speakers and I absorb them with every cell of my body. I imagine we are all merging softly and subtly to become one single entity of sheer bliss and passionate love.

When the music slows my body starts aching. It may be my heart, yearning for more or my legs. Having fought past my fatigue limit hours ago, my legs have succumb to the ecstatic rhythm. Perhaps they are not so blissfully unaware of the pain they are due for once the music ceases. When the music stops, we gather around into a circle, holding hands with whoever is next to us. We gather our breath as the organizer of the event speaks; We will start with community announcements. Everyone sits, except for those who have something to say. A farmer needs workers during coffee crop season, someone has too many macadamia nuts and is selling pounds for cheap, there are acro yoga classes now being offered. It is my turn and I introduce myself. “I just completed my yoga teacher certification, and I’ll be teaching at Hawaiian Sanctuary on the island,” I say. “Hope you can all make it!”

Once silent again, the organizer stands and walks slowly to the centre of the circle. “I’d like to invite anyone whose vulnerable to join me in the middle,” he says with a smile. My heart freezes and I feel horror, dread and embarrassment. I absolutely despise standing out amongst a group of people. “If you don’t want to, it means you probably should,” he continues as if reading my mind. A few souls trickle up to him, then a few more. It is a snowball effect that scoops me up in the progress until everyone, all the hot and content ecstatic dancers are huddled in an area one-quarter size of the original circle. “Look around at your brothers and sisters. We are all the same. Let’s inhale for one Om.” The group inhales deeply, and though my eyes are closed I can hear oxygen entering the lungs around me. A stillness permeates the room before the vibrations of the collective “Aum,” begin to swell in the air. I feel my heart deep inside my chest humming with the sound as it grows. My veins tingle in my arms and legs like trapped electricity racing back and forth. The sound travels through every cell, every atom of my being. Afterwards we are all silent again. People begin to slowly shift and stand. When I open my eyes I must sit for a minute as reality rushes back. Trish, Abbey and I connect around our bags. “That was the most powerful sound I’ve ever experienced,” I say scooping up my things. They nod and say they felt it, too. 

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