“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? …Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”
~Angeles Arrien, author of The Four-Fold Way & Signs of Life, from the foreword of the book Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth
I love this quote and have been sharing it with my students for years. I find tremendous solace in the idea that something as simple as dance, song, story, and silence can be foundational in the care and feeding of our souls.
No study and striving are required to learn these things; they are innate and have been a part of us since we were children. I work with 4 and 5 year-olds and every day I see how these healing salves are woven into their world. Free movement and song is as natural to them as breathing. I’ve never once heard a child comment that they are too self-conscious to dance or sing, or that they just can’t. Stories fill their days in so many ways; in the classroom, on the playground, in the song and dance, and even in the way they tell you about something they did or discovered. And the moments of silence are so sweet and natural. I can sit at a snack table with a child, saying no words at all, easily dropping into the comfort of deep, wordless presence.
But somehow, somewhere along the way we stopped our dance, quieted our song, and closed our story. And we filled up moments of healing silence with incessant thoughts, constant talking, and never-ending noise; multi-tasking it all to keep it going faster and faster. We’ve adulted the magic right out of our lives, squeezed out the spontaneity and freedom, and wonder why we feel so disheartened and dispirited and spiritually depressed.
This freedom that we long for is a function of relaxing back into who we are, reclaiming our natural childlike free-flowing state of wonder and creativity. Freedom is a feeling of rightness that comes from an unplanned, creative experience of being completely in the moment, following its lead wherever it takes you. When we can become brave enough to say “yes” to it flowing through us, it completely feeds the soul. As a result, our true colors, the one-of-a-kind, beautiful expression of The Divine that each of us is, comes to the surface and bursts open into full bloom.
Freedom Yoga is an excellent way to cultivate all of this. I share the quote because it accurately describes the aspects of my approach to Freedom Yoga that feeds my soul. Creativity, authenticity, and courage are at the center of my teaching. We get out of the heady thinking and drop down into the heart space of feeling. Being creative in this experience means we open to infinite possibilities in all we do (on the mat and in life), resting in not-knowing, letting go of advanced planning, being present and open to Divine Flow, however that looks and sounds. Movement begins to become more dance-like, a fluid and flowing morph of inner guidance made manifest. What we say becomes more song-like as our voices open to speak our truth and sing our song with a newfound clarity and resonance. Courage and self-trust wells up in us and empowers us to tell our own unique stories, letting ourselves be seen, as we listen to others’ stories and see them, too. And the moments of silent pause brings us back to a deep center, back to the magic of who we really are.
About Carie Garrett:
December 2, 2022 – Today we bow to our longtime friend Carie Garrett — a sparkling, colorful, bhakti-loving, freedom-yoga-inspired spirit who flew off on the evening of 1 December.