Sweat Your Prayers (Anglais) Broché – 28 décembre 1998
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The book is a journey through five universal rhythmsflowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. These rhythms can free the body and spirit from ordinary consciousness and catalyze motion deep in the psyche. Complete with personal stories and interactive exercises, Sweat Your Prayers reveals an ancient and contemporary method for unleashing a natural sense of movement, resulting in both personal power and presence of the soul.
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We can sort spiritual paths and psychological techniques by how the approach the human body. Gabrielle Roth's book serves as a useful adjunct to those paths that honor the body, rather than ignoring or minimizing it. For the atheists and agnostics out there, this book can also be used at a psychological level, and does not necessitate belief in "prayer" as a sacrament. In the book Roth presents five archetypal rhythms that help break some of the self-destructive patterns of Western culture and re-unite the practitioner with his or her spirit.
Roth begins the book with a brief autobiography, which also serves to establish her bona fides for writing a work on the spiritual/psychological use of dance and movement. She challenges the Western dismemberment of flesh from soul, body from spirit, she reclaims the chthonic and carnal. "The soul can only be present when body and spirit are one; it cannot breathe, exist, or move disconnected from the body." (p. 4) This book is her testimony to how we can retrieve our souls through our bodies.
Roth introduces the idea of the dance as a spiritual practice. She gives examples from her own life, challenges a list of excuses (I hate my body ... I'm too old ... I'm too shy). Then she offers "the only dance lesson you'll ever need:" Everybody has to find their own way, in their own time/space constraints to practice. She reminds us that "life is rhythm" and we need only participate in that rhythm consciously to be dancing, to be re-weaving body and soul. She then offers five concepts to help prepare for doing the rhythms: 1) That the goal is to move, to experience, not to complete something; 2) Dance happens in space, between things, between people, between worlds; 3) Awareness is the key element of dance, by paying attention to the body in rhythm, we alter consciousness and manifest our souls; 4) Follow your breath, let your breath move you; 5) Choose music that speaks to you and makes you aware of the five rhythms that make up Roth's "Wave".
She presents the five basic rhythms (flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness) and links them to primal archetypes. She has created glyphs/symbols for these links, and invites the reader to create their own. Each of the five rhythms gets its own chapter, detailing ideas linking the rhythm to archetypes, body, soul, and heart. Roth explains well, providing compelling examples to illustrate her points. Each chapter has exercises ("To Do/Not Do") as well as a list of words that elicit the archetypes for Roth. Poetry and quotations sprinkle through each chapter.
Roth concludes with a chapter called "Waves" where she presents examples of the five rhythms that go beyond dance, examining among others experiences of the subway, relationships, and architecture. Some examples are hers, others come from friends and students. The book provides contact information for the author, as well as video and CD resources.
Roth does an entertaining job of describing a spiritual/psychological physical practice as well as a state of being that has tremendous potential to enhance life. I have worked with her rhythms at times in my life, and found this approach to be empowering. Other times I avoid the movement, the dance-and I'm not certain why. I have found this work quite helpful and recommend it to anybody who feels the need to better connect body and soul.
(If you'd like to dialogue further about this book, click on the "about me" link above & drop me an email. Thanks!)
Gabrielle Roth went through a similar process, and the results are embodied in her workshops, videos, music CDs, and, now, this book. Genuinely respecting one's body as a partner to the soul is a radical notion for most of us. Roth appeals to our intuition (our gut feelings!) as well as our rational mind, and the book is not only thought-provoking but exciting on many levels. Her passion, vitality, and enthusiasm are well expressed through her writing; she phrases her thoughts memorably, and the book is an unmitigated pleasure to read. While I don't buy all of her quasi-Jungian view of personality, one doesn't have to to appreciate the book or the author's general approach to dance as a spiritual practice. Heartily recommended, and deserves reading and rereading.