QI HEALING INNER DANCE [2008-06-22]
I was in Cebu, Philippines recently for the United Religions Initiative (URI) regional meeting. Although it was an interfaith event, I met people who practised various healing arts, and I will share these in this column over several articles. First is the Inner Dance.
We were given dinner by a yoga and dance master who served us a sumptuous organic meal and then he and his students entertained us with songs and performances. Some of the guests also joined in. The Inner Dance demonstration was most fascinating.
The dancers started by going into "Alpha" ( the relaxed mind state, just as in meditation, yoga and qigong practice ) and surrender to their own inner energies and dance to the rhythm of the music. Each would be dancing in their own style, so it was more like free-style dancing. Though most of them were doing slow, graceful, artistic movements, one of them was doing ballroom dancing.
Some of the guests who volunteered did not have any movements, and was helped by the master. I noticed that the master was transferring qi much like what I and other qigong masters do when we do qi healing. Soon these newcomers would start moving and dancing like the rest. They all seemed to be in a blissful trance-like state. They were obviously enjoying themselves. The mesmerizing music also helped them get into the mood. I was invited to join, but I declined as I wanted to observe the entire session.
Although this was the first time I witnessed people dancing with qi, the experience is not new to me. When I was first gifted with qi nearly 20 years ago, I also discovered that I could do any dance and any martial arts, even those that I have never seen or heard before. I used to entertain friends by performing Indian Classical dances, other exotic dances and various martial arts styles. I stopped because I didn't want to be known as a freak. Occassionally, though, the ability comes in handy.
Once when I was practising Guolin Qigong at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, I was repeatedly irritated by a martial arts exponent who kept challenging me to hit him. I politely declined but he was insistent. So I told him to see what I could do first before letting me hit him. I summoned my qi to execute Shaolin Kung Fu flying kicks and somersaults right there on the field. I could feel my backbone and joints squeaking, but I was also enjoying the intense exercise, something I wouldn't be doing otherwise. When it was over, there was a crowd gathered around us. And that was the last time that guy bothered me.
The story of how a Filipino, Pompet Villaraza, rediscovered this healing art is fascinating, to say the least. In 2002, he stumbled on a mysterious Mexican in San Gabriel mountain, California. The mysterious Mexican named Francisco knew everything about his background and actually anticipated his coming.
Villaraza followed the Mexican wherever he went and learned everything he knew about working with the subtle energy in the human body.
During one incident, he was moved to dance in a way he didn't think was humanly possible.
"I felt powerful surges of electricity [and] I was trying to contain them, but the only way I could keep from exploding-I really thought then I would combust-was to keep screaming. I cannot describe the actual movement in words. I was doing somersaults, something I cannot do, as I twirled this stick that lay on the sand. And I found an intricate and powerful stick-fighting technique which, I was stunned to find, I had unknowingly mastered" he said. Now you can understand why I can relate to his experience.
Later he was ordered to return to the Philippines and teach this healing. It is actually called Babaylan Inner Dance. "Babaylan" is a Visayan ( Visayas is an island group in central Philippines ) term for shaman ( medicine man or woman ).
Villaraza refers to the description of the inner energy by Carlos Castaņeda ( in his book "Magical Passes") as "that tremendous power and energy that has been known since ancient times, and the release and control of which has preoccupied mystics, gurus and seers all over the world" for ages.
Casteneda wrote that his teacher, the Mexican Yaqui Indian mystic named Don Juan Matus, taught him that these calming and healing movements or "magical passes" were discovered by the shamans of Don Juan's lineage who lived in ancient times, while they were in shamanistic states of heightened awareness. The shamans realized that certain postures and movements made while in these mind-states improved well-being tremendously.
I had previously revealed that the roots of qigong is believed to be from ancient India, and was then passed on to ancient China. Now we have to examine our history and see whether it all came from the ancient shamans of South America! Alternatively, all the three civilizations may have independently discovered and developed the inner energy healing arts.
Since Inner Dance causes qi to flow as you dance, it has calming and healing effects. Many people who have never practiced any healing arts before have experienced health benefits after practising Inner Dance. The energy released is the gentle, healing, feminine or yin qi. Although the dancers appear as if they are in a trance, they are actually in "Alpha" meditative state.
However, although some do try to explain the movements through the work of the inner energy ( life force/ qi/ ki/ prana/ kundalini/ odic force/ orgone energy/ tenaga hayat/ tenaga dalam ), others are skeptical that there is anything more to it than just dancing to the music. For a qigong exponent like me, it is actually qi healing dance.
Inner Dance is claimed to work in three dimensions:
First, it calms the mind and relieves stress, which is beneficial to us all in this overstressed world. This will be obvious to anyone as the dance movements are mainly slowly and soothing.
Second, it has health and healing benefits, including miraculously healing some difficult ailments. Among the examples cited were - a large cyst popped out of the wrist of a participant and a woman's acute glaucoma was healed after they did the dance movements. Many others reported the complete disappearance of serious back pains, stiff neck and headaches.
Thirdly, according to Pi, "Inner Dance even clears a pathway to a higher state of energy awareness not in a conceptual way, but through a very real and often transformative experience in mind and body in a way that is difficult to doubt, especially once you notice your appendages moving without your conscious volition."
Those who have practised qigong and have experienced spontaneous movements brought about by qi will relate to this heightened energy awareness.
If you practise Inner Dance regularly, just as if you practise qigong regularly, you will feel the energy and may experience the spontaneous movements even after the sessions.
The Inner Dance movement is gaining popularity in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries. There are various other energy dances being taught around the world, like Chakra Dance, etc.
There is a more "serious" form of InnerDance ( one word ) taught by Val Loeffler in USA, described as a " Weaving continuum of yoga and fluid healing arts" that "explore fluidity around the spine, breath and joint spaces with wave motion; gentle and expansive movements that enliven, increase mobility and self- discovery!" This InnerDance is in fact a variation of the formal Continuum Movement somatic education which was developed by Emilie Conrad-Da'oud. Loeffler himself is a certified Continuum Movement teacher and has helped many people improve their health.
Continuum Movement explores our capacity to participate in our health and well being, using sensation, breath, sound, and movement. It starts with the premise that movement is not something we do, it's something we are. Awareness of ourselves as movement begins with becoming more sensitive to our inner world, by exploring breath, sound, and fluidity.
It is also something we always do as we connect with our inner self during qigong practise.
I hope these dance forms will become popular in Malaysia as it is a way to get people to involve themselves in an easy-to-learn and beneficial healing art. If you are willing to dance, then you can heal yourself!
Dr Amir Farid Isahak