Updated: Apr 7, 2018
Reflections on our sangha movement class exploring the mountain climb and my love for the Performativity Paradox!
These past weeks we’ve been exploring and reflecting on the metaphor of the mountain, inspired by Julius Evola’s book Meditations on the Peaks.
Treating the mountain and the expedition of climbing a mountain as a metaphor, we have been reflecting on the parallels between the physical challenges of climbing the peaks, to that of the inner challenge of conquering the Self. To aide in this exploration—with Shunyamurti’s guidance—I facilitated a movement class last week for the community, where we gathered together and enacted the ascent of the mountain using a range of exercises.
As the groundwork for the class we reviewed first the principles of Laban—a movement system that maps out the fundamental elements of human movement: space, time, weight, and flow. I find this type of self-exploration very useful as it allows one to experience the whole spectrum of movement and therefore access areas of movement perhaps less developed or latent, and can highlight types of movement patterns one might be stuck in. It is my understanding that embedded in all our movements and expressions are millions of messages, which may be picked up unconsciously or consciously by those around us, and sets in motion a feedback loop which will morph one’s experience and affect greatly relations with the other, for better or worse.
Moving on to our ascent up the mountain, using music to evoke certain feeling states, we began at base camp where we enacted qualities relating to that of being at the periphery of the mountain—fragmented with indecision, fearful yet looking onward with anticipation. From there, we got to support and witness our comrades take the plunge to the ascent. We all stood and watched the momentum build as those who had the courage to go first inspired others to follow. Of course the journey couldn’t be without some nail biting treacherous aspects, and so with the aide of a "follow the leader exercise", the group moved in unison among the dangerous crevices of the mountain face, thousands of feet high, where, to quote Evola:
“It feels like an abyss is going to open up under one’s feet. . . . It sparks the awakening of a primordial, marvelous, and frightening sensation that is dormant in very archaic recesses of our nature”.
The final stage of our ascent was that ultimate destination—reaching the summit. Here we got to enact and experience a state of euphoria, of transcendence of the body: in the world but not of it, an at-oneness with the mountain, a total lightness of being, where, to share Evola’s experience,
“. . . the memory of every concern and activity of the life of the plains fades away like an echo . . . a different sense of self sets in and it becomes increasingly difficult to identify oneself with that hard, closed, and ephemeral shell.”
The experience for me, observing the sangha go through this meta-journey, was very uplifting. The final climax at the summit filled the room with such a palpable elation, I really felt we had gone through a rite of passage, even if it was an imaginary one. I know transcending the ego and conquering the Self is going to take more than evocative music and wild imagination, however the coming together as a community in this way is always an uplifting and bonding experience. For me, these theatrical explorations take us out of our day-to-day mode of relating to one another and transport us to a unique shared space, where we can play, loosen up, and enact our higher Self in a very playful manner, which always brings about laughter and camaraderie.
To shed light on how my love for performance and the spiritual path have collided, it began when I was being introduced to the idea that I was not just the ego with it’s behavior patterns and impulses etc.—but that there’s a higher Self. This ignited the imagination and desire to get to know more of the depths of my being beyond the surface. I recalled my theater training where I learned how to create a character through embodying different ways of moving and holding oneself etc. I thought, “if I can do that for a play, to create a different character, perhaps I could use the same techniques to embody characteristics of my higher Self”. Then came my favorite Sat Yoga concept: "The Performativity Paradox", simply put "Fake It, till you Make It"; or in other words, what one performs, one becomes.
When I consider this "Higher Self" I think of qualities such as: elegance, gentleness, flow, strength, peacefulness. Perhaps being in a female form they come to me in this way, and so I like to practice embodying movements that represent these qualities. When I do, it makes me feel more centered and loving and in harmony with others. Unfortunately, when I observe some of the patterns and habits I have gotten trapped in, I see they are not always harmonious; in fact, they can be behaviors of passive aggressiveness, aloofness, indirectness, weakness, all of which limit my growth and capacity to be responsible and loving. And so by ‘performing’ these more open and loving qualities, the hope is that eventually the ‘part’ and I will merge, like a great actor who masters a role: one day I will permanently be that elegant, flowing, strong, peaceful Goddess of compassion, a Bodhisattva such as Tara, hence the reason for taking on such a spiritual name—to help me gain inspiration from that beautiful archetypal role model.
Blessings to all beings.