Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Gabrielle Roth. Gabrielle is a best-selling author, movement innovator, and music/theatre director. Her workshops and retreats join the currents of world music and theater with the ancient pulse of shamanism. Through her ongoing, interactive live theater, catalytic classes, and workshops around the world, Gabrielle continues to inspire and guide people on the path of shaping life itself into a work of art. She has written several books, including Sweat Your Prayers and Maps to Ecstasy.

With Sounds True, Gabrielle Roth has created three DVD programs centered on ecstatic dance called The Wave: Introductory Ecstatic Dance for Body and Soul; The Power Wave: A High-Velocity Ecstatic Dance Workout; and The Inner Wave: Dancing Your Authentic, Intuitive Self. She teaches a moving meditation based on five universal rhythms that flow through our lives and have the capacity to teach, catalyze, and even heal.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Gabrielle and I spoke about how the “5Rhythms” pervade all of life, including her experience with childbirth and even her recent experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis. We also talked about how her work with the 5Rhythms is now being used to help people in hospitals heal from diseases like cancer and what her hopes are for her work with the 5Rhythms to take hold in society. Here’s my conversation with the very honest and generous Gabrielle Roth.

Gabrielle, I haven’t spoken with you in many years, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you.

Gabrielle Roth: Well, thank you, Tami. It’s really great to reconnect.

TS: To begin with, I want to talk with you about something that’s sensitive, which is, as I was preparing for this conversation, I learned through some online research that you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer in the last few years. I found many different things online, including a report that you are now cancer-free, but I’d love to just hear from you what’s been happening with this cancer journey—and, really, the experience of the 5Rhythms, if you will, through your own cancer journey.

GR: Well, when you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s a slam dunk into reality—actually, the reality of the exit sign. So I spent a few months staring at the exit sign; that’s for sure. And the other thing: living with cancer is like sleeping with the enemy. It’s a constant—it’s something that could erupt at any moment. So it does kind of force you into the now, into being quite Zen. These are things that we’ve all been talking about and thinking about and teaching and whatever for many, many years—what the human potential has. So the cancer makes it very real.

For me, I remember when the doctor told me I had lung cancer. It was in July, and I had a big workshop in California in August, and I was only concerned about that workshop and would I be able to get there. Finally, after batting back a number of my questions, he said, “What I’m trying to tell you is you’ve just been hit by a Mack truck.” And that was very real. It was like, splatter! And then it hit me when I came home.

I’ve learned so much on this journey. I’m not cancer-free; I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know if anybody is ever truly cancer-free who has had cancer, but I am doing very well, and I’m very stabilized, and that’s a—what do you—I’m really grateful for that. It’s been a long, deep, and profound learning and continues to be.

TS: Now, when you say it’s like being struck with reality, it sounds to me like many of the insights and discoveries that you had made in your years as a dancer/performer, writer, and teacher now have been tested in a way, in a certain sense, and I’m curious what you’ve discovered in terms of which insights feel like, “Oh, I know this!” and which ones were like, “Well that was kind of a great idea, but when push comes to shove and I got this cancer diagnosis, who knows? I don’t really know.”

GR: I felt like I had a self to fall back on, which was very important, that I had been feeding and nourishing and developing for 50 years of practice, and that I had practice that helped me. Even though I wasn’t able to dance, life is a dance, and I still was able to see through the perspective of the 5Rhythms and to feel and to be in my body and to be instinctive, which was the most important thing of all. Because you have a lot of people telling you what to do, and they all have on white coats, and you also have information coming in from your cousin, the doorman, and the taxi driver’s great-aunt, and everybody who you meet knows somebody who’s doing something with cancer.

So there was a tremendous amount of energy coming at one, when we’re first diagnosed with cancer, and I think that for me, I fell back inside of myself and just went very quiet and just paid attention to my body. For example, the first treatments that they felt that I needed to have, radiation and chemotherapy—my whole body recoiled. It was like I was contracting. And I looked, and I just saw myself. The doctor was speaking, and it was like he was speaking to someone else. And I just knew that that wasn’t right for me at that moment. It wasn’t that it isn’t right but that it wasn’t right for me in that moment.

I was exhausted. I had been running all over the world. I’d been teaching full-time, writing, doing everything, and in the irony of spreading a practice that is a healing practice and an artistic practice, and now I was the one who really had to stop, look, and listen, in a very different way, in a personal way. So I actually sat on my beautiful white couch in my loft here in Manhattan and was just with myself, meditating, drinking my green drinks, letting go of sugar, and doing some just very practical things in getting myself together and taking in information that was important.

Like, I have found out about a man called Ralph Moss, who is a cancer researcher, and he was my first stop. I sent him all my information, and then he assesses it and then gives you some recommendations about what is happening in the world of Western medicine and alternative medicine in your particular cancer. Through that source or resource, I then chose to go to Germany to a doctor in a cancer clinic, and I did a lot of hypothermia and vitamin treatments, and I built myself up in many ways and came back and met a beautiful doctor at NYU who put me on a drug called Tarceva, which did in fact clear my cancer for about a year and half or two.

It’s an amazing drug. It’s a target drug. And I suggest to anybody who has cancer to have molecular testing to see if any of these new target drugs are available to them because they’re just the next movement in the fields of cancers.

TS: Now, Gabrielle, you mentioned that you were unable to dance when you received the cancer diagnosis and through your cancer journey. I’m curious: have you been able to have a dance relationship, a moving relationship with it?

GR: Oh yes, but when I very first was diagnosed, I could barely breathe or walk. So it’s like, yes, I dance now. I’m walking. I walk 30 blocks a day; I’m quite active. But in the very beginning, I was not able to dance.

TS: And what’s it been like for you to work with your cancer in motion, through dance? I say that because as I was preparing for this conversation, I was reading your books Maps to Ecstasy and Sweat Your Prayers, and there are examples of people dancing through all kinds of personal pain and grief and creative discovery and processes of all kinds. I’m curious what it would be like, dancing through such a Mack truck experience.

GR: Well, the beauty of it is I was in the moment. The beauty of it was from years of practice, I had already kind of downloaded the path into the dance. And I pretty much let go of any grief that I was carrying or any anger that I was carrying or any fear that I was carrying that belonged to another time or place. So that was extremely helpful. Because of course, cancer is a very scary thing. And you do come up against a lot of different things that can make one quite angry. And there are many reasons to grieve.

So it was beautiful to me that I was only dealing with that and not dealing with 50 or 60 years of backlog of emotional baggage because that is truly difficult—when you haven’t dealt with your emotional world, and suddenly you’re thrust into something that really pushes many buttons that require feelings.

So I felt like my practice was doing me. I had been doing my practice for 50 years, and now my practice was doing me and moving me through life. Life for me is a dance, even when I’m sitting on the couch. It’s like I’m still moving, I’m still breathing, I’m still alive. It’s like we’re living organisms; there’s no stopping of the dance. I may not be jumping up or doing specific rhythms or running across the floor dancing to wild music, but there are many levels of dance. Life is a dance. The mind is a dance.

It was so important to me to recognize the beauty of the emptiness that my practice had created inside of me, that this space inside of me gave me a refuge of peace. And so that whole process has been three years now and has been full of many, many changes, most of them due to side effects, most of them due to side effects of the various drugs that were saving my life. So 99 percent of mind discomfort has come from various side effects, some of them very debilitating and some of them just minor irritations.

But in all of that—being able to maintain my sense of humor, maintain a meditative place in my mind, and deal with each thing as it came up, knowing that this too will pass. So all of that—I can’t separate all the dancing that I’ve done, all the emotional embodiment, or even the mindful embodiment because part of it, when we are really mindful, when we are really—our mind is embodied, our emotions are embodied—then we live in a fluid, intuitive, instinctive field. And in that place, we can really know, not think about it, but know what to do from moment to moment. So that even with the chemotherapy, I knew that at that moment, it was not right for me.

And my doctors agree now that I would be dead had I done that. I would not have survived. Every part of me knew that. So I think the dance has brought me to the bare bones of me, to a sweet emptiness in me that allows me to really pay attention to the inner movements of my deepest being.

That part of me that hooked up to what I called “divine intelligence”—that force that is moving through all of us that is bigger than any of us. This faith in this intel, rather than a constant going up to my little mind, my little head, my little head-tripper and checking my “imails” and my “memails” and going through a whole ego process about every decision. It was more like sitting quiet until I know what to do. And I’ve gone through many—several, at least—moments of transition where I really fell back into this part of me for periods of time while I waited to know what to do next.

And this is, I think, the key because in the field of cancer, actually, nobody knows. Nobody really knows what to do or what exact dosage. It’s all experimental. Most doctors will tell you they are going on the best-case scenario, but there are a lot of unknown factors. And so the best hope for one is to be really in touch with one’s own instinctive self and the intuitive self and to pay attention to that. Some things are right for you in a moment, and other things are not. It doesn’t matter what the person next to you or the person in front of you or behind you, what result they have had. It’s quite personal.

TS: You know, Gabrielle, I’m curious about something because in immersing myself in your work and in preparation for this conversation, the 5Rhythms—flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness—flow through the way that you teach. As I was reading about these 5Rhythms, I was really thinking, “Do they really flow through everything as Gabrielle describes it? Is there some sixth rhythm that maybe she hasn’t mapped?”

GR: [Laughs.]

TS: And, you know, so I’m curious what your thoughts are about that, especially in light of your experience over the last three years.

GR: I would say that it has only deepened my resonance with the 5Rhythms because what I was actually just describing, as I think about, if I look at it through the perspective of the 5Rhythms, is boom: you’re given a diagnosis of anything or something. The first step is to let it in, to truly let it and kind of go with the flow of it and to receive information, to be receptive, which is the teachings of the rhythm of flowing.

And once one has let enough information in that you feel ready, the staccato: we make a decision, we make an action, we come out, we go into action. We say, “Yes, I’m going to do this, I’m going to here, I’m going to choose this doctor.” You fall into the staccato, and everything seems secure and organized for a while.

And you go on to your protocols, whatever that is. And, of course, then you enter into the creative maelstrom of chaos. And in the cancer: whatever drug you are being given, living through this, going through all the changes and ups and downs of it, and finally finding a place where you settle into a more lyrical stage of really being at home with and in tune with the rhythms that it has created inside of you. For example, like now, I see there is a logic and rhythm, to some degree, to my treatments, and after so many days, I can expect this and that. I have a more lyrical relationship to it.

Okay, for a couple days I’m going to have this acne on my face, like a teenager. Okay, that’s gonna be it. I’m not going to schedule a filming in those two days. And some things can knock you off the wall and come off and not be expected, and the unexpected is quite there, but there is this rhythm to things. And then there’s this place of peace with whatever it is you’ve chosen to do—whatever you’ve chosen to do, you’re doing it. And there’s no reason to second-guess it or fight it or resist it. You just go into a still place with it. Like, this is what I’m doing right now to support myself in my healing.

I don’t like the word “fighting” cancer. I’ve never been a fighter. I have people around me saying, “We’re going to fight this thing.” And I thought, “No, I’m not going to fight this thing. I’m going to surrender to the reality of it and move with it and try to outwit it as long as I can—or at least find a way to be with it.” I think that’s been a really important attitude for me: is to be with it. Not to feel victimized by it, not to feel freaked out by it, just “This is what I’m living with.”

TS: Would it be fair to say that you’ve been dancing with cancer?

GR: I have been dancing with cancer. That’s a quite fair thing to say. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, cheek to cheek. I think there have been studies showing that there is an efficacy to the 5Rhythms with other cancer patients beside myself that have been done scientifically in hospitals. And so, it is a fabulous practice for people who are survivor—I don’t like the word “survivor” either. It’s not a good one for me, but … for people who are living with either the post-, the pre-, or the cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It is a fabulous process because it gives us a way to ground, to root the cells, to be sexy and juicy, and to be rhythmic and real and raw and vulnerable. It is a safe place to creatively let go of a lot of pent-up frustration or tension or confusion—all of which come with life as well as cancer. It’s just a fabulous way to release the past so that the mind can be really empty so that all these inner worlds can flow together into some intelligence that makes sense, that supports us, and that is not self-destructive but moving in the creative.

The 5Rhythms are the DNA of the creative process. They are a key to how things move and change. When I really knew this was when I had my baby. My body went through the 5Rhythms organically, giving birth. I had my contractions, and they got more percussive and staccato, and then it got very chaotic, and I was doing my little dog pant, and then the baby is coming down through the channel, and you go into a trance, and it’s, like, otherworldly. And then the baby comes out, and boom, and then you have a baby on your breast or always close to it. And it’s stillness, a peacefulness, a sense of completion that I have never felt in any other way.

I think that is when I knew, “Oh my God, this is like the DNA of the creative process, which was encoded in the female body.” And in some ways, a child is your greatest art form. Not to say that—because as women, we can go on to create many other things because we are amazing artists, but we also, I think, have a sense of that creative process that comes from an internal wisdom that is eternal.

TS: What occurs to me as you’re talking about the 5Rhythms in birth is how the 5Rhythms might relate to the death process, which, as we know, is also a highly creative process and true to our bodies, indigenous to who we are. I’m sure this is something you’ve given thought to. So I’m curious what you think about that.

GR: Well, you know, it is something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, Tami, but it is something that I have viscerally and kinesthetically experienced. For sure, when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I figured I had a few months to live. Nobody gave me any timeline. I just was so weak. I could barely walk from my bed down the hall to my couch. So it didn’t look very good. I certainly wouldn’t have expected the turnaround that occurred.

So I was looking at it then, and I was quite peaceful with it but was a bit sad. And I felt slightly unfinished—I don’t think anybody ever really feels totally complete. But I was at peace with it, and then when it all turned around on me, I think that was more shocking. I actually spent a couple of months trying to integrate that, that I was so much better.

On the way—I haven’t experienced the death yet, so I haven’t experienced the 5Rhythms of death. I’m expecting that I will, and recently, I almost died from a hemorrhage through my nose, which was a reaction to a drug and, sadly, not a very uncommon reaction to a drug called Avastin. So that was a very in-your-face, kind of, no-time-for-5Rhythms—just bleed and breathe and pray that it stops. It was very difficult. It didn’t stop for five days. So it was like living that sudden realization, “Oh my God! This is it. This could be really it!”

But I have to say beyond that, there was no other thinking. I don’t know if it was so encompassing, and I was so tired and shocked that I was too stunned to think or what. But I wasn’t thinking. I can tell you that.

I remember thinking, “Oh, if I’d only known this, I would have done ...” You know, you leave the house one day, and you expect to come back. There was this story I remember from Carlos Castaneda books. I remember him saying in one of the Don Juan books that he always left his house or apartment like he was never coming back, that that’s what living life in the present was: that you walk out the door, and it wouldn’t make any difference if you walked back in.

I don’t remember if it was a character in a movie or if somebody told me, but I remember somebody saying recently that when they thought that they were going to be shot, they thought about their underwear. I mean, I think it’s the ridiculous things like this that occur. But like I said, having not died yet … I have been on the outside of death with many people, including my own father, with whom I went through the whole process, and that was very, very beautiful and peaceful.

But I haven’t sat around choreographing my own because I’ve learned one thing from cancer. It’s so unexpected that it would be ridiculous to plan anything, which I’ve always thought anyway. The one part of my work that I’ve always hated was always having to plan the future, saying I will do this then. I don’t even like making phone appointments—anything! I’ve never been quite really friendly with the future.

TS: Now, Gabrielle, a couple things: one, I just want to thank you for just being so vulnerable and heartful and sharing you experience. I know so many people have looked to you now for decades as a pioneer, as a way shower, and that you’ve done that through your work with dance and music and teaching, and here you are helping us understand through your own experience, something quite difficult. Thank you. You don’t have to be talking to me right now about this. And yet you are. So thank you.

GR: Well, I don’t think that we can “understand it,” but I think we can learn to dance with it and to build the territory in which it is occurring, to keep feeding the healthy heart of oneself and to keep feeding—emotionally, physically, and mentally, to feed ourselves with the nutrients that we need. That’s the thing that we all can do. And, of course, it’s very advisable to have a practice before you ever are given some incredible diagnosis that you have to deal with.

It’s advisable to have a practice because the practice is there to save you in the moment of need. It’s the enduring sense of practice that we have something that we do every day whether we feel good, whether we feel bad or happy or sad. We have a practice that we do that—we learn to move through all these changes and nuances and to keep ourselves fluid and in touch with ourselves. We need a practice that allows us to get to know ourselves in a very deep way and so you know certain things about yourself that you really learned, and you apply them when you actually, really need them, like in matters of life and death.

All the things that I’ve ever taught, or the 5Rhythms, are based in very practical wisdom that comes from the body first, and by being grounded in the body, which most people are really not—being really grounded and comfortable in the body and then learning to be really grounded and comfortable emotionally, and then being really grounded and comfortable mentally.

In other words, to not have a head that is filled with theories, beliefs, fears, anxieties, and all of this, but to actually have an empty mind, a mind that is fluid and capable of making instinctive, intuitive choices that only you can make. The 5Rhythm practice is very personal. It’s a practice that kind of says, “You’re the teacher here.” The 5Rhythms are like the master. They’re this fluid thing that we’ll never really get a grip on, but they are an energy. They are an energetic language that allow us to see ourselves and everything else in motion—and the very few things in life that are fixed as fixed. But that’s very few things.

TS: What are those things that are fixed?

GR: Well, like birth through death, for example. Nobody goes from birth to maturity, then goes back to childhood, dies, and then comes back a teenager, although most people would like that. Life has this organic—the laws of nature, you know—of the rhythms of nature that are predictable. But inside of that, everything else is unpredictable. So it’s predictable that I will be born, or how, or to whom, or where I will be born. Everything else is fluid. So it’s learning to live with that unknown, the unexpected: that is what my practice is about. It’s about learning to dance with the unknown and to be comfortable there. To dance in the chaos.

And now, this is a time of chaos. This is our rhythm of our times. We have come out of a very staccato period, a millennium where things were fixed, where this was the border, this was the king, this was the hierarchies, this was the authority, women do this, and men do that. All of this has broken down. Everything is breaking down. And so we are living in a time of chaos. And if that goes into the shadow, then we’ll be living in too many choices, too much input, ungrounded, emotionally unstable. If we go into the shadow of it, it’s a maelstrom. It’s like living in a tornado.

But if we ground it, it’s like living in the Internet. It’s like having many possibilities and being aware which ones are potent for oneself right this moment. All the lines and boundaries are dissolving, so it’s an amazing time for entrepreneurial sensibilities. And … anyone who’s attached to very strong lines and boundaries because they’re all wavy right now.

Dancing the chaos as a practice just prepares us and familiarizes us with—and gives us an intimate relationship to—the energetic of our times and of our mind. The mind is like living inside of a Robin Williams monologue. It’s the freestyle, crazy, freewill kind of motion. The motion of the mind is magnificent. It’s powerful and evocative and just so juicy and creative. It’s poetic.

We all have this incredible poetic intelligence that we rarely use. In our practice, we use it on each other to really take in the other with this poetic mind, to take in the other with this intuitive, instinctive mind and to build relationships that are spontaneous and honest. That would be one of the primary goals of the 5Rhythm practice, and to vibrate in a real community and to be a living force of creativity. It’s not about dancing. The dance is just the language. For me, it was the language—the only language—that I could communicate what I was experiencing. When I danced, when I watched other people move, when I had a conversation on a bus or in a taxi, I mean, it’s all, for me, a dance.

TS: Now, Gabrielle, I’m curious when you talk about the importance of having a practice so that you are prepared and ready no matter what happens to you in your life. I of course understand a bit about the dance practice of the 5Rhythms. I’ve been to some of your public events where people are taken through, with different kinds of music, these five different rhythmic states and dance in different ways to each one. But I’m curious: for you, I know that this practice has become quite subtle inside your body and what that subtlety of working with this practice inside of you feels like to you.

GR: Gosh, I have no idea how to answer that! I think it’s always been subtle for me. The part of me that is, I would say, identified with the fluidity, that which is moving and changing, has been the part of me that’s been talking about this, teaching this, breaking this down from my early 20s. So in some funny way, I can say that part of me hasn’t really changed, although my language has deepened, my observations—I have many more to pull from. I have like 220 or more teachers out there, so I’ve trained a lot of other people, which is stepping back from something you do instinctively and intuitively and actually turning it into a teaching practice for others.

I look at it all as a practice. I don’t even like the word “teacher,” really. I think we’re all friends on the spiritual path—but some of us, that dynamic is our spiritual practice. It is that place where we have to show up, where we learn how to language something. We have to learn how to be present, how to be honest. We learn very real things, things that apply to every other part of our lives. So that’s the only way I know how to answer that particular question. That part of me doesn’t feel any different at this age than I did when I was 20. My body feels different!

TS: Yes, and when you discovered that you had cancer—and here you are, it’s about relating to your body in this very, very intimate way—was there any sense that you were then repelled by your body or wanted to distance yourself from your body? How did you work with that?

GR: No, I didn’t have that sense at all. I felt apologetic to my body, like “Oh my God” because for at least two years, I was walking around going, “I am so tired. I am so, so far beyond tired.” And then I would—I was seeing, oddly enough, some doctors, but they didn’t pick up on what was the underlying root of my tiredness. So I was probably walking around with this for a few years, they tell me.

So I felt rather apologetic to my body, my child. I had to now stop everything and mother my little child body that was really suffering and to stop and really listen to myself. “Yes, you were really tired, and you had really good reason to be really tired, idiot!” I spent about a minute there, but for the most part, I would say that I just felt very lovable toward my body. In a funny way, my world from very early on has been about others. And one of the things, one of the positive side effects of all of this whole journey has been that for at least this first couple of years, my life, for the first time in my life, was all about me.

Now, some people, it’s always that way for them, for some people in a very beautiful, positive, healthy way, and for other people in a very negative, ego way where it’s all about me. But for me, this was the first time that it was really all about me. And where I got up in the morning, and I didn’t have to please, perform, or do anything for anyone else. Everything I had to do was in support of my own self and my own life, my own body, and my health. So that was a complete reversal from the way that I had always been.

It’s something I’ve known about and that I teach about, but it wasn’t something that I was very good at practicing. Like, I would put off eating if I was hungry and something else had to be done. Or, you know, minor basic things, fundamental things that probably, in the end result, fed into this current situation. So in that way, it was a blessing to really fall into my relationship with myself. And I like myself. I like my company. I’m a good friend. I’m a good friend to myself. I don’t need a lot of things or people to engage me. I don’t need a lot from the outside. So it was a very peaceful time.

And then I started coming back and teaching, and now I’m traversing two worlds. Now I’m trying to stay with that part of myself that I’ve learned how to really support, engage in, and take care of in a very fundamental way, to mother myself and then to also be present there for my world. For them, I’ve never really been a mother. I’ve mostly been more like an erratic teenage boy, you know, with wild dreams and kind of punk rock boots—the kind that kick butts [laughs] and got them moving. So that part is coming back, and I’m hoping just to keep—well, I know I will keep this other part of myself going.

So it’s like integrating some lost piece of my soul. So that’s the positive effect of all this. I’ve integrated a piece of Gabrielle’s lost soul that was homeless, and she is now, like, she has a spacious pad inside of me. She’s in my feet, she’s in my fingers, she’s between my toes, she’s in my neck. You know, there’s a part of me—this awareness of my needs has been fully integrated into my everyday moments. And I’d say that’s a blessing.

TS: That’s beautiful. I just have one final question for you, Gabrielle. You said that there was a sense when you received the diagnosis of what you still wanted to accomplish and that perhaps all of us have that at some point: what we still yet want to accomplish. But I’m curious for you, what is that?

GR: Well, I feel like the 5Rhythms—well, one of the things that I had just started right before I was diagnosed with cancer was the 5Rhythms Reach Out, which is the nonprofit side of my work, where we’re really reaching out to kids and elders and hospitals and jails, in every possible—I can’t even think—in schools, in environments, going back to the public sector and taking it out of this human potential movement into where it came from.

It came from the street. It came from playgrounds. It came from senior centers. That’s where I developed this work. It came from the back wards of mental hospitals and recovery centers. That’s where I developed the 5Rhythms initially. My dream has always been to develop the service arm of the 5Rhythms work because—it’s uncanny, but it crosses borders and cultures and age groups, and it just seems to speak. It has a universal tone. It seems to be heard by all.

So a 90-year-old in Bogota is as affected by a 10-year-old in Cambodia. I can only stand in awe of it and just say, “My God!”—and felt like it was really my mission, or part of my purpose and service to make sure that it was going back and reaching out in all directions. So that I’ve been able to get much more on board here. Thank you. That was good. Thank you, universe.

And the other part was theater has been an ongoing aspect of my work from the beginning, and I’ve always wanted to develop a piece that kind of embodied all the things I’ve learned in a really artful, fun way. I hadn’t really completed that. So I’m working on that right now. Everything else is peripheral, but those two things were very important.

Of course, I don’t know if you ever feel complete with the people you love because there always could be one more day that you could love them. I think life has been so generous to me. I have wonderful, wonderful, profound friendships and family. My world of relationship has been really good and sweet and supportive. And that has gone into my work too. I feel very positive about all my teachers and the work that’s being done in the 5Rhythm fields. So it’s just a blessing all the way around.

And I can honestly feel that whatever we’re working with, whether you have arthritis, cancer, or obesity, or some obstacle that we’re working with, that the most important thing is feeding the positive and really allowing it to grow bigger than the negative. This is the way that I’ve always looked at life.

It would be one thing—I could have made a choice in my 20s to stop and work with the ego part of the self—you know, try to help people work things out or, I don’t know, tell their stories, whatever, or—I chose to work with what I saw emerging—was this powerful spark, this fire, this light inside of everyone. I always felt like if I could get that bigger, it would envelop the shadow and unite itself with the dark, the beauty of the dark, the empty, the spacious, the void, the mystery of it all.

I just chose to put my attention and my energy on the dance, on the soul, on the part of us that needs the right to party—isn’t that what the Beastie Boys used to say? The right to party! The part that lets the soul really come forward, and then a lot of the other things tend to disappear or dissipate or seem meaningless and ridiculous. I’m talking about the little ego part of us that would criticize and control and compare and just analyze and just do all the things that it does that are boring and repetitive and fixed and predictable. And move into the part of us that is generous and fabulous and feisty and forever.

TS: Beautiful. I’ve been speaking with Gabrielle Roth, the pioneering innovator of the 5Rhythms training. She’s created, with Sounds True, three DVD’s. The Wave, which is the classic DVD that introduces people to dancing with the 5Rhythms—you can experience and develop a daily practice working with the wave. Also The Power Wave, which is a high-velocity ecstatic dance workout DVD, as well as a third DVD called The Inner Wave, a meditative trance dance journey. All three of these programs are available in a boxed set called the Gabrielle Roth Ecstatic Dance Collection.

If you are interested in more information about Gabrielle’s work and her foundation, you can find that information at gabrielleroth.com.

Gabrielle, thank you so much for being with us on Insights at the Edge and really being, as you always are, on your edge and sharing from that place.

GR: Thank you, Tami.

TS: SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.