Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Moving With Grace
Category:
Healing

As a longtime Persian sacred dance artist and teacher who communicates the universal message of Sufi mysticism, Banafsheh Sayyad has witnessed first-hand the power and wisdom that emerge from having a body-based practice. She believes it nourishes our inner flame and creates coherence between our heart, mind and body, especially during chaotic times.

“So much in our world today is literally like an assault on our senses, disempowering and exhausting,” says Banafsheh, who returns to Esalen and is joined by singer-percussionist-yogi Tony Khalife in Dance of Oneness®: Dance Your Passion! March 29 through April 3.

“It is so important and wise of us to have practices that help us open our heart and our creative center without fear. Dance helps us cultivate our inner knowing and helps us trust the power that moves around us. It connects us to our purpose for being alive in a more grounded way so that the outside world doesn’t overwhelm us. In this way, we can move from being a survivor to being a creator.”

Banafsheh creates a sense of wonder whenever she dances. Her movements are comprised, in part, by the Persian alphabet translated into gestures and movement. When put together, the gestures dance out words and poetic stanzas, mostly taken from the works of the great mystic poet, Rumi, whom Banafsheh has studied extensively.

In Esalen’s unique setting, she will incorporate flamenco, tai chi, whirling, trance, the sacred dance movements of the Gurdjieff, and Persian dance and Middle Eastern tribal dances. Each of these styles contribute to becoming whole and consciously embodied, and Banafsheh adds other unique elements into the mix. “We learn techniques that help us unleash our creativity and expand our expression and repertoire when we dance,” she says. “I will also share key secrets found in the dance and movement techniques of each of these modalities and traditions.”

Banafsheh further breaks down the wisdom inherent in several of these modalities:

  • Flamenco “It teaches us how to take up space in ourselves and around ourselves with confidence and dignity,” says Banafsheh. “Flamenco has a kind of wild nobility, untamed, raw and courageous. It teaches us how to embody the elements of earth and fire, and gives us a sense of sovereignty.”
  • Tai Chi The Chinese martial art has the ability to take us into the undifferentiated ground of being and Banafsheh adds that the wisdom it offers lies in teaching us how to, “be no-thing and thereby everything—it is faceless, merges into the oneness with the all and emulates the element of water and flow.”
  • Persian Dance In addition to teaching us about what Banafsheh calls, “sublime sensuality,” Persian Dance also creates a pathway for grace and the tenderness of the Divine Feminine. “Persian dance allows us to express love with every gesture and movement. It is ethereal and also embodies the element of water.”
  • Middle Eastern Tribal Dances “They empower us, open us to joy and bring us into community with others,” observes Banafsheh.
  • The Gurdjieff “These sacred movements teach us that dance can be a sacred science that has impact and influence on the inner world of the dancer and the environment. It’s element is air.”

Whirling and Trance “We are taken into the unified field, where we surrender our identity as a separate being into the ‘greater’ and we begin to experience ourselves as truly unlimited—not as an isolated drop of water but ‘the entire ocean,’ as Rumi says, ‘in a drop of water.’ The whirling is the crucible in which all the other forms of dance come together and are integrated.”

Banafsheh comes from a long lineage of pioneering performing artists and has studied with some of the great masters in dance and choreography, such as Antonia Rojos and Victoria Marks. Her dance company, NAMAH, has presented in various festivals internationally. In 2011, she collaborated with author and scholar Andrew Harvey to release the dance film In the Fire of Grace, which traces Rumi’s journey of the soul in dance.

“For as long as I can remember I have always had two passions, one for dance and the other for the mysterious source of life—call it what you will, the Divine, the Beloved, consciousness,” Banafsheh says. “Over time, these two passions merged and my dance became a way of connecting to this source, communing with it, adoring it and expressing it. I love how this works ignites people and turns them on to life, and how it brings them home to themselves, reclaiming their body as sacred and sensual and unlimited. This wisdom from Rumi distills the essence of what I hope people take away from our time together:”

You are the ocean in a drop of water,
the entire universe in a thin sack of blood.
What are these worlds then you keep reaching for,
hoping they will make you alive?
Love is ALIVE,
and those borne along by love
are more alive than a pack of roaring lions.
Be a lover then,
for love is all there is,
and there is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.

—JALALEDDIN RUMI


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Moving With Grace

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

As a longtime Persian sacred dance artist and teacher who communicates the universal message of Sufi mysticism, Banafsheh Sayyad has witnessed first-hand the power and wisdom that emerge from having a body-based practice. She believes it nourishes our inner flame and creates coherence between our heart, mind and body, especially during chaotic times.

“So much in our world today is literally like an assault on our senses, disempowering and exhausting,” says Banafsheh, who returns to Esalen and is joined by singer-percussionist-yogi Tony Khalife in Dance of Oneness®: Dance Your Passion! March 29 through April 3.

“It is so important and wise of us to have practices that help us open our heart and our creative center without fear. Dance helps us cultivate our inner knowing and helps us trust the power that moves around us. It connects us to our purpose for being alive in a more grounded way so that the outside world doesn’t overwhelm us. In this way, we can move from being a survivor to being a creator.”

Banafsheh creates a sense of wonder whenever she dances. Her movements are comprised, in part, by the Persian alphabet translated into gestures and movement. When put together, the gestures dance out words and poetic stanzas, mostly taken from the works of the great mystic poet, Rumi, whom Banafsheh has studied extensively.

In Esalen’s unique setting, she will incorporate flamenco, tai chi, whirling, trance, the sacred dance movements of the Gurdjieff, and Persian dance and Middle Eastern tribal dances. Each of these styles contribute to becoming whole and consciously embodied, and Banafsheh adds other unique elements into the mix. “We learn techniques that help us unleash our creativity and expand our expression and repertoire when we dance,” she says. “I will also share key secrets found in the dance and movement techniques of each of these modalities and traditions.”

Banafsheh further breaks down the wisdom inherent in several of these modalities:

  • Flamenco “It teaches us how to take up space in ourselves and around ourselves with confidence and dignity,” says Banafsheh. “Flamenco has a kind of wild nobility, untamed, raw and courageous. It teaches us how to embody the elements of earth and fire, and gives us a sense of sovereignty.”
  • Tai Chi The Chinese martial art has the ability to take us into the undifferentiated ground of being and Banafsheh adds that the wisdom it offers lies in teaching us how to, “be no-thing and thereby everything—it is faceless, merges into the oneness with the all and emulates the element of water and flow.”
  • Persian Dance In addition to teaching us about what Banafsheh calls, “sublime sensuality,” Persian Dance also creates a pathway for grace and the tenderness of the Divine Feminine. “Persian dance allows us to express love with every gesture and movement. It is ethereal and also embodies the element of water.”
  • Middle Eastern Tribal Dances “They empower us, open us to joy and bring us into community with others,” observes Banafsheh.
  • The Gurdjieff “These sacred movements teach us that dance can be a sacred science that has impact and influence on the inner world of the dancer and the environment. It’s element is air.”

Whirling and Trance “We are taken into the unified field, where we surrender our identity as a separate being into the ‘greater’ and we begin to experience ourselves as truly unlimited—not as an isolated drop of water but ‘the entire ocean,’ as Rumi says, ‘in a drop of water.’ The whirling is the crucible in which all the other forms of dance come together and are integrated.”

Banafsheh comes from a long lineage of pioneering performing artists and has studied with some of the great masters in dance and choreography, such as Antonia Rojos and Victoria Marks. Her dance company, NAMAH, has presented in various festivals internationally. In 2011, she collaborated with author and scholar Andrew Harvey to release the dance film In the Fire of Grace, which traces Rumi’s journey of the soul in dance.

“For as long as I can remember I have always had two passions, one for dance and the other for the mysterious source of life—call it what you will, the Divine, the Beloved, consciousness,” Banafsheh says. “Over time, these two passions merged and my dance became a way of connecting to this source, communing with it, adoring it and expressing it. I love how this works ignites people and turns them on to life, and how it brings them home to themselves, reclaiming their body as sacred and sensual and unlimited. This wisdom from Rumi distills the essence of what I hope people take away from our time together:”

You are the ocean in a drop of water,
the entire universe in a thin sack of blood.
What are these worlds then you keep reaching for,
hoping they will make you alive?
Love is ALIVE,
and those borne along by love
are more alive than a pack of roaring lions.
Be a lover then,
for love is all there is,
and there is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.

—JALALEDDIN RUMI


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Moving With Grace
Category:
Healing

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About

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Moving With Grace

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