Redefining the Meaning of 'Community' in 2020
Esalen Team
September 1, 2020
"We cannot change what is, but we can change how we respond. This is a time where we must move into the right action for the benefit of all beings. It requires us to consider with compassion, how we may be of service to all those in need." —Lucia Horan

Esalen faculty and 5Rhythms® instructor Lucia Horan recently shared her thoughts about community and the transitions she has faced this year with We share her wisdom with our community with permission from

by Lucia Horan

I was born and raised at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif. A year ago, I returned to my homeland with my husband and daughter. It was a full circle to where I began.

My way has always been to dance. I was born into the path of the dance. I was raised dancing 5Rhythms®. At the age of 19, Gabrielle Roth asked me to begin teaching her work. I have danced through all of the most joyful and tragic moments of my life. Above all, dance has been my refuge. Through this uncertainty, it is the only thing I know how to do.

March of this year brought to the world COVID-19. Its wave broke across every continent on Earth, impacting our globalized way of life. As it became unsafe to gather in groups to dance, my life’s work was brought to an abrupt halt. In those first two months, I turned inward to focus on my family and 2-year-old, unsure how to proceed.

After re-centering, I was encouraged by my beloved partner to use this time of radical limitation as an opportunity to cultivate radical creativity. Though I resisted teaching online, I let go in the empty space and offered online classes and workshops. I began with a five-week series focusing on the emotional intelligence of Gabrielle Roth’s Heartbeat map.

In those many weeks, we danced through fear and courage, anger, acceptance and forgiveness, grief and surrender, joy and generosity, and compassion and connection. During this time, nothing seemed more appropriate than to dance the map of the heart.

It has been a great challenge to move from in-person work to a Zoom platform. I had to trust that the experience would be transferable. Without receiving the biofeedback that I am used to, I had to believe that this was enough. After hearing from students how powerful it was to dance in this way, I was encouraged to keep going.

In addition to teaching classes and workshops online, I have continued to offer private sessions. My one-on-one work consolidates many of the methods I teach into a powerful space where individuals can dive deep into self-awareness and growth.

As we held tight in our bubble, another wave hit our country. Instead of physical sickness, this wave exposed the systemic prejudice of racial conflict poisoning our communities. The tragic and traumatic loss of lives in the United States brought a wave of grief through many of us as our hearts were shattered open by outrage.

The night of George Floyd’s memorial in June, we danced in remembrance for all those who have lost their lives to racial injustice, donating the funds in their honor.

The next blow came as recently as several weeks ago. As wildfires raged through Big Sur, we were evacuated from our home. Losing our last place of refuge and safety further ungrounded and uprooted us. With our lives upside down and inside out, we face yet another dance of uncertainty. I held trust in my heart and prayed for support.

Through the challenges of COVID-19, social uprising and injustice, and now wildfires, we dance on. I have decided to continue to teach my upcoming five-part 5Rhythms and mindfulness workshop. There is nothing I know more than how to practice when life is complicated. Often the biggest challenge in life is to show up when we least feel like it. Now, I practice what I preach and dance on for myself and all those in need.

I believe that if we can bring our feet into freedom, then our hearts and minds will follow. As a teacher, my intention is to offer what is most authentic and real in transparency and love. The Dharma of these times provides us with the opportunity to awaken.

Dance catalyzes the nervous system and allows us to externalize and release what is in the heart. At other times, our nervous system needs to quiet and still. Through seated meditation’s silent introspection, we cultivate the space of balance, integration and peace.

I invite you to join me as we practice mindfulness in both stillness and movement. We cannot change what is, but we can change how we respond. This is a time where we must move into the right action for the benefit of all beings.

It requires us to consider with compassion how we may be of service to all those in need. May we break through the illusion of our separateness and begin to act as a global community to heal the climate crisis, the social injustice and the virus as they rage on through our neighborhoods. May we be at peace and find the freedom and motivation to do this sacred work. May we do this not for ourselves, but for all the generations that will follow us.

Learn more about Lucia and 5Rhythms at Take note of Lucia’s upcoming online workshops here.