Thursday, March 17, 2011

dance prayer for japan

"Each of the rain drops has a tale to tell
about the sorrows of people
about the hardships living things go through
about the arrival of sparrows."
Yamamura Bocho (XXth Century)
I was feeling overwhelmed with the news of the 9.0 earthquake, then tsunami, and nuclear plant disaster. The pain and feeling of inner helplessness for the suffering that so many beings went through seemed to course through my being. I have used dance in the past as a way of expressing, through body, that which is being felt within the depths of the soul and am grateful for this practice as taught by Momo.
On the night before the earthquake we had a kirtan at our studio (musicians and participants who sing chants from the yoga tradition and various other cultures as well). One of the chants that resonated so strongly for me was one to the Buddha of compassion, Amitaba. The day after the earthquake, it poured with rain and I was feeling moved to dance in the intense downpour, but, just as I began, the sun broke through the clouds in the corner of our garden where the Japonica (Japanese quince) is budding. We recently had cold weather and snow and the Japonica buds remain unharmed. They are renowned for their tenacity and ability to survive in challenging conditions.
At my childhood home there is a Japonica growing and I always loved how my Mom would bring in bare looking branches and once inside, they would bloom in the warmth of the house in a few days, bringing an early spring indoors.

Without prior planning of the dance, I knew I had to connect with the Japonica and the stone birdbath. As I danced, what carried me through was the continual repetition of the Amitaba mantra recited out-loud and inside... using song as a means of inspiring movement is one of our themes this month while we work with dreams and the imaginal realms. Because the camera didn't pick up my voice, I added a beautiful, but different, chant to the film.

I had set the camera up on a tripod and didn't know how the light behind me was affecting the dance and I had to cut much of it out as the film was filmed with nothing but light with my feet underneath it :~) A short while later, the rain had returned and on our walk I felt compelled to finish the dance in an underpass in the nearby park... protected from the rain, but still grasping the budding Japonica branch.
At one point, I felt inspired to grasp the branch and 'plant it' in the soil, with the feeling that it really could be strong enough to 'grow again' from the barren soil in the cement, manmade, underground structure.
A mantra I repeat regularly (and join together with our students at our yoga studio) is:
Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu... May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering, and may our thoughts and actions contribute to that happiness and freedom from suffering for all beings...

May all beings in Japan feel the love that so many of us from around the world are sending in their thoughts and prayers... may all love surround them...

May all beings be free from suffering...
I found the above photo of the full blooming Japonica... returning after enduring many hardships....
Filmed by Brooke
Visit our collaborative blog here: MomoButoh Company


  1. thank you, elle... your photos are so beautiful... your comments mean a lot to me ;~)