Day 24 @EDE Class: the Spiral, Mindful Walking, Truth Mandala, 5Rhythms Dance

Sep 19, 2018

It’s a day about individual transformation. Our exploration of cultural dimension extends from collective level to individual level.

Individuals are very different

How each individual is different in terms of fundamental worldview? We played a game in the first morning session. I was helping with translation. Each of the 4 corners of the classroom was labeled one of “agree”, “disagree”, “not sure”, “neutral”. We moved to the corner with the label that matched personal stance regarding these two statements:

  • Our Earth doesn’t have enough for everyone.
  • Our Earth is alive.

For each statement there were people in every corner. A couple representatives from each group explained their view. And each time within the dominant group by number, we found people who chose the same stance but for quite different reasons. Not surprising, right?

The Spiral – Work That Reconnects

The Spiral is a process model that describes “Work That Reconnects.” (official site), the collective work of Joanna Macy (Wiki), an American environmental activist, and her colleagues over the past decades. Our teacher Trudy guided us to use this process to reconnect with ourselves and nature.

Drawing of Trudy on the four successive stages of the Spiral. (photo by the author)

Mindful walking – gratitude to nature

Mindful walk towards a park nearby. It’s hard to tell from the photo but many of us walked very slowly, being mindful about each step: left foot, right foot; left foot, right foot … (photo by the author)


In a group of two, one closed eyes and was guided by the partner to walk on grass, touch leaves, flowers and trees, feeling other living forms.  (photo by ZHU Yu)


We were also encouraged to smell the leaves and flowers, with eyes closed. (photo by ZHU Yu)

My partner Wenxi gently held my left hand in hers, right hand around my shoulder, guided me to walk in a garden. We already had many talks these days and I like her a lot. So I really felt safe and relaxed when I closed my eyes to follow her lead. Strangely, before I felt nature, I felt love in myself, from trusting and accepting a partner, a friend. In her guidance, I held my right hand over flowers, grass, touched the trunk of trees with both hands, trying to feel their energy. Honestly, I couldn’t feel anything like heat transmission or air current, besides different texture and surface temperature. Perhaps my potential of sensing plant lives has yet to be developed. Anyway, I was surprisingly happy to discover that when my eyes are closed, I was more able to be at present with my other senses.

Truth Mandala – honor our pain for the world

The Truth Mandala is a safe space where we can tell the deep truth that concerns us. Around the  4 corners of a cushion in the center of the room, there were 4 objects, each with both Yin and Yang symbolistic meaning.

  • Dead leaves – sorrow (Yin) <-> love (Yang)
  • A stone – fear <-> trust & courage
  • A stick – anger <-> passion for justice
  • An empty cup – thirst for something that’s missing <-> empty space for the new to arrive

We were instructed to pick one object that reflects our feeling and hold it in hand (or sit on the cushion if none of the 4 objects matches our feeling), then talk about the feeling in direct and simple expression. After each person finished his/her talk, the rest of us said “I hear you”.

“Truth talking is like oxygen. It enlives us. “ Trudy commented.

What’s spoken here stays here. 

The dead leaves symbolize sorrow, Trudy explained each of the 4 objects of the Truth Mandala. (photo by the author)

5Rhythms dance

In the evening session, we did 5Rhythms dance (Wiki), a movement meditation practice. Everyone was supposed to dance separately in silence, even though there were others around. According to the creator of the practice, Gabrielle Roth (wiki), the practice is a “soul journey”, “by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential.” (quote from Wikipedia)

Trudy briefly introduced that the five rhythms (in order) are Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. Ideally, we would tune into and dance in harmony with music. But as the evening session was merely a teaser for this technique, we soon found ourselves dancing in free forms. Well, let it be. Let it go. 



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