Dance: Moving to the Rhythms of Your True Self

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Welcome to The Dance, the wise and practical book that expands on Oriah Mountain Dreamer's new moving prose poem. In this compelling book the acclaimed author of The Invitation challenges readers to live with passion, energy, and honesty. The key, says Oriah, is to savor the everyday world of family, friends, love, and work with clear minds and open hearts. When we are physically and emotionally stressed and our spirits are depleted, we must realize that happiness has not vanished but is buried beneath the ...
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Overview

Welcome to The Dance, the wise and practical book that expands on Oriah Mountain Dreamer's new moving prose poem. In this compelling book the acclaimed author of The Invitation challenges readers to live with passion, energy, and honesty. The key, says Oriah, is to savor the everyday world of family, friends, love, and work with clear minds and open hearts. When we are physically and emotionally stressed and our spirits are depleted, we must realize that happiness has not vanished but is buried beneath the clutter of our harried lives. With rare courage and honesty, Oriah unveils the challenge of her inspiring poem through compelling stories from her own experience, offering us tools to become fully the person we already are — not ways to change.To dance — to live in a way that is consistent with our longing — is to discover a gift that we can give ourselves again and again over a lifetime. To dance, alone or with others, is to be who we truly are as we fulfill our soul's desires. To do this, we must learn how to let go and slow down, returning to the sacred emptiness where we encounter our true self. Practical, inspiring, and profoundly illuminating, The Dance is an invitation to discover a place of connection, serenity, and joy that is uniquely our own.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This lyrical follow-up to The Invitation explores a most ponderable conundrum: What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?
Jennifer Louden
Savoring Oriah's words, I am both inspired and grounded by her fierce honesty, compassionate wisdom, and gorgeous language.
Elizabeth Lesser
To read The Dance is to dance with Oriah Mountain Dreamer—who leads but never steps on your toes.
SARK
I deeply respect and admire Oriah Mountain Dreamer's direct channel to the soul, and The Dance takes you there.
Mark Victor Hansen
This book tells you how be authentic and make a lasting difference.
Rachel Naomi Remen
. . . a blessing, a healing, a reminder to stop living in the neighborhood of your self & go home.
Publishers Weekly
On the heels of her bestselling debut, The Invitation, Mountain Dreamer has written the gentlest of spiritual self-help books urging readers to slow down, let go and dance. Her central theme is that who we are is enough (loving enough, compassionate enough) and that only fear prevents us from accepting this liberating truth. Another recurring theme is the importance of learning to hold and keep others in our hearts in order to dissolve the divisive us-and-them dichotomy that deadens empathy. Each of her 12 chapters is followed by a practical meditation for readers to internalize and implement her ideas. If these lessons sound heavy-handed or high-minded, Mountain Dreamer delivers them in the most engaging and personal way. Her writing is intimate and conversational, its greatest strength being her use of illustrative anecdotes. Sometimes she draws from the lives and experiences of individuals she has spiritually counseled, but most often she tells stories about herself. These are not the exhortations of a wise and enlightened spiritual guru, but the true-life struggles of a multifaceted woman who is a divorced single mother of teenage boys, a lover, a spiritual guide and a writer. Her occasional use of profanity is entirely gratuitous, but she writes disarmingly of her own hurts, blunders and embarrassments, including her failures to take her own advice. The fact that she does so "without self-recrimination" demonstrates her effort to heed the message of the book and accept herself as she is. (Sept.) Forecast: Even readers who usually eschew New Age books enjoyed The Invitation, which has sold nearly a quarter of a million copies and received a nice spike in sales after the author'sappearance on Oprah last year. Mountain Dreamer suffuses this gift book with the same broad appeal; it should easily sell out its first printing of 68,000. HSF plans national advertising and a five-city author tour. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780694526406
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 CDs
  • Product dimensions: 4.89 (w) x 5.64 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



But Can You Dance?



I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don't jump up and shout, "Yes, this is what I want! Let's do it!"
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.


The advantage of the written word is that I can tell you here near the beginning what was only revealed to me near the end: I write these words to name myself — to name each of us — worthy of going home, worthy of having our longing met, worthy of awakening in the arms of the Beloved. Finding and voicing our soul's longing is not enough. Our ability to live in a way that is consistent with our longing — our ability to dance — is dependent upon what we believe we must do. If our intention is to change who we essentially are, we will fail. If our intention is to become who we essentially are, we cannot help but live true to the deepest longings of our soul.

It is a shining autumn day, the kind of day when the blue of the sky startles you into believing that all things are possible. I'm standing in the quad, a tree-filled green space between the old stone buildings of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. But I am not aware of the warm sun or the cool breeze or the students laughing and talking and being vibrantly twenty years old on the lawn. All I can hear is my forty-four-year-old heart thundering in my ears, pounding so hard and fast that my body quakes with the reverberations. Each time I take a step, sweat trickles down the sides of my rib cagebeneath my wool sweater. Long, thin pains radiate out from my chest and down both arms like shards of glass making their way along my arteries. A giant hand is tearing my heart out of my chest, and I am afraid.

It probably tells you more than I want you to know about me that it never crosses my mind to ask any of those passing by for help. Stoic to what I am suddenly afraid might be the end, I think to myself, "Oriah, this would be a very stupid place to die." Later I wonder what a smart place to die would look like, but for the moment I focus on moving forward, convinced that I will be all right if I can make it to the library just across the quad and lie down in one of the large armchairs in the reading room.

And then suddenly, there on the sidewalk beneath the sun of an impossibly ordinary afternoon, I hear part of the Pablo Neruda poem "Keeping Quiet" running through my head like the lyrics to some sad melody being played in my body:

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.


I am aware of what feels like a sharp, desert-dry stone in my throat. I swallow it and focus on taking another step. It takes me ten minutes to traverse the usual two-minute walk to the library. Lying in a lounge chair, I feel the pain slowly abate as my heartbeat gradually returns to normal. And the last line of Neruda's poem runs through my mind again and again. Why am I threatening myself with death? One doctor later declares I have had a mild heart attack, while another maintains it was severe angina. Either way the message is the same: despite the articulation of my sincerest intention to slow down and rest, I continue to do too much, to run too fast, to try too hard. I continue to threaten myself with death.

And this — this refusal to rest — is not the only way in which I have been failing to live consistent with my deepest desire to be fully present with myself and others. Lying there in the library reviewing the last few months of my life, I am aware of a gap I fear is an abyss between my longing to live passionately and intimately with myself and others and the choices I continue to make, the ways in which I fail to love myself or others well.

I'd failed to see the signs of advanced alcoholism and severe depression in the man who had come into my life the previous spring. Although he functioned reasonably well during the day as an architect, I eventually learned that Paul kept a nightly ritual of consuming large volumes of Scotch. It was a pain-numbing habit he'd developed five years earlier after his wife had died in a car crash when he'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Had I heard all of what Paul had told me from the beginning — that despite his desire to rebuild his life he did not think he could ever love or be loved again, that he was winding down toward death — would I still have loved him? I believe I would have. I'd seen the tender heart, fine mind, and gentle spirit beneath the pain and the addiction. But had I seen and accepted the choices he was making for his life — for his death — I would have loved him as I do now, from a distance, not hoping for a relationship of deep intimacy and partnership. When I walked away full of sadness for what could have been, I thought to myself, "I should have told him from the beginning, 'It doesn't interest me if your answer to my invitation is "Yes!" I want to know if you can dance.'" But the truth was that he had told me from the start that he couldn't. I just hadn't wanted to hear it...

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Table of Contents

Prelude xi
The Dance xiii
1 But Can You Dance? 1
2 Dancing with the Mystery 18
3 Out of Step 32
4 The Dancer 48
5 Choosing a Joyful Dance 65
6 Hitting the Wall 80
7 Dancing Together 93
8 Dancing on the Earth 109
9 The Choreography 124
10 The Song 138
11 The Dance of Shared Solitudes 154
12 The Sacred Emptiness 168
Acknowledgments 183
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2004

    Poetic insight

    In wonderful poetic language, this teaches us that you are you and the mere desire to be something that you aren't is the primary cause of unhappiness. Though you'll have to read it to understand since this review does not do justice to the fine qualities of this book, it is incredibly insightful and inspiring. Some of what the author says about consciousness and human nature in this book overlaps with some of the stuff in 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato, which, by the way, is another completely awesome book. Sato's excellent book is more theoretical and dense in psychological content. Mountain Dreamer's book discusses these things in a more beautiful and poetic way. I'd recommend both books highly though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2004

    A comforting reminder...

    At a time in which the world around us seems to become more superficial and filled with false hope, this book reminds us that having flaws is normal, and that in the end what we really owe ourselves is to be honest in how we act and feel. To read Oriah is like taking a deep breath of fresh air.

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