Sweat Your Prayers: Movement As Spiritual Practice

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In Sweat Your Prayers, internationally acclaimed movement and theater artist Gabrielle Roth translates to the printed page the insights of her nearly forty years of teaching personal and spiritual development. Her workshops, attended by thousands around the world, teach us to realize our potential for ecstasy as we experience movement and ritual theater techniques. The book is a journey through five universal rhythms-flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. These rhythms can free the body and spirit from...
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Overview

In Sweat Your Prayers, internationally acclaimed movement and theater artist Gabrielle Roth translates to the printed page the insights of her nearly forty years of teaching personal and spiritual development. Her workshops, attended by thousands around the world, teach us to realize our potential for ecstasy as we experience movement and ritual theater techniques. The book is a journey through five universal rhythms-flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. These rhythms can free the body and spirit from ordinary consciousness and catalyze motion deep in the psyche. Each sacred rhythm is a teacher, a gateway to the soul. Flowing holds the feminine mysteries, staccato the masculine. In chaos, the challenge is to integrate these principles into the flow of one's personal energy, to find the magical blend of feminine and masculine energy that makes each person unique. Lyrical is the context of self-realization, the full expression of the soul. And in stillness, the mother of all rhythms, we find the emptiness of the uncluttered mind wherein we contemplate the mystery of it all. Practicing the rhythms frees the body and becomes a way to express the heart and clear the mind. Complete with personal stories and interactive exercises, Sweat Your Prayers reveals an ancient and contemporary method for unleashing a natural sense of movement, resulting in both personal power and presence of the soul.
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Editorial Reviews

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Movement maven Gabrielle Roth is not your typical new age icon. This lanky free spirit with the wild raven hair is more Manhattan loft dweller than meadow muffin, so those wary of sugary new age platitudes in this book will have nothing to fear here. So, what's Roth got to offer? In her years as a movement and theater artist -- and as musical director of Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors -- Roth discovered a relationship among five universal rhythms, movement styles, emotions, cultural expressions, and spiritual realization. According to Roth, the rhythms are flowing (graceful yet wary movements), staccato (anger and karatelike movements), chaotic (weeping with tumbling movement), lyrical (joyful and sprightly), and stillness (emptiness). Dancing though "the wave" of these rhythms is not like learning dance routines; moving through the five rhythmic patterns is more like, as Roth puts it, dancing with "your head in your feet." The logic here is that dancing can catalyze and release the emotions, leading to a state of blissful, sweaty peace. As she says: "Until you land in the sweet moment of surrender when you, as dancer, disappear in the dance." However structured the rhythms might sound, Roth's writing is not stilted. Every page bursts with colorful, wry, or gritty observations of the ways in which the rhythms reveal themselves in life. In the "chaos" section, Roth tell of leading a Tibetan Buddhist monk on a sightseeing expedition in Bloomingdale's. The book is breezy yet deep, hip yet ancient, real yet trippy. And you don't have to rely just on her words for inspiration and motivation. This urban shaman offers a wealth of musical rhythm work on CD that may help as you sweat your prayers.

--Carol Wright

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The soul can only be present when body and spirit are one," exclaims Roth (Maps to Ecstasy) in this amiably free-flowing spiritual autobiography. She goes on to explain how dance can be the path to soul or true self. Roth discovered dance as a means of self-initiation and integration through a career that began with a stint as a massage therapist at the wellspring of the human potential movement, Esalen Institute. There, Fritz Perls invited Roth to teach movement to his therapy groups. Prodding her physically frozen students to sense their bodies and breathe, Roth quickly discovered that "two hours of moving were as powerful as two years on the couch." She came to isolate five rhythms related to five archetypes or states of being. Roth claims that even terminally inhibited people can learn to enter these rhythms and sense how it feels to inhabit "mother, mistress, madonna, father, son and holy spirit." The three feminine archetypes follow a flowing rhythm, according to Roth, while the energy of the masculine archetypes corresponds to a staccato rhythm. Roth discovered that when the masculine and feminine fuse, a rhythm of fertile chaos results, as in acts of artistic creation or love. The resolution of chaos is the lightness and liberation of a lyrical rhythm, while stillness is the most profound rhythm of all. Roth's entertaining, appealingly conversational tale, full of breezy asides about Manhattan restaurants and scenes, will tantalize readers into believing that dancing is indeed a joyful way to "sweat" prayers, to seek our innermost truths as they are lived, in movement.
Library Journal
Roth is not for everyonenot for the faint of heart, the emotionally "out of touch," or the movement phobic. But those who enjoyed her Maps to Ecstasy (Nataraj, 1993) and those who are interested in spiritual growth and the use of movement in doing so will be intrigued. Roth organizes her book around what she calls five universal rhythmsflowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillnesswhich she calls "teachers, gateways to the soul." She includes exercises for each rhythm, meant to further the state we find ourselves in while dancing. Grounded on the belief that "it's possible to maintain a commitment to the sacred part of yourself and still be part of the real world," this autobiographical self-help book will be especially enticing to those involved in movement awareness, body therapies, and dance. Roth's messages are meant for everyone, and her book is well recommended for all public libraries, especially those with a "New Age" clientele.Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874778786
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/29/1997
  • Series: Inner Work Book
  • Pages: 217
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Roth is the author of Maps to Ecstasy: Teachings of an Urban Shaman. Articles detailing her life's work have recently appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, Yoga Journal, Shape, and many other national publications. She lives in New York City.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2000

    INSPIRATIONAL

    this book came into my life at a crucial time and re-awakened something in me that had been dormant for too long. gabrielle is an urban shaman, leading the reader through the 5 rhythms (of movement AND of life), the various corresponding archetypes (son, father, holy spirit, mistress, mother and madonna, just to name a few), and her own personal experiences to elucidate and bring to light her system of seeing and being in the world. This book rocks, and for anyone who ever felt the divine spark within dance or movement, wondered about the mysticism within a trance-state, or anyone who feels stuck in their present life situation, this is required reading! Not only does gabrielle root her philosophy and practice in the physical, her work is such that the body becomes a vehicle for psychological and spiritual growth and unfoldment... if you don't believe me or can't figure out how she could do that, all i can recommend is that you buy this book and see it for yourself. it's beautiful. btw, this book turned me on to gabrielle's cd's to dance/move to, and also propelled me to work with a 5 rhythm movement teacher in my area. gabrielle is a clear, radiant, joyous, intimate, guiding light within our congested and toxic world. read this book, absorb it and enrich your life.

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