Interviewed by Refresh Your Life e-magazine
Enesa Mahić is a body-oriented psychotherapist and an accredited teacher of the 5Rhythms dance method. She spent the last ten years exploring the interconnectedness of body and psyche, using body-oriented psychotherapy, 5Rhythms and trauma work. I met her in Belgrade a few months ago, during her Eros&Heart workshop. When she guides you, you can never predict where and how will the dance process develop and how far you will go. Her workshops are primarily a laboratory for exploration where it’s not music that’s important, but the inner impulse that every dancer has inside (even though the music supports the dance). This captivating woman believes that dance is not limited only to stage and performances, but that you can also dance while you cook or make yourself a cup of coffee.
“Every person’s rhythm is like a fingerprint. The way people move is the way they exist. Since we are complex creatures, we can mix ourselves into an intense blend of different rhythms such as flowing/chaos, lyrical/staccato, stillness/chaos or any other combination.”
Gabrielle Roth, founder of the 5Rhythms dance
What is the 5Rhythms method for you and when did you start practicing it?
I met Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms at the end of 90s and for me this is one of the simplest and deepest maps for self-awareness that I’ve ever experienced. It’s a free-form dance practice that has a very clear frame, which is still big enough to avoid any dogma; it’s an optimal combination of deep work and fun: practice that shakes your body, creating tectonic changes in your body and heart; it’s a portal to the state in which no part of me exists separated from the others.
How do we dance our way to our center?
Dance itself is not a guarantee we will acquire any self-knowledge – our intention behind the dance is absolutely crucial. Every person steps on the dancefloor with a different goal: some people see dance as a form of fitness, some people are looking for a bit of flirting, some people crave emotional catharsis, for others the dancefloor is a place of ecstasy and awareness. I believe that intention determines the direction of everything we do – be it meal preparation, love making or a conversation with someone who scares us; all those things can be a path to our core if we approach them as we would approach a spiritual practice. 5Rhythms dance is a practice that communicates equally with your body, emotions, mind, soul and spirit. This dance without form confronts you with what is really happening inside, it melts your masks and shatters your opinions, supports you to let go of control and rigidity in your body, heart and mind. It confronts us with everything we don’t want to admit to be and to release everything we’re not. It teaches us to learn how to laugh about our blind identification with fragments of ourselves. And if I’m fortunate enough and I dance long enough and deep enough, I might receive the gift of surrendering to the dance that’s larger than me, moments in which I’m not dancing, I’m being danced.
Is it easy to understand what determines us, who are WE?
If I’m looking for the ultimate answer to that question, it’s not easy at all.
If I focus on who I am HERE and NOW, and I accept that I’ll probably never receive the complete answer, it becomes a bit easier.
Who is Enesa Mahić?
There are many fragments I could identify with: I’m a patient mother, passionate dancer, a traveller deeply in love with world and nature, a therapist full of gratitude for every opportunity to grow… At the same time, I am selfish, lazy, cold, harsh… Both sides are equally true and both sides are only superficial parts of me. In the rare moments, I’ve been given to feel that beyond this body and my personal history there is a non-I which is pure rhythm, energy and pulsation, state of no ego. But ego does make sure I soon go back to the black and white stories 🙂
As Walt Whitman, one of my favourite poets said: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
What’s your natural state – DANCE or STILLNESS? Or is that the same thing?
A body that’s alive is never really still – from the moment we’re born until the moment we die, we’re continuously breathing, our hearts beats incessantly for decades, our cells are always regenerating, our bowels are digesting, fluids flow through our bodies, our mind jumps from one thought to the other, emotions come and go… Only the rhythm changes – sometimes we’re calmer and more instrospective, sometimes we’re more intense and forceful but the dance is always present. Surrendering to that change of rhythm and leaving the known and safe behind, is a skill we need to learn.
When you dive into yourself during the dance, do you become aware of the best/worst part of you?
I don’t believe in the separation of good and bad parts. Human beings are so obsessed with grades and choices: good/bad, body/spirit, expression/introspection, us/them… Certain practices tell you that you need to actively work on transforming your negativity, the others claim it’s enough to accept yourself with all your flaws. What I’m always interested in the work I do is WHY are we the way we are. Imaginary ideals don’t interest me.
For example, if during the dance workshop I avoid contact with others, it’s pointless to put a good/bad grade on it (I’m bad because I should be open to others / I’m good because it shows that I don’t need anyone). The real question is WHY does my dance go in that direction. Why are we cruel, why are we generous, why are we kind, why are we lying…? In my experience, when I look at my so-called worst parts in that way, with a deep interest, I usually discover that there is a true pain behind them and healing that pain creates spontaneous change of negative behaviour. Dance is my shortcut to truth, a mirror for my true Self and a sign showing me in which direction lies my transformation – usually the transformation is where I really don’t feel like going 🙂
When I say 5Rhythms, which rhythm is the first one that comes to your mind: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical or stillness?
When I hear 5Rhythms, I always think of the Wave, an entire sequence of all the five rhythms. Every rhythm teaches me something and I wouldn’t be complete if some of them were missing. Holding on to my preferred rhythm actually creates imbalance, just like a beautiful permanent summer would in the end create drought and destruction. Ego loves firm definitions and doesn’t like to be stretched – that’s why we have the Wave, a perfect stretching for every part of our Self.
Could a dancer in your workshop become aware of who he/she truly is?
5Rhythms are a practice and practice means that we are willing to keep on showing up on the dancefloor, year after year, with a beginner’s mind. One workshop is certainly not enough if our ultimate goal is self-awareness. Every workshop can show us a little piece of who we are, but it’s pointless to identify yourself with a tiny part of the larger picture. Pema Chödron wrote: “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” To me, that’s the essence of any psychological or spiritual practice.
My suggestion would be to try the 5Rhythms dance and if it touches you, stay with the regular practice for a while and see what happens. If it doesn’t, keep on searching until you find the practice that resonates with you.