Martha Graham and Keeping the Channel Open

Last week on spanda, ‘pulsation’, there was a sentence that really stuck out to me. “When we go deep within ourselves, and we sense this pulsation, spanda, we are sensing our own personal spark of that huge, primordial life force”.-spanda . org.

It reminded me of a quote that I have on my altar. It is a piece written by Martha Graham to Agnes de Mill, two notable, female choreographers of the dance world. 

Martha Graham wrote,

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

In our classes we embodied this by going through each chakra and there correlated bio-energetic activation.  This was intentionally created in order to open all the channels within us, those streams and rivers of life force, nadis.  As we did so, the larger intention to open the one main energy line, sushumna, that runs up and down within us from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head, that lives just in front of the spine.  This sushumna, meaning “gracious one”, is the liberating, upward energy, and manifesting, downward energy, channel that, when completely free and open, connects us and enlightens us into absorption and we can experience Oneness.

We moved to open these channels, to support the Kundalini energy rising up through us to meet the crown of the head, which is that portal, vortex, “chakra” called sahasrara, meaning “thousand fold”, that is the entry point for the universal wisdom to pour into us.  

We used postures such as side planks, warrior twos, extended chest pose, triangles, warrior three, and half moon postures to keep this line, and the spine, lengthened and open.

In some classes, I also used opposite nostril breathing before savasana in order to keep the channel open.

Now, there is a certain sentence that Martha Graham wrote that has never really resonated with me. The sentence in which she states, “You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work”. I ruminated on this and contemplated it again for a while.  What I came to sense and feel within myself, in alignment with this intention of this class which is to keep the channel open, is that there actually IS a belief that what is coming through you is divine and it is that spark that is you! That spark is you, it is of you, and it gets translated through you into action in unique ways because of your unique personalities and traits. The spark itself,  which is in all of us, That is the entity that is our Divinity. However, the spark as it translates through you into action is not yours, it is divine…. and I say this in that humble sense of letting go of ego and that practice of non-attachment. This is why we did humble warrior in the physical practice. I believe what Martha Graham is speaking to in the sentence is that there is a belief in the divine, and that this is the surrender to the divine. So, the Universe implores you to share your spark so that it will not be lost! So that the world will have it! For “it is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open.”  Read more here on Martha Graham from ‘Brain Pickings’ and watch this incredible video from Helen Keller meeting Martha Graham and her dancers!  I cried! Amazing.

This contemplation reminded me of the words that I ended each practice with that come from Marianne Williamson, as adopted in his inaugural speech by Nelson Mandela:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. You are playing small doesn’t serve the world. there’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-1994 Inaugural Speech of Nelson Mandela. 

Breathe and Believe.