There are movements in town. I am not talking about political movements or environmental movements or social justice or feminist movements. I am talking about movements plain and simple, actual, physical, bodily movements: arms moving up and down and all around, legs skipping and hopping, heads bobbing, hair flowing, bodies rolling, people shouting and bawling, strangers touching, people letting go and letting be. I’m not talking about salsa or tango or swing or any such thing. I’m not talking about the club. I’m talking about movements taking place in spaces all over town. I am not talking about public spaces or private spaces or beautiful or abandoned spaces but about safe spaces - a term appropriated from your therapist by Montreal’s hip urban gurus who, until recently, sat in the cubicle next to you and then broke free after reading some Rumi. Their war cry? You, too, can be authentic!
There are energies in town: energies to be accessed and processed and transformed (not to mention released) - yours and other people’s (never mind whose, all these energies are blocked) - and there are facilitators who will help you do so for a price. You can find their attractive business cards next to the cashier at Rachelle Béry and maybe even at the spa. They do long-distance energy-readings, chakra healings, sacred touch things and everything else you consider important for your wellbeing.
There are psychics and palm readers, too. You will find their names in the ads section of Metro and 24 Heures and Cult and also on Kijiji. There is Mr. Bouba, eminent African psychic who inherited his powers from his shaman ancestors and who can help you with your love life and career. There is Sadhbar, unique Indian spiritual astrologer who deals with husband-wife depression, jealousy and Court. And there is Mr. Adabu of indeterminate exotic origin who handles infidelity and finance, among other things.
You laugh at Mr. Adabu and his clientele, but you dial that number from the health food store and gladly hand over your dollar to a Nathalie St-Germain or a Marie-Josée Lavoie - or that urban guru who goes by his first name only as if he were a supermodel – none of whom have any supernatural lineage to speak of and yet promise to heal you of your nervous tensions and dilemmas, of your lack of connection, of your lack of feeling and self-knowledge, and to help you to discover your authentic self – the sort of things that even Mr. Bouba with his entire tribe behind him does not purport to be able to do.
But there is a difference. While you go to Mr. Bouba to surrender, to hand over your palm and your destiny, to be told what is wrong and what to do, the workshops and classes (as they are commonly called) facilitated by Marie-Josée and Nathalie are offered in the spirit of personal empowerment which is entirely up to you. Although you are letting go, you remain in charge. Marie-Josée does not create these classes for you. You co-create them with the other participants (or co-creators, to use the correct industry term). You do not learn anything at these events. You co-learn. This “CO” (along with the words sacred, safe, holistic and honoring) is the new authoritative language of contemporary urban seeking and if the thing isn’t being co-organized in some safe space where your inner truth will be honored, then you shouldn’t bother going there at all.
Here is a sampling of events currently on offer in my neighborhood (all true, word for word):
1. Body Play: A Movement Research Practice ($20)
“We wish to share our movement curiosity by playing together in a creative group exploration. We will support a fun co-learning experience to expand our somatic awareness and movement vocabulary. This series will be experiential and improvised. We will be drawing from various backgrounds, in addition to whatever participants bring to the practice. There will be comfortable mats to roll on, sticks, and other fun things to play with.”
What will be done with the sticks, please? What other fun things will people have to play with? Is this an orgy?
2. Sage et Sauvage ($30-$50)
“The workshop opens up with a flowing yoga practice to get rooted and present [so far so good]. Playful exercises will then be offered to explore creative moving, humming, harmonizing and opportunities to rediscover our own unique way of connecting, within ourselves and with others. Honouring the wise, the weird and the wild in each of us.”
Humming. Harmonizing. Honouring. Hmmmmm…
3. Release: a Sacred Feeling Space ($25-$30)
“Welcome to an inviting and warmhearted space where you can contact your inner world and completely let go. Come lie down, put what you think you know aside and simply be while gently guided to feel your inner most sensitivity. Some things need only to be felt to be released, without analyzing and even understanding. Release aims to:
Help you feel more
Harmonize your mind, heart and body
Be in communication with the energetic language of your emotions and your body intelligence
Benefit from the energy and support of the group
Offer tools for energetic hygiene
Activating self-healing potential
Release can help you with:
Releasing emotions and mental blockages
Calming the nervous system
Releasing muscular tensions
Being more in contact with intuition
Opening of the heart
Reconnect to vital energy
Cutting energetic attachment chords
Taking your power back”
This is an ambitious agenda, but to hell with it: for $30, I too would take my power back. This particular event is being facilitated by a very young woman whose Facebook page states only that her mission is to help people work through bodily blockages created by emotional trauma, and this through touch, dialogue and natural products. Her photograph shows her sitting on the stump of a tree in a lush forest, meditating. If you attend this event, you can obtain a 10% discount for a private session.
It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? When we choose a doctor or a lawyer or a psychologist or an accountant or a financial planner, we usually inquire about their qualifications, their reputation, their professional standing and their years of experience. The more important the thing that we entrust, the more meticulous the research. And yet, we surrender our personal power and our energetic attachment cords – things far more important than, say, our money - to individuals whose main qualification for doing what they’re doing (I've checked this) is: simply the fact that they’re doing it. And I’m not talking about Mr. Bouba here because he has stated where his abilities come from and why we should believe in them.
But this is not the point. There are aches and pains in town. There is suppression. Repression. There are false lives yearning to be true. There are spiritual voids. A sense of fragmentation. There are unfulfilled yearnings and unfulfilled dreams. There are expectations to be met and roles to be played that bend people out of shape. There is poor digestion. There are closed hearts wanting to be opened and closed bodies yearning to be touched. There is fatigue and nervous tension. There is a yearning to feel alive which the mundane spaces of people's lives do not provide. Well, someone has to. Just make sure you're in safe hands.