Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice

Gabrielle Roth, Author Putnam Publishing Group $22.95 (217p) ISBN 978-0-87477-878-6
""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. 50,000 first printing; One Spirit Book Club alternate; author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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