"Practicing TM has helped me see deeper into the mechanics of dance. I remember one rehearsal in particular when my coach said, 'Where did that come from? You never danced like that before!' "
"A poet, a singer, a dancer, a painter—every artist is putting himself into the piece he is creating. Art is the expression of life; it is the expression of creation."
by Gerilyn Paguia at TM Magazine, Issue 7
29 August 2012
I’m told I started dancing in my crib before I could walk. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and spent my early years exploring a passion for dance. When I was in second grade, my mother taught my sister and me some Filipino folk dances to perform at school and at festivals. After that I took every lesson I could—modern, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics—and performed in regional dance competitions and recitals until my early 20s.
At age 19 I landed a spot on the dance team of the Golden State Warriors, an NBA team based in Oakland. This was fun, challenging, and a lot of work. We danced at home games for more than 10,000 fans and rehearsed three times a week. It was an incredible opportunity for me to work at a professional level and make friends with people who shared my passion for dance. We did media appearances, signed autographs, and were televised on ESPN and TNT.
Dancing for the Warriors took my career to a different level. I was able to use the same techniques I had gained in the dance studio, but in a professional setting it’s all about power—the “wow” factor, the entertainment value.
During this time I also attended two years of community college and became a massage therapist. In hindsight, I think this was my first step in seeking a better way to live. Using my experience as a massage therapist, I started helping set up Maharishi Ayurveda health spas in San Francisco and learned to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.
My first experience of meditation was one of total clarity. It was as if a veil lifted from my eyes and I saw everything in a different light. It was completely blissful and peaceful. In comparing my life before TM, I feel I wasn’t really alive before I started meditating.
I also felt like it helped me become a better leader. By this time, at age 22, I had been appointed one of the captains of the Golden State Warriors dance team. I felt that TM helped me to see the whole picture, to be aware of all the interactions between team members, to learn how to build a better team, and to promote better relationships.
There was one year where we ended up with no coach, and I and two other captains had to run the whole team while still being performers. That was a great test. It was difficult, and we stumbled, but the mental clarity from practicing the TM technique helped me a lot. I was able to step back and see what was at the root of issues we were having, and to offer strategies for resolving them. TM really helped me to dissipate tensions as they arose, and to be more diplomatic rather than getting sucked into the emotional side.
Since then I have put a lot of attention on how to communicate compassionately, and in conjunction with being in a settled state through TM, I have been able to hone my skills. I feel that being a compassionate communicator is important in anything I do—a skill I can take with me anywhere I go—especially in the dance world. To be a good dance teacher, for instance, you have to be open and aware of every person in the class to make sure your students are succeeding and having fun.
Practicing TM has also helped me see deeper into the mechanics of dance. I remember one rehearsal in particular when my coach said, “Where did that come from? You never danced like that before!” My experience in massage therapy had sparked a huge interest in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. I was a bit of a nerd about that stuff and I became obsessed with body mechanics—how is a movement initiated in the body? How do you best execute it? What mental images can you think of when that dance move is executed? For example, if you think of a snake moving through the grass or think of thunder coming from the sky, you evoke a different feeling, which creates a different movement. I started to develop my own way of teaching others, and this stemmed from the ability I was gaining through regular meditation to look deeper and see with a clearer eye.
Practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique also helped me to see more possibilities in my life. It helped me think out of the box—that I could do something different with my life. After five years dancing with the Warriors, I decided to attend undergraduate school at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, and graduated in 2010 with a major in Physiology and Health and a minor in Sustainable Living. It was an amazing thing to meet fellow students from all over the world who shared this common desire to explore the relationship between consciousness and their own field of interest.
All the while, I still danced. As a student I started a hip-hop dance club at MUM, teaching other students the basics of dance, musicality, and choreography. Then they took it a step further and came up with theatrical ideas for making the performance more exciting on stage. It blew my mind. This group is still dancing under the name “Beat Da Feet.”
Today I’m working at a sustainable company in Fairfield, Heavenly Organics, and am teaching dance to adults and children at Fairfield Art of Dance five days a week. I love mentoring these dancers and staging dance performances twice a year.
What’s great is that in Fairfield, a community of meditators, our studio doesn’t have a lot of drama. The kids really support each other. When someone excels, the others cheer her on. They congratulate each other and take each other’s achievements as an inspiration to be as good as they can be.
I feel that practicing Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi program, which I learned before becoming an undergraduate student at MUM, is something I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life. It’s helped me create better relationships and helped me to be a better mentor to striving dancers. It’s done nothing but create a better version of me.
© Copyright 2012 Maharishi Foundation USA, a non-profit educational organization