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Directions Practice

Posted by Betsy McCall from Art Monastery Project


Group size

1 – 500

More infos to group size

none, as long as everyone can see someone who can lead the dance

Is participant experience relevant?

It's okay if participants haven't seen the inside of a classroom in years.

Physical trust needed

Mental trust needed



10 minutes – 60 minutes

Experience level of the facilitator

routine as participant OR professional facilitator

Number of facilitators

Ideally 4. Only 1 is necessary.

Location requirements

Best when done outdoors, on flat ground, with bare feet


Level of activation


Woo-Woo Level – How touchy-feely is this method?

From 1.Rationalist-Materialist “No feelings here, folks.” to 5.Esoteric-Shamanic Bleeding Heart:

Innovation Phases:

2 Creating an Innovation-Friendly Culture
3 Fostering New Perspectives & Ways of Thinking
4 Idea Generation

Method Category:

Appreciative / Community building
Awareness raising
Ceremony / Ritual


A contemplative movement exercise inspired by the Cherokee prayer dance called the Dance of the Directions and by certain Tai Chi forms, this non-strenuous activity is balancing and connecting.


Dance of Cycles, contemplative dance, Dance of Directions, Cycles Dance



Directions Practice is a movement-based contemplative approach that honors each of the cardinal directions, as well as the cyclical nature of the universe and our lives. It has a tendency to balance the energies within someone and can be offered as a blessing to a place. The dance is done at the pace of the group, everyone following whomever is in front as the group rotates to face each direction.


Directions Practice was created by Artmonks Neva Cockrell and Betsy McCall as part of the Art Monastery.

Much inspiration was provided by the Dance of the Directions (taught only by holders of the Cherokee lineage, whom you can find through the Sunray Meditation Society website) and the Dance of the Seven Directions developed by Joel & Michelle Levey as part of Wisdom at Work.




Start by facing east and take a few minutes to do a standing meditation. Feel your feet on the ground, supporting you. Sense, intuit, or imagine the energies of the earth spiraling up, around and through the bottoms of your feet, up through your legs, rising upward. Sense, intuit, or imagine the energies of the sky spiraling down, around and through the top of your head, falling downward. These energies spiraling up and down through and around you, and you stand shimmering amongst them, the meeting point between sky and earth.

PREPARATION (excluding materials)

Directions Practice is a movement-based method that you can engage with every day.
It consists of a series of simple movements that you repeat
facing each of the cardinal directions.
Usually you make three full rounds,
facing each of the cardinal directions three times,
and that takes about 15 minutes.

Start in a standing meditation facing east.
Imagine that the bottoms of your feet are opening to the earth
and the top of your head opens to the sky.

Take three swipes to clear the energy from the direction you are facing.

1 Begin facing East

Connecting with the East, lift your arms and gather the energy from your sides and from above.
Let the energy from above shower down through the top of your head,
down into your heart,
through your body,
out through the bottoms of your feet
into the earth
and then rise up to the sky,
cycling down into you again, returning to your heart.

Turn to face the South (to your left), opening your arms and heart wide.
Return to center.
Turn to face the North (to your right), opening your arms and heart wide.
Return to center.

Lean back in a stance of honoring the East.
Reach behind you, gathering the energy from the far western horizon, then from the earth below you,
then drawing the energy up into your heart.
Then spiral,
sending the energy up through your hands and down through your feet at the same time
sending the energy out to the earth and to the sky
and then receiving it back into your heart.

Gathering the energy from all around,
step forward
and send this gift (picturing the energy as a sparkling ball of light) as far as you can imagine to the East.
Draw a line back through your heart as you turn to face the South (a quarter turn to your right).

2 Repeat for South, West, and North

Repeat the above movements facing each of the directions.

3 Repeat the whole cycle three times.
4 Completion with the Earth

The fourth time you come to face the East, make some gesture of completion, such as a bow. Silently turn to face each direction once more, making a gesture of completion, acknowledgment, and gratitude.

5 Completion with the Practitioners

Turn to face "our shared center", forming a circle with everyone who has participated in the dance. Place your palms against the palms of the people standing on either side of you. Feel your connection to these people, and feel that connection run through the whole circle, connecting every person. Then everyone slowly back up, extending your arms as you do, and let your middle fingers be the last point of contact as you let go. Feel how you can maintain energetic contact even after physical contact remains no longer.


Trainers for this method can be hired here:

Art Monastery artmonastery.org

Anything else one should know about this method?

The method is available to everyone, regardless of physical mobility. What matters most is the attention and intention of the dancer. The movements can be as large or as small as feels good to each person in the moment.

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