From personal journey to a system of dance meditation practice

My personal life journey of learning, healing and transformation through different practices and understandings that led me to create DANCEmandala.

Thai Traditional DanceI was aware of Dance since the birth of my memory. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was selected to join a junior dancers group to learn Thai traditional dance and to be part of a performance program in my local village annual celebrations. I don’t remember much about the performance, but what really stuck in my memory is the sound of the drum that guided the dance practice. ‘Pah. teh. pah. teh.pah. teh teh!’ Moving to the drum beat was the most satisfying feeling. I kept learning the traditional dance and included it as part of my special interests and ‘talents’ all the way through until I was 17.

Meditation and Buddhist Philosophy

At the age of around 7, Thai children get to learn about Buddhism and other ‘religions’ at school. I was clear to me then about my interest in Buddha’s teaching. I treasure many fond and peaceful memories of learning sitting and walking meditation. I remember my favourite moments were at the local temple, the chance to sit with my palms together listening to the senior monk telling stories that were full of adventures and inspiration about how to live a good, peaceful, and ethical life. I was most fascinated by the life stories of the Buddha and how he came to his Dhamma and then went on to teach and help others. However, I never felt that I should call myself a Buddhist for many years. But, the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths were always there as the light that guided my way through life. Over the 5 decades of my life so far I have established a regular practice of sitting meditation mainly breath awareness and insight Vipassana methods. Today, I feel humbled and fortunate that I have been to some amazing meditation retreats, studied with great teachers, belong to a Buddhist study and practice group – a Sangha that meets weekly – having a life partner that is also a practitioner to learn with, and most of all being given the opportunity to share and teach DANCEmandala that carries the essence of Dhamma and the stillness of meditation within it’s core.

Tai-Chi / Qi-Gong

Structured movement practice came into my life again in my early 20s, when I became seriously interested in yoga and Tai-Chi/Chi-Gong. I taught myself some basic postures extracted from books and devised sequences to practice with in the morning and evening which I did mostly during the week. I kept these practices close to me as part of my self-care routine. One of the best times I had with the practice was when I committed to a daily Chi-Gong sequence during my first pregnancy. I was 33 then.

In 2012, I had the chance to study an Introductory Qi-Gong course with a teacher at Thai Qi Holistic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was one of the best learning experiences I have had. I fused the learning and the practice into everything that I do.

Yoga & Ayurveda

I started practicing yoga in 1994 when I found a book of Hatha Yoga while I was living in Bangkok. With curiosity and interest to learn about spirituality, well-being and mind’s training, I adapted some yoga sequences and incorporated music into my regular practice, using my bedroom mirror as my teacher, I was able to check my own alignments and postures against how I felt to gage how my yoga practice was developing.

My big transportive learning of Yoga happened when I introduced myself into Iyenga Yoga practice at a collage in Sounth London in 1997. The feeling after my first Iyenga yoga class was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. Since yoga practice has been one of the important parts of my self learning and transformation, in 2007 I decided to take volunteering leave from my full time work at the City University in London and participated in an 18 months program of Yoga Teacher Training at Triyoga Education in London. It was a life changing learning experience. I started teaching right after I graduated.

I was teaching yoga weekly for a year in my local community centre in London before I moved to Chiang Mai in 2011. As soon as I arrived in Chiang Mai, I had the opportunity to co-create a wellness festival and then went on to manage a yoga and movement centre, The Yoga Tree. It was an exciting to have the opportunity to create and develop a fresh concept of all inclusive, open community of yoga and movement into Chiang Mai at that time. Holding that amazing and transportive space between 2011 – 202 have given me a great opportunity to develop myself as a yoga practitioner and a teacher. Through those years of hosting many classes and courses for international teachers, I’ve learnt various styles of yoga and movement modalities. I’m specially interested in Restorative Yoga, Qi-gong,  Ayurveda, and Feldenkrais Method, all of which I have continue to learn and practice.

Transformative Dance and Free-form Embodied Movement

For a few years in my early 20, at the weekend, accompanied by my life partner and friends, I went dancing in nightclubs in Bangkok and would literally spent the whole night dancing and  immersing into the music. While others were socialising with conversation, I expressed who I was then through dancing. The big transportive moment was at least 10 years later when I was living in the UK. I went for Biodanza weekend retreat. It was the first heart-opening/deepening experience I had. I went to weekly Biodanza classes among other forms of dance classes after that, learning and exploring as much as I can all the dances that London had to offer then. All that led me to take a Biodanza teacher training which went on for about 2 and half years. I had the opportunity to dive deep into movement expression with a wonderful group of people, and I learnt so many things from that program. We dive into poetry of human interactions, transformation through emotive movement, healing rituals, touch, feminine and masculine archetypes, introduction to shadow work, love, sensuality and sexuality in healing and more. It was an incredible amount of learning with many great teachers. I am with so much gratitude for that time. While I was training as a Biodanza teacher, I also enjoyed going to weekly 5rhythm classes, 2-3 times per week which have taken me into deep places until I was very familiar with the rhythms and the waves. And then I wanted to go further.

DANCEmandala

Early 2010, I started to guide my own movement journey and opened up an unknown path of spiritual dance practice. I dive into an intense studies putting together a dancing map to guide myself on a journey inward. Following my intuition, I reached deep into my understanding of layers of Self and drew support from yoga principles and the four Noble Truths. I applied the sheaths of being (5 kosha) into the map to make sure I could always find my way back from each of the journeys that I went into. I learnt first hand that letting go with a complete intention to step into new territories of inner consciousness was not a thing one should do without any support.

First as a personal daily practice, then inspired by each deepening journey and new findings, I decided to  further research into the emerging structure of my method and developed a dancing path way. My interest was inner liberation and exploration of Consciousness or Self. I started to look at the 4 layers of human Consciousness and how we can transcend our multi-layers life towards true freedom. Soon it was clear to me that there was much more to this dance. Months of researching, and I’ve gone through several versions of my circular  ‘Body Pathway Map’. I explored with bringing in various principles such as the 5 elements, the Yin/Yang principle. Shiva/Shakti, the Yantra, the Four Winds, the Seed of Life, Merkaba, The Wheel of Dhamma, etc. All the principles that I placed into the alignment with the Body Pathway Map fit the circle pathway perfectly. 

Delighted by the teaching and the unfolding mysteries of each of these principles, I could not settle to just one ‘thought system’ or one ‘principle’ to call upon. So I simply point my attention to the centre of each, to the dot, the unshakable stillness at the heart of each wheel. There I found the core of the mandala, the place that I go to every time I dance. With this finding, I began to devise the ‘Body Pathway Map’ and named the practice, DANCEmandala Moving Stillness Meditation. I am still learning and researching into the realms of awareness and the path of liberation.

When I relocated from London to Chiang Mai in 2011, I took on a yoga centre project in that 1st year. This was a perfect place for me to began to offer the practice on a weekly basis to groups of yoga students and dancers at her Yoga Tree studio. Since then DANCEmandala has been an inspirational part of self-discovery and a transformational journey to thousands of dancers, travelling yogis and visitors from all around the worlds who came across the Yoga Tree and this practice while visiting Chiang Mai.

SheDance-shakti Movement Meditation and Women Retreat

About a year later, the same year I put together “SheDance-shakti” a mythical women dance practice and healing ceremony which carries the sacred element of the DANCEmandala into a women circle.  SheDance focuses on awakening divine feminine within to reclaim and celebrate women wisdom and authentic expression, and bringing it out into a harmonious relationship with our outer world. Also working toward balancing the feminine and the masculine principles. SHE philosophy expands into the root of earth wisdom and nature.

Music, poetry, photography, art & craft

From early teenage years, I was drawn to music, poetry, photography, art & craft. I enjoyed studying English language, Math, Social science, and I was totally fascinated by the sky, the stars and the Moon. I fell in love with poetry and started to dive in to the works of, namely, Rabindhanath Targore, Rumi, and Sunthorn Phu. I enjoy writing free-style devotional (Nature and Awareness) pros and poems.

Key literatures/Books

Some of the books that have profound impacts on my learning experience: Seed of the Soul by Gary Zukav, Cave in the Snow (Biography of Jetsunma Tansin Palmo), Fireflies: Selected Poems by Rabindranath Tagore, The Individual and His Society, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana ancient epic, and the Dhammapada.

Formal Educations

In primary school, I was introduced to Buddhist principles and learned how to meditate. At the end of my secondary school, I went to Australia for a year on an exchange student program. The later part of formal educational years I was working full time as well as studying. I studied for a degree long-distance in Education and Thai Language with the Sukhothai University. I gained 2 diplomas at Post Graduates level while holding a professional position as an Information Research Officer at an academic library at the City University in London. The diplomas were on Education and Training especially focussed on the development of adults education, project management, group dynamics, and mentoring.

Current studies and personal practice

My current practice is a combination of gentle style yoga, pranayama, free-form movement guided by DANCEmandala intuitive pathway, somatic embodied movement, internal energy alchemy, insight meditation, stillness and reflection. I am part of a  Forest Tradition Dhamma study and practice, and a Bhagavad Gita reading  groups. I’m an active member of A Wellness Summit, a learning teacher, self-awareness facilitator and researcher at DANCEmandala School of Moving Stillness. 

‘DANCEmandala takes us on an inward journey through different layers of our being helping us become more aware of our true Self, our harmonious connection with others, with nature and community.’ Areeradh

Areeradh K Tri-siddha

Areeradh K Tri-siddha

Founder/Creator of DANCEmandala

“I am deeply grateful to live this life with the ability to fully embrace all the lessons and the joy I’m experiencing. For me, life is sacred, beautiful and ever changing. My dance and movement practices are the manifestation of my gratitude and my dedication to continue the path that flows with life. This Dance gives me space to be all of me. I dance to fully live, explore, expand, untangle, connect, to be healed and inspired, and ultimately, I dance to be peaceful.”

Photo credit: Kimberley Bryant, Femke Teussink, Katerina Zakaria, Leif Jansson, and the amazing Nalin Amas. Thank you for all images on this page.