Dancing Our Way to Wholeness
Photo by Anna Seva

Dancing Our Way to Wholeness

“Life is movement. The more life there is, the more flexibility there is. The more fluid you are, the more you are alive.” (Arnaud Desjardins)

Close your eyes and feel your breath. What do you notice? Sense your feet on the ground. What are you aware of? Check in with the vertical line of your spine. How is your skull situated on top of your vertebrae? How is your pelvis carrying the weight of your torso? What are you sensing through the pores of your skin? How does it feel to be inside your body right now?

We live our lives in and through our bodies. Alexander Lowen describes the body as our basic reality. We are in a constant and unavoidable relationship with the experience of embodiment. The body does not lie and our tissues reflect with unfiltered honesty the state of how we are. Our bones, muscles and organs carry our dreams, wounds and memories within the substance we are made out of. Our bodies provide us with a wealth of sensory information, a constant stream of feedback on how it feels to be where we are, do what we do and be who we are.

Structures of body originally evolved in response to the demands of the environment. Lisbeth Marcher suggests that many of our bodily patterns are leftovers from childhood, imprinted in the system as functional adaptations. Surviving in a particular context has consequences that come with a cost of compromise. We carry chronic tension and contraction so locked up in the body that it can no longer be felt. When areas of holding become habitual and automatic enough it no longer takes any conscious effort to keep them in place. The muscles involved in the pattern are so focused on their task of defending that they are no longer available for sensory experiences. Where we lose sensation we lose vital aspects of our experience and presence of being.

Movement is a powerful catalyst for change and transformation. Mary Starks Whitehouse thinks of movement as the great law of life. The living organism that it is, everything in the universe is always moving. It’s impossible to move the body without moving the whole being of the person. The movement of bones, muscles and nerves activates life experience and animates personal history. One body is the microcosm of the universal body. When I dance, the whole universe dances.

Letting the body move according to an inner impulse gives it the opportunity to reflect, research and release in a container of mindful attention. The body already knows how to shake off stagnation, make new choices and create new resources. You don’t have to push, force or try to make anything happen – just allow movement to unfold from within. Close your eyes in the beginning. Stay still until you feel the urge to move. Start slowly and see what happens.

I am often eager to begin and hungry to dance, yielding into the beat of the music inside my body. I go with this initial craving for action until I find a way to pause and drop everything that I am doing. I go quiet and look for a deeper initiative, seeking a more conscious and connected expression. I begin again, this time with more breath and patience. I allow the formless to reveal itself through the form with no hurry and no expectation. I let the flow of feeling and frequency move my body as it will. I am often surprised by the gestures, emotions and images that come up. I am often moved by the bridges of connection and the relevance they have to the unfolding events of my life.

Dancing opens the gate to a wealth of symbolic materials that show up to animate the shape of the body in motion. Not impeding upon the body’s spontaneous impulse to move utilizes the creativity of the moment to attend to the vital themes that emerge on their own. Dancing is inherently medicinal in a directly accessible, tangible and practical way. Dancing cleans the house of the body and reorganizes the furniture of the soul in the interest of good feng shui for the whole property. Dancing has a healing effect even when therapy is not the primary reason for moving our feet and shaking our hips.

The body already knows the way to wholeness. The universe is in a process of constant change and dancing helps us align with this current of life-forwarding motion. As Ron Kurtz points out, the body is intelligent beyond measure and its natural inclination is towards health, wellbeing and actualization of potential. Provide a safe container for creative motion and have faith in your body’s ability to dance its way to freedom and integrity. Trust your body to have its say, have its way, stand up for its needs and resolve what gets in the way. Form inevitably follows feeling and the shape of your body yields to the shape of your soul. See you on the dance floor.

“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” (Samuel Beckett)

References:

Kurtz, R. (1990). Body-centered psychotherapy: The Hakomi method : the integrated use of mindfulness, nonviolence, and the body. Mendocino, CA: LifeRhythm.

Lowen, A. (1995). Joy: The surrender to the body and to life. New York: Arkana.

Macnaughton, I. (2004). Body, breath & consciousness: A somatics anthology : a collection of articles on family systems, self-psychology, the bodynamics model of somatic developmental psychology, shock trauma, and breathwork. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.

Whitehouse, M. S., Adler, J., Chodorow, J., & Pallaro, P. (1999). Authentic movement. London: Philadelphia.

Posted by Anna Seva

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