Last Saturday I taught a Mindfulness and Movement workshop. I guided the participants in meditation, stretching and qigong. I invited each person to feel into their own movement impulses as I played songs with various rhythms and tones. We moved and danced, together and separate, around the space. Connecting with my body, my creative expression and others in this way is one of my favorite things.
My body loves to move. The more I move, the better I feel. I used to run cross country and track in high school and college. I loved it. My body felt strong. The rhythmic quality of running was always something that calmed me and reset my mood. Over the years, running started to feel too hard on my body. I looked for alternative activities and could not settle on anything that gave me the same feeling, physically or mentally.
Then, five years ago, I was introduced to moving in my body in a whole new way. I attended my first SomaSoul training with Dan Leven at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. When Dan put on music and invited us to walk around the room, feeling into our hips, legs and feet and feeling the music, I felt awkward, nervous and shy. It was somewhat like learning to ride a bike - my body did not quite know what to do. Still, I remember going to bed that night feeling like there was something to this that I liked and wanted to explore.
Being in My Body
That "something that I liked" was a connection to my body. This was new territory for me at first. It was also full of richness, depth and meaning. As I began to experience my body's reaction to music, I could feel a new world opening up. This was a world of emotions, sensations, movement and creative expression.
Moving in a creative way in response to music, i.e. dancing, fulfills my body's need to move. I use muscles I do not usually use. I feel energized and alive. I sweat, I laugh and I feel. I feel my arms and legs. I feel my heart and guts. Emotions bubble up in response to some lyric or tone. I am moved and I am moving.
The beauty of moving in this way is that I am listening to my body and letting it tell me what it needs and wants. When I was a runner, I was generally telling my body what to do. Go up this hill, finish strong, stride out here. Now my body and I have a different kind of relationship.
One of the differences is that I spend more time in the core of my body and less time in my head. This is especially true when I am dancing. My body responds to the music and I follow. I am not thinking, move here and move there. The movement comes from some place else. It feels like what creative people say when they talk about getting out of their own way and letting something flow through them.
Dancing in a group of people also gives us a unique opportunity to connect with people without words. We can dance around others and with others, mirroring their movements or having our own expression. This can be especially powerful for people like me who can feel awkward in social situations and conversations. Here it is our bodies doing the talking, so to speak. We can play and experiment with being together and being apart.
So much can be said without words. Last weekend I also had the chance to attend Night Fall in Hartford. Night Fall is an annual outdoor performance that features dancing and puppets. It was beautiful and moving. I was struck by how touched I was by this story that was expressed almost exclusively through dance, visual effects and music. It went right to my core and my heart.
In a world and culture where we can spend so much time thinking, planning and sitting, we can all benefit from experiences of moving and being moved. Certainly, I need movement and creative expression in my life. They nourish me on many levels. If you would like to join me sometime, check out my Classes and Workshops page to see when I am teaching next.