I tried a new thing a couple weekends ago: JourneyDance. I attended a workshop led by the lovely and glowing Michelle Brass and met (and danced with!) a group of exquisitely amazing women.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I was drawn to enrol in the experience prior to learning I needed surgery and I even contemplated withdrawing right up to an hour before the workshop began. Something told me I needed to attend, and I listened.
I allowed my curiosity to lead me; I knew Michelle a bit and was curious about this dance thing she was doing. I also felt called to get out of my head and into movement and into my body this year. And I wanted to say yes to something that pushed me out of my comfort zone AND was completely about and for me – not my day job, my kid, my marriage, my health, my coaching business. A little bit of luxurious self-care just for me.
And I learned again that taking care of myself extends to all the other aspects of my life. Of course.
And that a group of women coming together in community to heal is incredibly powerful. Of course.
(We did have one lovely man join us for the evening workshop, and it was wonderful to have male energy on the dance floor as well.)
The experience was challenging and so very rewarding. I was challenged to let go of insecurities (there were REAL, trained dancers in the room!); challenged to connect to my body and turn off my critical mind; challenged to trust my body to move me how it wanted to be moved, to speak for me, to express what needed to be expressed and exposed; and challenged to trust a group of strangers to see me, hold me, love me based on how I showed up that day. And to trust I could do the same for them as well.
The beauty and power and rawness of the music, energy, movement and the women – THE WOMEN – who were present was magic. I felt honoured to be able to witness their grace, lightness, heaviness, frivolity, expression, emotion and connection. We held a sacred space for and of each other. Hearts opened, tears flowed, strength emerged. Beauty everywhere.
The entire experience opened up awareness for me into previously dark or perhaps ignored places. What is my connection to my body? How I can I be so appreciative of all other bodies but not my own, not really? If I was accepting of it, why do I feel so self-conscious of its appearance? Its capabilities? Why do I take it for granted? What does this illness create in terms of opportunity to reconnect and honour my physical body? How do I want to be with my body? Why did I get this diagnosis? What’s the message in it? Is it my fault?
I’m someone who tends to feel totally okay about my body one day – It’s just a physical form for my soul and mind, right? What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter what it looks like! – despite all the messages our society sends about how women “should” look (and behave…but that's another post), and then another day, I’m completely disappointed in it and embarrassed to leave my house and be seen.
The fact is, I need this body to do the things I want to do in this lifetime. I need it to work for me, to keep me mobile, to be able to communicate and care for my family and to do the things I love to do, like walk in our fields, travel, create. I need it to be healed.
In my coaching practice, I use "geography" with my clients to get them out of their thinking minds into their bodies and connect them to their intuition. We use the room or space and our physical forms in it in different ways to open up energy and thought and feeling and perspective. We use the body as a tuning fork, or as a satellite dish for receiving notes or signals from our intuition or the universe or god or fill-in-the-blank. I learned through this experience that I can go deeper, into my own body, and therefore will be more available to go deeper with my clients. I’ll have more range and depth to offer them.
I happened to catch a few minutes of The Nature of Things on Thursday night as well, and it was all about body language. You can watch the episode here. The part that I caught was a brief interview with Dr. Amy Cuddy who talked about research, often called "embodiment," that shows some emotions we experience are hardwired to display in our physical bodies, and the way we move and hold our physical bodies has an impact on our emotions. How many of us have been told to smile and it will help improve our mood? Did it work? Science says it does.
So, if I dance like no one's watching, will I move without inhibition? With freedom? With truth? Will my true emotions pour onto the dance floor? Maybe. Dr. Cuddy recommends we fake it NOT until we make it, but until we BECOME it. So how might I move on the dance floor, and through life, in a way that I become what I want to be? And how can I help my clients do the same?
I was talking with my doctor a couple weeks back about the stages of grief…he said I will likely experience anger at some point…I haven’t. I haven’t felt anger toward my body at all. Regret, yes. I have apologized for not listening to it, to not nourishing it as well as I could have, for neglecting it, but I haven’t felt anger toward it, or the illness.
I’m never judgmental about other people’s bodies. I truly marvel at all the shapes, sizes, colours, abilities and differences between all the people I encounter. It’s all so fascinating! How can one species be so very diverse?! The wonder of it all! And yet, the things I think about my own physical form would be completely unacceptable if I said them out loud to another person. Why the double standard? I'm aware of the beliefs around negative thoughts and emotions and cancer. Did I cause this? Did I manifest it? I'm not entirely convinced, so I'm being curious about it.
JourneyDance opened up a lot of curiosity for me.
I moved my body. I danced like no one was watching. I likely looked foolish. And that's okay.
I laughed. I cried. I witnessed. I held space. I grew weary and sore.
I even extroverted and told some fascinating women I want to keep in touch with them. I dare say I made new friends.
If you're interested in exploring emotion and self-awareness through movement, check out Michelle's site for her latest offerings in the Regina area.
In love and light,