healing

A New Year, a New Dawn

Here we are, folks, at the end and beginning of another cycle of the human-created year. A segment of time based on the real travels of this planet Earth as it moves around the Sun, the greatest star in our universal body (at least from our everyday perspective here on Earth.) A new dawn, a new Year.

Consider this for a moment, if you will: as I write this and (possibly) as you read this, our planetary home returns back to approximately the same place in its orbit of the Sun, the same general place in Space that it was a year ago as we ended 2017 and began 2018.

This cycle by our home planet, around and round the Sun, is a glorious and dependable pattern on which we rely, often without any thought to it. The planet is constantly in motion and, as its residents, so are you and I. The Sun and our relationship to it is a powerful force in our lives and each day - whether with intention or not - we interact with this great being from different perspectives as we dance around its metaphorical throne in the middle of our solar system. As far as most of us are concerned, the Sun does not change course: it is stable and constant. It is the basis on which we measure time. The relationship of the Sun and the Earth determines our seasons. We need its light every day just as we need time to recuperate in the darkness that our spinning in orbit gives us. And it is gravity, the thing that supports us and keeps us grounded, that allows us to maintain this orbit.

As you absorb all of this information, I invite you to add this to your thoughts as well: imagine yourself as a speck of cosmic dust riding on this body of Earth orbiting the Sun, and remember that even as you sit still, even while you read this, you are always moving through Space. Notice the sensory experience of this. (This exercise can be ungrounding, so before you move on please take care to return your attention to yourself as a physical presence resting on this big planet, securely held in place by gravity.)

Now, I invite you to layer in this idea: you, as an individual, started your personal dance around and with the Sun at the moment you emerged from the womb and have been doing it ever since. At that moment in time and in a specific place on the planet, you moved from your watery confines and entered into existence at a unique placement somewhere on this great elliptical pattern that is the Earth traveling around the core of our solar system!

When we each celebrate our individual birthday, we are not only celebrating the date of our birth, but we also have the opportunity to celebrate the unique place where we initially landed on the wheel of the year and started our cosmic rhumba with the Sun. Our birthday can be our individual relationship within this cycle of the Earth’s year dance, if we choose to consider it this way.

Likewise, when we celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on Dec 31 and Jan 1, we are acknowledging the beginning and ending points of this annual cycle as determined by some human (a Roman guy, if my memory serves me!) Observant astronomers had determined that the length of this cycle was 365¼ days but it was Caesar who decided the point in the cycle on which the year would end and, as a result, begin.

In movement work we call this type of conceptualization a “phrase.” A phrase always has a From, a Through and a To. In other words, I can describe the movement of this new year as coming From the time and place of 12/31/18 and moving Through the 365¼ days To the time and place of 12/31/19 when we will once again find ourselves approximately in the same place in Space in relation to the Sun that we were previously…or, in this case, are now.

Within this phrase of a year, we have many phrases because all movement has phrasing.

Phrases that are general to all of us as part of this cosmic dance are those like the moon cycle of approximately 28 days, the day cycle of 24 hours, the hour cycle of 60 minutes and on and on.

In addition we are always living and choosing and moving phrases that are specific to us such as the unique phrasings of our daily tasks and events, of experiences we have, or actions we take, of each breath.

Within all this movement we are constantly invited to recognize where, when, what and how we are moving From some experience or place, Through something and Toward yet some other place, experience or thing. We are invited to recognize that we can choose how we conceptualize our movement, whether it is how we relate to the phrasing of the larger cycles of the Earth moving around the Sun, or other similar cosmic scale patterns or how we attend to the smaller, more personal phrases like how we move in our everyday life, in relation to our Self, in relation to Others and in relation to our environment.

Some folks consider the Sun as a metaphor for our Soul’s purpose such as in astrology where we have something called the Sun Sign based on the date and placement of our birth (as I described above). Regardless of whether you believe in astrology or not, I invite you to recognize that we all have patterns that often relate to or orbit around one Core issue or theme throughout our lives, even while we are also dealing with smaller, everyday challenges and joys. As humans, we get to explore, choose, resist, consider and/or engage this metaphorical Sun around which we orbit. Unlike the planets in their orbits, we get to choose about how we move our own bodily universe in relationship to itself and to its world. We get to consider whether and what we orbit as well as how and when.

For example, when I tell my story, when I wake in the morning, when I show up to a meeting, when I become aware of a conflict or any of the other things I do in a day, I have the ability to ask myself, “what is the core issue around which I am dancing or around which this group is dancing?” “what do I bring to this moment From the past or do I have an intention I am trying to get To?” “Is there a larger phrase that I am also moving through?”

I can wonder: Is this the beginning of a new cycle and if it is, then how was I as I moved Through the place or experience that I am coming From? Is this the end of something? If it is, where and when did this cycle begin?

We can, if we choose, attend to such questions as:

Is this where and how I want this body or this body part to be in this moment?
Am I using a pattern of movement, reacting in a familiar, safe way?

Is the quality, mood, or attitude of my movement in tune with my intentions?
Are my movements communicating what I desire to be experiencing or sharing in this moment?

Am I carrying a story or belief with me from the past into the present moment?
Is there something I desire to change in how I am moving in my thoughts, my emotions, my energy and/or in my physical body?

The reality is as living beings we are always in movement. Life is movement. Change is movement. Breath is movement.

The Earth moves through the Solar System. Autumn changes to Winter. December turns to January. Your birthday will come around once again. Yesterday becomes today and today becomes tomorrow. You wake from bed. Your return to bed. You live one day at a time. You breathe one breath at a time. All movement.

Things - such as body parts, bank accounts, traffic, your mind, your belly, your concept of time, trees, tulip bulbs, the electric bill, your anger, your satisfaction - grow. They get larger. They extend or widen, lengthen or bulge. They advance or rise!

Things shrink. They get smaller. They flex or narrow or shorten. They hollow, retreat or sink back to the Earth.

This is movement at its most basic.

Movement is what tells us we are alive. And as humans we can attend to the movement, to the phrases of each breath. We can notice our actions From the moment of a thought Through To where that thought takes us. We can be conscious of our choices as we phrase a moment, a day, a month, a year, a lifetime. We can ask ourselves the questions like the ones I listed above or below at any time:

Where am I in Space in this moment?

Who or What am I interacting with?

What pulls or pushes me to move from Stillness?

What parts of my delightfully complex and physically, spiritually, emotionally, cognitively-able body am I using to support me as I move?

What is the timing that works best for me?

How am I moving?

Why?

These are the kinds of questions we can use at any time to deepen our relationships with our Selves as living beings on a living planet.


We can ask these questions as cosmic specks of dust, sitting in stillness. Even as we attempt to be motionless or even passive, we can, if we choose, let ourselves wonder about our unique place on this big glorious ball of energy and substance as it dances it way around and around its bright-fire ball center.

And we can ask them as we move like we are our own universe, on it less predictable path through its own solar system with other planets, stars and cosmic dust! Dancing, spinning and moving our way around our metaphorical Sun, through our days of Light and of Dark, we can ask at any point as we journey and return, each hour, each moment, each breath, each phrase.

We might be tempted to believe, when we find ourselves in what seems like the same place once again, that nothing has changed and that we are stuck in an endless cycle, but this isn’t really possible. Something has changed because there is movement. When we find ourselves in a familiar place, following a well-known pattern and we recognizing all that is the same, we can also be curious and ask “how is this also different?”

Consider this: the dancer never does the same dance twice. The choreography might be the same, with actions and placement on the stage consistent for each performance. But each time the dancer moves that known series of phrases (s)he brings something unique and different to the experience in that moment - sometimes intentionally and sometimes not - because, simply, the body has no choice but to be only and always in the precious, always changing present moment supported by the planet Earth as it rotates it way around the Sun.

Happy New Year’s Day...on whatever day you might be reading this!


To view the source of the image used, as well as for more information on the motion and cycles of bright objects, please click here!


Body, Breath, Spirit, Learning, Reclaiming and Dancing our Blessings!

I woke this morning with a yearning for movement within community, for movement with meaning and intent.

 As you probably know, I DO love to move in almost any way, but sometimes my desire has a very specific quality.

A bit of history:

When I first moved to Columbia I was part of a community that freely and easily moved with Spirit, dance was part of our ritual practice.  It was within the nurturing support of this community that I learned that I was not alone in knowing that movement transforms and heals. It was also within this environment I learned that, for me, there often existed a conflict between the desires of my Spirit body and the abilities of my Flesh body which sometimes (more often that I liked) resulted in physical injury.  It was also within this environment that I learned the psychological impact that can happen when one follows the energy of Spirit without the appropriate tools or awareness to stay connected to the flesh Body and the physical Space of the Earth. It was, in part, a desire to learn how to negotiate these challenges in myself and how to support others to do the same that prompted me to pursue the education in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis (LMA) that I have dedicated myself to these last eight years.  Studying this framework of movement was my path toward knowing how to invite and be fully immersed in the healing actions of movement, safely, wholistically, wholly, integratively. Moving BodyMindSpirit as an integrated whole: learning to live life more fully has been the goal all along!

But long before I knew about LMA, I discovered the drum.

At a time when my knees could no longer tolerate the demands of dance, it was the drum that allowed me to move with Spirit.  When my physical Body could not support me in moving how my body parts felt called to move, I funneled the desire through the drum.  Drumming required me to learn to stay grounded and aware of myself, the other drummers, the movers, and the Space around us while also being lifted and moved by energy. The music of the drum was a balm to my aching body. Drumming taught me so much.

And I was so very fortunate to discover the drum in that same community I mentioned above, and to get to know and study with Pam Fleenor-Benton, to play with the women’s drum ensemble Divine Rhythm and to be supported as a woman drummer within a community of talented women drummers.  But my relationship with the drum has been somewhat neglected these last few years, for various reasons, including my pursuit of career change and education as well as those before mentioned health issues. I sometimes thought I had lost that relationship…

And yet...

as I have studied and then embodied the framework and mysteries of movement offered by LMA and as I have added the experience of so many other supportive, somatic-based psychological and physical modalities, I have learned so many ways to find the places where/when/how physical body and spiritual body are integrated. I have learned to be psychologically and physically curious and safe while exploring the unknown and the energetic.  And within this process there has been and is and will always be rhythm. My ventures that changed my focus from the drum have also informed, deepened and inspired me. Drumming. Healing. Spirit. None of it has been too far away because it is all movement.

Without movement, there is no sound, and sound invites us to move.  Movement and Sound are the essence of Life. With movement and sound we enliven!  Movement and Sound are the opportunities to see,hear, feel the energy of Spirit as it moves in all embodied things.  Without the energetic impulse of Spirit, the physical is simply matter, the human body just tissue, and yet a divinely organized, exquisite system of tissue that is made to develop and organize, to move three-dimensionally within our personal kinesphere and on this place we call Earth. Our lump of tissues that is us is designed to respond to and to make sound!

Bringing it to the present moment…

Those of you who have followed this blog in the past may have noticed that it has been a while since I’ve last posted, four months to be exact.  In these last four months I have been on a Hero’s journey of sorts, a healing crisis of physical and spiritual import.  Invited by my Higher Power, my Guides, the Divine Mother and various wise friends to slow down and meet myself, I began the process of weaving together more closely the past and the present, the inspirations of my spiritual foundation with the structures of my educational pursuits.  In other words, these past months I’ve been invited to remember “me” and join her with “me” to allow the resultant elixir of “me”. All the same person and yet transformed.

Although I have made several efforts to write about this process before this post you are reading, I could not find the words to explain what was happening...and even though I am obviously making an effort to do so with this post, I believe I am still exploring how to put the awareness offered to me these past few months into action and into the written words…if you are intrigued, stay tuned. Join me. Check in. Ask. Invite. It is a glorious adventure!

Back to the beginning of this blog…

 I woke this morning with a yearning for movement within community, for movement with meaning and intent.  And what prompted this blog post was a feeling of such thankfulness that I will have the opportunity to do exactly this on Thursday when Pam Fleenor-Benton joins me in offering a Dancing Our Blessings Tranceformotion and a desire to share my gratitude for the journey as well as all the people and community who are a part of it, now and then.

For those who might not know, Tranceformotion is the movement form that I have created out of my personal experience and the works of other creative beings that gives space to intentionally moving physically with the energies of Spirit within a trance-state.  One of the forms of work that has long inspired me is called Trance Dance: it was developed by Wilbert Alix and taught to me by a woman named Leyla Castro. For many years I shared this form of trance movement in Columbia but I stopped when I no longer felt that my skills met my expectation for the kind of support that I believe is important when guiding folks into this sort of ritual and/or spiritual experience, especially folks with history of trauma and/or physical limitations.  Although Tranceformotion is greatly influenced by Alix’s work, it is also my own creation based on the expectations I have of myself listed above and informed by my extensive training. Tranceformotion is a ritual experience that invites the participants to be embodied and present in their physical selves while also opening themselves up to energy and Spirit through their conscious use of breath. The structure of this movement form invites and supports participants to be psychologically and physically curious and safe while exploring the unknown and the energetic. Tranceformotion is a ritual, inviting deep wisdom to make itself known to the mover through breath, darkness, intention, rhythm and movement.

It is moving with community, with meaning and with intent.

In this upcoming Tranceformotion, I am thrilled to be joined by the above mentioned Pam Fleenor-Benton.  Pam and I have worked together in many creative ways over the years, in ritual and in performance.  She brings a powerful energy and committed passion to drumming. She understands intention, rhythm and movement.  This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in ritual, trance or healing movement.

As I began the process today of preparing myself for holding, inviting, creating the vessel of intention for this upcoming ritual, I was reminded of a video that Pam shared with me some time ago which you can view here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVPLIuBy9CY

This video helped me find the words to the intention for this upcoming event:

Every step we take is rhythm.

Every

Step

We take


Is rhythm.


Our actions, our movements, our breath

all opportunities to BE the music of our lives.


She asks, “What will change if you slow down, take the time to

 listen to your every movement, hear your rhythm, move to your own beat?


With this ritual, we move

to express our gratitude for the blessings and existence of our daily lives.  

We Dance Our Blessings.


if you have a yen to move within community, to move yourself with meaning and intent and think that this event will satisfy that desire, please contact me as soon as possible to schedule a time to meet for the required pre-interview. A thirty minute pre-interview is required to ensure the safety and support of all involved.

 


What Do You Do and What Can I Expect?

The title of this blog is a question I have heard in various forms over the last year.  "What is it you do?"  and "What can I expect if I come to one of your events?"  It is not uncommon for me to hear from folks that they find my work interesting and intriguing, but are reluctant to take part because they aren't sure what will be expected of them.   I understand this hesitancy to show up for something that seems new and, possibly, foreign.  I also know well that those who have overcome this fear and joined me in my various workshops have reported to me that they have had valuable and unique experiences that have then rippled through many aspects of their lives.   

SO, if you are one of these folks, intrigued by me and my work, but a bit hesitant to join in any of the many events I offer, please know that I have created this blog and the list of guidelines shared at the end especially for you.

WHY IS WHAT I DO CONFUSING?

My theory is that what I do is confusing because I do NOT offer a recognizable structured movement modality.  Movement opportunities offered in our culture, especially in the Mid-West, tend to be more structured and formalized like Swing Dance, Yoga, Belly Dance or Tai Chi or they involve some sort of sport or exercise regimen.  People seem to understand movement classes as a way to learn a specific movement modality for a defined purpose. For me participating in these practices is similar to putting together the contents of a Lego kit that was designed by someone else and has all the necessary parts to build a specific thing like a rocket ship or a barn.  In this sort of movement experience we are invited to learn the pieces and how to put them together in a fashion to get the end result specified by the modality or the teacher. This can be very rewarding.  Each of these movement forms I listed are all great opportunities to move!  I enjoy doing all of them. I know many wonderful people who practice and teach these forms.  They can be fun and valuable exercise, wonderful to watch and to be a part of.  All of this is true, however, this is not the kind of movement opportunity that I offer.

WHAT IT IS I DO

My education and the underpinning of all I offer is based on Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). LMA is a framework of movement, rather than a specific movement modality.  With the tools of LMA I can observe, analyse and explain any movement.  Because of my intensive training with instructors who are highly trained professional dancers, performance and martial artists as well as yoga and pilates instructors, I have the skill to create and teach structured movement with specific consistent actions, but this is not the way I generally choose to share my extensive training.  As Embodiment, I create and facilitate opportunities for you to explore yourself as a mover.   Because in my workshops the movement is about you, your choices, your desires, your attitudes, your environment, your abilities and your limits, it makes space for the experience to be uniquely rich, healing and exciting as well as unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable.  My workshops are intended to support you as you LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF IN MOVEMENT, not teach you any specific actions or set of actions.  To continue the Lego metaphor from above, the movement events I offer are more like showing up to an event to discover Lego pieces from hundreds of different kits in piles all around the room.  Imagine being invited and supported to create something from all this possibility!  As you select and build and try things out, imagine being led to notice the themes or possibilities within the piles, and then invited to notice and be curious about the patterns of your choices within all of this!  Imagine then being invited to notice your experience of the act of making choices, noticing patterns and of creating something new with the information you have received from me, from the other participants and from yourself within the experience!  Imagine what you might discover!  This is a more apt metaphor for what I offer as Embodiment LLC.  My workshops are opportunities for you to practice in a safe, supported environment different ways of moving and being in your life! 

To help understand the diversity of the possible experiences you can have if you choose to work with me, let me give you a brief overview of some of the movement forms that I have created and currently offer: 

  •  Express Yourself and Wild Women Wednesdays are more concept-driven events in which a criteria, intention or direction is given as a guideline.  This intention determines how we will explore and what we will create together.  As the names indicate these forms are more about exploring your personal creativity and expressivity.
  • Mindful Move Groove and Movement Fundamentals invite you to more closely examine and explore your physical movement choices - what are the parts you tend to use, how do they fit together, where do they go in space and how can you most efficiently move in the way you desire.  In these forms I offer a blend of education, exploratory movement and choreographed movement sequences.
  • Tranceformotion and Meditation for Every Body offers opportunities to explore Spirit and Embodiment using different healing traditions, such as mindfulness and trance work.
  • In some of the movement forms I have created and offer we start with a more formalized structure, like Yoga, meditation, drumming or Tarot, and then together we take the structure apart piece-by-piece to learn more about the whole.   
  • In the individual sessions I offer, we can explore any and all of these routes, depending on your needs and interests.

I hope that this helps to answer the question of what exactly it is that I do and what you might expect if you show up to one of my offerings.

Please know that I am also willing to take time to meet with you to talk about what I offer and what might be valuable to you personally; however, know that what I offer is experiential, so words will only give you a limited view into the experience!  For you to understand what it is we do in an Embodiment event will require you to join in, (and also be aware that your unique presence will, in turn, influence the experience of the event for all involved!)

GUIDELINES FOR TAKING PART IN AN EMBODIMENT EVENT

If you are still feeling curious but hesitant, I have shared a list below of guidelines established by me and some of my regular participants.  I regularly update these guidelines because I believe that curiosity and learning thrive best when we know the boundaries and social "rules" of our environment and those can only be determined by the folks involved.  Below is the most current list of what is asked of those who take part in any of the various Embodiment events:

  • Suggestions offered or prompted by the facilitator or other participants should be viewed as invitations intended to INSPIRE and SUPPORT you in deepening the process of you of being you, rather than as demands or commands.
  • Be curious.  Ask questions - of the facilitator, of yourself, of others.
  • Allow yourself to experience your sensations for the sake of the sensations.  Be with them. Move with them. Try to not make a story about them. Be with them.  Move with them.
  • Remember that PERFORMING is NOT being AUTHENTICALLY you.  Be curious and share with yourself and with each other, but if what you are doing begins to feel like performing, the suggestion is to stop, sit down, make it smaller, take a breath, decrease the intensity, find gravity or take whatever action you need to shift back into yourself.  The act of not knowing what to do next can be powerful.
  • Remind yourself that the act of Breathing IS Movement!  Sometimes being fully present with our breath is the most powerful action we can take.
  • Notice if you have a persistent desire to express yourself through verbal communication and invite yourself to resist it, to check in with your experience of your sensations and allow the desire to express connect into and out of you without words.  This might be movement.  This might be sound.  This might be stillness and silence.
  • If you start to experience exhaustion, frustration or demoralizing thoughts, change something.  Change your position. Move yourself into a different level or place in space. Find a new body shape. Adjust the size and/or intensity of your action.  Stop. Breathe. Find your support. Allow yourself time to recuperate.
  • If your experience of being in the present moment has become difficult, uncomfortable, fatiguing, irritating, or overwhelming and you are unable to transition or transform the experience on your own, communicate your need for support to the facilitator or to another a trusted person in the room.
  • Don’t:
    • Push through it just to accomplish it.
    • Ignore sensations and internal information.
    • Fake it until you make it.  
    • Apologize for having your experience or being you.
  • DO Notice.  Notice. Notice:
    • your relationship to your Breath
    • your places of support
    • what is happening withIN you
    • what is happening OUTSIDE that you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel on your skin
    • what is happening INSIDE of your mind that is not actually happening in the present moment
    • your curiosity.  your joy. your reluctance.  your desire
    • your patterns - of thought, of response and of action
  • Give yourself permission to be curious, to take a risk, to be safe, to inquire, to try new things, to say no.

FINAL WORDS

Please join me.  I am passionate about this work because movement IS life.  My own experience with LMA has given me so many tools to be more present, to experience and move with my life, in dance and in every day activities, with the glory and the challenges.  I look forward to sharing this framework with you in whatever ways interest you and in supporting you as you move more fully in the ways you desire to move in your life!