healing movement

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.