Today I was working on a new online program to move with lightness, energy and vitality. And that brought back old memories from when I was still auditioning for dance. And the journey I made then to build a caring, respectful relationship with my body and feel the energy, life force and lightness to sparkle again.
By learning to feel and look at my body differently then, my dancing has changed and also the way I stand in my life. A renewed relationship with my body, myself actually, my dreams and my environment. What I myself find very special is that this came about by changing my way of moving. The power of movement and dance.
“Movement occupies the nervous system more than anything else because we cannot sense, feel, or think without a many-sided and elaborate series of actions initiated by the brain to maintain the body against the pull of gravity; at the same time we must know where we are and in what position. In order to know our position within the field of gravity with respect to other bodies or to change our position, we must make use of our senses, our feeling, and our power of thought.” -Moshe Feldenkrais
The power of connection
If there is a harmonious relation between the nervous system and the muscles, bones, organs and breathing then we experience softness, strength and mobility at the same time. All parts of the body can then regain their place in the system and perform their function efficiently and flexibly, allowing the energy to flow optimally again. There is good cooperation, support and communication between all parts of the body, the mind and heart. This is where the path to lightness, energy, creativity, connection and growth begins.The way our inner system works is similar to the way other systems work.The way our inner system works is similar to the way other systems work. Systems are about relationships and the better the quality of a relationship the better the system works.
The body benefits from a well functioning system and our emotional self as well. When there is constant conflict between body parts we experience that as tension, stress and fatigue in our inner life and we are more quickly overwhelmed by our environment. Most people react to this by hardening and disconnecting from their bodies and their environment.
So inside, so outside
The internal relations in our body teach us about our external relations with our environment. It is not for nothing that they say ‘So inside, so outside’! I have noticed that when the different parts of myself are better attuned to each other and the energy flows optimally again, the judgements and beliefs about myself and the world around me soften and there is room for (self) compassion.
I therefore believe that our body is a mirror for our thinking and feeling. When we move, stand and sit with more physical freedom and experience more options in moving, that movement will also be reflected in our thinking and feeling. Many people then experience that mentally and emotionally they are also more playful, flexible and resilient in their lives. It is therefore easier to face the world with an open, uninhibited heart.
Conversely, restrictive thoughts and emotions that draw us in have an contracting effect on our cells. We feel our muscles tighten. The organs experience less space because of this muscle movement and can no longer do their work properly. The bones are pulled and the joints experience more strain. There is no longer a relaxed balance in standing and sitting. Many people then fix parts of their body and limit themselves in their movement possibilities. Their brain becomes more and more preoccupied with the tension and loses its flexibility, creativity, playfulness and zest for life. I myself have noticed that I push people away from me, close my heart, pull up a wall, become more upset, angry, sad, pessimistic, judgmental. This is the spiral towards stress, fatigue, overexertion, pain and maybe even bitterness and depression. But each spiral has a reverse side.
The other spiral direction is towards lightness, energy, creativity, growth and enjoyment. I like to focus on this area where we have the opportunity to get to know our potential for ourselves and others. Moshe Feldenkrais once said that we only use 10 percent of our full potential. That’s an alarmingly low figure. It is time for us and the earth to focus on awakening our potential instead of everything that is wrong with us so that we can make a change for the better.
Therefore I am a firm advocate of these definitions of health of Moshe Feldenkrais:
Health is our capacity to act in the world despite our difficulties’ and ‘the ability to live our dreams regardless of our circumstances’.
I have noticed that becoming conscious in and through movement is a safe and beautiful entrance to self-growth. I say ‘conscious movement’ because by consciously listening to their body and the movement, many people can prevent injuries, move lighter and more easily. And also get to know and express their emotions better and give expression to who they are. And equally important to feel that movement that makes them happy, liberates them and gives them space. If that’s what we radiate we also give other people the space to get to know themselves, to be themselves and to be allowed to enjoy who they are.
How I got home in my body
I’ve had a lot of tension in my body for a very long time without realising this. It did not surprise me afterwards that all this time I was also very perfectionistic, closed and very harsh and critical towards myself. It had become normal for me to go beyond my limits, to exhaust myself, to please, to fight against myself and to continue until the pain really became too much or that I was so exhausted that I could no longer sleep, eat, stand or sit tired and took refuge in something that could numb me.
Pain is a signal from the body that it wants to move differently, that we have something to change in our ways of thinking, feeling and doing and that we need to come home to our body. Before we experience pain, the body has already given a lot of signs like, for example, we no longer move with fluidity, have a stiff, nagging back, experience every action as too much effort, are tense, easily feel angry, weepy or cranky, are tired and over whetted.
One day, years ago, I auditioned for a dance choreography in which I really wanted to dance. Unfortunately I was rejected because my movements were too pointy and hard for what they were looking for. I was not lyrical enough in my way of moving. Years earlier, during an audition at a dance academy, I had already heard that my basic muscle tone was too high, and they doubted whether my body would have the pliability to move in 1000-and-1 possibilities.
This time I saw lyrical movement as something I could learn to make my own. On my journey to regain fluidity and softness in my moves I discovered the Feldenkrais method. By consciously looking for small, slow and soft movements I discovered how tense and cramped my whole body actually was and how exhausted, empty, depressed and over-stimulated I actually felt.
And I discovered that there was another way. Already after a few lessons I noticed that I moved softer, did not grind in my sleep anymore, slept better, felt more relaxed in my back and shoulders. I felt lighter and lighter during the training to Feldenkrais transformational movement coach. People told me I had a softer look in my eyes and more color in my face. That my smile had become full bodied and that I was more open and relaxed towards my environment.
The internal relations in our body teach us about our external relations with our environment.
Gradually I not only developed more flow and lyricism in my movements, I also got more energy, stood firmer on my legs, and felt calmer and peaceful in my body. I was no longer so afraid to do something wrong, I played again and felt my inner sparkling and twinkling again. I noticed that I began to form a different image of myself, in which there was the space, freedom and respect to enjoy myself and my body. I really noticed how much I had changed because my immediate environment reacted differently to me than before. Relationships changed in a direction which was connected with respect to our boundaries
I see movement as a powerful entrance to transform old physical, mental and emotional patterns, beliefs and habits and to build a new, loving, caring relationship with ourselves. I believe that a loving and compassionate relationship with our body is necessary to be able to be loving towards our environment and still maintain our boundaries. Boundaries which are sometimes so subtle that we can only feel them clearly and respect them when we can really rest deep in our body and be at home with her. Our senses then work so much more refined than when we are stressed and disconnected to ourselves.
How many misunderstandings and heart-hurt can we avoid if we learn to feel, know and express ourselves and our needs more clearly? How much vitality and energy can we regain if we no longer ignore our body but respect it in our actions? Imagine the lightness and fluidity in your movement when you move your body’s way.
Join me in my online program ‘Move with lightness, energy and vitality’