(Re)connecting to Self, Other and the World
When we dance, we reconnect. We re-establish a relationship to Self (to our physical and emotional Self), to others (to dancepartners, spouses, children, family, community, but also other species) and our environment (to home, studio, public place, nature, earth, cosmos).
The emphasize lies on the „re“ since we come into this world equipped with an intuitive way of being: being and moving in our bodies, organically developing an innate sense of Self (if nourished and fostered as a child), acting on genetic dispositions to be social and living with a natural reverence to forces bigger than us. It’s just that our upbringing conditioned us otherwise. Those of us growing up in the western culture have been deeply influenced by the cultural emphasis of „I think, therefore I am“. Education, medicine, science, religion...hundreds of years of messages that the body is separate from the mind, that this separation is the only valid way to live.
Within these cultural references we have been taught to disregard the body as dirty, sinful, lower and evil. We have been taught that selfcare is egocentric (especially for women), that nature is to be dominated and animals and other species are below humans in their development and therefore less worthy. Indigenous heritages are filled with rituals of honoring the earth, the cosmos and natural rhythms, simply because they live in and with the natural world and not above it. In the western world we have lost a great deal of this natural view. The good news is, that connection is so ingrained in us, so fundamentally set up in the foundation of our physical, emotional, social and spiritual lives, that we can re-pattern our behaviors, and with that maybe even parts of our society. We can do something about it and it is working with the body that is most efficient .
The body is our greatest tool in (re)connecting, simply because it is so direct. Being touched immediately relieves tension within the nervous system, because of its co-regulation message. You are not alone, you are safe. Dancing is a form of of activation and expression, an exhilarating sometimes introspective way of feeling ones body and the emotions that come along. Simple movements activate interoception and proprioception, self awareness within the body and in space.
When children grow up in an environment, where they are welcomed and nurtured to both be free and safe, a stable sense of Self can develop, an inner compass, in Jungian terms the archetype of Self. Unfortunately most of us have grown up in family systems where judgments, conditions and emotional abuse were common place. Fortunately, we can (re)learn this sense of Self, a grounded, mature self-awareness with a good balance of reason and intuition. We invite this process through dancing and moving within a safe container, where releasing old wounds and conditions is possible. In the practise of Authentic Movement we have the possibility for healing this conditioning, having been judged by thought (or own or others), by values of right or wrong, by having to fit our lives into categories of achievements or failure. Instead we learn to live within our own sense and value of Self.
Entering the world of Soma includes an invitation to listen to inner processes of heart, mind and soul, of a subjective inner world, sensations , feelings, stories and images, not bound by time and reason, but guided by process-oriented, individual expression of all that we are. This process includes others naturally. Even the most introverted person, will at one point recognize that they are not alone in this world, that the person next to them might make them smile or that the hug they recieve feels comforting. We are deeply social beings, not matter how individualistic our societies might have become. We yearn for company, we yearn for touch, we yearn for closeness. In Integrative Contact Improvisation we learn a mindful approach to this basic need for social exchange, for encounter, we learn to say yes to togetherness even if we sometimes set boundaries. We learn a playful, free handling of ourselves in contact with others.
Last but not least, we all experience ourselves as a part of nature, whether we know it or not. Our entire life is determined by gravity, by the seasons and temperatures, by the availability of food, water, air, everything we need to live. We need the earth, it is our basis for life and we need a healthy earth, just as we need a healthy body. It is almost impossible to (re)connect with our own body, to have a loving relationship with others and to disregard the environment, our earth. In this sense, the holistic dance practice is also a (re)connection with the world and the cosmos, our world, which we may cocreate, nurture and cherish together, as a privilege and in gratitude.
(Re)connecting is a collective process. We are not separate from each other. The buddhists know it, nature knows it, the heart knows it. (Re)connecting means accepting the reality of being dependent on others and on our environment and that makes us deeply vulnerable. To accept this vulnerability means fundamentally accepting human nature, accepting life. We can re-enter the path of a holistic life by acknowledging our interconnectivity, by learning and practicing the skills to reconnect, through expressing the pain that might come up along the way. Many of us have been on this path already and we are living and breathing the joy, the freedom, the unspectactular groundedness of a connected life. Let's continue.
"Aligning with our body may seem to be a small contribution, but since our habitual denial of the body lies at the root of our mistreatment of the earth, these small ripples eventually become a sea of change that affects the entire world."
“Hope beneath our Feet” edited by Martin Keogh
(c) Cristi Serban