What is The Art & Practice of Movement?
The Art & Practice of Movement
Many years ago, as I was unfolding a path of healing, seeking to release old patterns of movement while simultaneously playing with new patterns for the furthering of my well-being, I coined the phrase the Art & Practice of Movement (A&PofM)? My philosopher-dancer friend, Kimerer LaMothe, uses the term “bodily self” to suggest the idea that everything that makes our self what it is is due to the bodily movements we make.
As humans, it is essential, perhaps critical, that we (re)turn toward the understanding that all of life is movement. In spite of being a “dancer”, I had to (re)learn to inhabit my bodily self; to feel truths and release lies; to find clarity in my own unique, self-loving, purpose: a conscious participation in what Kimerer calls, “a rhythm of bodily becoming.” The A&PofM is simply an opportunity to move and move again into our truest selves, into the overcoming of obstacles, into more knowledge, and even through pain, into the ultimate source of life found in our moving bodily self. It is the practice of any movement —listening for impulses to move that arise— and allowing this movement to inspire our potential to craft a healthier and more beautiful life.
For too long we have lived our bodies as colonized nations, a comparison I learned from my teacher, Thea Elijah. We have been taught to stop moving to think. That our minds, thinking from chairs, are the only sources of power. We are bombarded by a deluge of outside information regarding our mental, physical, emotional, societal, cultural, political and spiritual health that our minds sort and dictate. Yet, are we living more fully with so much information or are we burdened by the takeover of our bodily selves by mental domination?
We can also feel in the collective body the egregious affects the movements colonizers have made in this nation and throughout the earth: there have been patterns of movement, from minds operating over bodies, on the land and water and toward others that are continuing to cause great harm. When we stopped moving to love, to connect, to think and to evolve, we stopped our ability to live in relationship with the earth: wars proliferated, waters polluted, forests and mountains destroyed for our selfish uses, animals went extinct, prisons overflowed, and children neglected. Until we undo these patterns with new patterns of movements in love for all that is, the structures and impoverished rhythms that exist will continue to reverberate and dominate within the collective societal and ecological body.
Imagine if we changed the patterns of movement within our own bodily selves and the potential impact this would have in the outer world. Imagine what the mind colonizing the body means for us internally: What thoughts, conditionings, ideologies, doctrines, “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” move within and obstruct a loving purpose in this life? This work of undoing and transfiguring individual and collective pain begins in the bodily self. How we move from inside impacts what we create, perceive, conceive and draw from in the outer world. The inner and outer world is an interconnected whole of which we are all a significant part. We have the capacity to (re)imagine and (re)create the world through our moving bodily selves.
We are movement with infinite source; and the mind follows in that weaving and circular dance! We must participate in the bodily spiraling inward and outward source that holds all things whole; a source that is accessed within us. Can we move in new ways and cultivate bodily selves and thinking that is free of selfishness, hate and fear; fuller in freedom, joy and love?
This infinite primary source found within has many names —demarcating only one name would arrest its ongoing movement. It is a source that is present for all of humanity whether we choose to listen through our movements or not. When I facilitate the A&PofM for myself and others I seek to be guided by this source. In my facilitator tool belt I also draw from multiple secondary sources including my own personal experience, exploration and movement research.*
Every great movement practice, ritual and style of dance in the streets and on the concert stage began with one person or a collective of people who quieted the mind and tapped into the source —the force of all movement and all the universe— to create a new form and pattern of liberating movement. We can attempt to return to the source by studying one of these forms from the past (yoga, tai chi, qi gong, modern dance, hip-hop, ballet, vogueing, cultural folk dances, etc.) or we can go even more deeply into the source to discover spontaneously arising movement: a dance of the unfolding present. We can still the part of the mind that creates separation within and without. We can become one with all, opening the bodily self through movement to the art of one’s own unique purpose in this space and time.
We are whole bodies. We are not heads on stacks of books. We are not meant to be heads tethered to smart-phones. And, yet, we still listen to Talking Heads all around and outside of us, disconnected and disembodied from our own felt, sensory, first-hand experience. Movements for dis-ease or well-being reside in our tissues from our muscles and bones to our emotions; it is more complex than only what is encased under our scalps. We must move to overcome, to heal, to reconnect, and to evolve.
My hope is to help us begin to rise out of our slumped or stagnant states and tap into our capacity for transforming what has been, toward life that enables health for all and for the planet.
Together we must move.
*The other sources I draw from when facilitating A&PofM:
Dance Concepts in Time, Space and Energy
Sacred Ecstatics- Bradford and Hillary Keeney
Karate- Sensei Toby Stansbury/Emerald City Karate
Yoga- 20+ years, multiple forms/teachers
Body and Earth- Andrea Olsen
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