The words we speak do not always convey our deepest thoughts or emotions; they may be filtered, uttered spontaneously and without forethought. When we attempt to explain our emotions to others or ask for clarity, we may stumble, not wholly certain of our clearest and purest intentions at the moment.
But the body rarely lies: An astounding vulnerability surfaces when left to its own, natural, devices. Even when a body is touched by another, or when a body’s motions – or even stasis – is observed by others, the form is left miraculously intact and, if free to do so, will follow its own path of exploration and ultimately, will speak the most deeply-seated truths on its way towards greater expression and healing.
Which is what transpired for us both yesterday. Eager to remove ourselves, albeit temporarily, from the day’s frenzy and onerous tasks that lay ahead, we left home to join up with two other women for an afternoon of authentic movement. This experience essentially divides participants into two groups; one whose members move to their own rhythm, dance or stay still during a pre-determined period of time, while the others sit silently and observe; then the roles are reversed. Movements are conducted with eyes closed and in silence – except for sounds that the movers are compelled to emit naturally. When all movements have been completed, time is allotted for reflection, writing and drawing. Then a process called witnessing allows participants an opportunity to share their subjectively-felt observations; but solely in a non-judgmental, self-referential way.
There was strength in her dance. Arms outstretched into the air, a great breath seeped into (or out of?) her body. Crouched on the floor, she groped and searched with a growl-like gesture. Almost immediately, Helen Reddy’s iconic song popped into my head:
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
There was acceptance in her dance. From the bottoms of her feet to the top of her head, she marked the physical changes – for the most part subtle, mostly invisible to a stranger’s eye – her body has undergone over the years. She later acknowledged (almost paid tribute to) each of those changes, most due to age or childbirth, inescapable truths that honor growth, life and love.
And there was water in her dance – partly mixed with fire, but water nevertheless. She sunk into waves, embraced by the surrounding silence, blocking every sound except that of her own breath. Watching her explore the depths, speaking through her every movement, I felt the seeds of healing take hold in her body.
It reminded me of a line, anonymously quoted, that I read the other day:
When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.
Dear OJ, bless you, dancing pilgrim.