I came across this lovely post about a month ago, written by Vanessa Soleil of Loving Kindness Life Coaching, and of course I could not help but share it with you all. (Please see the link above.) There is such beauty in its simplicity, and is a perfect jumping point for anyone just starting out with a personal dance practice.
The prompts for self-inquiry are gentle, and yet can take you as far - or as near - as you need to go on any given day. I highly suggest getting yourself a journal, something that speaks to you, and a special pen just for journaling purposes. You will be so glad that you did!
Many blessings, and enjoy your practice.
MOVEMENT PRACTICE 1
a couple posts ago i shared the luxurious joy i felt dancing to music that resonates with me…and what it is like to have the opposite experience. we can find the wisdom in both–cultivating self-awareness while moving through ease and delight is a practice i am going to invite you into today. next post, i’ll ask you to move through something stickier to find what messages live in your resistance.
this practice is for everybody
no need to be a dancer. it’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing…your body does. take it at your own pace, feel your feet and find your breath and go as slow or as shakily as you need…the wisdom is in what you feel, not what you look like. sometimes i have videotaped myself dancing and am surprised to see that it doesn’t even look like i am doing that much.
while i am in my experience, i feel so much movement and information happening inside my body, and it feels like so much is happening even if it isn’t visible from the outside. this is not about performance or dancing well. i have not taken dance classes since i dropped out of ballet at age 6. i promise. i did complete the training to teach NIA, a fitness program that incorporates dance moves, but is similarly, for every BODY. music and movement create a potent pathway to tap into our intuition, our wisdom, and to move out of our thoughts into a greater sense of self through somatic awareness.
before you begin to move, clear a space and time where you can be free of interruptions, distractions, and where you can feel totally comfortable to move. wear anything that feels easy and unrestricted to move in. i recommend being barefoot for heightened sensation.
if you have an injury or limited mobility, you can still do this practice by adjusting to your body’s needs. be creative. movement can happen in really small but powerful ways when we bring curiosity to our experience. i have attended workshops where participants have needed to dance while seated or laying on the floor. shoulders, feet, elbows, ankles, eyebrows, cheeks, head, toes and fingers moved while they took care of their individual needs. i invite you to join me in doing the same, whatever your physical reality.
think of a song that brings you total joy when you hear it, a song that makes you feel excited when it comes on the radio or a track you keep coming back to for a mood booster. cue up your song and have it ready to go.
comment below or send a photo of your completed worksheet to firstname.lastname@example.org. i am so curious what happens when you explore sensation and emotions in motion. feel your body from feet to head, from belly to breath, heart to the healing hands of self-touch. notice the places that feel open, closed, and how your body likes to move.
First, check in with yourself and see how you are feeling. You can set an intention for this practice, such as to experience joy or aliveness, to let go of thoughts and get into your body, or simply to stay curious.
Start the song and dance to it. You don’t need to travel around your space a lot or do any special moves. You are just responding to a song that you love with your body, however that looks. What we are most interested in is how it feels.
Sense your feet connected to the earth, even if you don’t move them much. Sense the support of the floor underneath your soles; feel your feet touching the ground and the ground touching your feet. Squish your heels down a few times and then plant your whole feet and sink down into the support to establish that connection and return to that awareness of your feet throughout the song.
As you move to the music, pay attention to how you feel in your body. Try to keep returning your attention to your experience as you are moving. Keep moving until after the song has finished. Slow down your movements in the silence after its end and then make a gesture of completion to step out of this practice. You can bow with prayer hands or physically take a step away from where you are to close out the moving meditation.
For reflection afterwards, respond to the following questions as best as you can. Again, stay curious and non-judgmental.
and that’s it! why is worth taking the time to move with awareness? check out this article from Psychology Today on the impact of moving with body sense awareness. it’s amazing and important stuff…start small and do it daily for big impact.
Today's session in my Psychotherapy course was led by Esther Perel, an amazing woman on the frontlines of beautiful shifts in the realms of couples therapy (read more about her work at the end of this post). Esther had been coming across people over and over again who came to her and said, "We love each other very much, but it's been years since I've felt wanted." What Esther had been taught as a therapist was that sexual problems were always the consequence of deeper relationship problems. In this way, it was believed that once you fixed the relationship problems, better sex would naturally follow.
However, what she was experiencing was that even when she had worked with a couple on their relationship problems, and they were back on the same page again, connected and laughing together, there were times when still the couple would have problems in the bedroom.
Traditionally, couples therapy is a desexualized practice. It has often dealt more with issues of dysfunction and performance, and dealt less with the dimensions of the sexuality within the relationship. She found that in some people, increased intimacy leads to decreased desire for their partner.
They were already very intimate in many ways, so they were already 'inside' each other in many ways. This makes it hard for them at times because of the way they love - sometimes in a way that makes it hard for them to make love to the person that they love.
This is a painful blockage, because they want nothing more than to express themselves and how they feel, but for some people it really doesn't work. Perhaps they feel excess burden, excess worry, excess responsibility for their beloved, but in order to make love to the other you have to be able to enter inside your own body, your own sensations, your own sensuality.
These people don't know how to remain connected to themselves, physically, sensually, in the presence of the other they love so much. This leads to a split - the lust/love split.
Then there is another point - passion fades. It needs to be replaced by something more 'real', more mature. Some people will take extreme risks to the point of losing everything just to catch a glimpse of this thing we call passion. Passion doesn't just fade, there are plenty of couples that start with much more lukewarm waters, and the passion grows from there. Fantasy is basically the bread of the impoverished. She began to rethink erotic fantasies and the power of the imagination which allows us to maintain curiosity ... not only towards ourselves, but also towards our partners.
Where do you go, and what are the feelings...
These are very different questions than the typical, how often do you have sex? Do you enjoy it? How often do you orgasm...
These questions are very statistical. These typical questions leave out the erotic, and the erotic is the poetry. It is the way we engage with our sexuality through our imagination. It is what allows us to remain interested in a partner for many years. Otherwise, we are not likely to remain interested for any other reason than because we have desire for a partner.
Women in the west are living a fairly new paradigm. For many women in the world, there are still only two main reasons for sex - to have children, and as an obligation to their spouse. We are able to maintain desire for sex with a beloved for basic pleasure and connection. Desire has therefore become the primary organizing principle of sexuality and intimacy in long term relationships.
There is a concept of the 'double flame'. How do we live in relationships where we are trying to experience a very new kind of intimacy ... where we also want passion. This is not just unique to highly sensitive people. Passion has always existed, but was mostly a privilege for the men. Intimacy was where a couple worked the land together, raised children together, and were companions, sharing commonalities.
It had very little to do with intimacy equalling "In-to-me-see". This kind of intimacy is still relatively new - where we want to transcend our existential "alone-ness" while we connect with our beloved. We want to be validated. What we have here in the west is something that we women tend to take for granted.
With the same person we want social status, economic security, a passionate lover, family life, a best friend, a trusted lover, an everything-all-in-one-person. We now want one person to give us what an entire community used to provide.
These needs spring from different sources and pull us in different directions. We want to be surprised, but we want routine and security ... yet we don't want to feel like things have become too routine. Desire is often flattened by that which has become too routine. We want possibilities to be opened up to us. Love wants to narrow the distance, neutralize the threat, and know the beloved. Desire thrives on the unknown, the mysterious, desire doesn't want to close the gap.
Reconciling intimacy, and the erotic end of the domestic, involves finding a way for us to have these fundamental human needs be attended to within human relationship - and not always at the same time.
Absence and longing is a cornerstone of desire. Can we want what we already have? Desire is free of responsibility - there is no caretaking. There is no responsibility in play, except for playing by the rules. Love, on the other hand, is not free of responsibility. The vast majority points to the fact that desire is activated by wanting. Questions about what you want are very easy to bring in to any therapy session.
Here are some questions to help create conversations that lead you and your partner toward deeper intimacy:
These kinds of questions help to bring about what we are all yearning for - togetherness and separateness at the same time. Throughout this session, Esther referred many times to these books; Arousal by Michael Nader and The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin.
If you feel that this Psychotherapy course is something that would interest you, please go here.
ESTHER PEREL is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Her book has been translated in twenty-five languages - and she is fluent in nine of these. She is a master trainer and workshop leader, and has given two Ted talks to date. Known for her keen cross-cultural pulse, Esther shifts the paradigm of our approach to modern relationships. She is regularly sought around the world for her expertise in relational health and communication, team building, erotic intelligence, couples and family identity, work-life balance, and corporate relationships.
*I recommend checking out two other books in this genre that you may enjoy, here and here.
This week I had the pleasure of listening to Peter Levine speak about the relationship between somatics and trauma therapy. This was as another part of my Psychotherapy course. The title of the seminar was Going Beyond Trauma Therapy to Find Love & Happiness. It was of course, the somatics aspect of his talk which really caught my attention, since this is the work that I do.
Listening to other facilitators and experts in the field of somatic therapy is like being able to dive into a bag of candy that you've never tried yet. What I mean by that is, if you know that you are someone who loves candy a LOT, you know that this will be a new flavor that will bring new enjoyment. The taste may be better than any you've yet tried, or it may not be as good as any you've tried, yet regardless, you will have a new mind awakening taste to add to your palette of enjoyment!
Here are some of the key points I took away from Levine's talk:
There is a delicate process to having people gradually re-live experiences, and re-negotiate them. Trauma gets locked in the body. At a moment of traumatic experience, your body may want to have a certain kind of response. More often than not, the mind will stop us and this deep desire to move a certain way will get locked in.
Our body stays prime with the responses that would have led to a successful outcome -- to what we believe to be 'an escape'. If there is a recurring pain in one's body, a pain that has been difficult to find the source of, it will almost always help to go in and uncover what may be being held in there. Sometimes, this can even be the underlying cause of a depression that has been difficult to find the source of.
It can be confusing when the body is saying one thing and then you try to interpret it too quickly, without allowing the body to complete its action. Then it can become difficult to remember. When you allow body memories to complete, to come to resolution and release, that memory can be brought into consciousness and put to rest. Somatic experiencing is about accessing this innate inner knowing that the body speaks.
One thing that we may wish to consider: How do we go about putting these memories to rest, so that injuries or ailments don't keep occurring?
According to Levine, there are layers of stored memory:
The first layer is what could be deemed autobiographical memory. Then there are emotional memories - ones where you have an emotional reaction to something and you are not sure why. This usually draws you to begin searching a bit deeper. The deepest level of memories are the procedural memories. When trauma is resolved, one will generally uncover the great power inside of it. This is where true transformation occurs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is something that works from the top down. This is where we analyze our thoughts, and then we engage in our process from there. Core physiological processes, on the other hand, work from the bottom up, moving the body in order to move up to emotional memories, then cognitive memories, and upward eventually to autobiographical memories which lead to forming coherent narratives in order to be able to say, "This is my story. This is where I came from ... but this is where I'm going."
If you feel that this Psychotherapy course is something that would interest you, please go here.
Peter A. Levine, PhD, holds doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology. He is the developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma, as well as the founder of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, which conducts trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures, with 26 faculty members and more than 5,000 students. He is also a senior fellow at the Meadows Addiction and Trauma Treatment Center in Wickenburg, Arizona. Levine’s international best seller, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, has been translated into 25 languages. His recent interests include the prevention of trauma in children, and he has co-written two books with Maggie Kline in this area: Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids. His most recent book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, was released to rave reviews. Levine’s original contribution to the field of body psychotherapy was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP).
I have just finished listening to another wonderful seminar in my Psychotherapy course. This seminar was led by Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting, The Divorce Remedy, and The Sex-Starved Marriage. I completely agree with her belief and approach to couples counseling in the way that even when we believe there is no other option than to part ways, there are multiple ways to learn to communicate anew.
In the following post, I discuss some of the key points that I learned in this training session.
The vast majority of problems that couples are having, which cause them to want out, can be solved. It is important to come first from a place of "this marriage can be saved". This is not always the case, but it is a better place to start from - and this is not coming from a religious perspective. She watched more experienced clinicians shift the conversation really quickly to divorce topics once it became "established" that the relationship was not salvageable. As she watched this happen, she thought, I wouldn't have done that ... I could think of many different options to help this couple out.
We come complete with values, beliefs, and assumptions that affect our life choices. Many therapists feel that they can't do anything for a couple if only one person shows up. That a lot of them feel like if only one partner is present, the marriage is DOA. Time and time again, she herself would cancel a session if, for example, only four out of six family members showed up.
Imagine a mobile, and if you set one piece of the mobile into motion, then the entire mobile begins to move. Relationships are like this. It just takes one piece to set the entire framework into motion. Many people don't think this could be effective; however, many times it is considered that a session will be ineffective without a proper 'head count'. But it has more to do with what the therapist has to say, and not so much about interactions.
Another prevalent myth is that you need two people in order to solve relationship problems. The truth is, in many ways, we are doing our clients a disservice if we allow our clients to believe that the only way to have any impact is through words. The truth is, there are many people who are much more action oriented - men in particular. We tend to ask men to talk more and open up, but rarely do we ask women to become more action oriented. Most divorces these days are initiated by women.
Stereo-typically speaking, women are the relationship caretakers. What tends then to happen is that a woman's concerns about certain things spill over into other aspects of the marriage. And rarely does a man, when his wife begins 'nagging', want to spend more time with his wife! Women will generally then decide the relationship is over, and this leads to her growing quieter, because in her mind, there is nothing left to bother with. Ironically, the husband will then think, 'Great! She's not complaining anymore, things must be fine now.'
Many women say, 'I've said everything I can say, and it goes in one ear and out the other' and of course in many ways she has said everything. But there is a clue in there - if nothing is smoothing over, perhaps less talking and more doing needs to happen. We don't have to be extreme. Helping people be more action oriented, changing how they approach things can make a huge difference.
We all know how to push the buttons of our partners, we all know what to do to get a shift in their behavior, or to get a reaction. So it may be true that we can't change other people, but we can change the way that we do something in order to get a different response. For example, let's say someone gets nervous when their spouse is driving too fast. Rather than saying it to them each time, they begin to tap their foot - their 'braking' foot - and their spouse begins to clue into this. Chances become good that they will slow down in order to save the confrontation or argument.
Look for solution oriented responses. It is difficult for most people to do this. Try to turn negative statements into positive ones.
It is important to know what your goals are, so that you can remain aware of whether you are moving closer to or further away from your goals. It is important to know what 'improvement' looks like through the eyes of your partner. Identify what works - even a little. Identify what has worked in the past - even a little. If a couple fights on a Monday, then they have a great week until they have another fight the following Monday ... this can lead to a belief in each of them that they fight all the time. Call to mind the times where things were working.
Sometimes hurt can be translated into anger. This can be commonly seen in a couple after the birth of their children, when there is less time for each other. In what ways does your partner communicate to you their emotions? You may want them to say a specific thing to you, such as "I love you", but are they a verbal communicator? In many cases, when asked, one partner is able to call to mind numerous ways that they know for certain their spouse communicates their love.
If you are interested in checking out this Psychotherapy course for yourself, please go here.
Michele Weiner-Davis is an internationally renowned relationship expert, marriage therapist, and professional speaker. Michele is the director of The Divorce Busting® Center in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been featured in most major newspapers, magazines, and on shows such as Oprah, 48 Hours, 20/20, The Today Show, and many others.
I am taking a course right now in Psychotherapy, and there are some great recordings I've been able to listen to. The most recent one is an interview with Dr. Ellen Bader, co-author of Tell Me No Lies. There is some incredibly rich and enlightening information in this recording and in this book regarding relationships, lies, and how to self-reflect in our own partnerships.
A study was done in which it was discovered that more men than women wish for more honesty within their relationships. This has surprised some, given the recent occurence with the Ashley Madison site. The Ashley Madison site was hacked, and it was discovered that the vast majority of members were men, and that a large amount of the female profiles were fake. The founder of the company itself is noted as having said, "People are more willing to cheat than to be honest". Key points from today's lecture:
There are four main types of lies we see in relationships. In the early stages, partners tell "Loving Lies". These are used to create bonds with each other. They are also used to build up the others' self esteem, or to promote the illusion of similarity. People are generally very mute about topics that they feel may get their partner riled up. We tend to see people very positively in the beginning, and it isn't always based in a solid reality.
Some people may be addicted to the illusion, and they just move on continuously from one partner to another. In order to sustain a healthy relationship, it is common to experience a bit of a grieving process in which we learn to accept our partner as they really are. We take them off of their pedestal and learn to be with them as they are.
The second stage of lies is "The Dark Side of the Honeymoon". Couple start building up conflict-avoiding lies. This includes saying something you don't really mean, or agreeing with something you don't really agree with. We tend to ward off rejection, or we may not have role models or experience in knowing how to bring things up that need to be addressed.
There is differentiation, while partners sit still and really listen to the wants, needs, and desires of their partner. Many people often say to their partner, "You're not the same person I married". Well, none of us are. Passive-aggressive lies can begin to dig us a deep pit, for example, one partner says things like "Sure, I'll clean the garage", while having no true intent to do it.
There is also something called Felony Lies, where a partner may challenge the sanity of the other - particularly when that partner is caught at being dishonest. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners is also considered a Felony Lie, or having an affair in which lots of money is given to the affair partner, or an attachment with the children is made to the affair partner without the children realizing who it is they're getting attached to.
There are times where a felony liar has told loads and loads of lies, but the partner has also discouraged any real truth telling. This is where the real intricacies of clinical work come into play. Partners really need to ask themselves, how much honesty and authenticity do they really want? And if they really want a truly honest relationship then they need to be willing to look at the sorts of defenses they use that get in the way of them having the type of relationship they really want to have.
None of us when we come into a committed relationship have the emotional muscle that it really takes to have an honest relationship. We have to learn a lot about being able to tell the truth, but we also have to learn a lot of being able to hear the truth. A person really has to be willing to internally self-reflect. It is a trial and error process, because very few of us learned these skills in our families of origin.
Truth telling takes personal self revelation, and it takes courage. It is inevitable that you are going to hear things that you don't want to hear. Will you be able to hold still, and ask high caliber questions? It takes a lot of skill to handle ambiguity, and to let your partner know that you can handle the truth. Women tend to say, "I want an honest relationship". Yet, when the husband is honest with something even as simple as saying "I'd rather watch the football game", they get clobbered. Most people with lie invoking behavior are completely unaware of it. When you have classic lie inviting behavior, it really inhibits honesty.
In our society, it has somehow become normal and expected for the partner being lied to, to leave the marriage. It is common to be harsh and blame the spouse for being weak, or a doormat. How is it that it is more acceptable to bring children into a broken situation, rather than to give something time to heal and see where it can go? There are many variables in a situation like this of course. We need to recognize the impact we are having on other people.
The key is to stay conscious of being a positive way that you say you want to be. Be aware of where you may be falling short, but also put reshaping into practice. Confronting lies is also key, but there are skills with which this can be done in a healthy fashion. Some examples of these are:
Phew! Well, I won't give away all of the good stuff here, but here is the link to the book again.
If you are interested in checking this course out for yourself, please do so by going here.
Much love and many blessings on your journey!
Dance heals: Newly popular therapy makes big strides with movement
We'd rather keep the thought out of our heads, but the fact is that anyone at any time can be betrayed by body, mind or both, whether the cause is illness, accident or simple old age. In that event, the little-known treatment of dance-movement therapy holds out hope to people, from cradle to grave, to live as fully as possible.
Fame and money are no defense against poor health, as "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba learned. After seeing the effects of cancer on her mother six years ago, she became the national spokesperson for L.A.-based Drea's Dream, a dance-movement therapy (DMT) program for children with cancer and special needs.
On Tuesday, Evanston's Institute for Therapy Through the Arts confers its first-ever Lamplighter Award on Inaba for her support of DMT. And next fall, a significant three-year growth spurt will enable Evanston's 40-year-old provider of arts therapy to become independent from its parent organization, the Music Institute of Chicago. The field of dance-movement therapy in fact seems to be undergoing something of a boom, at least in Chicago. Columbia College's master's program, one of only six approved by the 50-year-old American Dance Therapy Association, drove a 33 percent jump in enrollment in the creative-arts therapies department last year — the largest growth of any college department, according its chair, Susan Imus.
With the observation that "war changes medicine," Imus notes that DMT got its start in the 1940s, when St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., invited dancer Marian Chace to work with traumatized World War II veterans there. That was before the advent of antipsychotic drugs, so the benefits of DMT alone were obvious, Imus says. Claiming the therapy's scientific basis, she says clinical studies have measured "how dance changes your biochemistry."
But it's a big jump from the science lab to a DMT session for brain-injured clients at Chicago's Anixter Center: Students of all ages, abandoning wheelchair, walker, or cane, each dance in their own way and — remarkably — in time with the music, which ranges from perky electronica to down-home fiddle tunes. A man with a big scar across his head worms his way, hips waggling, between another man and a woman, who are dancing face-to-face, if not cheek-to-cheek.
Still, this isn't a nightclub, or a dance class. Though dance-movement therapist Lisa Goldman does give verbal instructions, the aim isn't aesthetic but therapeutic. Trying to get participants out of their vertical planes, for instance, or create more diagonals with their bodies is intended to "heal the brain," she says.
Some comply with her directions, some don't. And in the talkback after the session, Goldman focuses on the difference between being on-task and off-task.
That kind of verbalization, Imus says, is part of what defines DMT, which aims for "coherency between nonverbal and verbal communication." Significantly, M.A. candidates at Columbia take numerous psychology courses, and their degrees are in DMT and counseling.
DMT can be hard to define, especially since its wide-ranging methods and goals overlap with those of other movement practices aimed at improving quality of life: physical therapy, yoga, the body-language training sometimes given to executives and job seekers. Plain old recreational dance can enhance mood and physical functioning, and classes can be tailored to special-needs populations: Hubbard Street has held adaptive-dance classes for Parkinson's patients since 2008, and started its Autism Project, for kids 5-14, last year.
But those are not DMT. While it may share some methods or aims with other movement practices, with DMT the goal is nothing less than reconfiguring the brain through neural repatterning.
The DMT group class I observed — Goldman offers two such sessions weekly at Anixter, which provides a huge number of services to people with various disabilities — is a case in point. A 1994 graduate of the M.A. program at Columbia, Goldman has directed Anixter's New Focus brain-injury program since 2003. And she believes DMT is perfect for such clients.
Assuming a body-mind connection, DMT posits that a larger movement vocabulary makes the client more capable and flexible not only physically but mentally and emotionally. So, using Rudolf Laban's system of movement analysis, DMT explicitly aims to grow clients' movement vocabularies, enabling them to take the body in all three dimensions at once, for example, and to increase movement's "flow," or "goingness."
DMT is beneficial to brain-injured clients in other, less tangible ways as well. Aphasia is common, Goldman says, and "when you don't have words, being able to express yourself and communicate with others through movement is a relief."
DMT can also provide "a spiritual experience," she says. "These people have survived — some have died and were resuscitated. Then the question is, 'OK, I survived, but I have all these challenges. What is the meaning and purpose of my life?' DMT provides an outlet for that, and it's a way to connect with other people who survived. That interpersonal connection is in and of itself brain candy: It affects the brain chemically and can create neurological repatterning."
One of New Focus' biggest success stories belongs to a man who suffered a stroke at 41. Afterward, despite having "used the computer up, down, all the way around for his work," Goldman says, he no longer even knew how to turn one on. After months of struggle ("he worked so hard!" she adds), he broke out of his movement prison dramatically one day by launching into a chair-bound jazz layout. (Goldman demonstrates, leaning back in a complex, flowing motion in three directions, arms and legs thrown out.)
Eventually Anixter hired the man to teach computer classes. And though right after the stroke his marriage "struggled," Goldman says, the family got back on track and survived.
Nancy Toncy, who has a 2003 Columbia College master's, is the clinical supervisor of a Rogers Park program for victims of domestic violence, Between Friends. When hired five and a half years ago, she introduced DMT to the agency, where she counsels English, French and Arabic speakers (she's originally from Egypt).
Body language and self-image are hugely important in this field. "I let the client know that we're going to pay attention to how their bodies experienced the abuse — a first step in recognizing that your body actually matters," Toncy says.
When she first meets clients, Toncy looks for the physical effects of habitual violence. "Someone constantly worried for their safety will be adjusting in their chair, trying to find a stable base," she explains. "If someone is predominantly depressed, I might see a collapsed posture, slouched shoulders, shallow breath." Using a "body-up" approach, she empowers the person partly by adjusting posture.
Physically mirroring clients is also crucial. Poor self-images result from the fact that with "their partner — their mirror — the constant reflection was negative, critical," says Toncy. Mirroring clients' movement and breathing enables her to both understand their experiences from the inside out and to model with them a healthy "mutual" relationship.
For survivors of domestic abuse, Toncy says, an expanded movement vocabulary can translate into "life feeling more ordinary, experiencing life more fully." Clients have told her that "just to have the space to move and breathe, to get bigger and smaller, stronger or softer, to be and do what they want and for that to be witnessed: That is healing."
Molzahn is a freelance reporter.
This is absolutely one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. So naturally, I couldn't help but share it with you. Robert Moss is incredible with his work on the power of Dreaming.
From Dreaming the Soul Back Home
© Robert Moss, used with permission from New World Library
"Tree at my window, window tree, My sash is lowered when night comes on; But let there never be curtain drawn Between you and me."
— Robert Frost, "Tree at My Window”
We can't lose our way if we go to the root of things, to the roots of a tree. By finding the right tree — a tree you know that also knows you — you can reconnect with the soul of nature. You can find grounding for soul in this world, and a shaman’s ladder to travel between the worlds.
I once moved to a place in the country because of a tree, an old white oak behind the house that had survived the lightning. I knew it for a guardian of the land and a wise ancient. Sitting with that tree, I would have impressions of all the seasons it had lived. When I walked the farm road toward it, I would sometimes feel its silent greeting. Sometimes I watched the moon rise over the hills from up in its branches. The oak became a tree of my dreaming and a portal to the ancestors. Rooted deep in American earth, the oak also joined me to the ways of oak-seers of my bloodlines in the Old World, to the druids “grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed” (as Yeats sang), to the sacred oak at Dodona where the Greeks listened for the voice of a god in the creak and rustle of the branches. After the first snows, when the cold stung my eyes, I saw that the oak still hung on to its leaves, longer than any other shedding trees on that land. Oaks hang on.
When I was leading a workshop by the Bay of Riga, in Latvia, we had a wonderful singer and folklorist in our circle who knew many dainas, traditional folk songs that celebrate sun and sea, earth and stone. I asked her to help open our circle with a song of the oak tree:
I found in a field
a tall oak tree of spirit his feet go into the earth his head touches the sky
Oak tree, oak tree
how wide you are
the bee flies for three days and can’t get around you
The big storm boasted
“I’ll break the oak”
Oak tree, stand strong
but let the wind shake your branches.
In the last stanza, this song of oak teaches us to give a little in a strong wind, to avoid being broken. This is one of the lessons of the trees.
Spending good time with a tree that welcomes us is a great way to repair and renew our connection with the soul of nature. Trees have personalities, as individuals and as types, and sometimes we find they have a second personality that was not originally arboreal, a spirit from a different kinship group. In front of the farmhouse that I purchased because of the white oak was a great sugar maple. The patterns of the bark around the place where its broad trunk divided made the vivid likeness of an ancient Native shaman with a storm of gray hair and a long, twisted body. I learned later that there are legends in the Native traditions of Northeast America of shamans who have, in one of their soul bodies, taken up residence in trees after physical death.
South of the farmhouse was an elderly apple tree that no longer gave fruit but still put out a few leaves in the springtime and let a few branches fall, which I burned in the hearth of the family room. The sweetness of apple, through pine and spruce and hickory, provided a kind of olfactory portal, and I would slip into conscious dreaming of ancestors for whom the apple branch was the passport between the worlds. North of the house was another great old tree, a shagbark hickory, that shed limbs as well as leaves profusely, as the deer sheds its antlers. I would often find antlers in the hickory hollow, dropped by bucks in the great herds of white-tailed deer that made their home in our woods, from which hunters were banned.
What trees call to you on country walks or from memory or dream? Any tree may be your soul tree, and it may also be your sole tree, the One Tree through which the three worlds of the shaman’s cosmos are joined, and which may become your ladder between them.
At the start of most of my depth workshops, I lead a standing meditation, in which each person in the circle finds the image of a special tree and then lets the body take the form of that tree, rooted in earth, rising between earth and sky, feeding on sun fire. We let our bodies sway as we stand, as a tree will sway in a strong wind, giving a little in order not to be snapped. We see the seasons chang- ing around us. We feel what it’s like to have a squirrel run up our trunk or to have birds nesting in our hair. As the meditation deep- ens, we feel ourselves reaching deep into the earth, through the root system, going deep and spreading wide. We feel, with our inner senses, how we can travel this way to connect with the animal powers, and with ancestral spirits, and to receive healing and blessing in the realm of the Great Earth Mother.
Then we let our awareness ascend to the high branches. We picture ourselves perched up there like a bird, or a happy child in a tree house, able to look out in all directions from this excellent place of vision. We imagine that we can fly now to a person or place at a distance and look in on them, and sometimes, quick as thought, we are there. We discover that, from our place in the high branches, we can not only see across any distance in space but also scout across time and travel into the possible future to see what lies on the roads ahead for ourselves and others. This is something that tree-seers have al- ways been good at.
Now we go higher, into the world of the tree. We feel ourselves rise up into the canopy, up to the green crown, and then feel our- selves rising up higher and higher until the sky opens and we are in the first of the many levels of the Upper World. We are on our way now to make or renew our connections with our authentic spiritual teachers. They may take many forms and may be using “contact pictures” adjusted to our level of understanding. Beyond all the other forms of the guide on these levels, there is one that will never fail us and that is always waiting for us to resume contact: the soul of the soul (as the Sufis say beautifully), the captain of the heart, the Higher, or Greater, Self.
Your soul tree can be your portal to all these realms of adventure, discovery, and connection.
Women have access to a wellspring of deep wisdom.
However, in a culture that places so much emphasis on productivity, “getting ahead” and doing, it’s easy to lose touch with your radiant feminine essence.
And when you lose this beautiful connection – you’re truly missing out on a vibrant, soul-powered way of being in the world.
That’s why I want to invite you to The Shift Network’s special, no-cost event, The Inspiring Women Summit, taking place May 17 – June 19, 2014.
During this LIVE online series, 30+ visionary women – including people like:
If this sounds good to you, you can save your place here.
This year’s program is packed with illuminating wisdom and life-changing techniques for deepening your spiritual connection, standing more powerfully in your feminine leadership, sparking your creativity, enhancing your health and relationships – and MORE!
You’ll find that the more you learn to live in alignment with your natural essence, the more all the aspects of your life will become easier, more joyful and abundant. And you’ll become more inspired and empowered to create the kind life you want – and make your best contributions to the world.
That’s why I’m inviting you to learn more.
Whether it’s leading a multi-million dollar company or a small home business,empowering your community or being a more conscious parent, enjoying deeperemotional and sexual intimacy or birthing a creative project that will change lives – the information and guidance in this summit can be applied to and by every woman.
Register for the Inspiring Women Summit now – and get ready to embark on a journey that promises to transform your life.
P.S. Here are just a few quotes from past Inspiring Women Summit participants:
This is the MOST awesome event I’ve participated in for women EVER. I FEEL the love, the power and the change. Meeting women from so many places… has been a wonderful bonus and blessing! It is an empowering feeling to be connected in this awesome way. Thanks to all the sponsors, organizers and participants for an amazing experience! – Christine O’Dell
I am fascinated as I discover that all women around the globe share same needs, feelings, and aspirations and have the inner power to sustain good life for their loved ones and inspire those beyond boundaries of culture, time and space. I am an Egyptian woman from Cairo who can relate to everything being said and who is deeply moved by the resonant power of women’s voice and self-determination despite their struggles. – Hala Abdel Moneim, Cairo, Egypt
THANK YOU for the graceful way you’ve harnessed technology to serve women lovingly during this summit. You’ve helped us reveal and share our beauty, strength, vitality, courage, creativity and ALIVENESS. What a prayer this is. And what a lifeline for some. Wow! How moving to feel myself to be part of a web of women from so many countries – all listening as our hearts beat faster with connection, each of us with equal access to these life-changing conversations, these moments of historic proportion! – Dana Cunningham Anderson
If you’re lucky, you may have already taken the time and chance to discover many of your passions and get to spend much of your time enjoying things that bring you excitement and joy. On the other hand, maybe you’ve not yet connected with activities, skills, and interests that ignite your passion.
As many of learn, and sometimes the hard way, it takes time, soul-searching, and some life experience to identify your true passions. These prompts are written to tap into your wants, needs, desires, and fantasies. Have fun with them and discover what you can add to your life that will fill it with delight.
If you take the time to thoroughly ponder each of these questions, you’ll be pleased with what you discover. Your true passions are inside you, just waiting to be let loose to bring you excitement, joy, and fulfillment.
Here is some lovely, inspirational writing from a fellow Metis, Aaron Paquette. He is a brilliant artist and a very talented writer, and I could not resist sharing his latest write up. Enjoy!
The lesson is simple. Let go of the desire for things that you think are valuable and they will fall away, revealing your everlasting, shining spirit.
I wouldn’t tell you what to believe but I would urge you to examine the feeling of lack in your life, the feeling that there is not enough. If you were to spend a day, and another and another in gratitude and humour for what is at hand that sustains you, it would open the door for a fundamental shift in your perception of your wants and needs.
There’s no point in comparing your relative wealth to someone living homeless in the Third World, just as there is no point in comparing your relative poverty to Bill Gates.
Both comparisons will simply feed your ego, for good or ill, and bring you feelings of shame. Comparison is the fastest route I know of to unhappiness.
If you must compare your life, then compare it to the deer who runs freely, the wolf that hunts, the bear that sleeps. Compare the impact of your existence to the marching ant or the spinning spider who reminds us that we are all connected by the great web of life.
Remember that in that web, what you do to one life comes back to your own in some way or another. When you kill the songbird, your song also dies. When you take the life of an animal – without humility, awareness and gratitude – you take the life of the land, and so, eventually, your own life as well.
We see this unfortunate truth playing out in front of our eyes. They killed the buffalo, they now cull the wolf. They rip the resources from the land without thanking the land. They cut the trees and foul the water. They destroy the diversity of the fields for single crops and spray chemicals on it to obliterate the insects who feed on those crops.
And with sorrow we see the rivers clog with soil runoff. We can no longer drink safely from the streams. The lakes are overrun with algae and even the honeybees are dying.
We destroy our ability to live on the land itself, all because we have forgotten to be grateful, to listen to the song of our spirit.
This is why it’s necessary to stop, to be silent, to let go of the desire for material things and immaterial things.
As we treat our own spirit, so too, do we treat the land, and neither can survive the harm caused by neglect, anger, apathy and greed.
The great orator, Chief Canasatego said:
“We know our lands have now become more valuable. The white people think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone.”
There are only so many heartbeats given to every living being. You have already used up many of your own. For those that remain, use them well.
Words & Art: Aaron Paquette
Painting: The Past Shows Us The Way
We have just moved past the cross quarter point on the year's wheel, known as Imbolc, and also known as Candlemas. How has it been for you this winter? Did you use the dark of the nearby passing season to inwardly reflect, and find those nuggets of wisdom and gems of self-realization that tend to bury themselves and hibernate?
Now is time to take note of the increasing light of each passing day, and begin to call forth the seeds that were planted over the winter months, and that are now germinating. Feel the life of these seeds stirring, and beginning to crack open and release their gifts, reaching with longing and grace toward the sun. Imbolc translates to "in the belly". Feel your dreams and visions awaken from deep within your being, and extend gratitude towards them, and toward the energies of Spirit that have assisted with the incubation of these dreams.
Tune deeply now into your intuition, into your 'gut feelings', into those sparks of life and information that reside in your belly. Try to get a sense for any new ideas and projects that are prepared to spark, and send to them the love of your presence and conscious awareness. Breathe life into them, communicate with them, and ask them in which way they wish to work with you for the highest good of yourself, your family, your community, and the world community. How can they best be served by you sending love and intention to them, and how can you co-create with these sparks of life and creativity in order to bring them to light and into their fullest, divine potential? Here is pictured an image of Brighid, the Celtic Fire Goddess of renewal, healing, purification and creativity.
Finding Your Creative Spark:
Don't you love it when your creativity manifests itself? Creativity brings us benefits that go far beyond artistic expression. Even if you don't think of yourself as an especially creative person, you'll be glad to know that it's there within you just waiting for you to use it! Creativity can be expressed in many different ways. Plus, there are many techniques you can use to develop and nurture your natural creativity.
Like many people, you may think that you're either creative or you're not. What a myth! If you long to be more creative, then go for it!
Here are ten tips you can use to become a new, more creative you:
Remember to be patient when nurturing your creativity. Make a habit of enjoying some creative techniques daily and, make the commitment to yourself that you will continue to move from your creative center, from the fire in your belly, dancing with the magic that continually moves within and around you.
Welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog space. In this place, I will share writings of my own, along with other events and musings from the world of Movement Medicine, Dance Therapy, Yoga and Shamanic Healing.