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.
This is a beautiful, heartwarming account of a first time Conscious Dance event held in a far northern town. This woman really wanted to offer a Solstice event in this fashion to her community, and she had never attempted anything like this prior. I just had to share this story with you!
To my friends and loved ones: This is an account of the Solstice dance. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you!
...The dance went very well! It was not the event I was expecting… but I think I knew it wouldn't be. I spent an enormous amount of time on the preparations - getting the space, finding our DJ, putting together advertising and applying to the Seward Arts Council for money (which they gave me, by the way! After a bewildering runaround) building a rhythm wave and putting together my event map … not to mention working on my own state of mind so I wouldn't drown in anxiety. (I drowned a little anyway, but I think that's part of the process.) I've had a *lot* of support from other, more experienced dancers and leaders, and I've been really grateful. But still, I felt the weight of it.
We danced in the basement meeting room of the Seward library, which is large and new - it's also a free space. On the night before the dance my friend Kate helped me, as we strung twinkling Christmas lights to thwart the fluorescents, and hung colored fabrics to soften the white walls. With two tables, we separated the dance floor from the other half of the room, making it smaller. Because I knew there were children coming, we made the dancers a communal space to sit on the other side if they absolutely *had* to leave the dance floor. The alter was a podium draped with a quilt, set with salt-rock and selenite candles, the sage I'd used to smudge the room and friend Carly's prayer beads, along with a few other sacred objects. In its corner I propped a plastic skeleton holding a hollow painted egg. In front of the alter, on a colored cloth, were my drums, egg shakers and zils.
On the night of the dance, I arrived early to finish preparing the space. DJ Hank came in to set up, and then together we went over the details of the rhythm wave, making some last-minute changes. Later, I'd learn that Hank had studied dancing for five years, but before this I'd only know him as an actor. When he went home for a bite, I propped the heavy outside doors open and hauled in the food from
my car: there was going to be a potluck after the dancing, and I'd made turkey and white-bean soup with sage, heavy oatmeal bread with butter and jam. for By the time Carly and Wisna arrived to help, the setup was mostly taken care of.
I didn't feel like myself. We switched off the overhead lights. Carly and Wisna stretched and talked in low voices. I slid onto the dance floor and moved with my eyes closed, using my phone to play the songs that make me feel the most grounded and connected, to combat my rising anxiety and excitement. When Hank came back into the room and quietly transferred my songs to his speakers, I experienced it as kindness, and was grateful.
The dancers were slow to arrive. I feared they wouldn't come at all. But slowly… they did.
In all, we were fifteen. But only nine of us were adults!
When I'd made the fliers and the advertising, I'd written "an all ages event". I wanted people to understand it was a community event, not drunken dancing like in a bar. I had imagined them bringing older kids. For some reason, it didn't occur to me that people would bring toddlers - not until someone asked me about it, a few days before the dance! That had resulted in a rapid recalculation of how the event would work - but at least I was prepared. Although it was a much different event with kids, I can't say I was sorry to have them. The little ones brought a great energy to the dance. Also, I'm 100% sure that we would have had far fewer adults otherwise. It was an improvisational event, to be sure.
We had an opening circle and check-in, and I said a few words about the kind of dance we were about to enter - basically that you can't really be told about conscious dance, you have to do it. I explained that the music would guide us - and invited the dancers to follow their own movement without judgement. I reminded the dancers to be aware of their own body space and their own body IN space - when we're dancing hard, it's too easy to run into each other. I asked them to be aware of their own body-limitations, and encouraged them to keep moving.
I asked them to remember that the dance floor is a nonverbal space. I explained that the dance alter was interactive, which meant that the instruments were there to be pIayed with. (originally I had meant for some books of dance-related poetry and something to write on to be part of the space as well, but those intentions got misplaced in the rush of preparation.) I opened the floor for questions, and then Carly led us in a series of yoga poses. Which, she confided later, she'd changed on the spot, to accommodate the range of ages in our group.
After that, we danced.
For me, it was a completely fresh experience. Usually, in the dance, I'm able to drop in and let go… that's one of the reasons I keep coming back. But here, in this space, I couldn't do that. It was new to me.
It was my job to hold the space, and I'm still new to that role. I needed to maintain my own headspace to an extent, but I primarily had to watch the room, to hold it for the others. I already knew that, had expected it, but it's one thing to know it, and another one to do it. I watched the others dance, impressed and delighted like I always am at how readily they dropped into the dance - how ready our bodies are to move, and our minds to let go! I ran interference on small children before they could throw the egg shakers under dancing feet, and reminded the dancers to use the space. I leapt out of the circle to greet latecomers and the man from the local paper who wandered in, and I invited the dancers to interact with each other. As the crowd dwindled, I asked DJ Hank to skip a few songs and start bringing us down… I could see that the dancers weren't going to make it through the entire set, and judged it was better for us to experience a complete wave together and have a closing circle, than to let people slip away by twos and threes, until a few die-hards were left alone on the floor. I think I did well, for a first time… but it was exhausting.
Through the dancing and everything else, I enjoyed watching the others open up on the dance floor, the way their bodies told their stories, and their differences in their movement. But the thing is, holding the space in that way… I wasn't able to connect and let go in the way I usually can. I confess that I was a little disappointed. I assumed that if I couldn't feel that connection and surrender, then the others must not be feeling it either. Because I'd hoped to offer/hold that kind of space, I was a little let down.
And then we had closing circle.
As we went around the circle, checking in with the changes in/to our bodies and states of mind, I *heard* the other dancers, over and over again, saying,:" I feel so good in my body" and "It's been too long since I felt this way", or "I can't remember the last time I felt like this". Saying, "I feel so connected to everyone here, and to the music, and to myself." "It's so good to move." "I feel so accepted here." "I feel so not-alone."
And I realized I had been wrong. For all the small hiccups the dance had had, for all my silly insecurity, these people *got it* after all. They got that gift that's in the dance and the music. I didn't have to feel it for them to feel it - it wasn't to do with me at all. I mean, I knew that when I started, but somehow, when I got caught up in wanting to have a perfect dance, I forgot. That *good thing* wasn't waiting on me to do some perfect thing to draw it out - It was right there in the dance, just waiting to be found out.
It wasn't perfect. Things can get a *lot* more intense. But it was right there, all the same. And they experienced it.
And the other question from everyone, the very best way I can measure the success of the dance: "When are we doing this again?"
We are doing it again, a week from Saturday (01/04/14). We set the date before we left the room. I've already sent out the email. There will need to be more advertising too, and a followup, but it won't be a "big" event like this was, but something smaller and simpler.
So, I feel good. Confused and tired, and good. It went well. I think it went well. I think, maybe, it did what it was supposed to do.
...That's the whole story. I'm glad to have shared it with you, and I welcome any feedback. I wish you wonderful holidays, and a transformative new year.
Ahhh… magic. This is a word I truly love. There are many synonyms to this word, plenty of which can stir up unsettling emotions and thoughts for some people. One synonym however, is one which I have personally chosen to use in my professional business, and that word is Alchemy. Alchemy, in its very basic sense, is the art of transformation occurring at its deepest level. When I looked up the definition of magic at dictionary.com, this is what I found:
As a noun -
1. the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.
2. the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. Compare contagious magic, imitative magic, sympathetic magic.
3. the use of this art: Magic, it was believed, could drive illness from the body.
4. the effects produced: the magic of recovery.
5. power or influence exerted through this art: a wizard of great magic.
As an adjective -
8. employed in magic: magic spells; magic dances; magic rites.
9. mysteriously enchanting; magical: magic beauty.
10. of, pertaining to, or due to magic.
11. producing the effects of magic; magical: a magic touch.
verb (used with object), mag·icked, mag·ick·ing.
12. to create, transform, move, etc., by or as if by magic: I magicked him into a medieval knight.
If I am to be blunt, I will say that I believe that an individual holding magic is not a myth. This brings me to the essence of why I started this blog – the essence of the truth that is held within each of us to change things, from the inside out. From our deepest levels of self, in order to see outward results that are filled with beauty, with truth, and with awakening. To reawaken the memory of our innermost wild selves, to recall that we are here in order to hold divinity and right relationship with all beings – with all our relations.
To come to the understanding that we did not just chance upon being here, and simply stumble into a human body, and then flounder in confusion and distress as to why we have extrasensory experiences and deeply affective emotions that bring us continually to new understandings and seemingly obscure crossroads. To wipe the sleep from our eyes so that we may see – truly see – that there is so much more to our time on this planet than earning a living and getting the newest, the bigger and the better. We are here. We have already earned our living – our right to be here. So what will we do with our time? What will we do with the magic inside of us as humans – the magic that we truly hold to produce desired effects that are heart centered, to drive illness from the body, to recover from disastrous events, to re-enchant ourselves with our world and the beauty that surrounds us every moment of every day? What will we do… to create… to transform… and to move ourselves into a more harmonious state of living?
There is a deep process involved in recovering the understanding of our true potentials, embracing them, and then learning to work with them. Many people are presently working on this process. If, however, I had an accumulation of directly shifting powers at my fingertips, right now, and without question, here is what I would do. I would immediately remove all nuclear power plants from the face of the planet and simultaneously wipe the slate clean of how to create these structures from human memory, thereby solidifying the impossibility of ever doing it again. I would reach forward into the future and delete any future possibility of creating anything even slightly related to nuclear energy and set the precedent within the human psyche for tangible, readily working ways to utilize that which mother nature has already gifted us with. In this I mean, I would set within the collective human mind a greater understanding of how solar and wind power could be utilized immediately.
Then, I would use my magic powers to create all of the necessary means to remove radiation from our oceans, atmosphere, and all things connected to these that have been poisoned. I would remove from the collective human psyche all of those emotions and thought patterns that have caused destruction in any way, shape, or form, and on any level. This includes the removal of jealousy, belief in scarcity, and fear of the unknown. I believe that even just these three things have held the potential to bring the world into the mess that it is right now.
The reason why I did not say that I would remove fear, is because I believe that fear has its place. Despite what many like to propose, fear is natural, much like anger. It is these emotions that we have shunned which deserve much deeper understanding from us. These two emotions are major catalysts, and once moved through, we find that we have moved to new understandings and feel much more mobilized than we did previously. I would use my magic to heal the earth and all her peoples, and instill joy as the new paradigm. The natural, organic state of joy that comes from within, and has simply been forgotten. Only because, we have allowed ourselves to forget. So then, I would use my magic to help us all to remember. To remember who we were, who we truly are, and the paths of true joy and divinity that we came here to take. I would use my magic to help us remember, that at the core of our essence, we are divine. And we can all make this magic.
The Full Moon in Gemini is one that we find to be in a direct opposition to the Sagittarius Sun. Both Gemini and Sagittarius rule the mind and mental processes, but in different ways. The Gemini mind consists of thoughts and processes that deal mainly with the individual, personal mind. The Sagittarius mind takes thought processes well beyond the 'normal' scope and ventures beyond the Self, beyond the here and now and stimulates the mind to encapsulate that which one may not have previously believed possible to conceive of. It is somewhere between these two mind processes that we are now being asked to strike a balance. Along with this, there are strong polarities being placed before us to take a look at. This is not only due to the Lower Mind and Higher Mind functions of Gemini and Sagittarius respectively, but it is also due to the Feminine/Mother aspect of the Gemini Moon and the Masculine/Father aspect of the Sagittarius Sun.
This would constitute a very good time frame for going inward and doing some work on any parental issues we may be holding, as well as addressing our own internal Matriarchal and Patriarchal energies. If you have been moved lately by an intense drive into the action of getting things done, have you also been neglecting to nurture yourself in the process? If you have been shoving projects, deadlines and aspirations aside in order to take some time for yourself, might you now have the energy to put your projects into motion and see your aspirations through to completion? This full moon is also about communication and adventure, along with emotional expression and creative fertilization. Take your emotional drive and express anything within you that has not yet had the chance, or the space, to fully breathe itself into recognition. All parts of you, all thoughts, all emotions, hold relevance and power. Therefore, they also hold sway upon the decisions you make regarding which paths and journeys your life leads you to. From here on forward, it is all about illumination and truthfulness - including truth to ourselves.
Gemini's air needs fresh ideas in order to ignite the fire of Sagittarius. These two, when they come together for a cosmic dance, create a sense of play and of freedom. Allow whatever inspires you to propel you into forward movement, growth and creation. Just as the essence of Mother energy and Father energy is all about creation - so we are. Find new ways to embrace lightness, fun and play! Now is a wonderful time to contact old friends, access your social circles, network, and celebrate life in all of its forms and all of its splendor.
This time of year can have many feeling creatively 'stuck', so here are some ideas to help you rekindle your creativity:
Allow yourself to experience more joy. Creativity flourishes when you think positively. Find your passions and cultivate them. Embrace challenges with curiosity. Observe the conditions that help you get "in the zone."
Do what you can to improve your physical health. Even if you feel your physical health needs no improving. Studies have shown that creativity exercises are an effective way to relieve stress and boost our immune system. Do a herbal cleanse, or maybe try out a new physical activity altogether to get the brain working in new ways. Those who think resourcefully also cope better with aging and experience fewer declines in their cognitive functions.
Work on strengthening your relationships. A sense of imagination can help to enhance your personal relationships. Break out of the same old conflicts releasing old thought patterns and seeking common ground. Look at challenging situations from the other person's perspective and try out a different response.
Push yourself to your creative edge. We all have some form of creative genius. Enjoy the pleasure of developing your own gifts. With persistence and an open mind, you'll expand your skills for responding to all kinds of challenges.
Brainstorm. Generating ideas is usually the first step in the creative process. Put aside any judgments and just let the options flow. Now's your chance to get zany and experimental.
Incubate. Before inspiration hits, there's usually a quiet time while we allow our ideas to digest. Help your unconscious mind along by taking a quiet walk or a relaxing shower. Routine tasks like washing dishes can also trigger insights. Think about a dilemma right before bed, and you may dream insights to wake up with a solution.
Take action. Make a plan for how to implement your ideas. Regard every attempt as a learning experience even if the immediate results fail to pan out.
Lighten up. Free up your fertile mind.
· Some gentle stretching, breath work, or dancing are all great ways to awaken your body.
· Meditation or soft music can dispel anxieties or boredom.
· Humor is a very powerful tool for lowering inhibitions and seeing things more vividly.
Change your routine. Any adjustment to your usual way of doing things can help you take a fresh look at life. Take an alternate route to work or visit a coffee shop on the other side of town. Expand your horizons by looking for ways to experience novelty on a regular basis.
Ignore the clock. Get up early so you can savor the luxury of open-ended time. Focus on the present moment instead of thinking about the next task you have scheduled. Feel what it's like to be free from hurrying. Try to remember that sensation as you start your day.
Communicate with nature. Make the most of your leisure time with creative outlets that incorporate your passions. You may delight in watercolors, or want to take time to read a book on nature spirits.
Seek inspiration. Surround yourself with whatever you find invigorating. Visit art museums or go camping. Spend more time playing with your kids - or borrow your friends' children for a day - and allow yourself to get caught up in their excitement each time they see something new.
Transform your life into a work of art by tapping into your creative side. Once you discover and develop your passions, you'll be on your way to feeling more accomplished, centered, and fulfilled.
The Sagittarius New Moon came into play on December 2nd of this year, and many people are feeling the effects of the powerful alignments that have arrived with this cosmic event. Some may be feeling a great need to have a lot of space around them, and others may be feeling an intensity in polarities with others in their lives. The points of view that are held by people may appear to vary greatly and hold strong emotional charges, although there is great difficulty now in reaching a sense of which points of view may be regarded as "right". More and more, we will begin to see an increase in the desire to reach a deeper understanding of the unknown.
Frameworks and constructs, as we have built them as a collective up until this point, are being dismantled as the much greater scope of space in all of its forms becomes felt by us. This sensation of an inner knowing beginning to awaken can be quite unsettling in its initial stages. Like a bear waking from a long and deep winters' sleep, we are beginning to emerge from a collective cave. Just as we are beginning to feel the deepest microcosms of our bodies and essential cores start to 'make more sense', we are beginning to absorb a stronger innate knowing of the cosmic mind and its motions - even though we may not fully understand or be able to put words to it yet. The depth of the microcosmic self is equal to the depth of the macrocosmic self. So many unprecedented events are happening in the cosmos at the moment, and these are affecting us at our deepest levels - massive and frequent coronal mass ejections, pole reversal upon the sun, and pole reversal upon the earth, to name only a few. New rays of energy and frequency are coming to us, and shifting the 'planetary mind'. Simply by default, and due to the precious interconnection of all things, thought patterns held by the body and mind are shifting while space opens up to allow new energies to flow.
Ultimately, all of these events prepare fertile ground for taking on new projects and studying new things. This is an early initiation of awakening, and a perfect time to clear old and stagnant emotions. That which previously may have felt beyond reach no longer seems so far away. In the event that you may be struggling a little bit with gaining clarity on your next steps, here are a few ideas on taking action:
Take time to connect with the deepest parts of you, and become acquainted with them in such a way that your essential truth shines forth from within. Sagittarius, being the archer, is all about taking aim and reaching all of that which you may have never thought possible. This is a pivotal moment in time. Take the time to sense the greater expansiveness within and around you, and grab hold of the truth of that which you mean to make manifest for the greatest good. Then take hold of your arrow, place it upon your bow, give gratitude for all you have been and all you shall become, pull back and aim ... and gracefully open your heart and mind to the stars.
We have entered the time of New Moon in Scorpio, which allows us to tap deeply into the energies of water, emotional healing, and the deeper more hidden aspects of our emotions and psyches. Occurring right after Samhain, this New Moon is also known as Lunar Samhain. The days are growing shorter as we approach Winter Solstice, and everything around us seems to be calling us to go inward and reflect.
Scorpio energy is very strong in its ability to bring shadow aspects up for acknowledgment and to shine light on them. Now is a good time to feel out where you may be projecting thoughts, emotions, or feelings such as anger, jealousy, or unresolved childhood issues. This is also a time where issues surrounding "leadership" can come to the forefront - particularly issues regarding those that we feel we should be able to count on to truly lead us toward where we feel will be a "better place". This boils down to leadership within all arenas, the political, the spiritual, the parental, and so forth.
Scorpio is a strong contender energy in supplying and evoking creative/sexual energy. Tapping deeply into your own creativity and fine tuning this energy to tackle creative projects that have been simmering for a good while would be very beneficial right now. Also, doing some internal work to take a close look at your thoughts and views toward leadership - and how you can begin to take steps toward acknowledging the true Leader within and begin taking reverent responsibility for your own creation of life's circumstances. Fine tune the essence of where you may have given your power away at any point in your life, and do the necessary work to heal and reclaim that power so that once we begin to move out of this beautiful 'silence', forward movement can be made in great strides toward healing and harnessing the Light in a more potent fashion.
Here are some tips and suggestions for working with this Scorpio New Moon energy:
Remember to be gentle with yourself right now, but hold a strong vision for what you wish to see take place within your entire body/mind/spirit system, your life and those closest to you, and the global community as a whole. Now is the time to get as real with ourselves as we can get, and visualize, move, and breathe our deepest heart's desires into fruition. Always remember your Soul's true potential. We are all so much more than we have allowed ourselves to believe. Let us REMEMBER.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to 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.