Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Sustainable Movement classes begin again today, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the miracles that tend to happen during these sessions. Dance has played a healing part in my own life for decades, and I love getting to share that with others. When I tell people that my classes are accessible to people of all fitness levels and adaptable for those with most disabilities, some believe me and others don’t. The most resistance I receive tends to be from people who struggle with physical limitations. I get it. When our personal weaknesses, manifested physically, have limited us, it’s hard to believe that we have any control. Healing might be available for others, but is it available for us? The belief and philosophy behind my Sustainable Movement program is that there is always healing available, but that healing requires large quantities of love, patience and gratitude.
Acknowledging Our Weaknesses
My dance classes always begin with acknowledgement. I encourage the class to engage in the uncomfortable practice of recognizing the weaknesses or vulnerabilities in our bodies. It might be a small thing we’ve always disliked about ourselves. It might be a big hurdle like a congenital disorder or multiple sclerosis. Either way, I coach the class into a place where we can recognize those less-than-ideal issues. Not happy with your weight? Okay. Angry about your recent cancer diagnosis. Okay. Feel that discontent. Acknowledge it. Sit, for a moment, with it.
Gratitude to Our Bodies
Once we have admitted those things we dislike—our weaknesses, our injuries, our wishes to be better or stronger or more flexible—it is important to recognize our bodies’ wisdom. If you’re dissatisfied with your current weight, recognize that your current body composition is your body’s perfect response to its current environment. The food you eat, the exercise you get, the stress you put yourself under, and the conditions where you live all play into the equation and result in your current body weight. Resist the urge to judge these things. They simply are your reality. Your body has responded appropriately. You can be grateful that your body responds and that it will respond differently if you give it different feedback.
Reasons for gratitude also extend to issues less obviously under our control than body weight. Perhaps you’ve incurred a minor injury or are experiencing pain in a part of your body. Pain is your body’s perfect way of communicating to you that something is amiss. Without pain, you would be in danger of harming yourself. With it, you can take the clues your body gives and respond appropriately. If you’ve worked out at the gym and the next day your muscles complain, you know to take some time to rest before pushing on.
Recognizing Our Resilience
Every human being and every body in which we live is resilient. It’s a homo sapien character trait. As long as we are living, when something goes amiss, the systems in our bodies send out signals, working together to attempt a fix. Sometimes the results are uncomfortable: We get an infection, and our bodies respond with a fever and increased white blood cell activity in order to fight back. But those results are effective. A fever and healthy blood cells keep us alive and help us fight off everything from the common cold to more potentially dangerous illnesses.
Once we’ve acknowledged our weaknesses and given gratitude to our bodies, the next step toward moving in wholeness is recognizing our resilience. In each class, as I move the group from the warmup into dance exploration, I encourage the class to focus on resilience. Dance is a moving response to the energy of the life force. As we bend, stretch, step, turn, twirl, extend or jump, we are accessing the global consciousness, the wisdom of our own bodies. As we move in thanksgiving, our discontent begins to melt away. We can stand in the reality of who we are, accepting ourselves and thanking our bodies for the movement they allow.