EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!
Standing out in a crowd! I like this photo (that I randomly found online & am unable to give photo credit for), as I've been thinking about the willingness to defy the ordinary. To be who you are, how you are, wherever you are. In my last post I mentioned that "social pressure dictates I sit passively on the TTC" and since writing that, I've been noticing people who disregard such social pressure (or maybe aren't even aware of it). Yesterday I saw a young guy wearing big headphones, fully getting his groove on on the Bloor-Danforth line. He made me and everyone around him smile. I wish I could do that. But I'm such a social chameleon and despite the performer in me, in most situations, I prefer to not be the centre of attention. If everyone were as free and dancing weren't such a "strange" thing to do in public, maybe I could also dance my way to work!?
This reminds me of the Dance Walking movement inspired by Ben Aaron
My feet/Mom's hands. Photo by Don MacLean 1981
We start out as children with our minds and bodies naturally connected. There is no split between them. We experience ourselves as part of the world, not separate from it. Our senses are fully alive and we enjoy the feeling of being in our bodies. Dancing comes naturally; a bodily response to rhythm.
At some point in our development (early adolescence?) we become self-consciously aware of our bodies and begin to imagine what we must look like from the outside. The inner-witness, or critic develops. In teaching dance to children, I've noticed that somewhere between the ages of 9-12 most kids become inhibited and start trying to look "cool". This leads to restriction in the body. We learn to contain ourselves both emotionally and physically. As we age, the adult body can become dulled and less spontaneous.
In 'Holistic Bodywork for Performers' Janet Free and Nicky Ramsay elaborate on this habit we develop of "editing" ourselves:
"As we grow, we subconsciously pick up patterns of behaviour by adopting standardized body language and so pressures of conformism can tend to affect the freedom of our body movement.
It is often in adolescence as we develop sexual self-consciousness that we try to protect ourselves by concealing the self.
A sense of inadequacy and disconnection from self can often be made worse by media images dictating how we should look.
These attitudes are an inevitable part of social survival that we can eventually learn to unravel in order to rediscover our own authentic body expression.
There are many ways of helping ourselves to get back into our bodies when we are feeling disconnected or stuck. We could choose to take an exuberant, playful approach, helping us to release energy and reconnect with our inventive, spontaneous, gleeful selves".
Returning to my senses and moving authentically through life is a daily practice. And it's rarely easy. I find riding the TTC (for hours everyday to and from work) especially restrictive. I'll have the desire/need to move my body, but social pressure dictates that I sit passively and not stand out in the crowd. I need daily time and space to move however I please. To reintegrate my body/mind/spirit through conscious breathing and movement. Time to enjoy the sweetness of my body in motion!
I love the Mary Oliver poem "Wild Geese", especially the part about 'letting the soft animal of your body love what it loves':
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.