The majority of us are born with an almost unlimited range of movement. Watch a group of little kids and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They do not limit their physical expression. When they are sad, angry, or happy, they will tell you with their bodies even more than with words. This natural expressivity actually helps them to sequence through emotional states, rather than keeping those emotions trapped inside where they tend to fester and build. Watch these videos to see what I mean: Vid1, Vid2.
We are taught to limit our expressivity in order to fit into societal or family norms. And, in truth, we need to learn this lesson. It would be a nutty world if we all had temper tantrums every time we didn’t get our way! Unfortunately, we usually learn the lesson of restraint so well, that we can lose the capacity to express ourselves fully even when it is appropriate.
Children are completely in the moment and completely in their bodies; They are unaware and uncaring how they might look like to others. But in the restraining process, we develop a critical observer self. So that by the time we arrive into adulthood, we tend to be highly self-conscious of how movement appears to others. We develop an observer self who analyzes, critiques and moderates our movement. This is why many people have lost the joy of dancing and will say “I can’t dance”. No child says this because they haven’t yet learned that dance is supposed to look a certain way. They just move because they want to and it feels good. In movement therapy, we reconnect with movement for the experience of it, rather than the appearance of it.
Movement therapy can look like a form of dance, but usually it does not. Our body tone, structure and movement patterns reveal our beliefs and mood states. For example, people who are rigid in their way of life, will also be rigid in their bodies. While talk therapy is important to understanding, movement therapy can sometimes create a shift that talk therapy can’t quite get to.
Embodiment Practice: Connecting to Deeper Wisdom
In movement therapy we help the client to become a more fully embodied being. Most of us live our lives either ignoring or bodies or pushing our bodies. We often have a dysfunctional and antagonistic relationship with our bodies – this is particularly true for women as Western American society has equated body with human value.
Our minds can outwit us – we can circulate in a miasma of delusions, critiques, hardness, etc. In embodiment practice we learn to reconnect with our internal sensations and impulses and experience our selves as a whole and integrated Body-Spirit-Mind being. When we are fully embodied beings, we welcome home our deep inner wisdom, which has often been exiled with the Western bias for intellectual knowing.