“Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman
When you think of Physical Therapy dancing is likely not the first thing to come to your mind. I grew up dancing. Mostly ballet- classical, traditional, structured. Now in my mid 30’s with my days on pointe a distant memory, my body craves dance in a more creative fashion. One free of rules and expectations. I’m regularly inspired by amazing dancers shared around on social media and featured on shows like Ellen. What inspires me is their embodiment and shared language of movement. I find myself trying to break free and move with them. I physically connect to their story- my heart, my soul.
This type of movement is completely different from ballet or my experience as a yogi. Part of what initially drew me to yoga was the structure, the rules, someone literally guiding me in my practice. Rules made sense, the made me feel safe. Free movement expression- aka dancing- is different. I must be in my body where I set the rules- it felt vulnerable.
For the last couple of years, the idea of seated meditation has made my skin crawl. I felt this need to break free and move. Rules and structure no longer felt safe. The idea was constricting, limiting. I have continued to come back to this to try and figure out what was wrong with me. This idea that something must be wrong with not wanting to sit still. Recently I’ve allowed space to listen to my soul and trust that it knows what it needs. Movement. Movement with music. Dance. No rules.
Dance your heart out like no one is watching. This continues to be a lesson in vulnerability for me. This idea took months to become clear. My coach suggested I check out 5Rythms which is a dance meditation. I found a group in DC and got the nerve to go solo. It was both invigorating and paralyzing. I was thrust into held space without any rules about my movement. I was searching desperately for pattern and structure, to understand the expectations of me, to please someone with my dancing. The paralyzing part was the wave of my own judgement that washed over me. I became aware of all the limits I had consciously and subconsciously placed on myself. All the ways in which I had clipped my wings to fit in and to please others.
Pause and re-read that!
“All the ways in which I had clipped my wings to fit in and to please others.” WOW! Was I doing this in my daily life? You betcha. That is some real heavy shit keeping me down.
That first 5Rythms I spent mostly arguing with my own self, in my head. I left feeling exhausted and alive. I felt seen and unseen. I felt vulnerable and empowered. It took another month before I would return but a shift had happened. I was connecting to music and to energy around me. I was dancing around my home and office- in private. My tough outer shell was beginning to soften. This was my therapy- a convergence of healing space, movement, and music.
A few months later I found myself at a Physical Therapy course. The instructor mentioned bringing music into the clinic. Somewhere between New Jersey and DC something inside of me clicked. I had always been stressed about whether or not to play music in the clinic but I had never really thought of it as a pathway into healing. I began inviting my patients to listen to their choice of music and to move without rules- whatever that meant to them. I would simply hold space and witness.
This experiment has been transformative in ways I never could have predicted. The most incredible piece has been in my ability to get out of the way and let my patients lead the way in their healing journey. It is a true surrender to the idea that each one of us holds our own key towards healing. As you can imagine, no two people experience movement and music in the same way. Sometimes there are physical observations made, sometimes a limiting thought process or belief rises to the surface. And sometimes we simply laugh at the silliness of it all! So yes, dance your heart out. Fuck the rules. And trust you have what you need to heal.
We are all on this journey together.
The Mindful Physio