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Moving Toward Healing

Dance and music have always been an important part of my life. I have vivid memories of my teenage years when I first had the opportunity to have my dance witnessed by others. My high school put on yearly musicals, and as one of the dancers, I clearly remember the audience of adults clapping and cheering. For me, this solidified that the experience of dance was not just of performance, but as a way to be seen, not judged; affirmed not denied; and celebrated, not criticized. For me, moving and dancing meant acceptance.

As a dance/movement practitioner, I try to integrate movement into my work with both individuals and groups. According to the ADTA, Dance/Movement therapy is a type of psychotherapeutic practice that uses movement to help people achieve emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration. It can be especially helpful for people struggling with body image and self-esteem issues and explores the connection between movement and emotion.

In my practice, movement work is often very simple. What does the movement of your body tell you about where you are in your recovery journey? This can mean simply taking an inventory of your physical self and noting the areas of resistance when it comes to using your body.

For example, do you swim or walk, work out, or dance? When in one of those modalities, what feelings awaken in you? Do you notice you hold yourself in ways that are stiff and robotic instead of flexible and supple? Are there parts of your body that ache and call out for comfort when you move? Noticing the tempo of your breath, being conscious of the space your body occupies and taking notice of your posture are simple ways we can connect with the movement of our bodies. These movements provide us with subtle messages about our thoughts and feelings, toward ourselves and others.

The body is meant to move as much as it is able. It is natural, momentous, a miracle in and of itself that we are able to move. The event of getting up from a chair or bed or the ground and propelling into walking demonstrates a natural rhythm.

The breath is involved, the limbs are involved – each person’s stride, breathing and rhythm is unique. We all have our own flow and tempo, a unique way of moving in the world. Cultivating an awareness of our body through movement can be used in a way that leads to healing, wholeness and creation of safety.

Mary Gordon, MA, LAADC, ICAADC. Edited by Peggy McGillicuddy, MEd

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