a dancing body...for a sitting mind

We began to lift the heaviness yesterday by getting up to move. Then we began to let go and flow more easily. Often when your mind is cluttered you rationalize and say, ‘I don’t feel like dancing.’ If your mind is not dancing, you don’t feel like dancing with your body. Whatever is in your mind is jammed up, forced, fighting. Sometimes the best way is to allow the dancing body to help sort out the sitting mind. We know that we can affect the mind by working with the body, and we do it deliberately— this is why we call tai ji a movement discipline. You cannot force inaction. But when you find yourself grinding your teeth and feeling all jammed up, you can begin a movement process that will untangle and unclutter your mind.
— excerpted from Embrace Tiger, Return To Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji by Chungliung Al Huang

The day I read this excerpt I had been noticing extra tension in my jaw, and my head felt heavy and clouded with words and pieces of events past and future.

I knew that movement would support me, yet I didn’t feel like I had the energy to actually move in order to “untangle and unclutter” my mind.

I have felt this way often enough that I even have a strategy for getting myself up and starting to move.  I put on some music and commit to dancing for the length of one or two songs. I won’t stop moving until my self-agreed-upon time is up!

For the first several minutes it feels challenging and my body feels dense and heavy……..and then, as I stay with it, I begin to loosen up…..my breath expands, my thoughts begin to dissipate, and my body—however creaky some days(!)— starts to wake up and shake out.

Occasionally I’ll hear a running commentary in my head about my movement (past career as a professional dancer trained that into me pretty harshly), yet this is where committing to one or two songs assists me. I bring my focus to moving with the music, not stopping until my 4 - 7 minutes are complete. I breathe deeply and just Move, Move, Move…changing levels, turning around, shifting the primary movement focus from one body part to another….

As I release into the music and the movement, I feel my blood pulsing fully, my thoughts (and jaw!) loosening, and my enjoyment increasing….I experience satisfaction at having shifted my perception and expanded my participation with myself and the world around me. 

Here’s to being awake and alive! 

photos: seeing these pictures of my family dancing offers me a little extra boost of inspiration!