Renewal: The Healing Powers of Body Movement
“Support groups may help other people, but I can’t get out of [grief] that way. Dancing gets me out of it.” —Delynn Curtis (HEART GUIDE, in memory of her son Rod).
“Martial arts helped because it gave me a place to put the energy. There is something about physical activity that helps to process stress and give it a focal point and discharge some of it.” —Barry Childs-Helton (HEART GUIDE, in memory of his parents).
Spring is a wonderful time to observe how Mother Earth renews herself after periods of harsh weather. Winds and rains distribute seeds, the bright sun warms the soil, and beautiful blossoms appear across the landscape.
The same is true of our lives. We may go through seasons of heavy storms that bring unexpected loss or intense heartache. We may also then encounter cycles of new growth, where we suddenly bloom out in the world.
Recently, I’ve discovered how beneficial physical movement can be for rejuvenating my personal wellbeing. I don’t mean activities like rushing around on the job or hurrying off to run errands. I mean intentional, mindful body movements that result in feeling better. I had read that working out three times a week could significantly improve mood (in addition to bringing obvious health benefits). But I often lack motivation to go to a gym. My daughters suggested I add music to my workout routine. What I found is that moving my body to joyful rhythms does indeed lift my mood!
While sitting in meditation or quietly walking, I’ve noticed that nothing is ever entirely still: energy, air, and breath—all flow through us. Movement is constant. It helps us to become more aware of those subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) currents within ourselves. Then, we can consciously redirect or release them. For instance, rather than giving power to scattered, hectic, and chaotic thoughts, we can head to the gym or a body movement class (such as Qoya, yoga, tai chi, and so on). We can allow anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, and sadness to move through our bodies. Sometimes, we may find ourselves sobbing. Other times, we may feel joyful. In either case, we are moving and releasing . . . moving and releasing.
Rhythmic body movement may not change our outer circumstances. However, it can open space within us to allow for healthier thoughts and healthier actions. It can make space for healing.
When the mind starts to spin, perhaps Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” is good advice to follow.
In joy & gratitude,