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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,
Wow! You and Taylor Swift…what a combination! Light, love you! Charlie
Thanks Charlie … I think the lyrics in “Shake it Off” (as well as in “Mean” and other songs) speak to a lot of young women. We learn from the younger generation; they learn from us. Hopefully, we all help each other along and continue to share our gifts out in the world! ~ peace & love : )
What a wonderful blog post. And a lovely testament to the body and to the ever-fluctuating universe. The brilliant Erich Schiffmann, whose delight in yoga makes every class of his a joy (even when it’s hard!), says, “Do yoga. Do it a lot. Do it so you LIKE it.” Whether it’s yoga or some other form of movement, it’s the “like it ” that is so important to me. I think most people still think that the body and mind are separate entities. Not true. That web of life saying applies in the microcosm of self: what we do to one part we do to the whole. And maybe rhythmic body movement really does change the outer circumstance since we will interact differently with it after moving. I ramble. Thank you for your powerful story telling and beautifully crafted books. Love to you.
Thank you for your beautiful reflections Lee. I agree. Two quotes I like: “As I walk, the Universe is walking with me” and also, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” So …. yes, it’s all interconnected, and not just with ourselves, as you say, but with everything outside of ourselves, like ripples on the ocean: The people we influence (positively or negatively). The way we interact with and treat the earth, sky, waters, trees, and animals. The foods we eat. The air we breathe. The health (or pollution) of our earth home and the health (or illnesses) of our bodies. It’s All connected.
May we learn to dance in harmony with the beauty around us and the beauty within each of us. Peace & Love.