Yesterday, I went to see my healer, also known as physical therapist. As we discussed all of the dancing I have been doing lately, along with all of the driving (and, hey, riding an emotional roller coaster), A reminded me of the profound wisdom of our bodies. To be healthy, our muscles need to release. Our bodies need to open up.
Ahhhhhh. Release and open. Two of my mantras when I am dancing. But really, they are equally apt and helpful for living a vital life.
How much can I allow my body and soul to “move, act or flow freely?” What can I “allow to escape from confinement?” What can I “set free?”
Whenever I teach class, it is fascinating to witness where and how dancers grip or tighten unnecessarily. I am all too familiar from my own dancing with this fruitless endeavor at control. Whenever I take class, no matter how much I repeat my mantra of “release and open,” I am at best only partly and momentarily successful.
It seems absurd, yet so often we hold tension in our jaws, hands, and necks to power through big movement. I have to laugh about the ludicrousness of clenching my jaw to jump higher!
Ironically, if we use only the amount of energy necessary to execute the specific movement fully, it is less fatiguing, and more organic, clear, fluid. Without the unneeded exertion of tightening and gripping, we can move more efficiently and with unambiguous focus on our goal without diffusing our efforts. It reminds me of the wise words from a master teacher that dancing is largely a process of identifying what doesn’t have to be exerting.
Although the tension each of us carries in our bodies is often more evident, the “holding on” we do unnecessarily with our emotions is equally unhelpful. And much of the time is downright damaging. To our souls, minds and bodies…as well as to those who care about us.
Holding on to anger, resentment, jealousy, but also limiting roles, fear, perceptions, behaviors. Let it go….When we do, our spirits move more gracefully without clunking around with all of our excess baggage.
So, today when I took class, I was extra aware of where I could release more. As A wisely noted, the muscular releases needn’t be huge. In fact, the subtle openings in the body can be the most crucial. For once there is a small shift, it lays the foundation for additional openness and vitality.
Same for our spirits and souls. Those teeny tiny releases trigger the possibility for us to grow into something, someone, more.
Although I have been on this path of releasing for awhile, old patterns die hard (as you may know :)). Once again, I feel blessed to have this dancing life to practice wisdom that carries far beyond the dance studio. Note to mind, body and soul: set yourselves free!
“Creativity can be thought of as letting go of certainties.” -Gail Sheehy
Photo credits: Top-Joel Callaway; Bottom–Rich Davis