Do The Everyday Dance
When we begin to notice the way our body moves, we become more in tune with time while being on the go. So become more aware than others.
The 'everyday dance' of life starts the moment we wake and glide out of bed. It continues when we put the kettle on and sip our morning cup of tea; when we greet the early morning and notice the colors of dawn; when we run out of the door to keep an appointment.
Do we pay attention to our everyday movements? Do we enjoy multilayered events, such as holding an object while walking and at the same time, keeping track of where we are heading? Very few of us take the time out to remember this everyday dance.
As human beings, we are born in a body that becomes our home as long as we are on earth.
From ancient times to the present, people have been studying and observing the way the body works. It is with its help that we accomplish all that we are here for.
One of our most important tasks is maintaining the health of our being. An inherent awareness about this organism of consciousness, motion and feeling leaves us with a sense of wellness. Due to the growing pressures of our fast-paced lives, many of us are adopting ancient as well as contemporary techniques of slowing down and becoming more "aware".
Learning to slow down is not a one-time experience. Rather, it is a way to be in tune with time while being on the go. A good way to practice this might be to observe the sequence of everyday functions.
An example would be slipping one's shoes on and off. We could notice how the entire body collaborates in this sequence of simple movements. Even if it is not immediately enjoyable, it could be interesting to notice. If one were to see the act of taking off one's shoes as part of a dance sequence, each movement would appear connected to the next and with an underlying rhythm.
This may be a lovely idea but most of us have important things to attend to, leaving us little time to spare for a meditative approach to everything in our daily lives.
Even if one believes that there is too little time and too much to do, it is important to learn how the common movements we make everyday can help reach greater awareness of one's health. When I am walking from my front door to the bus and I'm in a hurry, I try to remember to note the feeling of "being in a hurry". This allows me to enjoy the speed while feeling the flow of the movements at that moment, instead of being controlled by the hurry of the mind. It is fun. I can sense the way the muscles enjoy the pace of "dance to the bus".
Alexander Lowen, the American psychotherapist, who developed Bioenergetic Analysis, a form of mind-body psychotherapy, wrote that "a person is in a state of pleasure when the movements of his body flow freely, rhythmically, and in harmony with his surroundings".
We can do so. We can begin to notice the daily ordinary movements of our bodies and open up to the flow of life's continuous movement. This awareness of continuity brings a feeling of inner connectedness with the self. When we feel connected inside, we have the ability to reach out to others. Connectedness leads to greater understanding within the global community. Viewed through a wide lens, all subtle and not-so-subtle ways of interacting can be a dance. The rhythm to which we move is the pace at which we accomplish our tasks.
A tired person who has walked all day will have a pace very different from that of an enthusiastic kindergarten student.
Someone in love or feeling happy will walk with a different step to one who is disappointed in love or otherwise. The way we feel affects the quality of the way we move.
Our planet has many different kinds of terrain. Each has a predominance of certain elements, weather patterns and climatic conditions. This biodiversity has always determined the food that is grown, the way people clothe themselves, the types of shelters they build and the way they move. Walking barefoot on sand is different from walking with shoes on a cement pavement.
Walking in an open desert is a different movement to walking down a steep ravine. The body's challenge is to adapt. Sometimes people say, "Oh, I'm so clumsy", or "I could never be graceful." Yet an overweight person serving a tray of tea can be extremely graceful if he is properly engaged in the action. There is something about paying attention to one's actions, as opposed to spacing out. Being aware of the each movement enables the flow. And isn't that what we love about dance? The flow.
When we begin noticing the way our own body moves, we become informed. This understanding brings more awareness of physicality and feeling, leading to greater wellness and encouraging a lighter sense of being. So, it is important to accept the invitation to step into your own Everyday Dance.
Zuleikha, an American 'movement artist' and performer, is founder-director of the non-profit NGO The Storydancer Project, which is working with like-minded Indian organizations