This is an article I wrote for the Movement Medicine newsletter. It was 2012 and I had just completed my Teacher training in this conscious dance practice. This training and the experience of having a somatic dance practice for so many years has been such a support and resource for me as a psychotherapist. It has taught me about presence and deep listening.

As I sit here and look at this question all sorts of stories and memories come to mind and I’m smiling, thinking about the battles I’ve had with this question, with more to come I’m sure. For a time it only meant holding a space for dancers to move to music, a space for them to move their bodies, right? I’ve even dreamed once of Ya’Acov asking me to write an essay on what MM means in the corporate world!

In my world I hold a space for adults with special needs to be in their bodies. I begin on Monday morning with a lady who is deaf and dumb. There is no sound in her world so there will be no fancy tracks to impress, no smooth tractor cross overs, not that I’ve mastered tractor yet anyway! Our movement is simple, she mirrors my movements perfectly, let me tell you it is simple, there are no skips or leaps, no turns or twirls, she moves how her body can manage today. The beauty of our session is in the holding, it is in what we share together and that is realised by me being in my body. Through MM work I have learned how to stay in my body how to hold that space for another. I can hold eye contact with her, there will never be any words, I will never know what she is thinking or feeling but my body can know something of how this movement medicine is for her. Sometimes we share a smile and that is a good day.

Later in the day I will spend an hour with another non-verbal gentleman. The work is slow and there are many times that I ask is this the right thing to do? But I know that when I lie on the floor for myself and relax it feels good, when I check into the sides of my body it feels good. So when we as teachers invite another to check in however simple, however small well that’s got to be good, right? This gentleman will stop for eye contact and reach his hand out and I will hold it. I am learning again and again, presence and contact equal medicine.

Today I write for a very special man that I worked with every week for three years. He had been in institutional care almost all his life and as a result his body and soul bore many scars. He died yesterday suddenly, he taught me so much about survival, endurance and innocence, he will be terribly missed. The last time we worked together we were practicing some simple stretches and breathing. He was agitated and tired, it’s always hard to know when to push on through resistance and when to let it be. I began by trying to push a little, move a little. My heart sank as I knew he was just going through the motions, Oh no I thought this is movement by rote! I stopped and we just sat there, resting being present, just sitting there. Part of my mind still screamed this isn’t teaching! The other body knowing was saying let it be, sit and be present, hold this space of non movement. That was two weeks ago, my dear friend and teacher is gone now. His loves were Elvis and Johnny Cash I hope he’s singing away and rockin’ out. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I listened to the wisdom of my body and rested there for one last time with him.

So I find my teaching path has begun in this way, this is what I need to learn right now, holding and presence and I know that this will change as I change.

There is a richness and depth to Movement medicine that continues to sneak up and surprise me. I know that when there are times that movement is not possible or when I feel frozen I can call upon the elements, call upon spirit and the animals to unlock my body and open it to movement and expansion once more. And at these times I know that I have a vast library of resources in my body and heart, stored, squirreled away in my cells waiting to be called upon. That’s when I know the reason I embarked on this extraordinary journey into the body of muscle and bone, into the body of heart and soul.