Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Dance-A-Day

Last week we had a contact improvisation jam at the university where I teach. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, it is like recess for grown ups. The dance form explores what happens when two or more people share a point of leads to spinning, rolling, lifting... Jams are time for open exploration of the form, just as a group of jazz musicians might get together to play.

I had been having a bad day. To be more accurate I had been having a hard week. If you must know, it had been a hard month. After spending an hour dancing, I walked out of the studio into the cold winter air smiling, and thought, "Wow. I forgot that I was unhappy."

Later that week I noticed a pattern as I read my students' journals. Responding to a simple journal prompt, "When I dance..." The students equated dance with joy.

"When I dance...I am happy," was something I read over and over.

How often do we remember to dance? Children dance through their days. But adults forget what joy it brings. I once wrote that adults are too grown up for their own good.

Nina Wise, in her book, A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life, writes:

Upon occasion, I remember to dance. Upon occasion, I remember to get up from the computer, or hang up the phone, or pause before washing the dishes and I play music and dance around my room, alone and unobserved. Upon occasion, I remember that no matter what state of mind I am in when I begin, I always feel better when I dance.

"I always feel better when I dance." This guy knows that:

I have decided that every day in March, I will dance. For 5 minutes each day, I will let myself be moved. Sometimes with music, sometimes not. Sometimes fast and furious. Sometimes slow and mournful. Sometimes I will dance with my whole body. Sometimes just my hands. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with others. Depends on the day.

I invite you to join me in spirit. Five minutes a day. That's all it will take.

Wishing you balance,


Monday, February 15, 2010

Dipping Into the Well

I picked up a book when I was thrift store shopping this weekend. The book is called Energy Now: Simple Ways to Gain Vitality, Overcome Tension, and Achieve Harmony and Balance by Emma Mitchell. They were asking $1.99 for it; I love a bargain and any book with the word balance in the title is going pique my interest, so I had to buy it. Glad I did. Here is a quote I ran across:

"Preventative medicine aims to keep the body healthy, strong and well. In the West you go to an orthodox doctor when you have physical symptoms of ill health. In China, by contrast, you visit your doctor or teacher to remain well. The Chinese say that treating a person when they have become ill is like starting to dig a well when you are thirsty-- by that time it may be too late."

We all do this. We wait until our back goes out to see the chiropractor. We wait until that muscle between our shoulder blades is in spasm before we get a massage. When I say we, I am including myself. Life is busy for all of us. Our day to day is demanding. Meditating takes time. Exercise takes time. Eating healthy fresh food takes time. And time is something that most of us feel as if we just don't have enough of. We fall into our beds at the end of a day, exhausted, having squeezed out every last minute from our day and every ounce of energy from our bodies.

If, however, we could make a commitment to taking the time to take care of our health- if we practiced preventative medicine, we would find an increase of energy that would allow us to better use and enjoy the time we do have.

Here is my wish for you: sleep that refreshes, foods that nourish, relaxation that rejuvenates, movement that enlivens, exercise that strengthens. Whatever it is- bodywork, acupuncture, chi gong, dance, taking walks, meditation, bubble baths- dig a "wellness well" and dip into it often. May your body be healthy, strong and well.

Wishing you balance,


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Practicing What I Preach

Just yesterday I got to take advantage of one of the best job benefits of a massage therapist- the trade. A trade is when two bodywork practitioners exchange sessions. I love trades for two reasons.

Reason number one- I get a bodywork session! As you are well aware, I am constantly singing the praises of bodywork. When I receive bodywork myself I get to practice what I preach. Each time I am that person on the table, my belief in the healing power of touch and the wisdom of the body becomes stronger. I know that this work is powerful, otherwise I wouldn't do it, but it is really something to experience it firsthand. The changes that even one session can bring are remarkable. This morning I woke up feeling rested and energetic. Today I have been productive and happy- my body feels relaxed and pain free. In short, I feel balanced.

As a massage therapist, receiving a session from another therapist can be wonderfully instructive. We all develop our own style, so when I receive work from someone else, I find it incredibly inspiring. Whether I make a conscious effort to adopt a particular technique I have experienced or not, the sessions I receive from others expand my own repertory. And since I am a firm believer that one size does not fit all when it comes to massage, I am always striving to offer the very massage that is exactly right for each client that I see. The more experience I have as a receiver, the more I can offer as a therapist.

Reason number two- Trades offer an opportunity to experiment and play. You might think that giving a massage to a massage therapist would be intimidating. My experience is that it is anything but. We call it bodywork, but when it is at its best, it doesn't feel workmanlike. The best sessions have an element of play in them- where the therapist is able to experiment and innovate. It is more like serious play than work.

Yay for the trade! With each one, my connection to the work deepens and my palette of techniques expands and for that I am grateful.

Wishing you balance,