An Open Dialogue About The Body
“It is easier to be present with a complete stranger than it is to be with someone that you have a great history with.”
Years ago I heard a quote that stuck with me deeply, “It is easier to be present with a complete stranger than it is to be with someone that you have a great history with.” As a child, presence is all we know. To be fully in the moment with all of the emotions and sensations that lie underneath. We have yet to build narratives around who we think we are or are not and the priority is to express ourselves and our needs unabashedly in order to try and have those needs be met. As we grow, our life experiences teach us how to move through the world, relate to others, and keep ourselves alive along the way. We develop habits and filters as a form of protection which can be extremely helpful, but also detrimental to our ability to show up in the here and now. This quote reminds me of the relationship I am slowly growing into with my body and movement. There is a contentment and unconditional love that I know is deep within my being, but it’s taking me time to soften my emotional attachments to my history so that I can access it.
Transparency and Curiosity in Relationship to Fear
In order to really know and love someone, I believe it is important to leave space for that individual to change. It is also important to get to know them over and over by asking questions that invite a sense of reintroduction. As I look back on my life and dance journey, most of my experience was lacking the curiosity that it takes to honestly meet my body in each moment. I have ignored its need many times in order to prioritize pleasing the audience around me by shaming my body into action. For years, I have had a habit of allowing fear to drive my choices which has led to a lot of external insecurity versus an intimate relationship with myself. Although fear has played a huge role in my journey I think it’s important to highlight that not all of it has been unhelpful. Fear has led me to make choices that have shaken my body to its breaking point. From this space there is no other option but to listen to my disorganization and get curious about it in order to heal. For years this fear was something that I was ashamed of and would try to mask any way I could, but it has now become a path for me that is leading me to self realization. The more transparent I am with my journey and struggles, the more I realize how common this is for dancers. One of my deepest desires is to normalize what is real and invite students into a space of allowing all to belong while partnering with the body to move through and with it.
Questions To Consider
So how? How can we become curious when fear hijacks us into seeing ourselves through an inaccurate lens? How can we start to unravel some of these habits which very often lead to a morphed sense of identity and body image? How can we reintroduce ourselves to our bodies when we are blinded by what we feel we lack?
Listening To The Body
For me, no mindful change has ever occurred without pausing first. I have to pause and be with what is real in that moment even if I cannot consciously make sense of it. In time, as I practice saying hello to myself each day, I am slowly learning to listen and build trust with my body. Listening always leads me to and through what my body needs in each moment. Whether it is a gurgling in my stomach that is asking for food or a tightness in my throat that is urging me to use my voice. At first, listening to the body can feel impossible, but through practice, the body’s unspoken voice becomes impossible to ignore.
Seeing Yourself From The Inside Out
As athletes who are mostly trained through looking in a mirror, it is rare to walk past any reflective surface and not conjure up a physical critique on the body. One thing I’ve been practicing the past few years is pausing when I notice that I am entertaining a destructive narrative around my body image. I take a moment with my reflection to look deeper into that area and begin to ask it questions: Which organs are held underneath this area of my skin? What does this area make possible for me? What does this area need or desire to say? As I pause and take a moment here, I practice breathing deeper into this organic and truth filled perspective on how my body is helping me under the surface in every moment. As I begin to see life in this area of my body, it is impossible for me to forget it. Many times I still fall into my habitual and destructive thought patterns, but I am slowly becoming more aware of them and giving my body the space to be fully seen rather than continuing to bury it in surface judgements. As I continue to practice this for myself, I’m naturally experiencing this in others. I’m beginning to see from the inside out and it’s revealing connection to me on such a deep level. I am noticing that the way I treat myself is how I will subconsciously treat others. I hope the more I allow my body to be seen, known, and loved unconditionally, my capacity for connection on all levels will continue to expand.
An Invitation to Reflect
As we learn to refine our technique and skill could we do it with kindness, awareness, and care? It is tempting to point out our flaws and label the good/bad of our vessel, but how much more life could be experienced if we allowed the brilliance of our bodies to invite us into a continuous conversation on how to remain alive within this pursuit of movement?