Movement as Ritual


Sometimes I find it challenging to put words to the movement work that I do.  What I love about movement is that there are no words, that we access another part of ourselves, another part of our brain.  Recently finished reading a wonderful book “The Wild Edge of Sorrow” by Francis Weller and in it he talks about the importance of ritual for processing grief and how our culture is in many ways devoid of ritual.  As he describes ritual, I realize that that is what we are creating as we come together in Emerge Movement.  He says,

“simply said, ritual is any gesture done with emotion and intention by an individual or a group that attempts to connect the individual or the community with transpersonal energies for the purposes of healing and transformation.  Ritual is the pitch through which the personal and collective voices of our longing and creativity are extended to the unseen dimensions of life, beyond our conscious minds and into the realms of nature and spirit.”

I love that line – the personal and collective voices of our longing and creativity.  YES!  And it is so refreshing to create a space where we can access this.  In our days of constant scheduling, responsibilities, and tasks, it feels so necessary to create a space where we can let go and be present with whatever is there – emotionally and physically.

I often think that some of the more powerful moments of my lifetime are moments without words.  They are an embrace or a dance or a breath or a gaze – and those moments do transcend everything.  I often say that being seen is one of the most therapeutic things we can experience.  This is why the relationship between a therapist and client is more important than the content or the process…it is the act of being seen that helps us relax into who we are.  Without that, we keep looking and trying and proving and reaching….but the moment we are truly seen, we can relax into ourselves, into our bodies.  It is like a settling, a coming home in the deepest of ways.   As Weller says,

“Ritual provides the elements necessary to help transform whatever it is we are carrying in our psyches.  It may be fear, grief, rage, or shame….Whatever it is, it evokes an emotional response that necessitates a holding space in which we can invite everything to be present.  In this way, ritual provides sufficient intensity to help access the emotions that are present.  We need its heat at times to help us cook these states into something new.  Ritual provides something else we deeply need: a level of witnessing that truly enables us to be seen.  Attention is necessary for embodiment, for fully stepping into the world in an open and vulnerable way.  There is something sacred about sustained attention; it deepens the connection between all present.”

Indeed.  And we can practice this internally too – on the dance floor and in life!  In other words, when we notice that energy of trying to prove, we can invite our witness, or our adult part, to just hold space for that other part that is vying to be seen.  And we can hold that part in a tender way and ignite that beautiful quality of being seen.

I love that Emerge Movement is a ritual in which we can see ourselves and others exactly as we show up on the dance floor…and in that way, come home to ourselves anew again and again.