photo by Jun Akiyama of Kinisis Photography
My body moves
All I need to do is
open space and remove distractions
Once I provide time (1 minute? 5? 60?)
an open floor
and other bodies curious,
my body moves.
Sometimes for extra juice, I add the elixir of music
Or clothes that maximize
And all I really need is empty time and empty floor
Not even floor
All is really need is empty
And that’s in my control
Empty is a verb
I empty time
I empty space
I step in there
Increased aliveness is the best reason I know.
When I follow my movement impulses, I feel more alive: more of that streaming champagne-bubble sensation that tells me I’m present – but only 100% of the time.
I don’t mean learning steps. I’m not talking about getting up in front of people and showing how I remember (or don’t) where to put my left foot or my right.
I’m talking about improvisational dance: where there are no steps and I’m making it up as I go along, with no one watching, in the privacy of my own movement. I’m talking about lying on the floor with my eyes closed and breathing, listening for what in my body wants to move: where I feel a hunger to stretch or reach or wiggle or extend – to scrunch or drop or flutter or wave. That ride (that stream of impulses offering itself up moment by moment to me when I listen) is all mine. It’s nobody else’s business.
What happens next is different every time. And reliable side-benefits appear. Here are three big ones:
Physical release and psychic
I move to empty my mind, to notice what’s moving through my mind, to notice the stories that surface, God love ’em — and to sometimes kiss them sweet goodbye as I lean back into what wants to move now. Other times, I grip onto those stories with abandon and wake up long minutes later with a sense of having left the room. And then I lean back into what wants to move now.
I move to stretch, reach, touch, grab, shake, empty, fill. To disembowel and to stir. To act out with my limbs and skin all the million impulses and hungers that move through me every day.
To take the trash out
To molt old skin
To breathe in fresh new air and surprise myself with movements I didn’t know I wanted to make
To surprise myself
To make myself new
Stretching into every corner of crunch in my body – getting in between those last tiny ribs up under my arms – scooping my belly in under the arc of my pubic bone – flexing into that nascent space between my toes – feeling full aliveness between my fingers and wondering where they’ll take my arms.
And doing all of that because I feel the urge to. Not because anyone has asked me to, or even knows I have.
Enjoying pleasure in my body because I want to.
But only 100% of the time.
When I follow my own movement impulses, I drop down through layer after layer in my body and my mind, my internal world. I choose over and again: experience over thought.
“Am I having an experience or a thought?”, I ask myself. “Oh, a thought. Mmmmmm …. I’m willing to shift my attention to experience. What am I experiencing right now?”
Then I lean into experience, wake up even more exquisite awareness of detail. How does that feel now? And now? And now?
I am a different creature than I know myself to be. I surprise myself, every time.
And then there’s that sweet surprising line where I cross over into contact with others, connection. How does it come today? Awareness of others’ breathing? Sounds in the room? My eyes hungry to open and drink in the colored world? A playful burst of humour, or a pounding urge to stomp?
It’s like bonding after birth. First I swim in my own world of sensation, looping in. Then comes the moment I want other, looping out. My loop of awareness circles, cycles, now in, now out. How can I stay true to my own authentic impulses while also connecting in the world? Each dance, each day is different.
Here I am touching someone’s leg with my foot.
I’m folding now over someone’s back.
I’m playing peek-a-boo with someone’s eyes as we sidestep our way across the room.
I’m mirroring movements without planning to, aware suddenly of joint and unexpected waves.
I’m asleep and cradled as a body slides under my torso. She is on her journey; I’m on mine.
How tender, how intimate is that?
And this comes as naturally as breathing. We drop in deep while we are dancing, far faster than we might in years over coffee or conversation. Without the words, so many walls are down.
We are much more intimate animals than our habits would have us believe. Our dividers are flimsy. We are dance waiting to happen.
I empty time
I empty space
I step in there
With gratitude to:
- Katie and Gay Hendricks for the concepts of “Am I having an experience or a thought?” and Loop of Awareness. Learn more about their work at foundationforconsciousliving.com and hendricks.com
- Byron Katie for the phrasing “- but only 100% of the time”
- Joanna Rotkin for valuing and sharing empty space and time in her masterful dance classes in Boulder – but only 100% of the time. Learn more at joannaandtheagitators.com