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Presence

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Moving with Mindfulness in the Landscape

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I walk along a near-empty beach and find my way to a black rock revealed by the receding tide.  Tenderly I lie down on my side and edge backwards so that the length of my spine rests against its face.

My body is laid on damp sand, my knees curled up in front of me and my head resting on my hands.  I drift into sleep under the watchful eye of Golden Cap, the highest point on this coastal section of Jurassic Dorset.

 

The density and stillness of the rock engenders a corresponding stillness in me so that when I awaken I am alert yet my mind is empty.  No instructions were given; the wisdom of my kinaesthetic body led me to this and it is nourishing to both my body and soul.

The harsh gaunt cliffs are like sentinels behind me, slumping their mass of black clay into the sea while fossil hunters risk their lives at the foot of them.

Rivulets of clay emerge from the base of the cliffs like molten lava coursing across the sand towards the sea. Shards of sunlight pierce the clouds and spotlight my dance across this rocky tide line.  I feel at home here.

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This is what Moving in the Landscape means for me.  A time when I experience myself most physically alive.  A time when I give my body permission to move in response to the immediate natural environment, in this instance the beach.  I have three glorious days of this ahead of me, the mornings spent in the studio in preparation for the afternoons when I am moving outdoors.

As my body finds ways to move naturally and organically in this unfamiliar terrain, I discover ways of moving I'm not accustomed to.  It’s a terrific workout for my whole body while my mind takes a break from an overloaded routine.

As my rib case expands my breathing deepens and this has a calming effect on my nervous system. My headache has cleared and my movements are no longer dictated by thoughts running through my head. I move with a new-found freedom and vitality.  I am present, centred in the very ground of my being and at one with nature.

 

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Your body never lies...

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When I attended a 4-year dance-movement therapy training, there was a performer in my group from  a prestigious London Contemporary Dance school.  Karen had a vast movement repertoire and a highly tuned body.  This was her first real taste of dance-movement improvisation however. 

During the  first module she touched on something through free movement and began to cry.  Something that had been buried in her subconscious for years was surfacing but she didn’t yet know what. 

As she continued to explore over the months/years so too did she unravel memory of incest that had remained a family secret until now.  The trauma now surfaced completely to be released, her shame located and healed through movement, simply by allowing her body to move of its own accord, at its own speed, with its own mode of expression.  The result can be more immediate than any verbal analysis. 

When Karen later turned her experience into a performance piece, her sister was in the audience.  Without providing a verbal description of what her piece was about, Karen conveyed her story through the dance.  Her sister received it - through her body - and remembered her own experience of incest that she too had buried.

I don't want to suggest this happens in every somatic movement or dance-movement therapy session.  It’s just to illustrate how informed the 'soma' (the inner intelligent body) is. 

Here's a more typical experience from Caroline, whose husband bought her a movement session as a present. 

“Wow … I want to give a shout out to Mary Nondé.  After a 2-hour movement session with her I feel like I’ve had a deep massage and my body is aligned in a completely new way; I feel freed up and relaxed at a whole new level.  

“If you’re feeling stressed, stuck or want to be more in your body, I would highly recommend this.  It does require you to be open to moving and really get into your body, and to park the old thinking brain for a while.  But that was a relief to be honest!” 

Caroline Burr, Your Relationship Coach.

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"I'm not interested in how people move but what moves them"

Pina Bausch, dancer and choreographer extraordinaire strikes a powerful chord.  Dance is not just about technical perfection which means only a minority should pursue it.  It's also about giving the soul a voice through movement.  And this practice is inclusive and as old as the hills.

I’m in the throes of learning West Coast Swing.  There’s a woman in my class who’s in her late 70s.  You’d never believe it to see her move, let alone the way she dresses.  She always has a big smile on her face when she dances, while her husband is at home watching the rugby.  I’ll wager a bet on which one of them lives the longest.

While I’ll always try my hand at any dance form, the method I believe offers the greatest potential for restoring your equilibrium on all levels has no prescribed form.  It’s organic.  It’s natural. And has nothing to do with following the prescribed moves of the teacher. 

The fastest route to stillness.  I currently call my practice Moving with Mindfulness. I used to call it Dancing for Joy.  But since we're all very familiar with the concept of mindfulness, it requires only a small stretch of the imagination to see how mindfulness applied to the whole moving body can have a marvelous effect.  It's also described as Somatic movement.

It’s the fastest route to stillness, returning you to the inner river-of-life and at a pace and a rhythm that is nurturing for you.  And believe me, anyone can discover this for themselves.  You don't have to be a dancer to arrive there.

With the impulse to move arising from within, who's to judge whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad; it is as it is.  You have total freedom to be spontaneous.  

With the subtleties of movement taking priority over getting steps right, this practice creates a bridge to deeper intelligence which is impossible to language through words alone.  Carl Jung called this engagement with the unconscious 'the active imagination'.  To explore this way is both liberating and delicious - like arriving home to your playful self after a long time away.

Moving with Mindfulness is an embodied practice that awakens your creative spirit and refreshes your relationship with your living, breathing body.  As you grow to recognise what it is you feel (through the sensations, intuitions, emotions and instincts that arise naturally), so  too your trust in your yourself to know what's right for you grows.  

When you over-ride these feelings because you don't understand their value or can't find a file to put them in can leave you disenchanted with life - and then wondering why.

If you'd like to find out more about what moves you please drop me a line: mary@marynonde.com or call 07827017188.

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