How to LOVE YOUR BODY as a practice in dance
Love is a complex topic that is tricky to write about. We all would likely agree that it's one of those things that make life fun, engaging, pleasurable, and certainly life enhancing. It's not visible to the eye and yet when we feel love everything changes around us. When we are loved we thrive, our health and everything in our life improves. With all the good that love brings, it's a worthwhile thing to explore and grow. Thru dancing one can learn to love their body/emotions/ways of thinking/and unique spirit as a practice to discover love in a clear and life changing way.
The definition of love according to Brene Brown ( researcher on emotion) is that " we cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen, and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows form that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.". There are many kinds of dance that can increase love. Kai is one kind that allows lots of space to "go within" so it's deeper than just learning the steps. Authentic movement is a way to find your uniqueness in the moment and to be seen. Putting attention on understanding the body, noticing what's happening moment to moment, listening, seeing, trusting and bringing kindness to our body thru how you move it are all ways to cultivate self love. This is not the "I love my 6 pack abs kind of love". It's deeper and more all encompassing. This kind of body acceptance and non-judgement is very rare in our society. The quickest way to peel of the layers of body hate is to practice the opposite.....surround yourself with others practicing body love, bodies of all ages and shapes. Listen to the conversations people have about their bodies and be with those who respect their own body. If you've been inhibited in moving freely for most of your life, free movement is going to be challenging, work thru it! Re-wire your brain for more adaptability and love. You may have to step out of your "comfort zone" of discomfort to truly feel supported by a community of people who are doing this kind of work. Feeling vulnerable is NORMAL AND NECESSARY to being authentic, it's the doorway into love. Don't compare yourself to others, let it be your process. Take full responsibility and begin where you find yourself.
Another definition of love from Dr. Brown is that "love is not something we give or get. It's something we nurture and grow. It' s a connection between two people only when it exhists within each of them." The point here, is that the way we love ourselves ( our body, way of thinking, uniqueness, emotions) is a reflection of how we love others. This is a great reason to do some healing work for any deeply embedded messages we learned about ourselves thru the years. When I dance, I look at it as a "date" with my body. I let it guide me into the movements that it desires....i listen deeply to it's sensations and celebrate the nuances and uniqueness that my body guides me into. When I am "off beat" or can't get a step, I allow THAT to be my dance ( and this is a very humbling experience when you are the "teacher"!). I also notice if there is an inner critic shaming me in my head or if the voice is one of gentle kindness and curiosity. I've come a long way and this works!
If "old" messages of shame come in recognize it as an injury.....Forgive and heal. Stay with your movements and notice how shame or embarrassment can change to humor, playfulness, or even strength in a moment. Shame is valuable as it's an indicator and pathway into love. Like vulnerability, it doesn't have to be avoided. Build new messages in the body/mind connection by moving thru shame and celebrating what's on the other side.
This relationship to the body needs continual nurturing. In a world where messages are constantly being pulsed about age, body size, judgement, competition etc, a practice of self love is essential. This is where to go to FIRST. Before the kids, before family, before friends....this body dance is where to go to create the love that is felt physically and can be an anchor into more healthy love to create with another.