There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The Body Mapping Experience..
Our bodies are the medium in which we experience ourselves, others, and the world around us. Along with our cognitive understandings, we feel, we sense and we are instinctual in our daily lives. We are always in direct communication with our bodies, taking in and producing messages our bodily responses give us. As we experience our body, our body experiences us.
The body holds our individual stories, memories and life’s journey so far. Along with our conscious and unconscious memories, our muscle/performance memory, we have our visceral experiences and our kinaesthetic sense. These are not easily put into words as they are ‘felt experience’, and sometimes what is felt in our bodies may tell us a different story than what we thought or even outwardly displayed.
Body Mapping Process..
In body mapping, we tap into the wisdom of the body by activating levels of body consciousness through creative exploration, body centring activities and meditation. It’s a process where the participant is in a place of deep listening and inner connectivity with the stories of their body that connect with their lived experience.
Working with a life-size canvas of yourself allows for self-reflection and deep resonance. Body Mapping creates an exchange from ones inner connectivity to an outer creative expression via our creative play. In my experience, that deep listening I have felt and witness is an intimate co-creative relationship with oneself, in which you are listening to your own stories, hearing the wisdom and recreating from that knowledge all at once.
The art exploration often symbolically represents how these stories feel for you in the present time. Sometimes how you have felt in the past is different than where you are in the here and now. In the process, you may notice what has transformed, or you may acknowledge what needs to be explored further or let go of. Either way, there is something powerful, and often compassionate that unfolds naturally. Essentially body mapping helps us reconnect to our embodied self.
Body Mapping Sessions..
Body Mapping sessions are held to help you enter that sacred space gently and nurture yourself in the process. Offered in small groups or individual sessions, its a creative journey of self-discovery. Those in periods of life transitions, who are seeking self-reflection find Body Mapping enriching. However, it is open to anyone no matter what stage in life’s journey.
Art materials are included, and your body map is yours to take home at the end of the programme. To book in for an individual programme, or enquire about the next weekend intensive, contact me at email@example.com or enquire for current session times at The Light Centre Belgravia
Recently, I went to see Tavaziva’s latest dance performance called IZINDAVA at the Lilian Baylis Theatre. Tavaziva, who is currently on tour in the UK, is an African Contemporary dance company, led by Zimbabwean born Choreographer Barwren Tavaziva. Along with the audience, I was blown away by Barwren’s eloquent use of dance to communicate such an intense yet profoundly conscious message about trauma. Often the experience of trauma is challenging to put into words.
IZINDAVA is an invoking piece that explores politics, trauma and a sense of injustice that not only relates to postcolonial Zimbabwe but poignantly speaks towards the present unsettled feeling of race and culture in today’s society. In what was clearly a very personal piece, Tavaziva powerfully translates the emotional experience of inner conflict, which is central to these themes, into creative expression. I can only be described his work as giving voice to an oppressive internal experience of fear and trauma.
As a dance movement psychotherapist, my understanding of both trauma and fear is it’s experienced at the level of the body. Along with the consensus of neuroscience research, as quoted by Judith Rustin (2013) ‘emotions and feelings are not only “felt experiences” but bodily based experiences that exist prior to any conscious awareness of them’. Often trauma/fear can be hard to put into words because it disrupts memory, and as we do our best to survive our experiences, it is often silenced within us.
Earlier this year, I attended a course called ‘Race, Trauma and The Body’ facilitated by Director and Integrative Arts psychotherapist Eugene Ellis of the Black and Asian Therapist network (BAATN). Eugene explained how race-related trauma situations can consciously and unconsciously hijack our ability to find our voice, can paralyse our ability to think and feel our emotions, and hinder the development of mindful awareness and compassion.
The beauty of Bawren’s IZINDAVA is witnessing how he utilises dance to express himself and recreate from his lived experience. I sense this is healing work for him. By using his movement as language, he has communicated what he says “can no longer be silent”. Through IZINDAVA, which translates as ‘news’ in the Zimbabwean language Ndebele, Bawren shares his experience and wisdom gained from the past to send a message of compassion to the present.
Aesthetically, I found the earthy qualities of the dance compelling to watch. It’s quite profound to see the physical and emotional strength as well as individuality displayed through the dancers. It speaks to overcoming adversity, finding resilience and our ability to adapt creatively to what our lives require in our own way.
In movement terms, there is something Bawren has perfectly married that defies usual dance and movement repertoire for me. The use of levity in the body that comes with ballet and the grounded sense of gravity in African dance is entirely in balance and harmony within Bawren’s choreographic synthesis. Effortless in force is the only way I can describe it. IZINDAVA highlights the redemptive power of dance, not only for the choreographer and dancer but in the way it speaks to us as an audience. This performance is an experience. It’s emotional. It’s soul soothing. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think, (you can add comments below). Just expect to be moved.
Next date is November 17th at the Pegasus Theatre, Oxford. Click here for the rest of their tour dates. If you are in London, do not despair! I’ve been told there will be another London performance in March 2018. I will keep you posted here.
– Natasha Sackey
Rustin, J (2003), Infant Research & Neuroscience at work in Psychotherapy. 1st ed. W.W.Norton & Company, Inc. pp 13-14
Dance Movement Psychotherapy is defined as…
“The psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person can engage creatively in the process to further their emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration.’
– ADMP UK, 1977
Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) works with the fundamental principle, that our minds and bodies are interconnected. Core to DMP is the understanding our bodies communicate our lived experience of both our inner and outer worlds, and our movement & gestures reflect our personality. Movement expression instinctively demonstrates the way we think feel and relate to others.
Dance in its natural essence of free-form, non-scripted, not directed, allows for a vitality of spirit to move the body freely from within. Dance is innately an expression of our inner self, and by the way, it allows for a freedom of self in movement and outer expressivity. By exploring dance, movement and gestures, we can experience an embodied sense of ourselves in which we can communicate, explore and learn about ourselves and how we relate to others. Overall with DMP, we are trying to build a bridge to connect our thoughts and feelings, by acknowledging and understanding our body movements behaviour and our non-verbal communication.
Dance Movement Psychotherapy’s roots are in ancient healing dance that has been an integral part of most cultures and communities worldwide. Before dance was a professional art form, it was and still is a source of community expression used for community ritual, celebration, rights of passage and joy. The earliest records of dance used for therapeutic purposes are recorded in the nineteenth century but not significantly explored as a psychotherapeutic intervention until the 1970’s. Dance movement psychotherapy is now an established form of art psychotherapy practised around the world as both individual and group therapy in health, education, social services and private practice. Typical areas of practice include working with people challenged with:
- Learning, Sensory & Physical disabilities
- Emotional/ behavioural challenges
- Psychiatric disorders
- Eating Disorders
What to expect?
Dance Movement psychotherapy is inclusive as it is for everyone of all ages. No formal dance experience is necessary to participate. We use everyday movements, natural rhythms to communicate and free movement with movement props and music. Everyone dance within their natural repertoire and in their own time.
Sessions take place regularly on a weekly basis for the duration of work, and each session is 45 minutes. Clients require a referral form and an initial assessment period. Clients have found Dance Movement Psychotherapy has positively benefited them in the following way:
- Can help put feelings into words
- Creatively finding your voice
- Enhance personal communication skills, self-exploration or self-understanding
- Improved self-awareness, body-awareness and
- Increased confidence in personal ability to express, explore and manage difficult feelings
- Helps with relaxation and calmness
- Being in and part of a supportive group
- Mind, body, and spirit integration.