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Issue: April Newsletter
A Dance Practice that has Held Me

By Margaret Davies
I recently came across an article on Facebook, ‘The Mystery of Holding' by Matt Licata, an American psychotherapist and writer (I shared it on the Movement Medicine FB page). It sang to me and seemed to sum up so much of what I have experienced on my journey towards healing, over all my years of learning as a family social worker and dancing 5Rhythms and Movement Medicine.

“There is an ancient longing wired in us as infants to be seen, to be felt, and to have our surging, somatic-emotional world validated by another. When our subjective experience is empathically held, contained, and allowed, we come to a natural place of rest. What is love, really, other than fully allowing the other to be who they are, for their experience to be what it is, and to offer the gift of presence to their unique subjectivity? In this sense, I love you = I allow you.”

Learning about attachment theory as a social worker taught me that we are social beings, ‘wired’ – in a brain and holistic development sense – to need attuned connection with another being who can, through their attuned holding of us in their awareness and presence, ‘get’ us, mirror us, and show us who we are, and in turn who they are, enabling us to become our separate unique selves, paradoxically, only through our connection with other.

The ‘holding’ of the dance workshop – the accepting space offered by our teachers, the music and words they bring and the spirit of the dance which arrives – has been a place where my ‘surging, somatic-emotional (and spiritual) world’ has been met, held and validated. Every teacher and dancer who has met me with their embodied presence, and witnessed me as I move, has allowed me to be who I am, has given me a precious gift of validation that has healed and helped me to grow.

Later on in The Mystery of Holding, Matt goes on to say: “Through making attuned, present-time, somatically-engaged contact with another as they are – and by providing an open, warm sanctuary in which their experience can unfold and illuminate – we become vehicles of love in action.”

Most of Matt’s article could be applied to my experience of dancing in this embodied conscious field, and particularly my experience of dancing with Susannah and Ya’Acov, and the Movement Medicine Mesa, which we are co-creating.

Matt also says: “While not talked about as much, we can provide this same contact and space to ourselves and come to discover that our nature as awareness itself is in fact the ultimate holding environment. You are always, already resting in the majesty of presence and are always, already held – by the beloved – who is none other than your own miracle nervous system, heart, and somatic brilliance.”

From the strong container of the interconnected dance, I have more recently found the space to drop into Mindfulness practice, Awareness itself, Being-ness itself, and I am beginning to feel the truth of the words that I am “already held – by the beloved – who is none other than [my] own miracle nervous system, heart, and somatic brilliance”.

In this place of clearer awareness, I can see more of what Matt calls the “undercurrent of aggression towards myself” and towards others; we have worked with that on the MM Apprenticeship and Professional training, when we have worked with the super-ego, and with our conflict and mediation processes.

And so, the wheel keeps turning; the layers of dis-ease, health and healing keep unfolding; the beat goes on; and we have a dance practice to support us to engage and maintain “a radical intimacy with our experience, staying close to our ripe bodies and tender hearts”. Thank Goodness for that!

With great thanks to my attachment teachers: Pat Thompson, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott, Vera Fahlberg, Kate Cairnes, Dan Hughes; my Mindfulness teachers: Dan Seigel, Pema Chodrun, Tara Brach; and of course, my beloved dance teachers: Susannah and Ya’Acov, Gabrielle Roth, and everyone I have danced with.

Margaret Davies, Movement Medicine Teacher and Facilitator

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www. schoolofmovementmedicine.com