This is a simple movement meditation offering drawn from somatic practices such at Laban Movement Analysis/Bartenieff Fundamentals and Continuum Movement. It may or may not be for you at this point in your life. Try it if you are called to do so. For me, this work supports living with more resilience as a human being in this world. I am writing this for people who are interested in exploring dogma-free embodiment.
artwork by Anthony Sunseri
1. Cultivate a Safe Space for Exploration
In this context, I am talking about the internal space within yourself as much as the external space surrounding you. Inner and outer boundaries can create a sense of freedom. It sounds like a paradox, but often having some structure allows for greater freedom.
The obvious boundaries are:
· A space with some privacy that will allow you the freedom to enter your own exploration fully.
· Give yourself some uninterrupted time- commit to as little as 20 (or more) minutes of device-free time.
2. Baseline in Stillness
Find a comfortable baseline position in stillness that can be returned to regularly as a check-in.
This may be seated on the floor, a block, or a chair, or lying down with knees bent or straight.
Use this baseline as a starting and finishing point. It is also a place to rest and process at any time throughout your movement meditation. Return regularly to this still place to discover what new things have arisen.
Lying down or sitting still will help you become aware of small changes.
3. The Safety of Familiar Movement
Use comfortable familiar movement as a safety net for your bodymind.
Establish a relationship with a familiar form that you can come back to if you begin feeling too far out or disconnected. This might be yoga’s cat/cow arch/curl of the back, or a shakeout, maybe just returning your awareness to the rise and fall of your breath.
Exploring new territory may be scary if you are storing a lot of unresolved trauma in your tissue and in the holding pattern of your system. It is helpful to approach this in a way that is nurturing, freeing, and supportive. If you feel as if you are becoming untethered return to some familiar patterned movement.
Slowly scanning the horizon with your eyes (open or closed) will let your brain and nervous system know that you are safe. Take some time with that.
Get up and walk around. Any movement that is “normal” should work to bring you back to your comfort zone and using your eyes to orient yourself to your surroundings will also bring you home.
4. Permission and Access
Use the map as a guideline and starting point then trust your own body to express whatever feels interesting and nourishing.
Turn off the inner critic.
This is not about looking good or pleasing someone else, this is not about learning someone else’s truth. This is about turning on your own interoception, kinesthetic awareness, and proprioception, bringing awareness to sensation and tuning into the innate intelligence embedded in the living tissues and fluids of your bodymind.
Following internal movement trails and patterns of energy or tension can be enthralling. You are moving toward this internal attending. So let go of your critic, let go of the need to please, let go of the need to be beautiful or look good, or even be creative. If you can open up and allow yourself space to become interested in the sensations of being, something will happen. You are opening a portal into yourself- your inner world of sensation and inquiry
Give yourself permission to explore sensation through micro movement. Small free-flowing movements in any direction.
The slower you go and the smaller your movement, the deeper you can cultivate your sense of connected awareness. Sometimes you will want to move bigger and faster that is ok too. Give yourself full-blown permission to move in any way that feels nurturing and supportive.
Allow your body to speak and say whatever it has to say for as long as necessary.
Drop into presence within yourself and open into a PNS (parasympathetic nervous system- rest and digest, soothe and settle, healing/processing) state.
No editing in movement- listen, allow, ask, nudge.
If you come across anything that is interesting follow it as far as it draws you.
The Meditation Map-
A very simple map for your dive into movement meditation:
1. Begin and end with your baseline in stillness. Return to it whenever you want to rest or process on a level of silent stillness.
2. When you feel you have arrived in your bodymind bring your awareness to your midline. This is the imaginary central line inside your body from the top of your head to the base of your pelvis if you are seated, or to the ground if you are standing, or to your feet if you are lying down. Your midline divides your right side from your left and front from back. Imagine it in the center of your body.
3. Take a moment to bring your awareness to this deep internal place. Give your midline some volume by breathing into it. Bring awareness to the three-dimensionality of your breathing. Feel the up/down-ness, the side/side-ness, and the forward/back-ness of your breath.
Take as long as you like with this. This may be the whole exploration for today.
4. When you feel ready invite your midline into motion. It can be very small, maybe it is still just sensing the breath or maybe slightly bigger. Imagine the motion of sea grass growing from the ocean floor, swaying with the movement of the surrounding water.
Allow your midline the freedom to sway, to rise and fall, to circle or follow any freeform pathway. This movement may be tiny micro-movement that is virtually invisible from the outside, or it may be bigger. Initially, it may be easier to sense movement when it is bigger. As you hone your ability to tune into movement and sensation in the bodymind you will be able to bring your awareness to miniscule movement and it will feel like a lot is happening.
If you are a structure junky use the three dimensions as a starting place. You can play simply with the movement of the breath rising and falling (vertical dimension- up down), widening and narrowing (horizontal dimension- side to side), bulging and hollowing (sagittal dimension - forward backward), and the general growing and shrinking of your whole organism as you inhale and exhale.
If you are interested in more free movement, allow the sensation around your midline to move any way that it wants, let go of symmetry and become fluid like a drop of water intermingling with a lake, or the ocean, or a river. Water imagery is very useful in sensing and creating flow in your bodymind.
5. When you feel you are ready to end your movement adventure return to your baseline in stillness.
Here is a link to a video that is similar in practice