Writing within the breath of Contemplative Dance/Authentic Movement

by Roberta Whitney (Massachusetts)

Authentic movement has often afforded me a tool I'm not conscious of. I write and think about things on paper without relating it consciously to the work I have done over several years now in Contemplative Dance. And yet, once written, I can see as can others, that the very process of attuning to my body and letting words flow from a mind-body connection elicits even more as the spirit and heart join into the relationship and there is a touching of the human...of the universal...of something I might name as "inner knowing" or even "inner divinity". Here is an example that came through a look at the moon at the close of 2007. I'd love to hear of others' creative deepening through Authentic Movement.

The Moon at First Light by Roberta Whitney

I stand in the early morning darkness, save a blue glow on the kitchen wall phone. The ceiling lights are now off. I had switched them on to avoid stepping on either cat as I fumbled toward the cupboard for their food. I let my eyes adjust. I stand still at the back door, rhythmic crunching from the bowls off to my left. Looking out at the picnic table now covered with a brown tarp in anticipation of snow, my eyes are drawn up toward an almost-full moon as I tilt my head back slightly and open my throat to yellow-white beams streaming through nine glass panes. My eyes close. I bathe in this soft stream of light. Eyes reopened, I feel grateful that I may look at the moon in a way I cannot at the sun.

I slice green beans on a rectangular wooden board, aligning the lithe strands of green so the knife can separate several at a time. I don't often cut them this way. By habit, I usually snap the ends and sometimes the midsection of the strand. Seeing the neat slices before me, I recall canned produce I grew up on, a metallic wave crossing my nostrils amid a yellow-brown swirl of mildly salty water and floating beans…I wonder whose hands lined up the vegetables at the factory from where the cans were prepared? What machine was fed by a gentle hand…a large hand…and to whom was that hand attached? Their hands are on mine now.

We are all seated before an almost-dry but nevertheless magical waterfall at Yosemite National Park one warm evening in July. Newly arrived, we have already sighted a baby bear bouncing through tall meadow grasses and have seen a deer five feet from our room. Talk circulates of hiking possibilities, of the threat of bears to our rented car (did everyone empty food out?), of shuttle schedules to a mule ride booked for the next morning. We are graced with a menu of delicate foods and desserts. It is cool enough to have tea afterward. I look across at my husband, whose work has brought us here. I look to the eyes of the person serving us…I think of the kitchen and cook staff making my ease possible. I consider the drivers who carried the fresh produce and meats here…and the garden and ranches from where these grew…The hands that nurtured them for us.

Sometimes I feel like a moon made full and bright by another who like the sun's rays, shines full and steady on me whether I am aware or not. There may be encouraging words as I work to write, a joke that gives me laughter, the professional hands that support my healing, a voice of family and friends on the phone, the patient hand supporting me as I try Ian's skateboard, the cry of a hawk centering me as I walk, free DVD rentals that my family is given by a generous man, a yellow day lily opening in the front yard, a blue sky as I hang clothes, or the mind behind the complexities of cell phones and computers that allow me to do so much with the "press of a button/key".. the washer that faithfully does the work of my hands.

Other times, I feel like the dark side of the moon washes over me. At such times, I am reminded that unlike the sun, I am not pure light. I may become angry. I can grow impatient in the evening when I am tired. I might seem evasive in my response or stubborn in my desires. And when I fight the shadowy parts of me in a day, like the phases of the moon, my light wanes. I feel a loss of energy expended at war with myself or another.

I speak before an eighth-grade social studies class on being a veteran. How do I convey what I myself do not know, having served during a cold war? My mind wanders to those who are fighting for us now. Five of eleven 13-year old boys raise hands and say they will consider the military as a career. These boys are Ian's age, his peers. Several are his friends. I don't want them fighting in my name in the future. I try to see through the eyes of parents, spouses and children of those fighting now…in my name.

So much of individual and collective suffering seems brought about in fighting deep, less-than-savory aspects within, especially those hidden or want to be kept hidden. Experience has taught me that to truly live, I need to bring these to light and this often necessitates that another light my way, like the sun does for the moon as it swells and waxes into light. Bright rays stream always behind the moon I call myself. You are there, encouraging me to fullness, pushing me into my own light.

Your rays connect me with something beyond human experience, like the heat of the sun…like the miracle of a birth in the darkness of night. There I know something vast is part of me and that aspect may serve as the ray I offer to someone else who is a moon in the same galaxy...on the same planet. That he/she might feel light embracing the darkness within. That in this shared human relationship, we both might experience love.

May 2008 bring you abundance of rays.

1 comment:

Ann McNeal said...

Thank you, Roberta. I feel that the practice of writing can be very like AM--"following the impulse to move or be still" in a couple of ways: to write or not write; to stay in one thought or to move on.

For me the central similarity is allowing impulses to arise and trusting that something non-judgmental and wise in me will know how to follow.