The ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of North America had a philosophy called The Seventh Generation Principle, which is the idea that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. This philosophy still guides the decision-making in many indigenous cultures and is in stark contrast with the four and five-year political plans that most governments tend to work with.
There are many people in the world working to change our systems to once again become regenerative, abundant, and supportive for the coming generations, but this work is not easy within systems that are not designed to change.
As a highly sensitive person, holding a vision of a healthy, resilient world I’ve come to understand that all changemakers, working towards such a vision, must have space to both process their emotions and, in doing so, nurture greater levels of health, resilience, and creativity so that we can create better ways of living.
To deal with changes in my life in 2007 I began a conscious dance practice (no choreography, no steps, just following intuitive movement) and I believe that it saved my life. Equally, it ignited whole new levels of creativity in me. It connected me with my own body and heart allowing me to process stress, recoup from burnout and remember dreams for my life that I had forgotten.
I was so blown away by the effect on my creativity and well-being that I went on to train as a Movement Medicine teacher.
Movement now is an intrinsic part of how I work with people to harness their creativity and there are many ways that movement can support change, changemakers and so our future generations.
“Let him that would move the world first move himself.”Socrates
Our bodies are made to move and the first thing I noticed when I started to dance was that it helped me to destress and unwind, it has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my body, it has given me more confidence, and also kept me fit.
Early on when I started to dance, I realised I was mostly living in my head, busy thinking and worrying about the future or mulling over the past. Dance brought me back to the felt sense of my body, into the present, and into greater awareness of my physical well-being.
I have noticed that I think more clearly during and after I dance. I can solve problems in a more spacious and slower, steadier way and I feel I am more effective in how I create.
Its been shown that movement anchors and integrates new information into the neural networks of our brains.
Imagine a world where we learn how to be present in our bodies and live less stressful lives. Imagine if there was time and space for you to move each day in ways that nourished your body and mind.
Over the years I’ve been aware of the recalibration or balancing that takes place when I dance. As I move I can feel how I find balance in my own physical body but also I notice that I begin to think differently.
Dancing allows us to move between different modes of thinking which increases our capacity for creative problem solving and helps us look at things in novel ways.
This change in ways of thinking and capacity for moving between perspectives can be called lateral thinking and is essentially creativity: learning to see in new ways and making new connections.
Imagine if you had practices that broaden your scope as well as your capacity to see different perspectives, that balance opening your heart as well as your mind and allow for solving problems and issues in very different ways.
Through dance, I have learned to connect differently with myself, by learning to listen more carefully to the sensations, pulses, and impulses of my moving body. And to connect with my heart allowing me to navigate better the landscape of my emotions.
I have learned to recognise old patterns, to give them attention, and to give expression to what I am feeling by putting that energy into motion. And I have strengthened my connection with my creative energy by learning to trust my intuition and the felt sense of creativity in my body as I move.
Through dance, I have also learned how to connect with others in new and powerful ways. Every culture has its dance and throughout history, we have danced in community around fires to celebrate life, death, the harvest, and the changing of the seasons. When we move with others we connect in ways beyond verbal language. We connect through the language of the body and the soul and open to co-creation.
I have found that my dance practice has helped me connect with the natural world in a more meaningful and profound way also. The more I strengthen my connection with myself the more capacity I have to connect with the world around me, the more freedom I feel, and the greater the sense of belonging and home I experience.
We are living in a time when we’ve never had more ways to communicate but we are struggling with disconnection. I feel that dance can wake us up from the illusion of disconnection and remind us that we are all innately interconnected.
Over time from learning to connect with my body, heart, and mind in more conscious ways, dance has been a way to physically give movement and form to what I am feeling.
Before words and analysing I can express my emotions and ideas through movement. I have found space to engage in big emotions, my joy, my grief, and my anger and I have gained greater access to self-expression in dance. This has been a profoundly powerful catalyst for personal change and for accessing creative flow.
Through dance, I have found more energy, confidence, trust, and faith in my expression. I have found that dance helps me clear creative and mental blocks and I dive into creative flow with more ease.
Creative expression is movement and through conscious dance the expression is immediate. It is a felt sense and an experience that offers whole new ways of understanding and evolving creative ideas.
Movement Medicine is founded on Gestalt therapy and is also a modern-day shamanic practice. In shamanism, from the Lakota tradition, they talk about becoming the hollow bone to allow for healing to come through you. When I heard of this I recognised it as how I feel creativity coming through me. I get out of the way and creativity flows through me like I am an open channel.
Creativity comes from nowhere and we don’t know when it will arise. I have found that movement allows me to trust and find ease in ‘not knowing’.
This process of letting go, getting out of my own way, and letting creativity flow has always felt as if I am being connected to something greater. When I dance I find that gratitude rises up in me, I feel my joy for life and I feel that I am a part of a greater manifestation of life arising.
Imagine if all our creativity and work were dedicated to something greater and for our future generations. What could we do differently in our work?
We live in extraordinary times with climate chaos, housing crises, polarisation, hyper sensationalism, a loneliness epidemic, and more access to information and ways of communicating than ever before in history. I believe the world needs our creativity to allow our hearts and imaginations to seek out brighter futures; building our courage to change what is not serving us and allow for new possibilities.
Dance allows us to destress and unwind, it helps us get unstuck and keeps us be healthier. It gives us new perspectives and new capacities for learning and solving problems and allows us to process our grief and express our joy. Dance reminds us that we are part of a community, we are part of the living breathing world it allows us to know one another in playful and joyful ways and it supports us to follow our dreams of a better world for the next seven generations.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”Alan Watts
Over to you
Whether movement and dance are comfortable or uncomfortable for you, you can try this creative exercise in the comfort of your own home.
Find some of your very favourite music. Something that sparks fun and joy. And it’s best to have music with few or no lyrics for this. Find a quiet place to listen with some space to stretch and move. Have a notebook and pen/pencil handy. Press play.
Listen, with your eyes closed if you feel comfortable. Notice how you hear and feel the music in your body. Notice where you feel the rhythm and the beat in your body? Notice how you feel details of the music, different instruments, and the flow of the music. Let yourself move by simply responding to what you feel in your body.
Notice how your different senses respond as you move. Do you see colours, patterns, or images? Do you feel to sing or speak? Do you notice words or phrases arising? Notice and follow these impulses and just let yourself express them in a simple way through movement. Afterward, write/draw what you experienced.
This little exercise for the length of a track can ignite your creative energy or bring a spark of insight or inspiration for a project. Or it can simply be a few minutes of joy and fun. If you get into the flow, keep moving!
Wishing you a beautiful day.