Act 3, episode 11: Experience & Health
Here's an image:
I'm 12, joined by other 80s-styled girls, my age to seventeen.
We are rehearsing at the church on several midweek evenings
for a modern dance performance
at a nursing home
to the tune of Neil Diamond's,
"Coming To America."
The orchestra intro starts and
we buff that gym floor with our pants, slowly emerging from the cocoons
of arms and legs...
then, as one, we oh so gracefully stand,
reaching our hands and shoulder blades out to something unseen
as the beat starts...
We've been travelin' far..."
Still makes me want to dance a little.
We did not wear sequins, but we were each clad in pastel scarves,
over white tees and light sweat pants. The few girls who had done ballet
wore no socks--
but it's Wisconsin.
Socks are kind of required.
I didn't know much about immigration in 1981,
or the suffering of the world.
I certainly did not think Neil Diamond was rad, or know that he'd written that song
about his grandparents flights from
Russia, Italy and Poland.
I knew it was Mom Music, and Neil wasn't cool to other 6th graders.
But I'll probably love that song forever.
One of our leaders choreographed and taught us
something that was entirely new,
a little uncomfortable
and kind of fun.
Learning those slow, confident, dramatic moves
was perhaps the first experience of
feeling grounded in my body.
Of course, gym class was required,
and while I liked kickball well enough, running was not my thing.
Or climbing a rope to the ceiling.
Or dangling from the rings to meet the 3 second Presidential requirement.
A book referred to and recommended at the Younique Foundation Retreat,
The Body Keeps The Score, by Bessel van der Kolk,
explains how trauma literally rewires the brain,
particularly in the areas of
these brain areas can be REACTIVATED with
neurofeedback, and more.
The ACE study was also explained:
add up your score of ten types of childhood dysfunction or abuse.
Scores of four or higher correspond to health consequences later in life:
autoimmune, cancer, obesity, and heart disease.
This connection between the body and the mind,
between experience and health,
We did several activities at the retreat to help to
literally heal the brain.
But one session is not enough.
About every five days, I wake up feeling tight and tense,
which I've mostly ignored in the past.
I'd walk or exercise through it,
sit in pain at the computer, and finally do stretches when
there was literally no other choice.
Those mornings, now, I do yoga.
Today's Deep Breath: here's a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
We also did some martial arts:
Muay Thai, with boxing gloves,
surrounded by boisterous cheering
as we each jabbed the instructor's pad 100 times.
And Tai Chi's gentle movement for stress release.
There is power--
feeling grounded in your body,
noticing your breath,
and intentionally moving, using or stretching muscles.
I'm well acquainted with treadmills,
ellipticals and stair climbers
to shape the body, lose weight and cross off a whole list of shoulds.
That lens was about changing my body,
making it better.
There's an element of acceptance in yoga, tai chi and qi gong.
Like what I am doing is enough.
I am enough.
These feel more loving.
There's still time for cardio and weight lifting.
It's possible that mindfulness and yoga could actually save my life
or help decrease physical and emotional suffering.
And it feels amazing.
I think I'll go listen to Neil.