“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of the four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” ― Gabrielle Roth
After post graduating in Psychology in 2012, I was certain that while I was interested in mental health practice, I was not inclined to pursue it as a profession. I wanted to know more about women and their struggles. My attention became focused on how bodies were viewed in culture and how differently they were perceived. What I did not take cognizance of then, was that I was studying behaviour, bodies, movement, and its perception all along. A decade later, when I finally stepped into the shoes of a psychotherapist, I realised that even though I loved working as a mental health practitioner, there was always something missing. Sure, talk therapy has its own benefits, but as a therapist, I started feeling inadequate in my abilities. It led me to start attending workshops on drama and movement therapy. It was only then that I realised that I was missing taking account perhaps one of the most important aspect of a person’s life – the body.
Movement has always been close to my heart. It is something that gets me going; it makes me feel at ease. I remember while growing up, I was always ‘restless’, I would have to be told time and again that I could not sit or stand-still. That I was animated. I distinctly remember that I couldn’t converse without using my hand gestures. I could not – even if I wanted to – express myself without my gestures. They belonged to me; they were mine; they were… me.
While I can recall what used to be, I have no recollection of when I stopped moving. From being a girl who loved to dance at the drop of a hat, I started resisting it. I think I lost my expression and maybe my will to speak or feel.
My constant turmoil led me to join the diploma course in Dance Movement Therapy in 2020, where I spent majority of my time not wanting to move (the classes were online), to exhausting myself in movement when the module finally moved on-site. I began having nightmares, but I also found space in my movement to express them. My breath started meaning more to me, and despite my insecurities, I started respecting my body a lot more.
I would like to end with a quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes that aptly describes my experience with movement so far:
“The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.”
Written by Lakshita Malhotra
Psychotherapist, Dance Movement Therapy Practitioner
The art piece has been created in response to the article by Lakshita Malhotra ©LakshitaMalhotraIADMT2022