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And then I started dancing…

“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

The art piece has been submitted in response to the article by Lakshita Malhotra



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