Well the weather hasn't been great in S.F. Today is cold and rainy, but the weather isn't everything. Yesterday I had a wonderful time leading a dance movement therapy group for elders at an adult day health center. About 30 participants from many different countries of origin, mostly non-English speaking, and with different abilities were fully engaged in the group. With ribbon wands, scarves and the Octaband we moved to the tempos and music of many cultures, communicated with each other nonverbally, and connected with one another, contributing synergistically to a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts.
From there, I had the opportunity to guest lecture for Sherry Raley's first year expressive arts therapy class at CIIS. That, too, was a great time. I spoke about the breadth of roles an expressive arts therapist can play:
As expressive arts therapists, we use the arts as the medium for therapy individually and in groups. In addition to the direct therapy, we may provide inservices and consultation to staff, we may help improve the communications, teach relaxation and team building skills to help the staff work better together and to provide a more supportive environment for the clients. We may also engage in social action. Just as in the treatment of an individual, we may want to provide family therapy so that the family supports the growth and change of the individual, we may engage in social action so that the culture-at-large supports the growth of our clients. The mainstream culture in the U.S. suffers from mind/body split.
I loved what one of the students said. I wish I knew her name so that I could give her credit. She said that healing oneself is in itself social action. To that I say, Amen.
Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a class with Anna Halprin with my friend Meg Chang. I feel so centered and sated after the class. There were bits from many of the disciplines I've been studying lately, from parts that felt like Bartenieff Fundamentals, Authentic Movement, Feldenkreis, and some of her walking, swinging and skipping directives which were reminiscent of Barbara Mettler's Creative Dance. I look forward to bringing back some of what I learned to Dancing Outside the Lines, the improvisation class I take with Joan Green next week.
Anna quoted Fritz Perls at one point, and I wish I remembered the quotation. It had something to do with releasing the head. If anyone knows this quotation, please let me know.
Another thing that Anna talked about was momentum, gravity and rebound. This last also got me thinking about resilience. As much as has been written about psychological resilience, I have yet to see anything written about resilience as a body concept. I believe that the rebound that Anna was talking about is just such an example. Barbara Mettler would have us do a "bouncy" walk, feeling the bounce in the knees. It is in the knees that we can feel the down/up, the spring. When we were skipping tonight, I turned to my skipping partner and said, I don't think it's possible to feel depressed when one skips. I've often thought that skipping would be great therapy for someone who is depressed for that reason.
I look forward to continuing inspiration from my friends, family and colleague in this beautiful part of the world.