Amara…and me…in dance therapy.
She comes into the group room and makes a beeline to the seat directly next to me. She has never done this – it seems important, significant. I notice her breathe, its sharp, shallow, tense. The skin on her lips, dry and cracked. Her eyes are, wide and tense. She is grinding her teeth I note to myself, she has not done this in dance therapy.
My body and I imagine my ‘limbic brain’ sense her energy. I invite everyone in the group to breathe. I make eye contact with Amara. As I do so her breath slows and her muscles soften.
We ‘the group’ continue. Again, I hear, teeth grinding, sharp shallow breathe, hands pressing, rubbing the velveteen fabric of her pants. Her anxiety is again heightened.
She leaves the group room…to take a ‘break’. However, not without ‘first’ asking with a forced tense smile. All along her eyes dart, her hands twitch and her breath once again reverts to sharp, shallow rhythms.
Amara returns to the group – her teacher tells me – Amara is excited to share her holiday vacation experience. Would you like to share with the group Amara? “Yes, I went to see the Adventures of Tin-Tin…and enjoyed it”. Forced smile, tense body, sharp, quick breathes.
We begin to move.
In dance therapy, we start with a general warm-up, much like a check-in but with our bodies. During this time we begin to notice and pay attention to our bodily felt experience, in a conscious way. We observe what is tense, what hurts, where are we holding energy in our bodies?
In this group we start with deep breathes. Then begin to move our heads up, down, laterally, side to side, then look left, right…look to the neighbor on each side of you.
I look at Amara, tense face, forced smile, like what someone told her a smile might look like, its not her smile. I have seen a real Authentic Amara smile. I look at Amara again, lips drawn back above the top row of her teeth, eyes tense and wide, then they constrict, squint. We look back and forth at our neighbors several times and each time I see Amara, I see this same Amara. I mirror/reflect this ‘smiling Amara’. Yet I know, I feel, the anger, the sad, the anxious, the frustrated, the enraged…Amara.
I look at her one last time, same face. Only this time I slowly let my face, my muscles melt, my eyes soften, my cheeks relax, and my mouth draws down. As this happens she too, begins to let go, her eyes fill with tears and sadness – the anxiety gives way to a deep sorrow – we, together hold this she, me and the group – I see you, we see you.
We continue as she cries, the group holds hands, in our reaching out and holding one another we begin to sway – to hold each other through touch and in rhythm. Amara and the group feel different – something has been transformed, moved, worked through.
She, like everyone needs a hand to hold – a body, a face, a person to be emotionally responsive, mirror, hold and witness those burdensome, unwanted feelings, of sadness, sorrow, anger, isolation, fear.
Now we press our weight into each other’s hands in the circle. I feel her strength to both give and hold – she presses the whole of her body and weight into my hand and I hold her…we sway back and forth again – she comes closer to the ground, closer to the Earth closer to me closer to the group.
We hold elbows and lean back – using the strength of the whole circle to balance. She quietly tells me she can’t…that’s okay want to sit and watch first?
“Yes” and, she does. Then says, “I’m ready!”
And she is, ready. She holds her peers elbow and me and trusts that she will be held, then leans back…and balances with the rest of the group.
At the end of the session she says that was scary, being “vulnerable”. Her peer defines this word as weak. Then revises the meaning and says its when you are out there in the open. A beautiful metaphor for this group; for this girl who when she finally let her body be held looked me in the eyes and smiled a real Authentic Amara smile.
Now, that is limbic resonance and revision as I see it in the Dance Therapy experience. Do you have thoughts or ideas about how I have laid it out here?
Or, even instances of this limbic meeting between yourself and client in sessions and want to talk about it, swap ideas about what the experience feels like within you? For example, I am curious about what therapist/clinician/healer feels and observes in themselves and the other in these instances of limbic resonance/meeting. How might you know you are resonating? Are there specific sensations that arise during the moment of resonance/attunement/revision?
Excitedly awaiting discussion...