I Am a (Semi) Recovered Klutz
The freedom with which children move is a beautiful thing. They use their bodies to express their feelings, thoughts and imaginings unselfconsciously and joyously. At a certain point they start to become aware that they are more vulnerable to scrutiny and judgement when they make bold movements that express their inner state. Most children gradually disconnect from that seamless expression of their selves, reducing the size and scope of their movement to a version that’s more socially acceptable and restricted.
What often gets left behind is a sense of connection between our inner selves and our bodies. We sacrifice integration of mind and body to the tyranny of our very active brain.
I spent most of my childhood reading. I was the classic bookworm: studious, relatively sedentary and oh, so clumsy! I tripped, regularly knocked over my glass at the dinner table, bumped into things. I had no idea that I could have any say in what my body was doing. I had missed that memo during my childhood.
At age 20, I started to practice movement, dance, improvisation and physical exploration with a dedicated group of my peers. There was a moment when I realized that I could be agile and graceful. I was running down a forest pathway at night, avoiding roots and rocks – no tripping, no falling. I felt like I was flying. My mind and my body were working together!
Movement is medicine at any age. I have seen many of my older clients reawaken their sense of pleasure and competence in their moving bodies. Sometimes all that it requires is slowing down and paying attention. If you can break down a movement that is problematic and notice how you are doing it, you have created an opportunity. You have an opening to find a more efficient, supported or pain-free way to do the same thing.
Now that I’m well over 50, my body is aging and I find that I have to accept the changes and learn to work with what I’ve got now. Fortunately, I have the tools of body awareness and integration that I developed those many years ago, and those are not age dependent! I am still clumsy when I rush and forget to pay attention. My daughter says to me, “11% slower, Mama!” and she’s right. I’m a work in progress. And my clients’ struggles and successes continue to give me inspiration for my own.