If someone had told me a year ago that movement would change my life I would not have believed them, like most people. Especially if they had said it would also change the expression of my sexuality. Yet, they would have been right, it did. The movement in question is dance and its impact on my body, me, and the relationship between us has been profound. It has also changed my relationship to sex.
Last January I felt a need to dance. Friends will understand how distinctly out of character this was for me. More than a wish or a simple want, it became a deep desire, a persistent hunger. What evoked this is another, longer story; suffice to say that, where psychotherapy helped with emotional healing, I realised there was still a lot of the past stuck in my body.
The body is like a sponge, soaking up everything it experiences. Every knock and every caress. Not just physically. We experience life emotionally and as we do so our brain releases chemicals, which alter our bodies. Without some form of release this all gets stored away and carried around. It weighs a body down.
So, where to dance? Club nights simply did not satisfy. Then in April I was introduced to 5Rhythms, a movement practice based on the idea that everything is energy and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms. It is a very fluid and flexible exercise, with no set moves or any requirement to do anything other than turn up and do whatever your body wants to, be that whirling like a dervish or simply laying still on the ground.
Like air blowing a spark something caught. A fire deep inside started to burn. I danced and danced. All through the summer. Sometimes five, six or seven times a week. The more I danced the more I wanted to.
As I danced things changed, inside and outside. I lost weight and gained muscle tone. I became increasingly aware of my body, its presence, what it was feeling, how it was moving, what parts wanted to move and why. More tangibly, my body morphed, becoming more definitive, somehow more reflective of me. Even my way of moving started to change, into an easier flow, a continuing curve, not an isolated transition from one shape to another.
In moving more consciously I have begun to discover a new range of possibilities. An existing delight in touch has been augmented by a delicious sense of movement. Most significantly, I realised that for most of my life I have had an often uneasy, and certainly distant, relationship with my body. Being a sensualist this came as a big surprise! I wonder how many other people are similarly out of touch? It is curious how we take our bodies for granted, doing our day-to-day things without tuning in or being aware of them. There is a great deal of joy to be found in working with your body. Like riding bareback, without the barrier of a saddle.
I also started noticing how other people move. Not simply in the sense of the body language we read automatically in our daily interactions. I began to see a much deeper reflection of who people were and wanted to be. Something precious, quintessential, a deeper reality than the skin and bones we wear. In dancing, together, we are permitted glimpses of the essential and eternal energy that we are. Not just the lamp with all its charming distractions but also the unfiltered light within.
In answer, my own interactions with people have become less random, stilted and awkward, more natural, relaxed and authentic. With some, I am more open and spontaneous. With others, I am more reserved, more alert to their sensitivities and needs, and of the space, proximity and distance between us. Learning to see different boundaries and to bridge divides. Recognising what their body is saying as well as their mind.
Embodiment is a popular word at present, a lot of people are talking about it. Dance has brought me to a closer understanding of what it means. We like to think we are in control, as rational, sentient beings, yet much of what we do is driven by inherent, largely subconscious, bio-emotional responses. Our bodies have minds and a language of their own, which need listening to and understanding. When we do it opens a whole new area of possibilities, of being.
I have experienced this most keenly with sex. The sexual urge is the most fundamental physical manifestation of our essential raw, creative being. At its core, it is our deepest need to be, to move, to extend beyond ourselves, to create. Sex pulls and pushes us. All too often it drives us. Uncontrolled it can lead us into dark places; too controlled it stagnates and frustrates. Learning to contain and channel the demands of this energy has long been a personal challenge, yet I have found that what starts as chaos can transform into something sublime. Beyond the raw need for release there is potential for something shared deeply, openly and freely.
Movement has profoundly altered my relationship with sex, what it means to me and how I want to engage in it. Becoming more aware of and settled in my own body has made me more conscious of the nature of my sexual self. Something that has sharpened, softened and sublimated into a more lyrical expression, in which movement is the language and the key. This has admitted a whole new range of ecstatic experience, of sensation, pleasure and delight. Light and playful as well as more powerful and intense. It has also made me hold back and really consider who and how I want to share my body with and the energy it contains. For me, sex has become a fruit to be chosen and picked carefully, and savoured rather than devoured.
A final thought. Sex is often used to escape beyond the physical, a release from the now, yet how often are we really present? Sex can also connect us, to the present, to ourselves and to each other. I have long held the view that we are spiritual beings learning to live physically, not the other way around, and conscious movement has made me realise that being more physically engaged leads to a much deeper, fuller, richer more fulfilling experience, for you as well as me.
Sex has the potential to be the deepest, most primal and profound dance, a connection of separate spirits expressed with the language and commitment of the body. Technique is one thing, but to truly dance, with presence and passion, requires that we move together, consciously. Embodied physical presence. To share real physical presence, moving together, honouring each other, rather than trying to escape through each other, what could be more beautiful!