In over 20 years of working with movement I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the phrase “I want to make sure I’m doing it right” from clients. Whether that's asking me to check out what they are doing during class, or to write it down at the end of a session so they can do it that way their self when I'm not there. I get it, I understand, really I do.
But here's the thing: there is no “right” way of moving. Nor indeed a wrong way!
All movements, and the nuances within movement, have a purpose and intention. We are not robots. We all move completely uniquely, in the same way that we all have unique finger prints. The 'right' movement for you is going to depend on SSSSOOOOO many things: your anatomy, your life experiences, your emotional state, whether it causes or reduces pain, whether you're feeling it or trying to 'think' it, whether you're doing it because it feels good or because it looks good, whether you just want to have fun or to heal trauma, what your tolerance is, what you need to do later in the day, what you've done earlier in the day..... Oooof, the list goes on.
Right wipe that list now from your mind, or we'd analyse it so much we'd never move!
Moving is supposed to be natural and feel good. There's a time for moving mindfully, but ultimately we don't want to be thinking about how we move when we go about our daily life and have fun doing the activities we do. We weren't born thinking how to move where we?!
Mindful movement practices, or doing some movement therapy is a place to consider how we are moving and to investigate whether we're unconsciously over-using some movement patterns, and under-using others. It's a place where we can take time to feel how it feels in our body and how it feels to move with a different awareness. It's a place to unwind unconscious habitual patterns that might be keeping us stuck or in pain, and to learn how to consciously (at first) move differently until this new way becomes the unconscious way.
Ultimately the only person with the answers to what is 'right', is our own self.
And there lies both the challenge and the beautiful reward. In our fast paced world that activately tries to disconnect us from our felt sense, it’s a journey to look for our own answers and to learn to feel, and trust what movements work best for our body, for our self. However, it's also a journey that leads to us knowing in ourself what is best for us, what we need and how to get the best out of ourself in all areas of our life.
Now, I can almost hear clients right now reading this and saying: 'but you do tell us what to do Caroline!!'. Ok, ok, I hear you! But actually I don't tell you what to do, I offer options*.
When I cue through a movement, or offer a different way of moving, it’s an invitation to feel how that is for you and for you to decide if it’s interesting or feels a better movement in some way. It's your space to see if it feels a useful movement choice.
I CAN'T tell you the right answer. But what I CAN do is:
Offer different perspectives, a compassionate and caring set of eyes, space to explore, a vast movement vocabulary from which you can choose how to play, facilitation, lived experience of a journey, years of other people’s experiences, pacing, dosage, an ability to see trends, empathy, a listening ear, structures when you need them, freedom when you need that and so on and so on.
In an individual session we ultimately get to the 'right' movement because the client tells me. That might be a verbal conversation, or in some way their body feeds back to me that it feels better. And I guess that's the bit that I just can't explain. That's the time that a client will say to me 'how on earth did you know / see that'. No fricking idea actually. I guess that's the art of being a movement therapist! And that's what I totally love about what I do. It more and more feels like an art than a science, a conversation rather than 'instructing'. The more that I know, the more I challenge what I know. The more that I do this work, the more comfortable I feel in the grey areas, as that's where I believe that I can be of most help to others.
I can't tell you want to do, but I can help you through the grey stuff to find what's relevant and important to you.
* I caveat this statement with the knowledge that there was indeed a time when I did tell people what to do and how to move - because that's what I thought I was meant to do, and it's where my knowledge was at the time. It's also where movement science was at one point too. It's where some practitioners and teachers still are. And that's ok. If it's working for you then all is good and well. I just feel differently about it.
I am Caroline Toshack. Movement is my passion, my mirror, my creative source and outlet. I am a therapist, coach, educator, geek, yogi, mover and creative who loves getting muddy on her bike, running in the hills and having pyjama days.