Z-mindfulliving_lesliehallman_2017-10-27_zuleikha-0582Art of Relief
Feeling a sense of relief, something we all long for, brings with it a feeling of hope. It enables us to walk through the unseen tunnels into unknown landscapes as we carry on with our lives. We are all doing this every day. So when someone opens a door for us, or smiles, or gets us to relax and inadvertently take a gentle breath, we have a laugh and let down for a bit. If we learn to practice this now and then, we learn we can cultivate a life where, in the midst of the chaos, we can nurture our loving nature. And this brings a kind of relief and a quality of goodness.

Listening of Pure Movement
I began my studies of movement arts with some ballet and a lot of free movement, as a child. I studied western classical music all of my life, and continued in the study of contemporary movement. I also trained in schools of movement and music from Asian traditions, where the mover is both a musician in movement and a devotee of awareness. I became immersed in traditions where invocation of body-mind-spirit is found within dance, music and drama, and there I discovered my way into the Listening Awareness of Pure Movement.

Anyone who enjoys moving knows that it frees up the heart and the body follows. What I do is to break simple movements all the way down, learning how to move very easily through the joints, connecting the joint movements. This leads into fluid full body movement without trying to look a certain way.

We practice what I created, called BodyListening, a body-friendly way to explore free movement. The process begins with the body lying on the floor, while attuning to a quiet deep awareness, and then moving in the way the body wants to move. This kind of interior work, with space to move fully, coupled with the time to inquire within has been shown to bring resilience to those who are in the practice.

If indeed the body is the House of the Soul and Spirit and the container of the human experience, then the practice of Listening Inside of Movement allows the flow of stillness and motion to be brush strokes in the calligraphy of movement. The encompassing rhythms and melody of muscle are found inside of this ongoing discovery. The colors of emotion as doorways into deep feeling through the heart’s compass influence the way awareness reflects itself.

Sometimes, when I am moving, I find my body is the orchestra—bones, muscles, blood, pulse, with awareness as the conductor. And the audience—cosmos and nature at once ordinary and divine, present and instructive. What a symphony!

In Sickness and In Health
This is what people pledge when they are getting married. And this is what the work of our non-profit organization, The Storydancer Project, is about—to be with those in sickness and in health. And this is what our work inside of selves is about.

The work of the Storydancer Project is with the good tidings of human beings. When they are in sickness we work to balance the outlook, and when they are in health we work to increase the joy.

One of the places we work is called the basti (neighborhood in Delhi, India). Women come to the clinic for treatment of what they call cervical spondylitis. This is a kind of stiffness in the upper back and neck, which sets in and causes them to suffer in great pain most of the time. After we do a few slow exercises (that I have created), they began to laugh, we all begin to laugh, and this is itself a healing agent. Sometimes the agents of change are the people, themselves, and sometimes it is a moment we all share together.

In India, some of the people we work with use the word healing when they speak about the different systems I have developed to connect with people and to train others. I have not ever used that word for myself. Yet I can say that after people use these exercises, be they for general self care or for palliative cancer care, they very often feel a sense of relief, if only for a little while. A sense of calm abiding often arises through our work together.

When we add sense of humor and connection with each other, something happens. Often people say it is a magical feeling, because everyone is surprised to feel relief. Yet it is not magical in practice. I think the magic is the connection with other human beings, coupled with a humorous way of sharing the information, creating an atmosphere of ease.

Even in the poorest circumstances, I have seen ease unfold.

Love and the Art of Dance
The dance within is expressed through this vehicle of Being, as Rumi says so beautifully in a translation by Coleman Barks, “a breath-breathing human being.” The sunshine in the Art of The Dance is a great love in my life, and this work is one of the ways that can reach out, bring some relief from the stress of being human, and touch the wonder of life.

This Love connection happens again and again, and I learn that this is what connects the dots, this makes the doorway of the heart open. It is through the dance, at one time the dance being taken away due to physical illness and then given back over a long period of time, that I found within myself these precious and easy-to-do self-care exercises and movement practices that are now helping others feel a sense of freedom and relief. I have been telling the people we work with that movement is medicine. This movement is not a cure for the problem, but if you explore this every day for a moment now and then, it will help.

Through the kindnesses of my mentors who have pushed me to practice my art, and cultivate heart awareness, and to become a better person, I hope these gems can help others to feel better in the midst of whatever circumstances we may find ourselves.

The Art of Dance is also about the way we feel inside of musical rhythmic structures. Being a musician, I enjoy the music of movement. It gives people a chance to explore different ways of moving. Rhythm is like a container, for example, a four-beat rhythm holds the space in a different way than three beats.

In the dream house of my spirit I learned about the dance.
My feet taught me love of rhythm
My mind was beautifully zenith
My heart opened itself from the bones

When I dance I notice the evaporation of what is in my way,
and my way is
The Great Way

At this moment I understand that the Oneness I love is in me

©2018 Swan Lake Publishing LLC

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