"Knowing others is intelligence;
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power."
- Lao Tzu
I'm going to tell you a secret, and you're probably going to think it's strange. But I'll tell you anyway.
I don't own my movement.
It's something that I've known for a while now, but it's taken me a long time to put words to it. And it's so important, because I believe that owning your movement and being truly embodied can make all the difference in your health, your wellbeing, and your quality of life.
From a young age, I've had cause to be disembodied. It began with trauma and progressed with illness. I had reason to fear my body, to distrust it, even to dislike it. And yet, strangely, I've been drawn to movement since my earliest memories. So I began training in dance.
And here's where things took an interesting turn. My need for approval and validation, coupled with my disembodied state, led to a situation where I allowed others to tell me what I should do with my body, and how I should do it. Correct and incorrect were taught to me by those I thought knew more about my body than I did. It didn't have to feel good, I was assured. Getting it right was what mattered.
And then, when my body protested loudly and regularly, I went to doctors who told me what to do with my body, because they knew so much, surely they understood my body better than I did. Even though they never seemed to help me, they always assured me that they had the answers, or, if not, that there were none to be had.
And of course there was the constant input of society telling me how my body should or shouldn't be, and what I should do about it. I never seemed to measure up, but there was always some new product to try, or a diet to start, or a workout to do, regardless of how it felt. Getting it right mattered.
And I chose to deepen my movement training with Pilates. I feel like this helped me begin to see the blindspot - that is, my lack of ownership of my body and my movement. But there again was the pesky problem of 'getting it right.' Health was assured if I got the form correct, if I mastered the details and was diligent. But again, what I took from it was that there was another someone to tell me what to do with my body and how do it. I had to look outside myself for validation, to be told if I was 'right.' I couldn't trust my feelings, my intuition. I instead deferred to those who 'knew.'
What I was left with was a pliable, plastic body, capable of anything but owner of nothing. It reminds me of a story I heard about the actor Gary Oldman. He had done so many movies in which he had to radically change his accent and way of speaking that he reportedly forgot his own natural voice! I remember hearing that story and thinking how strange it was. How can you forget your own voice? And yet, when it dawned on me that that I had absolutely no idea about the movement of my body that wasn't given to me (or demanded of me) by someone else, I suddenly understood. My body is capable of whatever is asked of it, unless you asked me to show you my own innate, personal truth. Then I would be helpless.
You see, I am extremely kinesthetic, but lack proprioception. Here's what that means. I am able to perform but unable to experience. I can learn movement. I've trained by body and mind to adapt to any situation and pick up patterns and details. That's what it means to be kinesthetic. But proprioception is different.
The definition of proprioception is 'sensing the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and the strength and effort being employed in movement.' The word proprioception is from the Latin proprius, meaning 'one's own', and capio, meaning 'to take or grasp'. So the translation of proprioception is literally 'to grasp one's own self.' So while technically proprioception is knowing where your body is in relation to itself and space/gravity, I feel like the translation is more accurate.
I feel like I am not alone in my lack of ownership. I suspect many of us feel that way. I see all around me those of us to look to others to explain our own selves. And to fix us! And yet, for all their knowledge, how can they possibly know you better than you?
And that's why Kensho exists. Kensho is a Buddhist term that roughly translates to 'seeing your own true nature.' The studio is a safe nest, an incubator where I gave myself the freedom to discover my own movement, my own self. Not only that, but to offer that environment and guidance for others to do the same. My ideas about teaching movement changed and continue to evolve and grow. My relationship with my self is ever expanding and evolving as well. And I couldn't be happier about it.
I finally feel like I am in a conversation with my body and movement, not just making demands from a safe distance. I feel I am more present and accepting of my present self, and able to sense what's true rather than demand conformity. I'm able to move past form into function. I'm able to ask questions and be curious. It's glorious and empowering.
As we round the corner to Kensho's third anniversary, I can't believe so much time has passed. It has all been precious to me, and I'm so immensely grateful for the opportunities it has created to grow in my self, in a community, in teaching, and in friendship. I am proud of what Kensho stands for, and happy to say I'm owning my movement more each day.