Is Your Body a Curse or a Possibility?
I grew up as a ballet dancer. One of my first memories was at age 3, when I found myself in a chilly brown and grey building in the outskirts of London sitting on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me. I vividly remember the smell of lycra, as 12 of us sat in a circle wearing a pale blue leotard, white tights and ballet shoes saying good toes (as we pointed our toes) and naughty toes (as we flexed our feet).
This building would become my after-school home for the years to follow and right into university.
Ballet was a part of me, and I, often reluctantly, was a part of it.
So I learned to stretch, tuck, point, bend, jump, lift, and perhaps more prominently, judge every single thing my body could and couldn’t do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love dance, and ballet gave me a muscle memory that anyone could be proud of. It also taught me consistency, and hard work, and easy work, and a whole lot of other things. It invited elegance and poise and a love for classical music into my life. But it also taught me to judge my body.
I judged what I looked like, how tall I was, how thin I wasn’t, how flexible I was, how much stamina I had. I would even go to bed at night in the strangest of positions just to push my body to be more flexible or to have perfectly out-turned legs by morning.
Despite the litany of judgment I delivered at my body as I compared myself to every other girl in class each day, my body showed me wonders.
As a last-minute creator I am known to love love love the self-induced stress of leaving everything until the last possible nano-second. And this included memorizing choreographies, and making sure I was flexible enough for certain performances.
But however hard I tried to stress about “the show is tomorrow!” within 1 day my body always managed to create the flexibility that should have taken weeks if not months to achieve. It was in these moments of emergency that I allowed my body to lead the way since I was already too late to. I simply stepped out of the way, and asked it, “What is possible here?”.
What this taught me was that despite how much we may judge our bodies or think we are not good enough, when we get out of our way, our body can lead. And that’s when magical things can happen.
If you were to allow your body to lead, what could that create in your life? Or have you decided that you have to be the one to tell your body what to eat, how to look, what workouts it should endure or enjoy?
If dance taught me anything it’s that our body can be our best friend if we allow it to be.
What if just for today you allow your body to lead? Even for an hour. Ask it what it would like to eat, drink or what movement it would like? Ask what it knows… you might be surprised at what shows up.