Which comes first, your soma or your psyche? Is your consciousness in a continuum between the two? How well do your physical and mental health dance together?
When you think about it, there’s really no such thing as a ‘typical person’. Like flora and fauna in a garden, we’re all individuals with unique expressions of ourselves in the world.
Some of us are tidy and organized, while others thrive in a sea of entropy. Some folks are happy living lives of creativity without any kind of safety net, while others seek the safety of a solid career path. And when it comes to fitness, the spectrum ranges from couch potato to Olympic athlete.
The vibrant variety of humanity is something to appreciate, especially as we cultivate our connections along the way. You may well be seeing friends, family, or relatives over the holidays who embody quite different physical or mental expressions than you so it’s a good practice to exercise a little empathy for their point of view.
Beyond empathy, what’s the secret sauce of connecting with folks of a ‘different stature’? Humor, in all of its many forms! Whether you’re the type to remember long and complicated jokes or more like me who looks for the cosmic wrinkles in our commonalities and quirks, having the willingness to go with the flow with a chuckle or grin is the key to equanimity.
I’m reading a novel called The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies . In it there’s a character named Dr. Ozias Froats who is a university research professor obsessed with human digestion and the work of an early twentieth-century scientist named W. H. Sheldon.
Sheldon came up with the concept of ’somatotypes’, the idea being that there are three basic categories of human physical expression and that we all have a varying degree of each. Of Sheldon’s work, Froats says “There were the endomorphs, who have soft, rounded bodies, and the mesomorphs, who are muscular and bony, and then the ectomorphs, who were fragile and skinny.”
He researched their temperaments, the way they lived, and what they wanted from life and found that “the fatties were viscerotonics, or gut-people, who loved comfort in all its forms; and the muscular, tough types were somatotonics, whose pleasure was in exercise and exertion; and the skinnies were cerebrotonics, who were intellectual and nervous — head-people, in fact.”
For the four-thousand subjects in Sheldon’s study, he rated each of the three types on a scale of 1-7. So a 711 would be a maximum endomorph, heavy with hardly any muscle or nerve, while a 117 would be all brain and nerve with a fragile physique. The perfectly balanced 444 is a rare creature indeed.
As Froats is discussing this with Simon Darcourt, the priest, and Maria Theotoky, the student, he is unable to come to grips with one of the key points Sheldon made. “Sheldon keeps saying you have to deal with the somatotypes with an ever-active sense of humour, and damn it, I don’t know what he’s talking about!”
That’s when he brings up a hero of mine, Aldous Huxley, who apparently expounded on this topic at one point. Huxley loved the comic extremes of the somatotypes and Ozy says that he “goes on about how funny it would be if certain ill-matched types got married. He thought it would be a howl to see an ectomorph shrimp and his endomorphic slob of a wife in a museum looking at the mesomorphic ideal of Greek sculpture. What’s funny about that?”
Leave it to Huxley to bring in the wisdom. “He rushed off in all directions about how soma affects the psyche, and how perhaps the body was really the Unconscious that the psychoanalysts talk about — the unknown factor, the depth from which arises the unforeseen and uncontrollable in the human spirit.”
Simon, Maria, and Ozy reveal some important truths in their conversation. The real nugget for me is the idea that getting along with different types of people is easier with ‘an ever-active sense of humour’. We’ve all got our own mix of types within us, and we are never more than a degree away from someone entirely different.
For me, leading with the spirit of levity keeps fear and anxiety at bay. I cross paths with dozens of different kinds of people in my day-to-day life, from bureaucrats and bank tellers to folks like Warren Breslau, the president of The Crucible’s Board of Directors with me in the photo above.
In the book, old Ozy Froats is puzzled, but the century-old speculations of Huxley’s that he paraphrases ring true today. “Learning to intelligently live with the body is the path to mental health.” I’ve often said that conscious dance is “movement with an intention towards greater awareness.” If ever there was a historical subtext to my definition, this is it!
May your Solstice be soulful, your Holiday is heartful, and your home filled with levity and love. Much love ’til next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine
This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Ellen Watson, Ashley Johnson, Daphne Tse, & the VIBRANCE team! Formerly known as SpiritDance SoulSong, this dynamic team of pioneers is simplifying their identity in time for the new decade!
“ The Vibrance practice brings the breath, heart, mind and body into resonance together. Tap into your child-like state of liberation, open your heart and mind, immerse yourself in the healing power of sound and dance your way to a Vibrant Life.”
Well-loved by dancers around the world, these singing and dancing facilitators bring together groups in Bali for retreats and trainings that are legendary. Their offering some special holiday discount codes for you to reserve your spot at any one of the three modules happening this coming summer.
“The heart of Vibrance is Singing and Dancing. Singing and dancing are the oldest spiritual practices on our planet. Vibrance brings these ancient healing techniques into the modern world and fuses cross-cultural spiritual and philosophical truths with Western psychology and modern scientific research.“
Do all three modules and complete the 200-hour Teacher Training. This year it’s all happening at Mimpi Menjangan, a luscious hot springs retreat center on the rural North Coast near some of the most amazing coral reefs and snorkeling in Bali.
I can attest to the quality and refinement of these retreats, I’m grateful to have gone twice to DJ, teach music for conscious dance, and share Analog Awareness and plan on making this trip my third! Bali is amazing overall, and Mimpi is simply paradise! Ellen has been a central figure in the massage school at Esalen for decades, and she has spent recent years helping the folks at Mimpi design their gardens and spa amenities, so the whole place has an incredibly high vibe.
Add to that the fact that Mimpi sits on one of the few natural hot spring water sources in Bali and you have a recipe for record levels of rejuvenation and relaxation.
This Holiday Season, give yourself or a loved one the gift of Vibrance!
This is an experience in which you get to hardwire celebration into the soul. By giving the gift of a Vibrance Retreat you are giving someone you love an experience of a lifetime:
• 10 days at the luxurious Mimpi Hot Springs Resort in Bali •
• Daily moving meditation, music and singing •
• Holistic Wellness Practices •
• Elemental Immersion and Balancing •
• Nourishing and Delicious Meals •
• Balinese Cultural Ceremony •
• Optional Massage, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving and so much more! •
Receive with Your Christmas Coupon code:
On any of our upcoming Vibrance Retreats in Bali through the summer of 2020. Code: XMAS-VIBRANCE-RETREAT
When you sign up for all 3 modules to complete the 200-Hour Teacher Training. Code: XMAS-VIBRANCE
Enter the code above at checkout and see your price drop. Valid for all registrations before the 11th of January, 2020.
31st May – 9th June, 2020
Elements is the Foundation of Vibrance! We focus on the first 4 Chakras. Grounding ourselves in the first chakra, incubating creativity through the second chakra, transforming creativity to action in the 3rd chakra and embodying love, compassion and connection in the 4th.
Vibrance: Expressive Arts
10th – 18th June, 2020
Moving on from the principals learned in Elements, Expressive Arts is where we let our souls shine. Through Dance, Poetry, Singing, Storytelling, Chanting and music, this experience is fully centered on healing and raising our vibrance through creative expression.
Vibrance: Resonance & Reciprocity
19th – 27th June, 2020
Teaming up with the incredible Biosphere Foundation, we develop our sense of purpose, and explore the connection between the personal and the natural, self-care and earth-care, inner vibrance and outer resonance. By giving more than we take, we align with the principles of reciprocity that are the foundation for making the world a better place. Biosphere’s projects on and around Bali include Coral Reef Conservation, Forest Replanting and Restoration, & Trash Management.
“In our not so ancient history, we would celebrate the falling of the rain that helps our food to grow. In Akitu, we would celebrate the return of spring, a time in which the heavens and the earth were coupled together. Life is mysterious and full of uncertainties, but if there is one thing we know for sure, it is something worth celebrating. When we sing, the breath, heart, mind and body resonate together. Tap into the liberated state of being a child, open your heart and mind, immerse yourself in the healing power of sound and dance your way to a Vibrant Life.”
If you’ve been in the past, you’ll know this is not to be missed! Contact the Vibrance team for super deals as a returning student.
Celebration is a practice of communal gratitude!
Visit www.MovingVentures.org for more info.