Ground: a universal resource
Reviewed By: Deborah Jay-Lewin
Deborah Jay-Lewin, Audrey Boss
Language availability: English
Open Floor Teacher, Energy Worker and Undercover Detective for the Soul, Deborah travels the world working with people solo and in groups; midwifing them into their authentic creative selves through dance and movement.
Deborah Jay-Lewin spends a lot of time up in the air – flying around the world to teach embodied movement across the globe. From Australia to Dubai, Poland to Spain, Mexico to Switzerland, Deborah, is often on the move.
So how does someone who flies from continent to continent and dance floor to dance floor stay grounded? How do we find stability and balance when life sends us in all directions? This is what I am curious to find out when we meet on Skype, because Deborah happens to be one of the most grounded people I have met.
“I do move around a lot for work…it can get quite busy!” she laughs. “I’m grateful that Ground is one of the Core Movement Resources we teach on the Open Floor,” she adds, “It’s an essential skill and a resource we can draw on, it makes sense.”
Deborah explains why knowing how to ground ourselves is such a necessary skill to cultivate. “We live in a world where there is so much instability. Life is moving at an increasingly fast pace, it’s important to find ways of staying grounded within ourselves when there is so much uncertainty around us… ….when we don’t know,” she says.
Having a twice-daily meditation practice is one way Deborah practices that ability to stay grounded in her every day life; even when, every month, she wakes up in a different bed.
“The first thing I do…before I even unpack… is create a little meditation corner. Wherever I am. I put out a candle and a few other things. It’s the first thing that happens. I have a fluid lifestyle and meditation supports me to be comfortable and grounded in whatever environment I’m in. My meditation practice grounds me in my breath and body. Just 20 minutes a day makes such a difference – and I started with 1 minute a day… literally!” she says grinning.
At the same time, she explains, ground isn’t just an internal state, we can use nature as a resource to feel more grounded. “We need to have a conscious relationship with the earth – it’s the ground we stand on ,” she says “For me there’s an inextricable link between what’s going on in the planet and what happens in my body – it’s my earth, my landscape.”
As a resident of the Findhorn Community Eco-Village, a sustainable community on the breathtaking north-east cost of Scotland, Deborah is blessed to have one of the most beautiful parts of the planet on her doorstep. “I’ve chosen a physical environment to live in that supports me to stay grounded. I don’t have noise or light pollution. I can see the stars at night, I can hear the waves… breathe the fresh air,” she says with a bright smile.
Deborah loves to make time to connect with the earth. “Sometimes I lie on the ground and feel it underneath me… feel my tiredness drain out of me. Today I went for a walk by the sea and lay down on the stones..I was listening to the sound of the waves…of the tide going in and out. Anything that I was carrying in my body that didn’t feel necessary was removed and I was replenished.”
We talk about Ground on the dance floor. For Deborah, developing a relationship with the floor is one of the best ways to engage with and explore this Core Movement Resource as a dancer.
“I like to teach people to have a dynamic relationship with the ground so that it’s not just something that we dance ON. We also dance WITH the floor… ACROSS the floor. There are so many different ways to come into relationship with the floor as something supportive. So often, the only part of people’s body that comes into contact with the floor is their feet. ”
“Dancers seem to be a bit scared of it. They’re worried that if they get down on the floor they’ll never get up. Sometimes we lie there and get stuck in our thoughts. Or we become a bit spaced out and our attention wanders. In Open Floor we look at the continuum between fixed to fluid and how to navigate between those states and disrupt the habits that keep us stuck. I focus on how to become present with the ground that exists in the body and at the same time I look at how can that assist with feeling emotionally grounded. How does my mind experience feeling ungrounded, how does my state of mind vary when I’m grounded or not? So often in our daily life, we force ourselves to be upright and vertical. We only know how to be in relationship from that place. When we explore the dance of surrendering our weight and gravity into the ground our relationship with the floor becomes more substantial and enlivened, which then informs our capacity for presence with others.”
I ask her if she has any tips for dancers looking to explore Ground in their dance.
She suggests pressing different parts of their body into the floor, “like cats do,” and experimenting with how much pressure feels good. “Sometimes it needs to be light and gentle and sometimes it needs to be firm,” she says. Of course we don’t have to drop onto the floor to experience ground. “Pressing yourself into the seat or the back of a chair or leaning against another person give us space for breath and presence. Even just pressing the palms of your hands together in front of the body and taking 3 breaths – that’s very grounding.”
Watch Deborah’s video on Restoring Health And Wisdom Through Embodied Movement , A TEDx Findhorn Evening dedicated to Women Standing for Future. Deborah looks at the intimate interaction between personal health and the state of the world. She reveals how the experience of embodied movement, presence and conscious emotional intelligence ignites an increased individual sense of health that supports a shift towards a healthy planet.
Embracing Change – August 18-24 – Findhorn Foundation, Sctoland (UK)
Ground Floor Lab – September 12-17 – Findhorn Foundation, Sctoland (UK) – with Nele Vandezande
States of Being – September 29-30 – Malaga, Spain
More workshops and events at vitalmoves.co.uk
Words by Audrey Boss
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