Some time ago, in my mid 30’s, I discovered that movement was my medicine. At that time I had a young family, a teaching career and a disastrous marriage; a way of life that came to an abrupt pause with a cancer diagnosis.
Determined to survive and with an insatiable sense of curiousity driving my learning, I embarked on a journey into healing and well being. Elements of that journey were transformative. Approaches from leading edge western clinicians combined with non-mainstream alternatives offered a perfect combination.
Stress, I was told, had to be addressed in order to survive; stress suppresses the immune system. I read avidly, guided by my intuition, as I went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Later, speaking with a Feldenkreis practitioner about my difficulty with a sitting meditation he suggested I try a moving meditation, pointing me in the direction of 5Rhythms. It was a turning point.
Along the way, another relationship, and with growing sons, following a research based Masters I began studying psychodynamic approaches to counselling and groupwork. With this unusually eclectic combination of capabilities and interests a Research Fellowship in health improvement enabled me to question basic health beliefs and later to explore the ‘cultural construction of health and healing’. It fascinated me. A spell exploring ‘traditional approaches’ to healing in Australia and Asia led me to gain an MPhil in Social Anthropology, focusing on health and healing’ – medical anthropology.
With this unusual combination of skills and interests a further sequence of fascinating research and consultancy posts followed, mostly within the university. All the time I danced, experiencing the benefits of movements and dance and attending as many workshops as possible. Someone in the dance world had mentioned production, (I had been involved in growing a local conscious dance community) until I finally took the plunge and explored the possibility of training to teach Open Floor . Somehow this resource based approach seemed to combine and integrate all vital elements of my life.
Through all these experiences my own personal ‘wellness programme’ evolved, based on my experiences and natural health and body approaches. This was unexpectedly to prove an excellent foundation for a recovery from a small stroke experienced in September 2018.
The neuroscience I had learned as part of my training proved to be a vital component of my recovery. The neurologist explained that if my brain injury had been just 1 cm away from where it was sited I would have been permanently paralysed down my right side. “You have been very fortunate”, I was told. “It is because you are a mover that you have made such a brilliant recovery”. That is absolutely what I believe, and the resources of Open Floor have contributed enormously to that. Communicating the power and potential of movement and conscious dance is a joy, and one I plan to continue sharing.
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