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Inspiring story of using the body to heal emotions through dance

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Forest, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Recently, I've been watching an amazing series of lectures on Mind-Body Science:

    It isn't a TMS video, so there are some huge things that it misses, but it's all about the mindbody connection, and every time I watch it, I learn something that makes my jaw absolutely drop.

    For example, in describing emotions, he talks about how emotions are affected by the body. He calls this proprioception. Proprioception is what makes it so that if you force yourself to smile or laugh, you can actually improve your mood.

    He gives another example of the powerful effects of proprioception, based on the work of an Indian woman named Sohini Chakraborty. She uses beautiful and confident movements to help traumatized girls and young women feel confident, powerful, and beautiful again. The idea is that our brain knows what our body is doing (via proprioception), so if the body feels good, the emotions do, too.


    In 1996, Sohini Chakraborty was walking in Kolkata when she came across a wrenching poster: a photo of a child prostitute staring listlessly at the camera, with the caption "I am no more bride-to-be, no more mother-to-be, no more future-to-be." The poster, which was outside the office of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), was part of an antitrafficking campaign in India, where about 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution.

    Chakraborty, who six years earlier had used her passion for dance to help cope with the loss of her mother to cancer, returned to the NGO the next day and pitched her idea of using dance as a psychotherapy tool for victims of trafficking and violence. The then 22-year-old started visiting Kolkata's women's shelters and red-light districts, talking to girls about what movements made them happy, excited or angry — moves, in other words, that could aid the abused in expressing themselves. "They explore what's inside you and help in bringing it out," says Chakraborty.

    After honing her techniques, in 2004, Chakraborty started Kolkata Sanved (sanved is the Sanskrit word for empathy), a group of therapists who conduct dance classes in women's shelters. So far, the nonprofit has directly assisted some 5,000 women, including 2,500 former child prostitutes, through dance therapy. One of Sanved's toughest cases: a 16-year-old trafficking survivor who was so traumatized that when staff members tried to connect with her, she refused to talk or even move. At many points, Chakraborty worried they were going to fail the girl. But after three years of extensive therapy, the teenager has become a gregarious chatterbox and has a job in Sanved's audiovisual department.

    Sanved has also trained 11 women who live in shelters to become dance-therapy instructors. "My fight is not just to teach people to dance," she says, "but to make them blossom into strong individuals and live in society with dignity and self-respect."

    Here's a video about Kolkata Sanved (the nonprofit that she started) and the stunning work that it does.

    To me, so much of what that nonprofit does is about empowerment and making people feel good about themselves. It is stunning how powerful the forces of community and connection can be in helping people achieve that.
    North Star likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I call it "free spirit" dancing, moving with the flow of good feelings within you.
    American Indians did it. It's also like t'ai chi set to music.

    I dance this way when I think of it, and it feels very relaxing and soulful.

    Men may feel it's not masculine, but they should forget that and just try it.
    I think they'll like it. Just pull down the blinds on the living room window
    or the neighbors looking in might get the wrong idea.
    North Star and Forest like this.
  3. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    I LOVE this Forest. I know that movement is critical to my own healthy outlook. When PF sidelined me I became depressed, because most of my exercise options--walking, hiking, dance--were off limits. In this past year, yoga has been an important component of my recovery.
    I can't wait to learn more about Kolkata Sanved. Many thanks.
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks Forest for the movement/dance piece. To me it is: expression (non-verbal, beyond mind), it is freedom, and it is allowing primal energy, being primal energy. When you combine these aspects, we can see how potent movement is when applied to TMS suffering and learning.

    Here is an approach I have enjoyed even with quite severe TMS symptoms: http://www.authenticmovementcommunity.org/about It is about freedom and self-attunement.

    With reduction in TMS symptoms, I really enjoy ecstatic dance: free movement to music. I think this is also possible with fairly severe pain symptoms, if the movement is limited to areas that don't hurt (like on your back if your feet hurt, or simply moving the arms, while sitting). Freedom and release don't have to happen the way we imagine "dance" should be. http://ecstaticdance.org/guidelines/

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