Because the World Needs More: Joyful Movement

We are bodies. We move. Our bodies are powerhouses of energy. The need for movement can become pathological–anxiety, overscheduling and overcommitment, over-the-top displays of bravado and adventure. The need for healthy movement is a need, like food, like water, like air, like sleep. Freedom of movement is a basic human right.

Men, especially, are susceptible to stasis and rigidity. Men receive constant cultural messages of stoicism, heroism, fear, and discipline from a young age. Many times the image of discipline men receive and internalize is unhealthy: that of force and coercion, of a will-to-power-over instincts, desires, and bodily needs. Men are culturally fed a steady diet of achievement and transcendence, a reiterated message of striving without rest.

I think that I should probably use the term “masculine” rather than “men”, because the qualities I’ve described above are not limited to those who identify as men. The culture as a whole has been shaped by these overtly disciplined masculine qualities, so moving forward, let’s be aware of that.

We need rest. Movement is rest as well as action. Without pause, movement becomes frenzy. Movement becomes speed, pathological and addictive. To be clear, movement does not equal speed. Movement is action and rest.

What is healthy movement? What is joyful movement? Healthy movement energizes, leads to more movement. Healthy movement inspires, feeds creativity, leads to joy. Joyful movement is a reward, is a birthright. Joyful movement is ours to claim.

Politically, we speak of movement. In these times, many of us speak of movement as resistance. And then I hear, from somewhere, a truth: “What you resist, persists.” And if that is true, and if my values are being violated, what is the alternative to resistance? Embrace? The embrasure of what I would resist? Not exactly. Yes to the embrace, to the embrace and embrasure of what brings joy, of what I love and desire, and yes to the embrace of whatever happens.

I choose to move, to flow and focus on the joy that I am, the love that I create and experience. I begin to take responsibility, not for seemingly insoluble cultural and political dilemmas, but for the reality that I directly experience. I take responsibility and take joy in shaping my experience, my every day. And when I do that, something strange happens. I begin to notice more beauty, and I begin to notice also that I am flowing within a great current. This current carries me and nature; it is nature, the movement of nature, and I am of nature. As I connect to and embrace nature, synchronicity and purpose blossom.


We are bodies. Our lives are filled with movement. We act and rest.

One of the powerful tools that I’ve adopted over the years is ecstatic dance, as presented and taught by Gabrielle Roth. No coincidence that Gabrielle Roth identified herself as a shaman, by the way. Shamanic power is deep, of the Earth, not at all transcendent in the sense of disciplining the body into submission. Ecstatic dance: oh, this word, ecstasy, with its cultural overtones of sexuality and taboo.

You may recognize that, culturally, our attitudes and experiences of sexuality have been forced into rigid containers. Like the overt discipline of the masculine described earlier, the puritanical containers that stifled human sexuality begin to break apart in the 1960s, if not before. So we’ve made progress, but we still have a ways to go. Go? But where are we going with this ecstasy, this loosened sexual energy? Back, of course. Back to nature.

That’s another digression, though, and I mean to talk about movement here, and dance. Now it’s apparent that sexuality is unbound in dancing; dancing is so often a mating ritual. But ecstatic dance as presented here, shamanic dance, is about a different kind of union. As I’ve used the movements of ecstatic dance over time, I’ve moved more fully into my body. And we are bodies.

We must remember how to move through this world and we must reunite with our own inner power. The transformation that is happening on this planet is not a political transformation. The political shifts and power plays going on are a symptom of a deeper movement. This movement is within each one of us and it’s within Gaia. This movement is driven not by fear, anger, and resentment of the the Other. This movement is driven by curiosity, love, and a desire to know and merge with the Other.

I’ll leave you with Gabrielle Roth’s introduction to her wonderful tool set, ecstatic dance. If it moves you, move with it. If it doesn’t , that’s okay. Find what moves you. Find the greater current within which you are moving, and go with that flow.

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