It is truly said, “A system of morality tells us what do and what not to do, but it cannot tell us what we should feel. Genuine feelings cannot be produced, nor can they be eradicated”- Alice Muller.
I met this group one month ago, with an objective to do a research on dance movement therapy and helping the group build cognitive abilities. The village I work in is Dungarpur, a district of Rajasthan, and the community mostly belongs to the tribal belt. The journey started with approaching the secretary of the school with the idea of dance therapy and its effectiveness. It was quite impressive for him and he gave the permission to start the research, as I began my intervention in school.
It was not a shocking experience for me since I had worked in government schools as a Gandhi fellow, which helped me with the school set up and the value of children in school. I knew they would be conditioned to behave well and any misbehavior would lead them to be punished or worse, get beaten. So, the group, during initial sessions was well behaved, disciplined, almost like robots following instructions and performing functions. But the beauty of dance/movement is that it does not let you be fabricated in any way. I kept on thinking about the activity that I could include in my session so that they could be true to their self, without thinking about the world outside the room.
The body is considered as the most expressive wagon and the movement with the body is important to vent out inner feelings. The body can most often than not, win over the false ideal self that we have imbibed in us. And it happened in 5th session, where they had to communicate their feelings for peers through movement and not by words, and the others would respond by movement again. It was an overwhelming experience to see the children expressing anger and hatred towards their peers. This made me believe strongly in the notion that ‘the body never lies’. The movements were often loud as though they wanted to slap someone or were using their leg to kick the other person. These were the pent up emotions they had for their peers. I could finally see them being themselves. I could see them struggling at a group task of hitting the ball together, as a team to meet a target. They did not succeed in doing so for 3 days continuously. This game brought out their frustration, their preferences, their comfort zone with their friends, disagreements with other members, some leading and some suppressing the introverts, blaming, fighting and the chaos. I played the role of the silent observer thinking very deeply that a simple activity like hitting a ball could bring out so many things in an individual. The experience was touching and got me shaken.
When you involve yourself physically through bodies you can never camouflage your emotions. Recently, I have been reading a book written by the former president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, that describes a beautiful connection between our thoughts and our actions. He throws light upon what Bruce Lipton wrote in his book “the Biology of Belief”, about the thought processes that cause the brain to release information-containing neurochemicals and send vibration signals to cells. Signals are then translated into biological responses in the cell. And this forms into cell membranes which ‘read’ and respond to environmental signals called as receptors. In the end, it comes down to a simple case of ‘mind over matter’ in controlling the fate of our lives.
These scientists and their inventions have proved that thoughts and intentions are very powerful when it comes to forming the reality that we live in. Dance movement therapy is one the most effective ways to bring oneself close to the reality of their lives. It is an outward journey that starts with the body travels through it and then initiates the inner journey of emotions and feelings, touching the deeper self.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”, said Frederick Douglas and it gets justified when we work with children. We as therapists, are building a strong future for our future generations. Exploring their bodies, reflecting on how the body expresses the inner conflicts which have been suppressed by teachers, parents and other environmental factors, understanding the self, knowing their own strengths and weakness, and finally coming out as strong individuals who are deeply aware of their consciousness, opens the path for a happier world and a happy country. This is what I aim to achieve in my life.
On a concluding note, I would like to share that the body can be the purest mirror to see how we change every day. I have noticed a major change in the group of children I am working with, and it’s simply because now they are being understood and heard.