Width: Centering in Connection

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Width: Centering in Connection

Sometimes I’m happy.

I’m outspoken. I’m available. Sometimes you can feel me. I’m like a door that is wide open. You walk inside. There’s plenty of room for both of us. My energy is expansive. My mood is open. My physical body is relaxed. I take up space side to side. I laugh loudly. I connect.

On other days it feels as though I want to curl up in a ball.

Maybe figuratively. Maybe even literally. On those days it’s hard for you to find me. I feel absent. I am tight. I am sullen. I am quiet. My skin feels like a sweater that doesn’t quite fit anymore. You try to reach in, but there’s no space for you inside. My energy is contracted. You invite me to come out (since there’s no way in)…. but I pull back harder.

It’s easy to judge myself there.

So much of who we are as Americans seems to ride on our ability to be friendly, outgoing and social. When I’m outward facing, and my mood is high, it’s GOOD. When I’m internal, and my mood is low, it’s BAD. The Hermit, as an archetype, can be associated with orneriness at best… mental illness at worst. “Who wants to spend time with HIM…”

And yet, as I deepen my Somatic awareness, I am coming to realize that “expand” and “contract” are simply two ends of the spectrum of normal, healthy bodily response.  At the most basic cellular level, we are designed to both extend and withdraw. An amoeba can be seen extending outward, then pulling inward, then extending outward again, with regularity. 

In dance, when I lie on the floor and allow the impulse of my own hundred-trillion-cell structure to lead, I find myself alternating between curling in, and reaching out. In this natural rhythmic cycle, I am able to affect change in the world around me, then return home to my own core to rejuvenate myself… before heading back out again.

In other words, we open AND we close. Often.

But what about personality?

And what does it mean to be out of balance?

If a healthy human system expands and contracts regularly, what then does “lack of balance” look and feel like in the body? And how does that translate to behavior?

This week I invite you to explore your habits related to somatic width.

In your movement practice,

start taking note of how much you “spread out” as you move. Do you like to stretch your limbs out and make big movements? In a dance class, do you open your eyes wide, taking in the periphery… or do you have “tunnel vision,” only look straight ahead. Do you make eye contact with other people in the room? Do you shy away from making sound that could be overheard by others?

In fact, sometimes our energy body and our physical body are doing different things. Check in with yourself. You may notice that your physical body feels open, while your energy field pulls in more narrowly than the edges of your own skin, giving the message “don’t touch me” to those in the world around you. Or vice versa. Perhaps your energy spills out all over everyone in the room, far beyond the boundaries of your own physical form.

Without judgment, what do you make of that?

In life,

take stock of how you connect with people in your world. In what ways do you reach out? Do you feel comfortable doing so? Or do you wait for others to come to you?  Do you love to be surrounded by people and their energy so much so that you go beyond the point of exhaustion before coming home to rest? Or do you fear the loss of your personal space so much so that you back off before the connection has a chance to become fully satisfying? 

Each of these habits, while neither good nor bad, suggest a potential opportunity to expand your range of ways to play. Notice if you’re stuck in one pattern, or you avoid a certain kind of experience.

Notice if your habit typically overrides your body’s natural impulse on either the expansion or contraction side. If so, consider challenging your habit this week.

What if you could TRUST your body to know how much – or how little – is enough…

Extending toward you,



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One Comment

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