Our Dance Movement Psychotherapist Mioi Forster-Nakayama is an expert in understanding the body-mind relationship. Here are some of her own simple strategies for connecting with the body for the purposes of exploration, regulation and relaxation.
3 ways to creatively express yourself at home through movement
You do not need to prepare anything for this ‘body-connecting exploration’.
Firstly, ask yourself or your child, questions like;
“What music makes me/you jump up and down?”
“What makes me/you feel free?”
If you or your child have more ideas, that is great! Start with one or two songs at the beginning, and later, you can build up the list of songs.
Now music is ready. Clear the space. Tune it on. Tune your body into the music. Let your body move as it wants to. We say, “Dance like nobody’s watching you.” No need for big leaps and jumps, just enjoy the moment.
As a parent or carer, make sure you move with the child. That will help the child to connect with herself/himself with your presence as a support. You will be bodily connected with your child too. Do not suggest what to do, just observe and regard any movement your child does. In this way, they will get a sense of self-exploration and increased self-confidence.
Ask your child what movement / gesture / posture/ music brings calmness to them. It is best that the child can find a way to regulate themself, so that they can do it independently.
Child may say;
- I want to rub the surface of the drum with my eyes closed!
- I want to breathe while counting to 10!
- I just want to listen to my favourite song!
Be present when introducing this routine, to provide a gesture of support. I would suggest doing this ‘ritual’ once a day together until the child gets the idea. Let’s say, at the end of the day, before bedtime or before going to school.
As a parent or carer, you can help the child to explore and find a way that they can calm themself. For young children who may not understand what you have asked for, you may suggest;
- Close your eyes and breathe together – make conscious noisy breaths (“Let’s breathe in from the nose and blow the birthday candles” – the imaginary breathing is great).
- Bring your arms straight up from the chest, bring arms from the top to down to open up the chest (You can say, “Imagine drawing a rainbow above our heads”). Bring the arms down to the ground and touch the ground (You can say, “Touch the soil, gather the energy of the soil”) and finally bring the hands on top of your chest (“Bring the energy back to your body”) and breathe.
For adults who may feel anxious, you may try the following activities;
- Press, rub, brush, massage your skin to find the body boundaries. This helps you to find your presence in the body. And this is a great way to self-care.
- Rub your hands together for about 10-15 seconds with your eyes closed and bring the hands on top of your eyes. Feel the warmth.
- Stand on your feet. Notice the touch of your feet with the ground. You may close your eyes while doing this. Sway side to side and find the body weight shifts. In this way, you find your present body.
Relaxation is an important part of the body movement. Relaxation can mean a slow, gentle movement or complete stillness. Stillness does not mean that you are doing nothing – you are actively engaging your body in a resting mood/way. You can play your favourite song while lying down and closing your eyes. Closing your eyes is a good way to internally connect with yourself. We can easily get distracted by the outer images, objects, and even ongoing cognitive processes.
You may just want to sit down, take time to find a way to best position yourself. Taking time is important as it is part of self-care. We are always in a hurry in our world, so, this is the time for yourself to relax.
There are millions of ways of exploration, regulations and relaxations. Choose what you or your child likes. Regard and acknowledge your choice or your child’s choice. You can try all of the suggestions above in my dance movement therapy sessions. I am here to support you to find your own ways!