Breathing and Connecting

Trudi Schoop is an inspiring woman. I finished her book called “Won’t You Join the Dance?” this week and wanted to quote nearly everything she wrote. The way she writes is so poetic and I feel like I hang onto every word. I can imagine exactly what it is she is describing.

This book is all about her experience as a movement therapist in a mental health facility. My current job (besides interning at Sangha Space) involves being a companion to a young girl who has a mental health diagnosis. I was tweaking my resume this week and trying to figure out how to put what I do in this job in a resume format. My advisor suggested I use the word ‘patient’ when referring to this young girl. But this tapped something for me, just like it did for Trudi in her book. She wrote, “…we call him ‘patient’. How I dislike this label! To me, he is much less a “mental case” than a “fascinating foreigner.” This attitude prevents me from regarding him as “sick.” It merely assumes that he is different, exotic. We may have difficulties understanding one another, but I am determined to learn his language, his customs, and I would give anything to know who rules his country.” By expressing this perspective, I think it is an example of how important it is to Trudi to connect to this person. This fellow human being. No matter how apparently ‘disconnected’ they are from the ‘normal’ world. They are still a body with emotions, with the ability to move and express those emotions.

Even though the girl I am working and I have very different life experiences, I can choose to make a connection with her every moment. I can discover her world as that connection is established. I think that connection in itself is what can also be called trust and empathy.

I also happened to finish a section of Trudi’s book where she talks about breathing on the same day I attended a workshop at Sangha Space about close embrace, placing a emphasis on breathing activities.

Trudi wrote, “I cannot begin my discussion of dance elements without mentioning the one aspect of existence that applies to everything we do: man breathes!…the way he lives affects his breathing, and the way he breaths affects his living….Animal nature replaces civilized behavior when I encourage my students to run, jump, leap, until the air rushes in andout of their lungs in exhilarating gusts…Because it is a joy to sense that life-giving substance ebbing and flowing within one’s body. What a miraculous function is this breathing, as it works unfailingly to support our existence!”

Breathing is such a simple way to connect with someone when you think about it in the way that Trudi writes about it. It is the very fabric of our lives. How beautiful it is to merely connect with someone by taking the time to breathe with someone at the same pace, the same depth, or shallowness before dancing. What a great way to connect to your partner in close embrace!

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