On inner-directed movement

Inner-directed movement is part meditation, part healing, part remembering that you’re alive. Here’s my first experience with the practice.
Male ballet dancer in a pink rabbit costume and a coat, leaping in the street.

Today I discovered the power of inner-directed movement. Inner-directed movement is a technique written about and popularised by Tony Crisp, in which you allow your body to move how it wants to move and you just follow along.

It sounds like some kind of contemporary, interpretive dance. And it is, in a way. Except there’s no interpretation. There is no right or wrong. You don’t worry about what you look like, what the movement is. You just get out of the way.

Inner-directed movement is about allowing your body to express itself, which is a method of finding flow. Crisp talks about it as a healing methodology; that it allows you to free blockages in your bodymind; that it allows you to heal that nexus between emotion and body. Crisp suggests that many of us repress ourselves and our feelings in our attempts to find peace and happiness – even in meditation – and that it resides in our bodies.

Given I’ve had some health issues in the past year or so, I figured it might be interesting to see what happens.

So this morning, after my husband left for work, I put on 30 minutes of meditation music, settled my mind, thought about water, and just let my body do whatever it wanted to do, based on urges that rose.

I found myself waggling and waving my arms. I turned, bobbed, stretched, danced. My body found this curious blend of stretch and yoga, dance and childhood.

And I wept.

The emotion hit me so suddenly I had no idea where it came from, what it was in relation to. It curved me over, bent me in half, forced me to the floor, heaving with some kind of grief.

It stopped as suddenly as it began, and my body hugged itself, and kept moving.

After half an hour, I was exhausted. Happy, but exhausted. I lay on the floor feeling like I’d been through the wringer; more centred, certainly, and definitely feeling warm and content. But I felt like I could sleep for days. And dizzy, like I had taken in way too much oxygen.

As I reflected on the practice afterwards, I wondered why everyone doesn’t do this. I started to conjure all sorts of mad ideas, including running inner-directed movement sessions for those who might want to get to know themselves better.

The power in inner-directed movement is in learning to get out of your way; in dropping the self-censorship that you paint on in every moment of every day. When you just let your body move, no matter what it wants to do, no matter what it looks like, you surrender to your own music. In allowing it to release whatever it needs to release – whether tears or joy, whoops or grunts – you can’t be anything but fully in the moment. At that point in time, you are just life. Life moves, life is movement. By restricting our bodies and ourselves as we do every day, we stop ourselves from discovering the flow.

I highly recommend the practice to you. Start by reading this page by Tony Crisp. And if you join me down this rabbit-hole, I’d love you to leave a comment to let me know about your experiences.

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