While cozy in bed scrolling, I saw an article about joy with movement. Click. Yes, I’d like that.
Reading it, I learned from a few small studies specific movements not only help us to express joy but elicit joy in us. Doing these movements, watching someone else do them, or even imagining them all elicit feelings of joy and enhance our emotional state. What’s fun is the study showed our joy is further enhanced when we do these movements with someone. #sciencecatchingup #duh
As I read this article, I flashed back to a pocket of joy at the beginning of COVID lockdown. The common and very modern irony is not lost on me that I’m reading about joy in movement while snuggled into my Sunday morning lounge-in-bed-newsfeed-scroll. And I am excited to share this memory of joy with you today, wherever you are. No judgment. I’m here for the collective moments of joy. I want more of them, and I want you to join me in them. It’s very much why I’m inviting you to join me for the intro to group SoulWork series.
Flashback to early April 2020: I am living separately from my partner and kids as he is in healthcare and they are temporarily in LA, and we are only weeks into the fear and isolation stage of COVID pandemic lockdown. A friend texts me to join her online at something called Dance Church on an upcoming Sunday. At this point, we hadn’t established friend/family isolation bubbles or even realized how much safer the outdoors were. No masks, no vaccine. We were all experiencing lots of unknowns; everyone and everything had moved online. Sunday comes, and I log on to find three dancers separated on a big stage all dancing. It’s been described as “not Zumba, exactly; more like if the DJ at your favorite club periodically made all the partiers do glute work.” And I love dancing—exercise not so much, but dancing is a big yes. I was all in.
While I couldn’t see everyone dancing, just the instructors, I had seen pictures on social media of all the everyday folks dancing in their living rooms by themselves, with their dogs, with their little kids, with their plants or partners. Some were in exercise clothes, but most were in sweats and a t-shirt. What a collective experience. I knew I was moving my body with 10,000 other humans around the world. It was the closest I would get to a concert or sporting event for a long time. I felt alive again remembering pre-COVID times.
To give you a feel of the experience, I found this Dance Church attendee who was brave enough to share what it was like. It reminds me how my dancing used to bring smiles to those I danced with. I would take it as positive feedback. “What a good dancer I am,” I’d think as I smiled back at them—although it’s more likely they were enjoying my freedom to be goofy.
I felt the full-on freedom of doing all the crazy dance moves (not exercise, mind you) in my living room that April. Tears were streaming down my face from the feeling of freedom, joy, and the deep need for wild abandon. I hadn’t realized how much pent-up anxiety and disconnection I had been feeling until, while flinging my arms in the air, tears started streaming down my face. I felt intense joy as if a long lost child had returned (my inner child, right?). It was a chance to feel the grief I had been bravely putting off. After, I felt sweaty and so much lighter.
We know what this cozy-in-bed-Sunday-scroll article is referencing: We are wired to connect through our bodies. Our bodies, hearts, and minds are intertwined. Jumping for joy, sweeping our arms out and open, bouncing to a rhythm, taking up space with spinning and swaying from side to side. Movements we have done for thousands of years.
Science is now uncovering the details of how our bodies are here to help us regulate and connect. These movements regulate the nervous system and bring us joy, relieve our anxiety, wake us up, calm us down, and connect us. We may not be tapping into this often enough.
People who exercise regularly likely have found this true, and yet exercise can be easily co-opted by the “shoulds” about health goals. Let yourself move freely without a goal every now and then. To help you center yourself, remember the movements don’t have to last long or have a goal attached. It can be done for the pure pleasure of being in your human existence.
The first part of the online group SoulWork taps into the wisdom of using breath and simple movements like these. We find a sense of aliveness when we feel drained and calmness when we feel agitated. Anyone can do them, and when you join, the Zoom camera can be off or on. 😊 Coming home to our bodies helps us to be present in the moment that is right now. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, just being you. The next parts of SoulWork help us with mindfulness and decreases reactivity. Helps us to heal. Most importantly, this practice can be the portal to you knowing and caring for you. And to knowing and growing into who you can be.
Join me in the SoulWork intro class Starting on April 5 or 6 followed by the free monthly SoulWork community class. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!