I love the word movement. It reminds me of modern dance class.
I studied modern and jazz dance from about middle school through college. It was never my “field” or my major, but I just loved the escapism of dropping fully into the feelings in my body. Trying to absorb a sequence and execute it back correctly took enough concentration that I wasn’t able to worry about anything else – boyfriends or term papers or looming commitments.
I miss those classes. Somehow taking dance in high school is cool and athletic, but taking dance as an adult woman might be read as sad, like you’re trying to recapture a youth that is no longer yours to claim; and it’s not like you’re going to become a professional ballerina at 40, right? Well maybeeeeee…. No wonder Zumba is so popular: dance class disguised as workout (rather than serious pursuit) = totally acceptable.
Maybe ballroom dancing would be a good outlet. If only one’s partner thought that idea was a good one!
Now it might not seem obvious that making art is a physical activity so much as a mental exercise, but let me see if I can explain how it can be both.
I’ve always painted and drawn ever since childhood, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to articulate the way that the artistic act of creation can be a mindfulness practice. Much like dance, when I’m painting, I’m able to become so ensconced in the feelings of what’s going on in my physical body that I don’t have the room to worry about the outside world – no longer boyfriends and term papers, but making dinner and updating my website. My attention is at max capacity.
The physical act of painting can be grandiose if I’m working on a huge canvas sprawled out across the floor: circling around and around as I layer color, and (one might say) “movement” to the composition. Or the physicality can be delicate in my hand, wrist and fingers that I hold steady as I create a straight(ish) line without a ruler.
This idea of a physical movement – like a dance – applied to so many other areas of life, is intriguing me these days.
In yoga, one of the core principles is ahimsa, or non-harming. We often talk about not harming ourselves or others, either physically or verbally or mentally (for instance not putting yourself down in your mind if you mess up).
I’ve also had some teachers who talk about kindness to the earth and the environment, which resonates with me. I will never forget one teacher who spoke about walking softly and gently on the earth. I think about that a lot: not stomping around, walking heavily or lazily, but mindfully stepping lightly, fluidly, not leaving any more of an impression than is absolutely necessary. Of course, there are times for jumping and stomping, but in normal everyday walking about, I love to consider that I’m treating the earth gently with my movement.
In motherhood, there’s, of course, tons of physical movement, especially when the babes are young and running or need to be carried everywhere.
Nothing seems to be the status quo for very long at all. My son is 21 months old, and I couldn’t tell you half of the milestones nor when he hit them up to this point. We’re always moving, forward momentum, can’t go backwards, minds moving with plans, logistics, lists, speculation, wonderment.
I love connecting dots across my life’s experiences. Noticing how passions overlap like a Venn diagram is a really cool exercise in discovering more about yourself and motivations and what brings you joy – like the desire to move, whether to exercise, become present, show love and affection, or simply to feel good.
Hannah Lowe Corman is a painter and yoga teacher in NYC inspired by nature, movement and meditation. She has a young son, and she is working on figuring out this whole new mom/entrepreneur lifestyle, which is overwhelming. Follow her on Instagram and on Facebook. Make sure to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being considered for one of her 2019 painting commissions.
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