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Broken Bone, Twisted Fate, Searching Heart

February 22, 2015

I was just walking.

I did not trip nor fall nor fail to complete some exotic arabesque dance move. I just stood up and began to walk. And in the instant of a heartbeat, my right foot gave way underneath me and the weight of my body crashed down hard on the floor.

The doctor said it was a fluke break of my 5th metatarsal bone. I saw the x-ray in the emergency department. Wow, is that really my foot bone? It was so precisely sliced in a diagonal line with a big gap between the two pieces. I had been walking and dancing on this broken foot for six days before I ended up in ER and realized the gravity of the truth.

“OMG Marcia!”, friends and family members exclaimed. “You must have advanced bone disease” – “your dance days are over” – “and what exactly is your new career plan now”? That was the nature of the conversation coming from them. My head was still spinning with the image of the severed bone. Was that really my foot bone on the x-ray? Not some childhood drawing from a pretend game of doctor and patient?

As the reality set in, my thoughts became very focused, very quickly. This was not a fatal occurrence, but a metaphoric death of my current lifestyle. I gathered the only way for me to stop my frenzied running around 24×7 life-style was this. A broken bone. A cumbersome air cast to immobilize my foot. No possibility of driving for some indeterminate amount of time. No going back to my previously scheduled and finely orchestrated life.

You may not believe in Divine messages. But I do. As Tosha Silver would say: ”this was the Divine igniting a roadside flare to finally get my attention”. This was one that I could not ignore nor deny.

This Divine intervention happened a few days after New Years. I was participating in a five day 5Rhythms® dance journey with about 80 other men and women. We were illuminating what had transpired in 2014 and dancing, meditating and voicing what we wanted to manifest for ourselves in 2015. On that fateful Saturday evening, after a long day of dancing, each of us were gathering art supplies to create a visual collage for our personal vision of 2015. As I got up to get my supplies, I began to walk and suddenly my foot bone just broke. In that instant, everything shifted. Crumpled on the floor, tears streaming down my face, pain radiating through my foot and all through my body, I had received an immediately impactful message. But what exactly was the message?

The compassionate workshop leader, Kate Shela, quickly came to me and looked straight at me as she tended my wound. Her soothing, whispering voice and gentle loving touch on my foot penetrated through my shock and trauma. She met my gaze and spoke her intuitive knowledge to me. “It is not your foot that is the concern, Marcia. It is your heart calling to you to heal what is broken inside of you.” Her words landed solidly into my being. I knew she was correct. My start to 2015 necessitated a mandatory STOP. Here was my opportunity for honoring what was screaming out for attention in my heart.

I did not enter this period of healing with gratitude and acceptance. It became an exhausting, hair raising, roller-coaster ride of ups and downs with my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. There were many frustrating, humbling and disappointing lessons that came my way because of my restricted mobility.

I dropped into a depression and cloaked myself in a “poor me” neon-flashing-victim sign for all to see. I thought to myself, if you were in my circumstances, you would react this way too! I am a dance teacher with a broken foot! How cruel is that!

Feeling hopelessly and helplessly dependent on others, I persistently asked for help from my family, my friends and my lover. Some were able to show up and assist in whatever way they could, while others just faded into the distance and said: “I hope you get better soon”. I was alone a lot. I could not do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. My independence was severely curtailed. I desperately wanted help and to find a way to be self-reliant and resourced from within.

But here was my reality check. My broken foot left me unable to work at most of my usual jobs. Through the generosity and grace of a friend, I was able to maintain my 5Rhythms® class and one other set of creative dance classes. But these few classes were not enough to support myself financially. Additionally, not being able to drive for an indeterminate number of days, weeks or months was unfathomable to me. I drive everywhere, every day! How could I rely on others to transport my daughter, run my errands, take me out for coffee, etc? Here was my psyche bombarding me with my shadow cast of ego characters, who really wanted to continue to run this dramatic story of doom and gloom and keep me pushing to get everything done, even with a broken foot bone.

The obvious take-home message of my injury was how to embrace my externally enforced stillness and learn from it. In the map of Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms® moving meditation practice, Stillness is the final Rhythm. Gabrielle says “we don’t have to wait until we are 87 to experience Stillness. Any time we are ready we can access the lessons of stillness: wisdom, compassion and inspiration” (Sweat Your Prayers, 1998).

What had I been creating in my daily life over these past months? Could I take this opportunity to tune into what Stillness meant for me in this present moment? Could I now slow down enough to really sense and feel my breath as an inspiration to move and shape what was truly important to me? Could I practice being mindful and open to each passing day, allowing for my intuition, instinct and investigation to be freely expressed through my body? Or would I continue to override the signals that were bombarding me in many of my life situations, routinely leaving me feeling overwhelmed and frozen by my endless hamster wheel of problems in my mind?

There was a warring conflict between my head and my heart and my hara. I love teaching movement to pre-schoolers and parents with young children. I love bringing families together in movement. I love giving professional development seminars to care-givers and educators of young kids. I love teaching the 5Rhythms® moving meditation practice. So why was I in a constant struggle with the universe doing what I loved to do?

As I began to welcome and surrender to my alone time and the stillness, I made a renewed commitment to my spiritual practice. I devoted my early waking moments to reading inspirational literature, doing meditation and praying. It became a treasured part of my day. I started to feel a shift in my attitude. How was the universe supporting me in all of this? Dr. Rick Hanson speaks about finding and actually feeling support from within yourself, rather than looking outside of yourself to others to get your needs met. Was I open to the bounty of nature surrounding me, the physical support of the rest of my healthy body and my inherent desire for harmony and balance in my life?

It was time for me to quiet the loud ego characters that were acting out inappropriately and trying to sabotage this rest period. I decided to pray this prayer from Tosha Silver:

Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go.
If it is mine, it will stay. If not, whatever is better will replace it.

The spaciousness of my stillness in my body allowed for even more clarity to arise within me. I began to notice a niggling feeling inside of me when I thought of some of the work that I had been doing. I knew it was no longer serving me. It was time to energetically prune the weeds from my over-grown garden of activities. I had to re-program the outdated belief that I have to do more in order to be successful. I was now finally willing to heed the call to let go of some aspects of my life in order to make space for something better and more aligned with my true purpose.

What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting than what you try to manifest.
~Adyashanti

I made a decision to mine the gold from this so-called tragedy and to re-frame the experience as a necessary and welcome lesson in surrendering to what is. My spiritual guides said to me: now is your time to re-group and get crystal clear on what you really want to do with this one wild and precious life of mine.

And all it took was an abrupt earthquake from the Divine.

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The Medicine Of Movement

July 31, 2014

blog_photo_8325Dancing is my chosen path to healing. I have shifted and changed my physical body, my inner thoughts and feelings and my connection to spirit by dancing through all of my life’s experiences. The concept of movement as medicine became clear to me after years of showing up on the dance floor in either in a 5Rhythms® or a movement technique class. Quite honestly, I was amazed at how much personal growth and transformation I achieved just through mindfully moving my body. My healing compelled me to train as a Certified 5Rhythms® teacher, Developmental Movement Specialist and Laban Movement Analyst. It was clear to me that I wanted to find a way to bring the medicine of movement and dance to others.

Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms® moving meditation practice, sums it up so profoundly:

“Mine is a dancing path. My bible is the body because the body can’t lie. My master is rhythm. There is no dogma in the dance. When you let your body dance you immediately strip away the lies and the dogma until all you are left with is the spirit of life itself. Movement is medicine, and I trust that if you put the psyche in motion, it will heal itself.”
~Gabrielle Roth~

As a movement teacher, when people ask me what kind of dance I teach, I always think to myself, I teach movement as medicine. Whether it is a dad connecting one-on-one with his toddler, a 4 year old prancing around like a pony or a middle-aged woman discovering her hips can sway – all of these occurrences have the potential to heal the intricate workings of our body-mind.

In my parent and infant movement classes, I often witness babies and toddlers moving their bodies when a rhythmic beat is present. I don’t teach babies to move! A mother’s womb surrounds her growing baby with constant rhythms. The baby senses and feels the physical rhythmic vibration through the workings of their mother’s body such as respiration, digestion, fluids pumping and mobilization of body parts. Once a baby is born, the wiring in their primitive brain (inherent in their cellular DNA) guides them to cycle through specific developmental movement patterns in order to move independently. Their movement is vital for survival and healthy brain development, but moreover, the baby’s own body movements are pleasurable to them!

I believe it is our birthright as humans to be able to move our bodies in ways that feel good and also help us modulate our emotional states. Body movement is the direct outward expression that communicates feelings. Young children are master teachers of how we can apply the medicine of movement in order to process feelings through our body.

Have you watched a baby play with a toy and all of a sudden get completely frustrated or upset when things don’t go the way they want? They throw the toy down and often flail their limbs, flop their body down and cry so hard their entire torso quivers and heaves. Then in the next breath or two, they rollover, come back upright with a look of curiosity and begin the discovery process again with a toy!

With a full movement repertoire, healthy infants and toddlers express curiosity, frustration, distress, sadness or joy. They can modulate any intense feelings by simply moving through body-action sequences to resolve emotion. They learn how to self-sooth and administer movement medicine for themselves.

We have the potential to resolve our personal challenges through our dance. We simply need to show up and put our bodies in motion. Whatever is there, we can pay attention, welcome it into our body parts, give it breath and let it find expressive action. In this way, the medicine of movement is gifted to us.

What I treasure most about movement and dance as a healing modality is that it is contained within us. You can administer the exact dose for yourself – no need for a diagnosis or prescription from the outside world. We can take this moving medicine as often as we like, wherever we like and with whomever we like! From the youngest babies to the wisest elders, all can experience the power of movement to help heal us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

May you discover many ways to offer your body the medicine of movement.

Baby and Toddler Movement Class in Action

October 21, 2013

Here is an article recently published that outlines some of my philosophy of why movement is so crucial for babies and toddlers. The reporter attended my Toddler’s First Dance class at Cameron Recreation Centre in Burnaby.

http://www.burnabynow.com/entertainment/baby-steps-music-dance-help-tiny-bodies-and-brains-1.654351

In this class, we use the developmental movement patterns as the foundation for our warm-up. We progress through fun and interactive activities designed to stimulate the child’s senses and challenge the gross-motor movements. Parents and care-gives play an active role inspiring the toddlers and learning how to connect to them through movement.

The accompanying video clip was taken from the toddler and parent class and is a good snap-shot of what fun we have together!

Marcia

Free Presentation for Parents and Care-givers

September 4, 2013

Free Presentation for Parents and Care-givers

I am excited to share my experience and knowledge about early developmental movement and its effects on brain development in infants and toddlers.

Banyen Books & Sound in Vancouver is hosting my free event

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF BODY & BRAIN DEVELOPMENT: Let Your Baby & Toddler Move!

on Sunday October 20th. The presentation will be part lecture, part movement and very interactive.

Parents, care-givers, children and childcare professionals are welcome!

Please mark your calendars and share this with your friends!

Please see the complete details by clicking the link below.

https://www.banyen.com/events/Marcia-Wakarchuk-Jones

New Voice and Movement Workshop- April 14, 2013 Victoria, BC

April 2, 2013

ImageRegister at bisia@shaw.ca or contact marcia@innerdancer.ca

Is My Child’s Movement Ok? Here is the Checklist.

March 20, 2013

When infants are in their first years of life, they move through many movement milestones:

wiggling → pushing up → rolling  → pushing backwards → belly crawling → independent sitting →hands and knees creeping → bear walking → standing → walking and beyond!

crawl to walking baby

Just like other mammals, infants need to learn how to move in relation to gravity once they are born. Human infants are at a slight disadvantage compared to the animal world because they are born premature and are unable to move efficiently at birth. Human infants require at least another year outside of the womb to master some of their physical development which allows them independent motor movement.

How can you tell if your child is on track for healthy and normal physical development? As a general guideline, age is only one indication of where your child should be on the movement milestone progression. For example, walking at 12 months of age may be the norm for many children although many don’t start walking until 15 months. A better indicator of where your child should be on the timeline is whether or not your child has completed each developmental stage successfully before naturally progressing onto the next one.

There are some warning signs that a child may have some motor development movement challenges in the first few years of life.

  • Left or right side dominance (sides of body not equal)
  • Always using one hand to reach and grasp
  • Brings themselves to standing always using same leg
  • Sitting on one side of pelvis not both
  • Eyes not tracking
  • Not crossing over midline of the body
  • Unable to roll both ways
  • Unable to belly crawl
  • Unable to cross lateral creep
  • Upper body strong, lower body weak
  • Upper body weak, lower body strong
  • Child’s motor skills are regressing
  • Limbs seem stiff
  • Muscles seem floppy and loose
  • Child doesn’t walk yet after 18 months
  • Toe walking
  • Child seems very clumsy
  • Child is constantly moving
  • Child has trouble grasping and manipulating objects

If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms,  it may indicate the need for a somatic practitioner, such as a Certified Movement Analyst, to help diagnose and work with your child. In many cases, children can quickly re-pattern the body and re-wire the brain to allow for fully integrated and healthy, robust movement.

It is also important to note that it is never too late to correct an imbalance in physical motor development. Many older children and adults become locked in primitive movement patterns which can  have significant negative effects in physical coordination, emotional balance, learning ability and social skills. The solution? Work with a somatic practitioner to revisit the developmental movement cycle and fully integrate the patterns into the brain.

Sweet Somatic Surrender

February 24, 2012

“Hello…is there anybody in there? Is there anyone at home”? The words from the Pink Floyd song echo in my head. Seems that I have reached a new state of awareness where I can see how I have allowed a lifetime of fear of letting go lock me into a self-made box, suffocating my joie de vive.

The calling has come to dive deep into my personal prison box. I have not entered into this gracefully, feeling a strong resistance and struggle. Haven’t I done enough therapy, conscious embodiment, mediation and integration I cried? Apparently not, my body says. My resistance has resulted in strained relationships and the frustrating inability to manifest what my heart desires.

And yet, now, my body is beckoning me to break out of this box, let go and surrender to the natural ebb and flow of life. I am being asked to trust and follow my feet while I reconnect with the Divine within and around me.

How can I find this somatic surrender? Over the years, I have been learning and practicing the simple art of energetically and physically grounding my body to the earth. Lying down, sitting or standing – the earth’s strong gravitational pull on my body is teaching me to let go in a gentle way.

Bonnie Banbridge Cohen, in her work of Body Mind Centering ™, describes grounding as our personal physical relationship with our body to the earth’s gravitational field.  As newborns, she says our first task after coming out of our watery womb-home, is to bond to the earth through gravity, usually through lying on our bellies. Peggy Hackney goes onto say that our ability to yield our body weight through contact with the earth is then met and matched by the earth as support. This reminded me of that basic law of physics – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As the earth meets the yield of our body weight, the yield becomes a push and you begin to rise away from the floor and prepare to move. This dynamic two-way relationship has been described as the Yield & Push cycle. We can also experience embodiment when we actively choose to yield into the earth, feeling the boundaries of where our skin, bones, muscles and tissues begin and end. When we feel the earth meet us and provide the impetus to push and move away, we can locomote into the world, exploring the space beyond ourselves.

Flowing

Following My Feminine Flow

When we work with our relationship to gravity and feel in our body the support of the earth below us, this can act as emotional support for us. The very act of lying down and sensing the weight of our bones releasing into the ground, encourages us to let go of the struggle. This can be a challenge for us if we are used to holding tension in our bodies due to fear, stress, worry or trauma. Maybe we cannot find comfort in surrender because if we let go of control, we imagine we will not be safe and something bad might happen.

And yet, energetically, when I can yield and surrender to gravity I get an image of being held by a big mother. She has the capacity to absorb all of my tension, all of my angst and all of my struggles. I can just let go, allowing her to hold and carry me. I don’t need to do anything, she is always there, 24×7, unconditionally. Nothing is too big for her to absorb, nothing is too much for her to transform into something else. This somatic resourcing is available to me wherever and whenever I need it.

If you feel called to break out of your own self-made box, here is a quick guide to how you might practice somatic surrender for yourself.

Lie down comfortably in any position, on your back, your belly or your side. Imagine heavy warm wet blankets covering your body, relaxing tension in your muscles. Imagine the earth actually gives way gently to make room for your body, like the impression your body makes while lying in sand on a beach. The sand reaches up and meets your body as you relax your body more into the sand. Become aware of your breath and how it gently moves your body as you inhale and exhale. Allow any images, thoughts or sensations to come and go as they also release into the earth. Then roll over to a different surface of your body. Allow your body to settle on this new surface and feel the sand coming up to meet whatever part of your body is resting on the ground. Continue to relax your muscles even more. Notice your breath and any new images, thoughts or sensations. Transition your body again and repeat the sequence until you have done all 4 surfaces of your body. When you are on the last surface of your body, note how you are feeling emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. Are you able to take in the support offered from the earth and let go? Be gentle with yourself as you transition back up to standing and then check in one more time noting how you are feeling.

From my surrender to the earth, I can find my flow. The true juicy flow of my feminine energy, connected to my core, connected to my essence, connected to others, connected to the Divine. Yes, the deliciousness of the surrender finds me back in the game of life.

“Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give
You take me in
No questions aske
Your strip away the ugliness
That surrounds me”

~Sarah McLachlan~

Wishing you great peace in your somatic surrender while we journey together on this precious, generous earth.

Marcia