I started teaching and facilitating workshops in 2013. Of course I didn’t know where to begin in the big ocean of all that my life had taught me and continues to teach me. All I knew, was I need to share what I’ve learned. It took me a few teaching experiences to know really where I needed t0 start. For I came to understand that there were some needed tools that could help with the life changing things I have to share. It was also in some ways that I knew that these tools were the things that really helped with my healing and transformations that have been going on for the last 11 years. I had at first called my class that had these tools Unscript It! and Unscript Yourself!. Yes I did have a rough time knowing how to name my classes. Then when the decision to do my tools class I settled on A Free Form Sort of Way! In fact I will be teaching this class at this year’s ConVocation. But now I know you are curious as to what this is all about.
A Sunlit Evening by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine
It is all about active, expressive meditation styles that are free-form in nature. These meditation styles teach us to make use of our voice and bodies in a free-form sort of way. Another way of seeing free form use of voice and bodies is things like ecstatic dancing and singing or sacred dance and singing. I also share how we can use creative arts in free-form sort of ways, so that we can freely express ourselves. It may seem odd to hear that free-form dance or singing and art can do so much to help us. For I know that most of what we have available, while very helpful and such, they require that we do things a certain way. In fact much of our lives are set up to follow certain ways to seeing things, doing things and so much more. I know I myself was struggling still to find my path and find myself within all the should do this and that this way and believe this and that. I had been doing meditation, chanting, prayer and ritual and so much more. Yet I was still somehow stuck in certain patterns and was feeling guilty when I couldn’t do ritual in the suggested ways. Often I found myself doing spontaneous things that really helped shift things for me and empower me. Yet I felt guilty for these spontaneous things I was doing during ritual and such.
That all started to change though when somehow Gabrielle Roth’s work showed up in my life!
Gabrielle’s books Maps To Ecstasy & Sweat Your Prayers, became a part of my life about 11 years ago.
With these books I started another part of my healing journey. There has been other peoples work that has added to her work and my understanding of free-form expression of our voices and bodies. Two such people are Bradford Keeney PhD his book: The Bushman Way of Tracking God and a local person in the Detroit Metro area Michael Patrick through his: Dance Meditation Technique.
These three people in different ways guide us in the benefits of free form body movement and expression of our voice. In different ways they show us how this path to meditation can help us get to know ourselves and how our mind and bodies respond to things in our lives. In different ways they show us how movement and use of voice help us to heal the disconnect we have between body, mind, feeling and emotions. They also show us how we can use these styles to make our connection with the divine in a more authentic way. These meditations styles also help us to in a conscious and active way to navigate our tougher challenges that are a part of our healing journeys. And as we are getting to know how our bodies and mind interact and react to things around us, we find means to move through stressful and tough things, because we are aware of things and we also are aware of how we can diffuse things. Why this works is because we are learning to face things and to express those things and this is a part of what can help us heal. For we are listening and paying attention to ourselves and we are giving voice, expression to things. Often just that act of acknowledging something , we start a process of diffusing things and calming things down.
The other thing that started to happen with my practice of free form expression of voice and body, was my spiritual practice deepened. I in more consistent ways experienced connection with the whole of life and it’s energies. I found myself wanting to commune with the wind, trees and animals, to where I’d dance with the trees and sing with the birds and insects. I often find myself being a bit more playful and filled with joy from the simplest of happenings and things. There is a certain freedom I gained in expressing myself through body and voice. I could feel the energies building easier and better for me when I do ritual or pray and chant freely and well, as raw as possible. Now mind you I still have the times I follow prescribed procedures when doing ritual, meditating and such. Yet so much for me has come from adding free form expression of my voice and body, as a part of regular practice also.
Another thing I’ve experienced with my free form meditation practice is that I can separate and know what emotions, energies and such belong to me and set myself free of others emotions and such. This is an important thing if you are an empath, energy worker, counselor or healer. It is also a helpful thing if you are Autistic. But even if you don’t identify with any of those things, it is good to be able to know what is your emotions and energies, what belongs to you versus what may belong to another person. Reason is we all take information in of varying types and in a variety of ways. We can get lost in all that information that we take in and it can leave us wondering why we are feeling a certain way, when it feels like we shouldn’t have a reason to feel say angry or depressed. So being able to move other peoples energies and emotions out of our system can be a big help in taking some of the edge off of being overwhelmed or buried under so much. Chances are if we feel this way we’ve been taking on to much of other people’s things. So it’s good to have means to let that excess energies and emotions out in a safe way.
This is just some of how free form expression of our bodies and voices can help us.
Now I want to share a few routines that can help:
First pick a favorite album or play list; Then ask yourself and your body ” How am I feeling? How is my body feeling?”;With the music playing start moving your body in how ever way it is feeling!
“examples; can be you are feeling sluggish. So you droop down, move slow. Another is you are stressed filled with tension, go ahead and tighten as much of your body as possible. You are feeling happy, do a happy dance then”
The point is move your body according to how it is feeling! As the music plays work through the way your are feeling. Let yourself feel and express what you and your body are feeling as much as you feel comfortable with.
” It is alright if you can only do this for say 5 minutes or a couple of songs” even that short bit of time can do wonders in diffusing the tough stuff and giving you more energy with the upbeat stuff! As you do this practice at least once or twice a week you will get better at helping your body and mind navigate how you are feeling both emotionally and physically.
You can also use this method to do energy work and to set intentions and work with affirmations! You also can spend time with The Divine and express your love and gratitude!
So allow yourself to work with and express your body and emotions through free form movement and see how it can help you.
Next is your voice!
This is a bit trickier if you don’t have any just instrumental type music you like. Yet your usual music can be alright for this also.
As for body movement, you now pick a playlist or album that you have found yourself humming or singing along with. Now you ask” What needs to be expressed?” and you express it through singing, humming or even just making sounds. We don’t always need words! The objective is to put as much feeling as you can into your voice as possible. It’s alright if words fail you! Just use your voice!
Once again it is alright if you can only do this for 5 minutes or a couple songs! All that matters is you consciously express what you are feeling through the music and your voice!
Again this can be used for a multitude of reasons!
Then comes the part that you combine your voice and body movement! And yes things can really take off when you combine the two! This is what you are working toward!
This is just a snap shot into how you can use free form expressions of your body and voice. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover these things for yourself!
I had mentioned free form expression through creative art styles in the earlier part of this article.
So let me share this particular style of free form expression with you.
I love art and I always hoped I could be an artist, even if it was just for myself. Yet sadly I didn’t have acceptable natural talent or ability when it came to art classes and such. I couldn’t draw like my sister could. Yet I did love to create cards for holidays and birthdays. Yet it never was something I thought I could do. So I never pursued anything with art.
Then I became a mother and one of my tough choices I made was to home school our child. It took me a few years to put together something that worked for myself and our child and fulfilled the state requirements also. It was during those early years that the Waldorf Education style arrived in my life. Fortunately I was able to find home school resources for this path of education. It helped us out a lot. It was also where I found that art was one of their core aspects. For the children are encouraged to do their own lesson books, in which they were encouraged to illustrate their lessons and write about their lessons in their own words. Working with our child through this style, opened some doorways for me to see what artistic things I could do.
The Many Paths To Learning To Love by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine
That was when some drawing styles came into my life. The first was: Touch Drawing, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin. Then came: Zentangle: created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas. Also two other books caught and grabbed my attention and those are: The Art of Silliness by Carla Sonheim and the other: Doodling with Jim Henson.
So what all did these styles teach me and still are teaching me? Well they first gave me the means that did not require me to know how to do this shape or this form and making sure that I got them proportioned right and the lines are right and well you know get it right! So they freed me up by giving some guidelines, yet gave me plenty of room to just draw! Some interesting things started to come to my notice. I’m a very creative person and learning this about myself seemed to free me up to take that creativity and use it to change my past history’s stories and programming. I also had some repeated “Aha!” moments as I saw that even though I couldn’t keep forms, shapes, lines and proportions right, I still got to see neat things come forth. It showed me that my life choices that I had made that weren’t right or healthy or did more harm than good, could be things that were still a part of who I was, yet could be turned around to help in my growth and understanding of things. That mistakes and such aren’t necessarily the terrible monsters we can make them out to be. That mistakes really are lessons. We weren’t meant to be perfect and have all the answers. Life is about exploring, learning, growing and healing. That the messiness of life can still be useful and it’s okay that we don’t get it right all the time. Learning this started helping me to feel alright around other people and helped me to not be so scared that I’m going to mess things up. Sure I do bumble and fumble, but guess what we all have our awkward moments with each other. I started to understand that we all are students in this thing called life.
A Turtle That Showed Up by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine
I could share so much more! But that is for a book project that needs to start happening! What I hope you take away from all this, is learning to know ourselves and love ourselves is the biggest job we have. I found that making free form expression a part of my routines has done so much to help me learn about myself and love myself. It has taught me and continues to teach me things about life and how to navigate it. It has helped me in being able to better to know what is my stuff and what belongs to other. It helps me by giving me an outlet to express and release things that have overloaded me. It has taught me that there can be good lessons in my mistakes and it has giving me so much in healing my connections with the layers of myself and also the greater wholeness of life and my fellow human brother and sisters. And it keeps giving so much more!
So please accept this invitation to explore these teachers I’ve shared with you and give these meditation styles a try and see what they do for you!!!
Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine