This month we are focusing on the breath in our Moving Medicine classes. When I think about these themes I like to cast a wide net of associations from the anatomical, to the emotional, to the spiritual, to the cultural, to the natural world. For a deeper look at the anatomical you can look at last June’s blog on breath, abs and core.
This month I want to play with breath as movement and cycles. In my acupressure class we’re learning that the lungs are associated with Autumn, the color white, the sound of weeping, the emotion of grief. “The Lungs Rule Qi” (Kaptchuk). Kaptchuk writes that the lungs are where Qi from outside the body meets the Qi inside the body. The ashe (from Yoruba àṣẹ) of breath is to animate and connect. Through breath we are connected to every person, animal, tree, plant arounds us.
When I’m walking in the woods I like to feel into the idea that together the trees and I form one continuous breath – my exhalation becomes their inhalation, their exhalation is my precious inhalation. And I hold that many of us humans, forgetting the joy of being in the one breath with our tree elders, are upsetting the balance of the Earth’s breath.
I recently rewatched ground moving and breaking Bay Area choreographer Anna Halprin’s documentary Make Breath Visible. “Making Breath Visible,” her definition of dance, opens up dance to all movement and the idea that we are all dancers. I was deeply moved by her unrelenting, joyful, courageous search for the meaning of dance, for what must be made visible – after the Watts riots, Black and White bodies both their unique and common movement languages needed to be made visible; the beauty of our elders bodies dancing in a glade with trees surrounding them and their feet in the earth needed to be made visible. She showed us deep grief in her work about the loss of her beloved husband of 70 years, Lawrence Halprin.
We are all grieving the events of the past month – the taking of the breath, the dance, of Black bodies; the taking of the breath, the dance, of children; the limiting of the wild free dance of women. As we breathe through our deep grief (the exhale of our deep love) what must be made visible? Let’s especially honor the spirit of Anna Halprin, the depth of her love, courage, humility, integrity, humor and breathe what needs to be made visible into our healing, life sustaining dance.