Little Rituals: How To Move Your Body Part II

In case you’d rather listen:

Our lives our made up of repeating parts. Habits. Traditions. Routines.
You might see these things as merely a list of duties or must-does.
You might be trying to get a more fun, fulfilling mix into your routines.
Probably it’s a bit of both.

When you bring your attention to these repeating parts. When you suss out the meaning and identify the symbols – your habits and routines become more than just to-do’s. They become the rituals of your life.

Patterns that preserve your practices.
Traditions that pass on your values.
Habits that move you from “getting through the day” to actually nurturing your life.

Last time in our Little Rituals series we looked at how to create a ritual of movement in How to Move Your Body. I shared my ritual of body movement—running—and we identified the action and object that acted as the first part of any ritual—the Opening Salvo—the symbolic action that tell my mind/body/spirit that the ritual of movement has begun. My opening salvo is the pulling on of my running tights. That’s my singing bowl. That’s my starting bell.

But what comes next in the process?

After the Opening Salvo comes the meatiest, most meaningful part of any ritual – The Practice. You put on your running tights, then push off into the actual run.

When I first began running serendipity greeted me. Just when I was in the aches-and-pains stage of things, I heard a story on the NPR. It was about a group of war widows and widowers who ran together. The leader of the group described her heart wrenching story of loss, and then she said – “I was so lost in my grief, and I knew my children, my life needed me. I didn’t know what to do. But I knew that every day, come what may, I could push off into a run.”

That’s what the practice portion of any ritual does for you. It’s your push off into the run. It’s the doing the gets you beyond the theory. This is the difference between orthodoxy (right thinking) and orthopraxis (right doing.) It’s the practice that gets you to the purpose. Rituals only function if they have meaning and purpose. Tradition is not enough.

My movement practice reminds me that pain is not an ending. It’s not death. It’s not a full stop. It can be endured. It can be healed. It will go away. I can overcome it.

My movement practice connects me to presence. The flowers bud, bloom, wilt. The street art appears, fades, gets painted over. The houseboat gets moved down the channel, the bridge gets a new coat of blue and orange. Repeatedly passing familiar ground on a run helps me stay present to my life in an embodied way – which in turns brings me more clarity, and connects me to abundance and gratitude.

My movement practice helps me stay inside my body. My feet strike the ground, my muscles slowly warm, and my breath finds its rhythm. As a survivor of chronic pain, sexual assault and the shitty, shaming messages handed down through my culture of origin—I have spent a lifetime learning to live outside my body. Add to this a highly tuned spirit, and creative generator on overdrive—and most of my time is spent in my head, in my heart, in the clouds. My ritual of movement brings me back to my flesh. It says, “You are here. Your needs are not imaginary. Your desires are not fluff. You are flesh and bone. You, your body, matters.”

My movement practice connects me to compassion. In my mind I’m a marathoner. I spring off each step like a gazelle. I fly through space. The reflection in the shop windows tells another story. The reality is I’m almost 45, with a history of chronic illness, a wonky hip, and a 14 minute mile. I can run three miles on strong days, but it’s a slow plod to two miles on weary ones; or a split deal when my knee cries – running one way, walking back; or even a return to day one of run/walk intervals after an injury or a head cold. Running, for me has been two steps forward, one step back. This reality makes me face myself and asks me to respond—not with a barking inner coach—but with truth and kindness.

So my question for you friend, is this. What is the meat of your movement ritual? What is the actual practice teaching you. Because when it comes to rituals, “it’s tradition” isn’t enough. It has to have meaning it’s going to last.

I invite you to take a moment today and stop by the Facebook page. Let us know: What is your ritual of movement? What is its meaning or purpose? I’d love to know. We’d love to bear witness. Because it’s like I always say, “There’s no place to go, but together.”

With Warmth (and rain-soaked runnin’ glory),

Rachelle Mee-Chapman
*your magpie girl


Bonnie September 26, 2014 at 5:44 am

I especially enjoyed reading this article about your running experience. I just started running (after much prodding from my son who is a marathoner). I’m an old lady – 67 years old and just started on my running experience when I was 65. Go figure. I’m slow, have an ungainly gait, BUT I am out there doing it and I run through the breath, the discomfort and the tired muscles and i LOVE it. Yes, I have run a couple of 5 k races, coming in last, which I am TRYING to come to terms with. I am proud of myself for this and will continue to run until my bod says stop you silly worman! Loving this phase of my life, I am finding more freedom than ever. Carry on the great work, Rachelle!

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