When was the last time you sang?

When was the last time you danced? 

–Questions put to the sick by a Native American Medicine Man ¹

One morning last week I was sitting at my kitchen table planning a prayer experience for a weekly group I have been part of for many years.  I wanted to focus on the intersection of Pentecost and Laudato Si week, both of which occurred during that week.  As I sat there listening to various musical options, Spirit of God (Spirit Blowing through Creation) by Marty Haugen began playing.  It was a beautiful morning!  The sun was brilliant, and the sky was as blue as a Robin’s egg, the birds were buzzing back-and-forth, and a refreshing breeze was softly moving the trees’ branches causing their voluptuous, green leaves to dance and sway.  

I was moved to get up and stand in front of the big glass door that opens my indoor space to that amazing outdoor space.  I began to sing with the music, and then to gently move my body to both the human music and the visual music of nature.  I felt my concerns of the moment and all of the thoughts spinning in my mind, the to-do’s on my list, the worries, the frustrations, just float away.  In those moments I felt a deep inner peace, and the barriers between myself, the music, my movements, and those of nature, seemed to just vanish.  Poof! 

When the song ended, I stood there for several minutes savoring profound quiet, peacefulness, and joy.  I then realized that it had been an awfully long time since I had sung or danced! 

When was the last time you sang?  When was the last time you danced?  We are all born singing!  ALL humans from the beginning of time have had an innate capacity and need to bodily express themselves through sound and movement.  We are, after all, embodied spirits!  Our spirit expresses itself best when we freely allow our bodies to give voice and gesture to our feelings, moods, desires, frustrations, love, etc. that live inside of us.  “We are meant to fly and sing!” ²         

So many of us feel constrained about freely engaging in this Spirit-driven expression.  How many of you have thought, or even said to others, “I can’t sing,” or “I can’t dance?”  In our capitalistic culture, music and dance has been ‘professionalized’ so much that we feel only ‘they’ are good enough to be seen or heard.  We get these messages in subtle and not so subtle ways as we grow up, and thus we become adults who feel reluctant and/or resistant to using our voices and bodily movement to express ourselves. 

But we all can sing!  Singing is just sound that arises from within us, which moves through us to bring voice to the intensity and depth of what we feel.  Singing can be a soft or deep sigh, a hum, a warble, a sobbing flood of tears, a moan or a groan, a chuckle or uproarious laughter.  By bringing our innermost feelings to voice, we release the energy of them through our bodies to the Spirit both within us and around us.     

And we can all dance!  Dancing is just movement that arises from within us, which moves through us to bring bodily energy to express the intensity and depth of what we feel.  Dancing can be just the tapping of a toe or foot or finger to the energy of happiness or joy.  It can be furiously waving our arms or hands to conduct all of the anger, pain, or fear from inside of us to the outside in a non-harmful way.  It can be cradling our arms together and slowly ‘rocking the baby’ of our love, grief, or sadness.  We release the energy of our innermost feelings through the movement of our bodies to the Spirit both within us and around us.  

When was the last time you sang?

When was the last time you danced? 

 

The Native American medicine man was incredibly wise.  Singing and dancing, however you define it, for whatever you are feeling, is excellent healing medicine for your embodied Spirit.  Next time I will not wait so long to do so! 

 – Rita Simon

 

¹ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening; Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, April 6, pg.114 and June 24, pg. 207.

² Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening; Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, March 23, pg.99.