How Dance Movement Therapy Helped Me To Find Home

With my own authentic movements, I feel more like myself; I am free from the chains of the past. I feel the humanity inside of myself and I feel my connection to my human family.

Some people would describe home as a place that is surrounded by the people and/or the things that they love. Home holds lifelong memories; it paints a significant part of our identity portrait and if we are lucky, serves as a source of safety and belonging. This is a sensitive subject for me, especially because I have been eagerly searching for a sense of home and belonging since my childhood – that is until now.

As a child I was living what many people would call the dream; we had a big waterfront brick house with a huge lawn, a garden and even our own mini beach! However, into my early teen years, my family’s struggle with mental illness and finances would spiral out of control and we would be forced to leave the one place I called home. Thereafter, the family split up. A few years later when my mother lost her battle to cancer, I felt even more lost and alone. I was left to navigate life more or less on my own and I never felt like I was on solid ground again. In my unconscious mind, I was always waiting for tragedy to strike again and preparing for my next move. Throughout my adult years, I moved over a dozen of times from place to place, at times without even unpacking. My quest to find my family/tribe and learn more about the family history led me to travel all over the world and change continents. I learned that the family on my father’s side was forced to leave their country, religion, language and culture just to survive persecution. Interestingly, none of this was mentioned to me growing up, which gave me insight into how the loss of home and identity continues to impact following generations.

At 30, I decided to take a huge leap and despite several setbacks, move to Sweden. Though it has been one of the biggest stepping-stones of my personal and professional life, after a few years, something still wasn’t quite right. I still wasn’t ‘’fitting in’’. Finally, in 2020, I moved to Germany to pursue my dream of getting my Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy. And then, finally, after years of searching something just ‘’clicked’’. I felt more grounded than ever; I was exactly at the right time and place. It wasn’t about the location itself but perhaps the fact that I had had the courage to follow my own path. Everything seemed to fall into place and I felt a sense of presence and inner peace that I’ve never felt before in my life. I suppose you could say that my way home was in fact a multi-layered plunge towards my own purpose, into the body and inner world. I believe that you can too follow your own path and find that sense of belonging you might be yearning for.

How Did We Get So Far Away From Home in The First Place?

Our body doesn’t just carry our mind and our physical parts; it is the culmination of our past and present experiences and memories. When given the chance, the body mirrors back to us the most ‘’naked’’ version of ourselves. The body is a gold mine of wisdom and when we become aware of this, we start to co-habitate more harmoniously with our true selves; we feel less lost and disconnected from the world. This goes beyond where you came from, your appearance, sex, status, education or the expectations that were projected onto you. If we are never in our bodies, then we cannot access all of these parts, which leaves us feeling separate or ‘’un-whole’’. When we don’t know how to or cannot be in our bodies, there is a constant itching feeling of unease or self-betrayal. Ironically, we’ve been conditioned to do everything and anything possible to escape the body; to look for the next quick fix, especially when we are feeling off. Whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, social media, co-dependent relationships, obsessively working out or even workholism; we aren’t lacking in ways to numb or distract ourselves. Trauma, which comes to all of us sooner or later, can also lead to disassociation from our bodies. Though it can be a necessary coping mechanism, it also brings us further and further away from our own sensations, feelings, reality and ourselves. The idea then is that the more we allow ourselves to come back ‘’home’’ to our bodies, the more we can feel a sense of acceptance and belonging. In the beginning though, it can be like opening Pandora’s box; releasing a lifetime of unresolved or stored wounds, trauma and memories is never an easy process. However, I believe that the rewards are much much greater.

Coming Back Home

Recently, I experienced an important shift; I no longer feel as though I am searching for that specific place, job or person to feel a sense of value or belonging. I no longer think of myself as a ‘’lost orphan’’. I started to understand the meaning of feeling whole without all the things I was taught were the most important growing up. It might actually be that not having most of those things forced me to search elsewhere. Dance/Movement therapy played an important part for me in working authentically with the body; I was able to go ‘’all in’’. I took the time to listen and acknowledge what was still stored in my body and what needed to be expressed, no matter how illogical, unacceptable or aesthetically pleasing. In being fully present and empathetic towards myself, I was able to process many of the past memories and stored emotions in a non-verbal way. Sometimes what comes out is unexpected, strange or chaotic, but it’s truly after the storm that I felt a sense of acceptance and peace. It may sound simple, but we have all been in some way or another conditioned to control our own inner impulses. Think about it, how easy is it for you to just start dancing freely in a public place? It takes overcoming the initial fear of judgment, of loosing control and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. It usually doesn’t happen right away; it’s like unpeeling all the layers of an onion to get to its core.  My biggest ‘’aha’’ this year was when I realized that when I connect with my body and release that which I no longer need to hold onto, I immediately feel more grounded and calm. With my own authentic movements, I feel more like myself; I am free from the chains of the past. I feel the humanity inside of myself and I feel my connection to my human family.

Taking the time to be in your body can empower you and strengthen your sense of belonging. If you have the chance to try Dance/Movement therapy with a qualified body therapist, I invite you to take a chance. It might just change the course of your life!