An exercise for artists to move through resistance.
Louise Lohmann Christensen
When feeling resistance (anxiety) to working on your project, you are being asked to enter this feeling instead of running away, by avoiding the work. Give yourself at least 10 min, more if you feel it necessary. You can do this in a small space or big space. You place yourself on the floor, preferably with bare feet, but you can also do it in shoes if you must. You can close your eyes to begin with if that makes it easier to access your inner world but I do recommend doing the exercise with open eyes as much as possible.
So, notice your breath and the feelings that are currently present. Then let the feelings move your body. It can be as little as moving the wrist, or it can be jumping. You’re letting the feelings express themselves through any limb or body part. It is not dancing, there is no music playing.
You can move as slow or fast, soft or hard, big or small as you feel – I recommend you do your best to let the body express the feelings and don’t try to control them by thinking about how you want to move – just let it happen.
Moving this way may cause you to experience all kinds of feelings: joy, sadness, anger and so on. Let them be felt and expressed in the movements.
Sometimes it takes some minutes to let yourself relax into the movement, that’s okay. If you have a timer set you can move until it rings or you can let the movement die out on its own accord. The more you do it, the more you will be able to feel when the energy has been released and you can return to your doings in a new state of mind.
You can prepare for this exercise by writing about your thoughts, concerns & feelings so that you already have a connection to them before you are bringing in the body. You can use the questions: What is it that makes me resistant to this creative task? What are the consequences if I do it or don’t do it? What is it I am avoiding to feel or do? You can continue to ask non-judgmental questions to go deeper into the subconscious.
If you are working with a client you may, in addition to writing or instead of it, have a conversation with her about the resistance and ask her to sit quietly breathing, noticing where the emotion may be in the body. You can ask her to breathe into that specific place in the body and ask her if the feeling has a physical expression and if so, what it would look like.
Then ask her to express it from where she is sitting or standing. It can be a series of movements or a single position or gesture expressed by hands, arms or whole body. This you can invite her to do before taking on the 10-minute exercise. It will help her get comfortable with connecting body and emotion. If she is having a hard time connecting body & feelings you may ask her to just do a simple movement and then repeat it without stopping and let it grow and transform into another movement, as repetition of any kind tends to stir up emotion. Talking about the experience of the exercise will help your client to get more comfortable with movement.
This exercise is doable at home as long as you have enough space to move around in. If your home is full of things and there is absolutely no room for a bit of moving (what could be understood as space for a bit of dancing) do it sitting on the couch or lying in the bed. There is not really a limit to moving the body in connection with emotion. We do it all the time in our everyday life, we just don’t think about it.
The unconscious moves us all the time. We turn away from people or situations we don’t like, we walk closer to where and who we want to be closer to, we collapse when we are tired or sad, we tense our shoulders or fists when we are angry or scared etc. By bringing consciousness into movement, allowing you to be present to the body expressing emotion in a non-regular way, you are allowing a new kind of processing to take place. This can begin to free you up and you may discover new things about yourself.
I have done this kind of work myself on and off for many years and I’ve trained alongside others and shared experiences which have informed me of the importance of movement. For myself it has been a way of getting to express feelings that sometimes don’t have words. Or they may have words but the words are not useful anymore. They have lost their meaning because they’ve been said too many times. It has been a direct way of channeling emotions that were too intense to hold in the body, sitting still.
I worked shortly with a woman who was going through a lot, trying to raise a son without a father, struggling financially, holding on to a toxic relationship and abusive boyfriend, and so on. While we were talking it became clear that there was a little girl inside her that was longing to be seen and expressed. Eventually I asked her if she wanted to dance and she replied YES!
I let her jump around the room while I talked to her and encouraged her to move exactly the way she wanted. I followed her with my attention so she had a witness to her expression. When at some point, she stopped, she was smiling & beaming like the sun. This is instant transformation. By allowing the body to express itself we become alive again.
Louise Lohmann Christensen is a multi-artist. She is a trained actor from William Esper Studio and has studied voice and movement privately with different teachers like Patrick Michael Wickham, Ted Morin & Celina Salver. Louise, who is also known as Kendra Lou; her recording name, has released two albums “To the end of the world” & “Songs of the Black Moon” plus many singles in collaboration with other artists. She has performed in Copenhagen, Denmark, London, UK, NYC and Tucson, AZ in the US. She has created art works shown at Monsoon Art Collective as well as Sculpture Resource Center in Tucson, AZ.
Louise teaches acting as well as movement and coaches people in authenticity and creativity. www.creativekobra.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is all good advice…I did it many years ago, although my biggest problem was in wanting so much to paint and draw,household chores were put aside, but I prevailed and have had along career as a printmaker /painter and drawer and many, many good solo shows and have been in top galleries….I’m now a retired college teacher, and still draw when the spirit moves me.