The following paper attempts to understand of how “ the self ” is at the peak of disorientation and personal crises, identification of the psychological calamity and how the self is able to co-relate that with the advancement of different soul ages. The purpose of this study is to understand the essence of a young person’s journey of psychological disorientation stemming from disruption of belief system to self-actualization using Heuristic inquiry.
The current study is based on the data from the narrator’s past experiences. And how Dance Movement Therapy proved to be a tool of self-reconstruction in case of catharsis and provide self-awareness to progress towards and self-actualization.
Infant Soul Age
My self-journey that led me to Dance Movement Therapy is explained on the theme of heuristic enquiry of soul ages at different stages of my journey.
Soul Ages are based on different levels of advancement a soul obtains throughout its journey. As a person progresses through the hierarchy. It is said that he or she is free to return to universal and infinite consciousness at the end, achieving final liberation. (Appendix 1.1)
10th May 2013 is the date I consider that my very own Journey started. The day when my life took a turn, the day My Marriage fell apart. This is so; I am from a North Indian traditional family with a patriarchal environment. My values system groomed me for marriage and married life from a very young age.
Hence this incident of my life was a True Turning Point. I was questioning every element of 28 years of my existence. There was a personal crises leading to emotional imbalance, self-identity, growing insecurities, vulnerabilities, social acceptance, such that I questioned my a old set of belief system. Hence I identified this particular stage of my life as an Infant Soul. A soul age where lessons to learn were basic Life skills, survival, and mortality. There was a constant battle of my life conditioning to the current situation in I dealt with. Battling a personality well described by Erich Fromm (Appendix 1.2) Psychological Theory “That personality is based on two primary needs: the need for freedom and the need for belonging. He is the one who believed that character is something that stems both from our genetic inheritance and from our learning. I developed an extremely polarized and rebellious behavior at this phase of my life. There was a significant psychological effect on my mind and my body became a reflection of that.
Revisiting my married life where I suffered from major Digestive Issues stemming from the mental stress I was subconsciously going through. Which did restored somewhere during the next stage that is the Baby Soul Age when my mental stress mellowed down with time. I came upon a very interesting article which also supported my deep personal experience of mind body connection that “the belief you hold about yourself and the world, your emotions, memories and habits all influence mental and physical health. This connection between what is going on in your mind and heart, and what is happening in your body, forms the psycho-emotional roots of health and disease (Appendix 1.3)
Baby Soul Age
The second age in soul ages is the Baby Soul, where Lessons to learn were social structure, roles, and human relation. Around a year and a half into the age of Infant Soul I started developing a structure, a social balance, value in my human relations all over again. There came a sense of tranquility and stability in my life. Hence, I identified this this transition as the start of my Baby Soul Age.
Even though I faced a lot of challenges or struggles in my personal life. I learned to deal with it effectively between the old and the new set of ideologies. There was compliance, discipline, and blend between the traditional conditioning to the new strong values that I discovered.
The illusion that I was living in at the Infant Soul age was calming down and there was a need to make meaning, into my existence and find an order and stability out of the chaotic and uncertain nature of my life for past 2 years. In order to find my own self-identity it became vital to liberate myself from the patriarchal system I had enveloped myself in. So my search for self-awareness at the time started from being a student of spirituality to be able to spread love and light through a small initiative by the name of SoulConnect by my mentor Late Mrs Veena Minocha and me.
My quest led me to discover different healing techniques, and I trained myself as a “Reiki” Healer. Reiki is a technique of channeling energy through the healer and restore the flow of energy in the subject. I also learnt Tarot Card Reading. Tarot cards represents karmic and spiritual journey of an individual, these cards through the flow of energy depict the various situation we encounter day-to-day also provide guidance for current energy flow of an Individual.
My journey into this knowledge led me through Suruchi Bazaz who awakened me to the deep-rooted Guru shishaya ritual of our culture. I am currently her student of scriptures Bhagvad Gita and Vedas.
Dance has been an integral part in my family with every member trained in Indian classical dance form. So it was natural step for me to be learning dance as a child. Once settled in Delhi in early 90’s, I was enrolled in Bharatnatyam, which was huge compulsion for me at the time. But my heart was growing fond of this art form too. Sometime later at the peak of my education I had to take a short break from dancing. But later during my Infant stage I realized my love for Indian Classical Dances, and I started to learn and teach Kathak.
My Past experiences had made me extremely curious about human behavioral patterns. This need in me to interpret the functioning’s of Conscious and the Sub- conscious Minds, which came from my personal experiences in Life. And there I found myself interested in “Psychology” as a subject. My social conversations familiarized me with the term Dance Movement therapy (DMT). The more I read about it the more Intriguing it became. Dance has always been a passionate art form for me.
And my search ended when I read about CMTAI and its presence in Delhi. Dance, Emotions and Psychology, DMT sounded like a perfect blend for me to be a part of. Before I could enroll myself in 2018 DMT summer course I indulged in 2 workshops on DMT facilitated by Mrs. Tripura Kashyap (Co founder of CMTAI) in the year 2017 and also experienced Music Therapy Workshop in early January 2018 Facilitated by Nina Cherla.
Transition of self
My Transition from Baby Soul Age to Young Soul Age was a swift one. I believe my DMT journey initiated this transition. . A stage where I was ready to delve a little further into seeking Independence and was ready to empathize in my relations all over again. Carl Rogers (Appendix 1.4) explained the theory of Self Concept into three categories a self Image – “how you see yourself,” self esteem “how much you value yourself” and Ideal Self as “how you wish to be.” After learning this theory I realized that My Ideal Self was now in Congruence with my Real Self.
My DMT course started in mid May’18. My limited knowledge of Psychology was making me reluctant but my excitement for DMT learning helped me to overpower my fears. And I determined to start my journey into it. The Theories and Studies of different psychologist were extremely enriching. Freud’ psychoanalytic theory (1856-1939) to Erikson’s Psychosocial Development (1958-1963) to Kohlberg – Moral Development stage bought the first wave in the field of psychology.
Our Batch comprised of 15 individuals, coming from different walks of life. There were many interpersonal relationships that developed within the group. For the first few days into the class I could relate my psychological condition with Alfred Adler’s ”Individualistic Theory” a state of feeling of inferiority, inadequacy and incompleteness stemming from the fact that I lacked a considerable knowledge of psychology (Appendix 1.5). Realizing that most of the group members had psychology background. There was this inherit need in me to be able to fit myself in the group.
The facilitators provided us with empathetic environment with unconditional positive regard where the group members were able to freely express their unresolved issues. This environment enabled us to accept and formulate more adaptive perspectives for our overall comfort. Isadora Duncan one of the pioneer in Modern Dance later contributed to what we now know as Dance Movement Therapy.
Isadora Duncan a predecessor in formation of modern Dance was inspired by classical Greek arts, folk dances, social dances nature and natural forces and new American Athleticism such as skipping, running, Jumping and abrupt movement with her stress on the center. She also contributed to the incorporation of Humor into emotional expression. Sometime later Loie Fuller also experimented with Dance, developed a form of natural movement and improvisation. This introduction of Unstructured Movement in DMT fascinated me further into Movement Therapy. My experience so far in Dance has only been in the form Indian Classical Dance forms of Kathak and Bharatnatyam. Which works on defined structural format. During certain Experiential Movement Activities I could feel my body being rigid and unable to adapt to the unstructured movements. But at the same time I was adamant for my body to adapt that. Challenge was to break-free form the structured dance format to free-flow movement.
Authentic Movement was developed by Mary Starks Whitehouse in 1950’s an important technique used in Dance Movement Therapy. “.” She believed “Movement is Depth.” “Authentic Movement” is “an expressive improvisational movement practice that allows a group of participants a type of free association of the body.” Her aspect involved how a witness passively observes the moving participants, where the witness observes without judgment, projection and interpretation. (Appendix 1.6)
As we all dived deeper into the Experiential learning of Movement Therapy, there were many different facets of my personality that I started identifying.
One such experiential learning was that of Genogram (Appendix 2.1) By one of our Facilitator that led my guards down. This learning also made me discover that even after reaching out to spirituality as a healing tool during my soul ages, there were still many unresolved emotions deep inside of me. By rummaging through my previous emotional state by creating a genogram of the meaningful messages of my life up till now. This got me into the state of “Introspection” I started to examine my own internal thoughts and feelings post the activity.
But Genogram activity at an early stage of the course also helped me break the ice with my batch mates.
Embodying the role and characteristics of our significant others in our life’s and expressing that in movement had a deep impact on me. I embarked a sense of gratitude and acknowledgement for them. I could see a part of me was moving towards the next Soul Age of Mature Soul, where one basic skill is to co-exist with others. Thereafter I started to empathies in my relationships.
There was this activity of Voice Modulation where we were asked to embody a character in a kingdom, which resonates with you. I embodied the role of a King. We were taken into a guided imagery party where all the characters in a party displayed their personal traits into the embodied character. Followed by expressing it into an artwork. This artwork reminded me of my intense need to be in control of my life. A desire of fulfillment along with compassion. (Appendix 2.2)
One activity of selecting clippings from a magazine and categorizing them in where I am and where I want to be had an incredibly pervasive urge in me. The basic realization of an Individual is to “always striving to Improve.” an activity that intensified my need for constant need of self-improvement. (Appendix 2.3)
Gabrielle Roth devised a movement meditation practice known as 5Rhythms, a practice to put the body in motion in order to still the mind.”
- Flowing: introduction of movement in our bodies.
- Staccato: a movement to generate masculine energy in our bodies
- Chaos: a rapid movement of catharsis
- Lyrical: loosening of the rapid movement of chaos, calming down
- Stillness: experiencing the movement in stillness.
This activity penetrated deep inside of me and gave me a deeper understanding of my insight. After the experiencing 5Rhythm we were asked to share our feelings into artwork. This artwork made me realize of my self-acceptance of myself during my soul-ages. My need to get out of the Chaos I was into achieving Stillness, Liberation. (Appendix2.4)
In August 2018, we all started our internship in DMT. I decided to co-facilitate my internship with my fellow batch mate Sonali Pathela. Sonali and I have extremely different facets to our personality. Having done Maters in Psychology she bought the concept and I contributed personal experience during
our Internship phase. Sonali being 10years younger to me provided the next generation’s perspective to our team. Even though we complemented our each other well within a team but there were times of divergence of ideas due to difference in perspectives. In times of differences with my co-facilitator I would strive to revisit DMT theories and inculcate them within myself.
On a personal front I was constantly struggling with Verbal processing as concept, which I have identified as my personal scope of Improvement. Our Co-facilitation was a blend of Directive and Non-Directive facilitation skill. We started to work with 2 NGO’s for children in the age group of 6-19. Although there were many positive realizations that emerged I also discovered an impatient side of me while facilitating them. Lack of punctuality in children and discipline at times would test my patience and give rise to anxiety. This also led to situations where I could feel that my needs are overpowering the group needs.
I also had a chance to facilitate workshops for Faculty member of Management Institute. Thereby adding to my confidence of working with adults and realizing that High Functioning Individuals are my comfort population.
My inhibition to undergo Personal Counseling was stemming from my Infant Soul Age. But Nevertheless I had to since it was part of my course requirement. My personal Counseling started sometime in
August. I realized the importance of it when I experienced Catharsis. I was in an environment where my counselor provided me with a non-judgmental environment, and I experienced a release of all my emotional baggage’s accumulated inside of me. My Counselor introduced me to various therapeutic strategies.
Few of the strategies that connected well with were Self-talk and Socratic-questioning where I was encouraged to have positive conversation with myself, this strategy helped me to refocus my negative thought processes into positive and adaptive ones. Problem solving was also introduced as another strategy where I was made to think of multiple solutions to problems that I identified in my therapy sessions. This helped me to break my functional rigidity and think of creative ways to solve a problem.
Simultaneously I was also involved in supervision calls as an imperative requirement for the course completion. We were clubbed into group of 4 and each group was assigned a facilitator to supervise. The supervisor led us throughout our Internship phase being our guide and providing a safety net as we learned the art of DMT. An emotionally safe space was created to allow each one of us to fully experience our respective DMT Journeys and also allowed us to share it within the group. During the internship my population was kids from different NGO’s with whom I conducted 72 1-hour sessions. With supervision call scheduled after 5-6 sessions. Each supervision call with my supervisor was for evaluation of the learning’s and challenges faced since the last call.
My personal and supervision sessions always had an overwhelming effect on me.
Mature Soul age is an age where an Individual is seeking Co-existence with others; there is interdependence in relationships, self-awareness. Which I re-discovered and re-instilled them in myself process of self- evolvement during the different soul ages. Self-actualization as explained by Maslow the ability to become the best version of oneself (Appendix 3.1)
My thoughts often wander into my past and but now am able to evaluate the chaos that am emerging from to be able to reach my Self Actualization. I believe My further exploration into DMT will somewhere lead me to achieve and reach the Old Soul Age of gaining complete autonomy on my existence, achieve a state of non-attachment and followed by adequate spiritual awareness.
DMT experience of learning’s and Internship up till now has intensified my need to search within. Having experienced Movement Therapy for over a year now through experiential and as a facilitator I would love to continue my Journey into DMT further as possible be a part of such a mystic world of Dance and its therapeutic application. My preferred group of population would be High Functioning Groups.