When I first started taking Awareness Through Movement classes, I fell asleep before the end of every lesson. It was embarrassing, since in many of my first classes I was one of only a few people taking the class. I struggled to stay awake, to give my movements the quality of attention that I knew I was capable of, to get my money’s worth for the instruction I had paid in advance for. I struggled to catch up when I missed directions, glanced over my shoulders at the other people on the floor, and listened intently for clues in my teacher’s voice, hoping to jump back into the lesson successfully.
So, why did I keep paying for these experiences that put me to sleep?
My inner voices were never kind when I’d fall asleep, but I’d get up off the floor at the end of class feeling somewhat guilty, and would notice that I sensed changes. There would be length where there hadn’t been, release where there had been tension, a sense of ease that I couldn’t explain, and my posture felt different. Sometimes I’d feel taller or shorter, heavier or lighter…I’d get up wanting to turn, wanting to dance, wanting to curl back up and sleep, wanting to laugh and roll around some more. I arose peacefully and more awake to the sensations in my body, even as my mind struggled to understand what had happened.
It’s okay to fall asleep in class. But more importantly for me, it’s okay to catch up when I’m ready. I am an achiever, and I’ve often pushed myself to do things that I wasn’t ready for. I’m not sure why it was so important to me to jump through hoops more quickly, to rush through things so that I could check them off, to not take the time to gather what I needed, to sense the incremental learning needed to get where I wanted to go. Those dashes to the finish line left me unsatisfied, left me empty and afraid that others would see through the façade, and realize how meaningless my list of accomplishments really was.
I realized in those quiet moments on the floor that it’s okay to listen to what my body was asking for, and to spend some time allowing it to rest, to restore itself. I learned that it was okay to breathe and just listen to instructions, before rushing to accomplish the task presented. It was okay to visualize the process, and not move a muscle. I was learning to take my time, to explore subtleties in my initiation and motivation, every week I was being invited to be less goal-oriented and more present.
I hope that today you’ll pause when something is uncomfortable, rest before you need to and will allow others to see you doing something you love. I’d be delighted to have you join me for class one day, and perhaps to wake you up with a loving nudge! =)