Reflecting on 'self' rather than 'others' is the new mantra; all motivational speakers be them religious or agnostic, have used this mantra as a guideline to unveil the secret of happiness. Although listening to such inspirational speakers is a liberating experience it is seldom manifested in practice. Kolkota Sanved commendably managed to fill this vacuum by encouraging participants to use the best resource humans are bestowed with – the body.
Sanved is a prestigious organization that first used this therapy with rescued victims of trafficking and sexual abuse. These individuals were abandoned by society and stigmatized with various names. They lead their lives in destitution, hating their body since each part of it was assaulted not once but many times. In such circumstances this group of young dedicated individuals successfully helped them break the stigma and relive their bodies.
The two day 'Dance Movement Therapy' workshop was conducted in the Common Room, TISS Main Campus, organized by Khula Aasman. Akin to all other workshops the day began with mild gestures, short conversations and eyes searching for resemblances in the surrounding faces. This awkward situation ended soon - an ice breaking exercise was conducted where all participants had to call each person’s name one at a time. The participants included teachers, counsellors, professionals and students. All in their routine chores were either used to command or in the latter case obey orders from their superiors. To such a disciplined group who was used to structure and form, if asked to move their body the way 'they wish' was certainly a challenge. At first instance, all stood staring at each other waiting for some kind of lead / instruction however to no avail.
It took time but soon all participants succeeded in letting themselves go free and allowing their bodies to submit joyfully to the different beats of music. Starting with an exercise of shouting deafeningly 'Ja Ja' to let go of the fears and negative thoughts that restrict them, followed by many exercises that energized them. And once exhausted, the helplessly lying bodies on the floor were treated with meditation accompanied by the exquisite poetry of Rabindranath Tagore in the voice of Indranil Sen.
The first day ended with a writing session where each participant was asked to share their views. This was what I shared:
Space is not what I look for
It is the free space I search for
And surprisingly so, I can't find it in the so called 'public space'
Where I can find it is in a 10" by 10" feet classroom
Where doors and windows are robustly shut
Where no one can enter to enslave me, discipline me, teach me humanity and deprive me of my very 'self'
Only behind these closed doors can I breathe fresh air
As if that air was concealed within me waiting to break the shackles of discipline
Only then I find myself, who neither wishes to be good nor bad, right nor wrong but just 'myself'
This blissful experience made me realize how much we have neglected the role of music, dance and other forms of art when educating ourselves. Our identities today have been carefully formulated around region, race and faith which then strictly observe our actions and set norms as to what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. In this unprecedentedly politicized era, religion and nationality have been deeply manipulated to serve the interests of few and alienate the masses from their own natural self. Music and dance are such beautiful platforms to express emotions and convey messages that reach masses and leave a strong imprint. It is but natural for a child to move his/her body when music plays, then why inhibit this emancipatory exercise in the name of ‘God’.
It is ironic to observe how each one of us fears his/her neighbour knowing not how they will judge them. Due to this concern the facilitators had ensured that there were no observers hence no one felt threatened of being judged. Also realized how easily feelings have been undervalued in the name of rationality; preconceived notions of right and wrong have restricted each one of us to express ourselves freely.
The secret of happiness is not hidden in a treasure box but is within. We all need to explore that child within us who fears not and enjoys the process of every task rather than worry about the end result.
This workshop was an enriching exercise where I got the opportunity to learn from all the participants. Each one of us brought with themselves a unique package of experience and learnings and thanks to the conducive environment we were able to share our thoughts and more importantly 'fears' with each other. By the end of two funfilled days, one feeling was common amongst all – We Felt Free and Good !!