The motivation factor

The Latin word movere, “to move” is the root of our words “motivation” and “emotion.”  The early actions of infancy are driven by motivations and their supporting emotions. This week we had free dance time before our more structured dance play in hopes of learning more about my children’s unique and innate motivations. Observing and then feeling into their movement and thus their underlying emotions and motivations was meaningful to me as their mother. Because young kids are not so preoccupied with outside influences and concerns, free dance provides easy access to their individual preferences with less filtered movement responses.

My son’s free dance was dominated immensely by Free Flow.  Lots of full speed ahead running, initiated by his slightly passive head carrying the weight of his body forward along the sagital plane. Accompanied by very minimal spatial awareness, just enough to keep him alive, his seemingly unstoppable Free Flow resulted in crashing into lots of things including me and his sister.

Passive Weight is theme number two in his free dance.  He would run and run until he found a place to trust with the entirety of his weight. Throwing himself onto a couch, an overturned bucket, a kitchen chair, or simply the floor, his body would collapse to gravity and then roll with the momentum of his Free Flow. Yes, just as the description sounds, many of these places he trusted are not actually safe places for the body to simply let go, especially with the amount of momentum involved and yes, he did get hurt a few times.  That never stops him.

One of the mothering challenges I have always faced is patience for this Passive Weight, Free Flow body attitude because it has already contributed to three sets of stitches, two broken bones, and a temporarily damaged facial nerve.  At times I have wanted to just scream out of frustration that he seems unable to sense any degree of danger and have wondered from time to time “what’s wrong with him?”  Although I try to practice patience and understanding of him being him, the experience of reflecting and mirroring his movement during our free dance was important.

Indulging these Effort Elements of Free Flow and Passive Weight helped me tune into what was “right” about this body attitude.  Flow is associated with feelings and Weight is associated with sensing and intention.  I experienced a yielding of my intentions to my feelings and sensations as Passive Weight took over.  It was difficult for me to yield with Free Flow especially because we were really moving through the space all around us. i can only imagine how joyful it must be for him to be trusting enough to take risks without an accompanying sense of danger.

Based upon this movement experience his underlying motivations probably include a desire to feel deeply and to yield to these feelings, trusting their support enough to look past what others might see as dangerous.  He seems seek out that which he can simply experience. He’s the kind that puts ALL of his eggs in one basket and even after failures, pain, or disappointment, is willing to do it all over again. So, what’s a mother to do? I can be a trustworthy support, a constant in his life where uncertainty and disappointment are sure to be norm for him because of his trusting and sensitive nature. Giving him space to feel the extremes of his emotions and fostering his natural ability to sense others’ feelings will hopefully encourage him to continue to trust.

My daughter is a different story with a very different movement personality in an 18 month old package….

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Andrea is a full time mother of two and part time student at Utah Valley University where she earned an AS in dance with an emphasis in ballet in 2007 and is currently pursuing a BS in the Integrated Studies department focusing on dance and psychology. Her interest in the growing field of dance/movement therapy led to her certification in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis through Integrated Movement Studies in 2008. Andrea has taught dance classes and introductory LMA in Utah and Wisconsin and her belief in movement as a healing process drives her pursuits in the field.
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