Introducing the Standards of Practice for BioEnergetic Wellness to the Dance World
The dance world has always been about tradition, hard work, and pushing for that ultimate performance. In the last couple of decades there have been changes to approaches for gaining health but also to inspire wellness for a career, as well as after an injury or illness. Where western medicine may not be able to solve all the aches and complaints, there have been eastern and holistic approaches that have been filling in the gap. Success is hard to define as people get better for all kinds of reasons, and they stay challenged for all kinds of reasons. The development of the Standards of Practice for BioEnergetic Wellness Facilitators is a step forward for dancers, dance educators, and dance therapies to understand the depth of education and background that is a part of the BioEnergetic Wellness Profession.
Each core discipline has a set standard of experience and education that is outlined for their field. Some of the approaches are developed from Traditional Chinese Medicine directly, while others may be indirectly from TCM through Chiropractic training, or Psychology, Physics, Quantum Physics, Chemistry, Biology, BioPhysics, BioChemistry, Energy Psychology, and more. Language has been a challenge as terms are translated from one culture to another, and the way people learn has been changed from culture to culture as well. Often there are challenges because there must be “scientific evidence” for the validity of a protocol or approach and that means achieving the gold standard of testing with double blind group experiments. However, in bioenergetic wellness we experience the uniqueness of each individual case and the need for personal attention to create the best result. This is not something that can stand the rigors of testing a protocol on groups of people to standardize a procedure and its successful outcome. We are successful with the recordings of individual case studies. This is a scientific approach.
What can we learn from the Standards of Practice? The core discipline will have a series of techniques that will combine efforts to satisfy the holistic approach to healing which includes body, mind and spirit. Supplemental courses will provide more background and influence of complementary techniques to enhance protocols for the individual cases. The addition of training in Anatomy and Physiology, Nutrition, Ethics, Business Building, and Personal Communication creates a common ground with western medicine approaches.
What does this mean for dancers? BioEnergetic Wellness will be looking at the whole person, their influences of physical challenges and successes, their emotional wellbeing and their world view of living that supports their spiritual development. The use of BioEnergetic Feedback through Muscle Monitoring is a way for a facilitator to gain information from the body through the electrical field about where the challenges begin and what the priority of support should be. The electrical field has been termed in western medicine as the Primovascular System, and it has been photographed and studied for its physical aspects. The use of the system, also known as Meridians and Five Element Theory in eastern medicine, can provide information about the flow of energy through the systems of the body, and its influence on the structures in the body where symptomology appears.
Emotion is a key aspect of bioenergetic wellness approaches. There are several tools that can be used to calm emotions or shift memories with significant emotional impact that is holding tissue hostage in a frozen state. These tools are often the first approaches that BEW facilitators will engage in. It is believed that over eighty percent of our ailments can be from emotional experience and how the memories are stored within the tissue of the body, and to begin assisting there can often change movement patterns, release tissue, open up movement options and more. This is not an approach that is seen in the western medicine approach that begins with structure and believes that memories are a part of the brain’s awareness.
Let’s leave structural healing for a moment and look at a more emotional/awareness approach to dancer wellness that is accepted in the western medicine field. If we explore Clinical Somatic Education as a scientific approach to healing, it involves the dancer being ready to actively participate in their healing. “There is a well-defined process in which, as a client, actively participate with tangible, obvious (i.e. blatant), cumulative improvements accumulating at each step, until you’re done. Typically, five to ten clinical sessions are needed, about once weekly.” (www.somatics.com). The “client” engages in activities that they sense and bring into awareness, and they learn how to acknowledge what they feel and consciously work to shift the sensations. This does take time and effort, brings awareness and conscious thought into action. This education for dancers can be very insightful, and gain skill and development for their career, but will it be efficient and successful for the healing component of a dancers life with injury or a health challenge?
In BEW we would determine where the priority energy shift needs to occur, and what the energetic challenge is, all this through Muscle Monitoring of the systems to gain BioEnegetic Feedback. This can access the subconscious patterns for the central nervous system and the parasympathetic and sympathetic pathways that exist for the survival mechanisms in the body. By using electrical stimulation tracing an electrical circuit with a hand, (meridian trace),or linking an energetic point with another point with palpitation, (neurovascular holding points or neurolymphatic points), or holding emotional points located in the body, (like emotional stress release points on the forehead or in the feet), a permanent shift can happen immediately. Working from the subconscious patterns, the action of the dancer is not challenging survival mechanisms designed to keep the body safe through conscious action, but actually rewiring the body to no longer need that survival pattern that is not holding the correct action. Working through the emotional frequencies in the system there can be a shift in tissue and structure that immediately can be seen in posture and gait. Once the dancer is aware of some of these techniques they can actively be involved in their self-care activities on their own as well.
The western medicine would challenge the BEW techniques because they are not backed by scientific evidence. However, most of the techniques used in BEW are steeped in thousands of years of experience and exploration. Many are just being realized in western medicine as the technology is catching up with the ability to measure the changes (acupuncture, primovascular ducts, fascia photography). The results speak for themselves. If a dancer is able to rub the points on the top of their feet for coordination of the gait reflexes which coordinate the flow of movement while walking and coordinating arms and legs in three dimensions, why not just rub the points? If a dancer can coordinate muscle strength by tracing meridians in the primovascular system to ensure that all the muscles have full integrity before a performance, why not use the tool?
Current dance assessment protocols are looking at the innate structure of a dancer as they enter their professional career, or as they become more involved in dance. The assessments determine the muscles that are strong and weak, the structure and physical development of the dancer and their preparedness for the tasks at hand in a mental and emotional wellness consideration. They also provide nutritional guidance for staying healthy and strong. However, what if the electrical system just needs a boost to shift the structure into proper alignment? What if the dancer is having a hormonal challenge and some muscles have lost their integrity before rehearsal? What if the emotions required for a performance are creating movement challenges for the dancer? These are not permanent conditions, but situational adjustments. The BEW tools that dancers can use on their own, or can gain assistance with through a facilitator, can change outcomes instantaneously. There is a complementary and supportive nature to the work that BEW facilitators can do for the dance profession and recreational dancers. The BEW approach can assist with situational adjustments that are influenced by performance, emotional stability, nutritional challenges for the day etc. As well, the BEW approach can change the “permanent conditions” of posture, gait, reflex coordination, whole body movement, skill development etc.
The Standards of Practice sets out a new set of ideas and expertise that can educate the dancer in a holistic way. The identification of techniques and tools that can support body, mind and spirit can help dancers to choose assistance that will meet all of their needs as a performer and feel confident in the background and education that created those tools. The hands on approach to learning means that dancers can use the tools for their self-care, and they can search out the tools and protocols they need for a self-responsibility model for health and wellness. As the Canadian Association of BioEnergetic Wellness develops the Standards of Practice and begins to illustrate the level of education that Facilitators provide to clients and students, dancers can feel confident that they are receiving the best care possible for Holistic Wellness.
Michelle Waines Greenwell is currently the President of CanBeWell. Her career began in Psychology and developed into dance education. After three decades as a dance educator and program developer, she has authored several children’s books, a music CD, educational manuals for dance teachers, and built wellness tools for dancers based on Touch for Health, Reflex Development, Dance and Whole Body Movement. Currently a doctoral student at Akamai University in Integrative Health, she has devoted her life to finding the best tools possible to assist dancers and dance educators to keep safe, well and dancing with the love and passion that all of us began with as children. Her personal experience with injury and lack of wellness support has driven her desire to learn more and provide more so dancers can sustain long and vibrant careers.