Today in the chart

The Dance of Courageous Care, Step 4: Healing

When we soften and receive together we experience healing and joy.

Healing often leaves me with more questions than answers. However, the one thing I know for sure about healing in my life is that it loves vulnerability, movement, and honesty. Many times healing leaves me speechless and in wonder about all the amazing ways it takes place without knowing how it happened or how it was orchestrated. Healing is not a destination but a process of continual becoming as healing looks different for each person because it is greater than all of us and possible because of all of us. 

After reflecting on how I have experienced healing, I realized that vulnerability, movement, and honesty are always involved in my healing experiences. 

Vulnerability: Allowing Myself To Cry Freely and Openly When the Tears Come

I have spent so much of my life covering up my tears or swallowing my tears to pretend that everything is okay or not to make others uncomfortable. At a young age, I learned that tears were a sign of weakness, so I quickly learned to stop my tears when they began. I have learned over the years that our tears are one of our greatest gifts of being human. I have also learned incredible healing when we create collective spaces that allow us to cry and feel and share our tears with one another. This includes times I have cried with my patients; it is a very sacred and special experience. Tears also practically excrete stress hormones from our bodies, calming our nervous system, producing endorphins, and helping us feel better. 

Now, when the tears come, I let them fall. I may be at the grocery store, in a group with colleagues, at home with my partner, waiting to pick up my kids from school; it doesn’t matter the location, I let them fall. I am learning to listen to my body and what it needs because my tears are my body’s way of saying, “I need to release this and let it out of my body to make space for something else.” I have also stopped apologizing for my tears. Instead, I thank those around me for holding me, my tears, and this sacred moment. When others cry in my presence, I thank them for trusting me with their tears. I thank them for being brave to feel their emotions and congratulate them on not hiding but allowing themselves to honor themselves in this sacred way.  

Movement: Somatic Processing Through Dance

When you experience trauma at a young age, you can quickly disconnect from your body to not feel overwhelming fear, abandonment, sadness, guilt, shame, etc. This disconnect has made it difficult for me to know how to name my emotions, move through them, and release them. This is why dance has been so important in my life because it has given me a modality to express my feelings when words cannot. It made me whole by connecting my mind and body in ways nothing else could. This allowed me to feel embodied and helped me process the feelings that felt stuck in my body because of the trauma I had experienced. Sometimes these feelings were sadness and anger, and other times it was my joy that was stuck, and it was through play and movement I could find my laughter again. Somatic processing happens when we move our bodies to process feelings, emotions, experiences, etc. When I dance, I can release what I am feeling from my body and create space for healing instead of feeling stuck in emotions I cannot articulate. 

Honesty in Community

I remember growing up, my mother smoked cigarettes. My father had a prominent position in the church, and my mother always felt shame about her smoking. Given my father’s position, we had people stop over quite a bit, and it always put my mom into a frenzy. She would run around the house hiding ashtrays, spraying aerosol air freshener that smelled like lilacs and plastic, and lastly, pop in a mint before she opened the door with a huge smile on her face. I hated that my mom had to hide who she was; I hated that the church, which was supposed to love no matter what, created an atmosphere of hiding our true selves from one another to feel accepted. Unlearning this behavior has meant not covering up who I am, even the messy parts that make me worried others might not accept me. This has led me to be honest about who I am despite who I think I should be or who others want me to be. I realized that healing happens when we are open and tell the truth about who we are. Finding a community to do this in has been a huge gift. A community that allows me to share my strengths and talents and also shares my sadness, my guilt, and my imperfections. I have found that naming my feelings and telling the truth about how I feel in the community has created space for healing to happen in ways I never imagined. My community constantly reminds me of who I truly am as they reflect my beauty, wonder, and courage, but I sometimes forget. I wish my mother had this sacred community that accepted and loved her despite her cigarette addiction. Acceptance and love from ourselves and others often reveal the beauty in our imperfections, and healing occurs as we are in a loving relationship. 

So much of my healing has happened because I have allowed myself to soften and receive as I cry, dance, and share my heart in relationships with others. I see this happen every time we lead a workshop, and all our participants exhibit Courageous Care. When we soften and receive together, we experience healing and joy. I do what I do because I have experienced it firsthand and desire to create collective healing spaces for others as the arts, play, and movement have been so healing for me.  

I wonder what healing looks like for you? I invite you into a space of reflection around healing to think about and reflect on how you heal and who your healing community is. 

  1. Do you find yourself hiding your tears or apologizing whenever you cry? Why or why not? 
  1. In what ways have you experienced healing in movement? Finish this sentence, “I feel healing when I move _____ because _______.” Think about this and remember moving your body could be gardening, walking, skiing, doing the dishes, etc.  
  1. Do you ever feel safe to fully cry alongside another person or group without fear or worry of judgment? If not, ask yourself why. If so, who is this person or group, and what about them that creates this sacred space with you?

Tara Rynders, The Dancing Nurse Educator and Nightingale Luminary, is the CEO and Founder of The Clinic.

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