Teens and the Body-Mind: The Pivot Adventure !
By Linda Wellenbach
Almost every summer since graduating from the Hendricks Institute (2007), I’m hired to facilitate self-discovery in disadvantaged teenaged girls at a local camp. My intention is always the same: have FUN waking them up to all they are – mind, body, and spirit – with special emphasis on THE BODY.
They’re a “tough crowd” –untrusting, self-conscious, and closed. BUT! They don’t have a chance against my persistently exploring, curiously playful, and endlessly inviting, inner Mary Poppins!
To me, they are an ADVENTURE!
I arrive cheery, prepared for anything and everything, the trunk of my car brimming with art supplies, music, journals, handouts, posters, games I’ve created, crafts – and then….I pretty much wing it! Go with whatever wants to happen. Officially, I’m only scheduled to teach 3 days a week for 45 minutes – not nearly enough time for what I’d like to accomplish, so I opt to follow them throughout all their activities, every day, observing, chatting, building the vital foundation of connection first.
I start small. At lunch, I begin what becomes our daily ritual: I cast a sea of colorful “getting to know you questions” across their tables like confetti. Large post-its, rolled and tied like gifts – everywhere!
“What’s this?” they ask, totally confused.
“Presents!” I announce. “Take a look.”
Intrigued, they scramble to open them. Smiles! Their “favorite” questions like “What’s your favorite color? Your favorite time of day?” Immediately their energy rises. They like talking about themselves! I comment here and there, but mostly observe, listen, gather information. (As the weeks pass, I amp up the intensity. For example: “Who do you go to when you’re in trouble? What stresses you?” etc.,)
Finally the day comes when I have them all to myself. By now they know I’m not their usual teacher!
As they enter my music filled room, I command, “Don’t sit down! Just go wherever you feel called to go.”
I chuckle and shake my head as they freeze in place. The ADVENTURE begins.
“Ok! So let’s start by tapping opposites,” I say, demonstrating as I walk around the room. “Tap opposite ears, shoulders, knees, toes… whatever you want, just opposites.”
“Awesome! You just did a Brain Gym exercise that lights up and prepares your brain to learn. Feel smarter?” I chuckle.
“So now, closing your eyes if you want, let’s do a body scan. Starting at the top of your head and working your way down, just notice any sensations – tingling, tightness, knots – whatever. Just notice what you notice… No judgement… Anybody notice anything?”
“Ok. So for me, I’m noticing a flicker in my throat, some swirls in my belly. Anybody else?”
“Ok. So now let’s imagine biting into a BIG FAT JUICY LEMON! What happens now?”
“No one has a mouthful of spit?!” I ask incredulous.
“Ok. Hold up both hands in front of you and move one hand in all kinds of crazy ways.”
I demonstrate; they follow. YAY!
“Great! Now stop. Anybody notice any differences between the two hands?”
Someone says, “The crazy hand feels kinda buzzy.”
“That’s because moving in unusual ways breaks up clogged energy, generates more blood flow, more aliveness. It’s called ‘Creative Joint Play.’ We have over 3,000 joints in our bodies and when we move them – particularly in unusual ways, we create more VIBRANCE.
“FABULOUS… Tapping, doing body scans, and moving joints in crazy ways – that’s what I call “SOP:” Standard Operating Procedure. A great way to start your day or shift your energy whenever you want.
“Ok, so now just walk around the room – your usual walk and your usual pace. Notice how your heels and feet hit the floor, how your hips swing or not, how your arms move… Just walk and notice…”
“Great! So now notice someone else’s walk and imitate that.”
“Notice any differences?”
Someone says, “She flips her foot out.”
“Yeah? How does that feel to you?”
A shrug and then, “I dunno… (thinking) weird?”
“Can you describe ‘weird?’”
“So now… Everybody walk in slow motion. Very SLOW…”
They do, moaning and groaning.
Legs mid-air. BIG MOANS AND GROANS! And… LAUGHTER!
“How’s that body now?” I kid.
“Ohhh… it hurts!”
“GOOD! So now…”
“Nnnoooo!” they cry. Enough!
“…Walk like a duck.”
They walk like ducks.
“Now quack like a duck!”
They obey. Laughing.
“Now flap your arms like Big Bird.”
They do and fall over each other laughing.
“And how’s that body?!” I tease.
“TIRED!” In unison, dramatically falling on desks.
I lean back on my desk, arms crossed, and grin, coast to coast.
“Congratulations ladies! You just experienced a body-mind connection. You altered your brain’s neural pathways and changed your innards through your outters! And you didn’t even know it!
“Welcome to the magic of THE BODY!”
I did finally let them sit, and by the end of our time together, they experienced many playful moments of integrating mind, body and spirit. I taught them how to belly breathe, calm themselves, did some EFT, and power poises; they wrote and made mandalas using their non-dominate hand (had a blast guessing meanings); they framed and painted pictures of their thumbprints; explored the lessons of body language, and personality profiles; chose words that best described their finest strengths; and mostly had fun connecting – to themselves and each other in surprising ways.
On the last day: before they walked out the door, I expressed appreciations, offered journals as parting gifts.
“Are you coming back next year?” someone asked.
I smiled: Adventure complete.