A Blythe Coach

Care & Actualization of the Self

During my training with Accomplishment Coaching, I read the wonderful book There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate, a compassionate process for learning to accept yourself exactly as you are, in which spiritual teacher Cheri Huber states: 

“The simplest example is that if self-hate is hating my body, it doesn’t matter what I do or what I look like, I will never meet self-hate’s standard, which is the point.” &

“I’m suggesting that you stop beating yourself. Many spiritual teachers suggest that hatred is not the answer. They say things about love, forgiveness, generosity, and gratitude.”

Wooded scene with green, yellow and red leaves on the trees along a path

This week we have been exploring the theme of developing a strong self-identity and self-care as the underpinning of growth and learning in any area of life, including dance, yoga, relationships, and career. I recorded my 23rd weekly podcast, called “Care & Actualization of the Self,” which is the first in my series on the Elements of Dance, where I’ll be explaining each Element, including The Body/Shape/Systems/Self, Action/Shaping, Space, Time, and Quality/Energy and how I use them in choreography, criticism, teaching, and reflective practice. 

Podcast Audio of “Care & Actualization of the Self,” also accessible from link above

I will be exploring all of the Elements as the palette we work with as performing artists (a broader exploration than my prior series on the 7 basic movements of ballet), and logical starting point, it seems to me is often grouped as part of the Element of the Body, the “Inner Self.” I’ll start to get into the physical side of dance expression next week, and today I am discussing the “inner,” sometimes referred to as “higher” SELF. 

As an ontological coach, I approach all of my work from the perspective of inquiry, reflection, and transformation. Whether teaching dance or yoga, or coaching clients, I am interested in co-creating a shift in how we show up in the world, and support people in coming from Essence, rather than habituated Survival Mechanism. 

My approach to coaching and teaching is to assume (and confirm) that I and those I work with are essentially healthy, whole, and supported. We are each ultimately responsible for our own well-being, and that is the ground we stand on to be able to learn, grow, and accomplish our goals. Mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, relational, and physical health all must be looked after.

For me, this includes developing self-awareness, self-acceptance, and (increasingly) self-love. One framework we often refer to as educators is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which includes Physiological Needs, Safety Needs, Love & Belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualization. The theory is that higher needs in the hierarchy can emerge when people have satisfied the previous need, although subsequent research has shown that it’s not a strictly linear or chronological progression.

I also often refer to the Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework as well as the guidelines detailed in Philosophy for Children. The Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework of instruction in Social Justice includes four main areas: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action. First comes the development of a strong and healthy identity, and particularly relevant here is #4, that “Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.” 

Yoga develops awareness and acceptance of our body and mind, while also strengthening the connection between body, mind, and spirit. The Yoga Sutra attributed to Patanjali outlines moral principles (the yamas) and observances (niyamas) that are a part of the yogic path, often called the “Eightfold Path,” and these form a foundation on which the subsequent breath and meditative practices are built:

“The moral principles are nonviolence, truthfulness […] the absence of greed…The observances are bodily purification, contentment, ascetic practice, study of sacred lore, and dedication…” (Sutras 2:30 & 2:32) 

Now there’s a whole LOT to unpack in each of these principles and practices, but the fact that nonviolence came first of all I think is telling. When we talk about ahimsa or nonviolence, that includes violence toward ourselves in word or deed.

In the introduction to There is Nothing Wrong with You, Cheri Huber explains that “The reason spiritual practice is essential in doing this work of going beyond self-hate is that, in order to be free of self-hate, we must find the unconditional.” and “Every spiritual path tells us that what we are seeking is inside us.” 

Yogic philosophy is also instructive when it comes to finding our true identity and following our personal purpose (or dharma), and in the classic text The Bhagavad Gita it states,

“Therefore, always do your duty without attachment. If you do things without desiring results for yourself, you will experience the highest state.” (3:19)  

“When you see the stainless unity of God (Brahman) everywhere, you become established in Brahman and rise above the constant changes of this world.” (5:19)

As a coach and teacher, I love helping clients grow their Self-knowledge, Self-compassion, Self-love, Self-care, and Self-confidence, which leads to breakthroughs in accomplishment, contentment, and fulfillment. We distinguish Essence, Purpose, Survival Mechanism and obstacles and take concrete actions. 

To do this work, we have to be well-resourced, including consulting with any professionals who can help. At various times in my life, through injury and other transitions and challenges I have faced, these have been some of the supportive resources I have called upon:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Therapy & Support Groups
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Naturopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Gyrotonic
  • Coaching
  • Social Community (time with friends, asking for help)
  • Spiritual & Creative Community…

Teaching Yoga and Dance, this self-awareness and acceptance means learning about and respecting our body’s abilities and limits, using positivity and patience with achieving our performance goals, and getting good support from teachers, coaches, and other professionals. 

Awareness of my personal strengths and learning preferences as well as which structures of support help me personally helps me continue to address my “weaknesses” and challenges.  I’ll continue to share resources going forward to support our need to be clear and solidly situated in our identity, as well as compassionate with ourselves in facing inevitable challenges.

Introduction to Ballez ballet technique classes, culture of acceptance

I’ve been sharing my favorite classical ballets in my newsletter each week, but for self and identity week I thought it would be fitting to feature the work of my friend Katy Pyle, including the Ballez dance company, and “Ballez Everywhere” class on YouTube. It is such a welcoming, encouraging, creative space!

My explanation of the ballet exercise Rond de Jambe on YouTube, link also below

Getting down to the specifics of the interface between the self and the world in dance technique, this week on my own YouTube Channel I’m breaking down the exercise of rond de jambe a terre, which is a sliding half-circle of the foot and leg. These movements are smooth and develop the muscles of the standing and working leg and foot, with support and control from the center of the body. 

It is all a process! We are responsible for taking care of our well-being first, to be healthy, happy dancers and people.

How do you define your identity and where will you offer yourself some love and care this week? For more, please visit me at ablythecoach.com

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