Awareness—The Time is Now!
Are you aware? Have you ever wondered if the way we think about our lives, our body are by default rather than by our own design?
Colonization and the spread of Western ideologies altered our fluidity to just be as it promoted sameness and somewhat of a rigid way of thinking. Is this where we want to be as a society? Take sexuality for instance, anthropology shows recordings of homosexual relationships in literature and art in regions such as Sparta, Crete, and Rome, even China from the tenth to eighteen centuries—lesbian relationships were part of the culture and celebrated. So where is this judgement-free understanding and acceptance (love) today? Assumptions affect our clarity, which in turn influences our ability to recognize our own space in society.
When we think about it, the social constructs we live by and that make up society as we know it today are also what have created repressive expectations of certain groups. We don’t talk about it, except for glimpses, but have you noticed how regardless of age, sex, religion, culture, status or wealth, the individuals labeled as minorities (e.g., black and racialized individuals, Indigenous Peoples, the LGBTQ2+ community, women, or people with disabilities) face discrimination and targeted acts of violence owing to a lack of wide-ranging acceptance and understanding for differences. An outcome that discourages the masses from being different, from being curious and listening to the voice inside them, to their wildness.
Today, our awareness is tied to our social identity, to our place in society. How body aware we are is dependent on the relationship/indoctrination we have to social norms—how acceptant and compliant we choose to be. Really, the relation we forge with social norms is determined by our own social position and social identities.
Some might argue awareness is at times limited as it is greatly influenced by the fear of the unknown or the opinions of a few which create barriers between ourselves and others, and even more strikingly within ourselves.
So, let me ask you this, what if we went wild? Bear with me, I don’t mean literally I just mean what if we took on a new, uncensored approach to life—one where kindness, open-mindedness and acceptance were at the forefront. In other words, what if we questioned what is innate to us as individuals versus what we inherited?
When faced with looks, personalities or actions that diverge from social norms and accepted behaviours, a common response is stigmatization. When we fail to understand someone or a group, we become faced with a decision to ignore or to challenge our perceptions. When I created Barre Fit Warriors, it was important to me to make this fitness environment inclusive and welcoming; to bridge the gaps in how people are able to work out. There are no limits. Our ability to adapt to change is what creates our strength as a society and will ensure longevity.
Essentially, the issue is with how aware we want to be as individuals and how our self-awareness translates to our actions. How do we build the freedom and safe space to be wild (to become aware)? Afterall, true freedom is the greatest gift.
Arriving at awareness can be seen as a challenge to social norms considering it requires us to reflect on our own being and the person we actually want to be—our full self. In other words, it goes beyond simply being visible. In the sense that we can’t change people’s perceptions or what they think is appropriate or correct, but we can do whatever necessary to show up—to be visibly ourselves—to show up with all of who we are. You may be thinking to yourself, well of course I show up as myself, but do you really? Do you change how you act depending on where you go? Do you take the time to feel and think why you experience discomfort in certain situations?
Invisibility and silence are seen as perpetuating a lack of awareness for ourselves, which impacts what we do and how we think. Really, I am raising all these questions, but we could also sweep them under the rug. Eventually we forget that we are tamed, that we are caged to the social constructed norms around us, and we take the steps needed to fit into those social cages (e.g., heteronormative thinking and stereotypes). However, body awareness asks us to move beyond that, to break the cage if you will. It requires us to be brave enough to be ourselves, to be the person we choose to be. I almost went with the person we are meant to be, but that doesn’t feel right. We definitely have a choice to make in the construction of our self—physically, mentally and emotionally. Afterall, we should live by our own design, which is where our power as individuals originates. If we try to be everything for everyone all the time, we are setting ourselves up for failure—so we gain control back by becoming more aware.
As a professional dancer body awareness wasn’t an option. You need general awareness to be respectful and welcoming of those around you and good body awareness to invite people to follow the story you want to tell through movement. Making body awareness a powerful quality. Whether you were thinking about it or not you eventually learned everything about your body, the way it moves, what feels right, and what you need to do to keep it moving when it’s past the point of exhaustion. Dance changed my understanding of society by empowering and energising me through awareness, which I now transmit to my clients. All exercises and stretches we do reinforce the connection between the mind, body, and soul to develop or reinforce awareness.
Being a coach and helping others sculpt what healthy means for them, I see first-hand the benefits of awareness. It takes time to develop a strong mind-body connection but it’s beneficial in all aspects of our lives. Physical exercise can increase body awareness. Especially the types of exercises, like Barre Fitness that pairs intentional awareness of the body/sensations and the mind. I would even add emotional awareness as all Warriors know from class that holding some exercises for a period of time brings a flood of emotions to the surface.
The people who are in touch with themselves and are showing up as themselves are the ones who exude confidence, happiness and can make changes to their lifestyle. They are the ones who do not lie to themselves. Now I am not saying we all have some big change to make or that no one lives as their full self, all I’m getting at is that when you are faced with difference or uneasiness, it’s helpful to look within yourself and determine if you’re acting by default (the result of social norms) or by your own design. Are you giving yourself the opportunity to be wild? In other words, the opportunity to determine what really matters to you, and choosing to get it by being a leader and uplifting others as you go?
There will always be a place for love, acceptance, and growth, we just have to be willing to extend it to ourselves and others. It’s a different thing to step up to be the best versus being the best for others. So, check in with yourself, have that awareness to be able to make a change. We need to be able to speak out and say/enact what we want, to say what’s happening to ourselves, and to engage in difficult conversations so others feel safe to do so too.
We talk about our own self-awareness so that everyone gains the space to do so.