The Body that "I" am and the Body of the Sharing Relationship
Tangotherapy Trails By Anna Rita Cerrone* /English translation by Maria Rossi
(la versione in lingua italiana in: http://www.carlodilegge.it/tango/100-il-corpo-che-sono-e-il-corpo-della-relazione-percorsi-di-tangoterapia )
J.P. Sartre (1958) would say that my body is not a body, one of many objects-body, it is irreducibly mine because it’s one and the same with the subject that "I" am. My body is intrinsic to my subjectivity, it is body-subject, it is not just a pattern or something I have: "I am my body". We use to separate body and soul like two autonomous entities, but in this way we badly cut ourselves into separate sections or parts, with our mind’s bistoury. The "living and experienced body" expresses the incarnation of consciousness, and the incarnated consciousness clearly tells us that we are undivided and indivisible unit of living body.
The body "I" am refuses, receives, is constantly exposed, it is the word of my wounds and needs, it’s a borderland among the the result of the translation of my experience and which it collects and transcends through the encounter with each other. How can we reduce the body to its somatic compartment, its physiological functions and just the statute of living instrument necessary to inhabit the world? To say that you have a body is not enough: but "to be body" is all. We can discover, step by step, our being body, incarnate consciousness as being in the world, the source of meaning and sense donation, through what make our experience.
This body “we” are is a field of expression and relationship, it realizes my intentions even before I think of the dynamic interaction with the world, because we are not only a part of that world we live but we contribute to building it. The body is in fact an indispensable intermediary in the encounter with each other. Not only is it present to my conscience and does not run out of this function. In my body “I am” completely, in the dimension of corporeality I fully reveal myself and the other people reveal to me. So in this awareness, my body is more than just presence, it is present and participatory in my inner life and relationship life, expressing and acting my full intentionality.
But this dimension of body consciousness that “I am”, isn’t given “a priori”. It is a precious conquest that is achieved. Integration and sharing between parts of the totality that we are and parts of the whole system we are with each other.
We can achieve full presence in the experience of ourselves and in the encounter with each other or we can stay in the world with closed, bandaged eyes, even scared by what we perceive. Sometimes we realize that there is a fullness beyond our automatism, beyond those characters and functions of the body that we seem to know but which we take for granted and that can even become cages, braces of which we can’t recognize access, output or transformation signal anymore. The body then start to trap, becomes symptomatic, unknown, and even stranger, mysterious in its expressions.
But the body "I" am, can be recovered from time to time, can be reasserted, fully conquered through the opening path to a real human relationship able to heal, regenerate. Emotions are always incarnated. They can not ignore this nature.
So I can feel myself in the flesh (=embodied) and feel with each other the fabric of a dialogue that reapply my undivided unity, I can come to discover other people through the mute and eloquent word of codes that do not lie. The body codes and the sense of my body, and the other’s one.
(We need) to experience the authenticity of the meeting with each other. Thus the beating heart at different frequencies, diaphragmatic breathing, muscle sensitivity, ground rooting and being in balance become experience that can be acquired in its entirety.
The consciousness of how we are in our movements, fully being in a shared step or disagreeing, perceiving discomfort, disorienting or finding ourselves in mutual agreement, are words of our bodies. Our ability to enter and exit more or less harmoniously from a hug communicates important signs of our reality.
They tell us who we are and where we are in here-and-now of every encounter, even in terms of unpleasant emotions that can be transformed, but only completely crossed.
And here the experience of tangotherapy becomes adventure of consciousness, interpersonal communication made of that body we are, sharing and seeking sensory and emotional feeling together, discovering ourselves in the encounter of own emotional resistance, own attitudes. In each hug I can meet the deep and necessary connection with affections that point to the other’s or mine prints. Prints of a personal history that always arise and act in relationships from our birth.
In the here-and-now of an authentic encounter with the other, in fact, I relive old experiences, energized or freely fluctuating energy, of psycho-physical states connected to contact and exchange, I find the desire generated or denied. In the contact I find the possibility of transforming the sense of refusal into acceptance, the distance in the vicinity, the sense of invasion in shared space.
What are dance instruments and how can the tango codes compare me to those experiences which need to fill in meaning? The dance and dance of the tango is an existential metaphor. Relationship and mirroring in the couple that becomes a system that joins, not always easily.
Tango is based on alternation, joining system on communication played through complementary roles, which refer to male and female. Man guides, proposes and leads, the woman welcomes, holds and responds, but it is not all, because, in the flexible play of the roles, we practice or learn to express aspects of ourselves that we usually hold in rigid definitions. Both male and female belong to us, in the vision of a dual mind that knows how to contain an aspect of life but also its opposite. By quoting Jung, we can mention the archetypes of Anima and Animus. Always in relationship with each other, we take this complexity. So our unconscious components of the opposite sex reveal themselves in their reciprocal combinations of dominant or underlying energy and in the embrace of a tango, as in life, they want and can find integration.
Isn’t this the sense of intensity and the energy we can find in the hug? What does he confront us with the boundless complexity that we are, that other people are? And if we are not aware of this, what and how many shadows are triggered in that hug of life becoming oppressive?
But we can discover the fullness, the dynamic flow of moving bodies, rotating, receptive and flexible. Since shared movement is the creative action of a unique gesture that is harmonized, in the mutual adjusting of both the bodies and through which we consent to free up invisible strings that make us stiff.
Everything is communication to rediscover, through the dancing couple, which is in a relationship. A relationship of impact centered on the body in dialogue, which must learn not to contradict, not to overthrow, not to invade.
So the look that returns the understanding or retracts compares us with our acceptance needs and with fears of exclusion. Walking like pauses, in the unisoned couple, refers to motion and immobility, dimensions that can be felt full or empty, consistant and fulfilling, or disarming and frustrating. In fact, we count on our internal polarities, equal and opposite, accepted or denied.
Shared axis and balance, control and abandonment, solitude and connection: great existential themes, great discoveries of our inner life, to which our consciousness can access and fully draw, which can fill the consistency of meaning only through experience that translates into resources what we often feel as a tedious challenge of existence.
How not to mention posture, so important in doing tango as in staying in the world: to stand straight on yourself or to abandon your own axis for a moment, forward, backward, side and therefore be supported in some movements, just like a combination of self-confidence and trust in the other.
Muscle tension, the rigidity that can be translated into fluidity and full correspondence to the muscular tone, are our internal traces, are inadequate states of mind, to our intentions, to what we are trying and thinking, whose true expression we have lost; but we can find them again.
We need to recognize them, to recapture them, to give it to the other and to collect the other's: to be to convey a clear intention rather than ambiguous, conscious rather than projective.
Only in the territory of this personal conquest of the body that “I am”, the body of the relationship unfolds harmoniously, it becomes the generative of a new circular and vital system.
This is a learning, made by experience, a guided and protected emotional experience, that becomes an opportunity to regenerate, rebuild, repair what can be felt in us as wound or separation. An experience of re-creation, completion of what we feel unfinished in ourselves. Feeling and dancing Argentine tango becomes a therapeutic tool for a meeting that can touch our roots, like the lymph nourishing and flowing. Only in this way can we know ourselves, embrace us fully, respectfully accept us, finally greet us and, gratefully, restart.
*Dr. Anna Rita Cerrone, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, specialized in Psychoanalitic Psychotherapy at I.R.E.P in Rome