Reading my Body’s Language

May 3, 2020


This post was written by Caitlin Green, part of the 2020 Cohort of the Painted Bride’s Building Bridges: On the Rise project.



Now more than ever I’m reminded of how valuable and essential my connection to my body is – my oneness with my vessel. It’s currently home to not one but two life forces; a blessing I can only superficially express, and a concept that I don’t know will ever fully sink in for me. This pregnancy has been challenging – emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically – for its own reasons. Coping with these changes, and doing it in the midst of a global pandemic is… a lot. It’s been vital that I consistently check in with myself, maintain some sort of grounding and peace of mind amidst all of the outside chaos. My vessel deserves to be prioritized and nurtured. In some ways, the Coronavirus lockdown has made that more accessible and in other ways, the weight of the global yet disproportionate impact on our communities and its undetermined timeline makes it hard to feel at rest, even in isolation.. and that’s coming from a big-time introvert! My body has been working hard. To grow a person, to balance emotions, to stabilize in the wake of an uncertain future. I like surprises, but not this much.


Listening to the signals of my body has always been a way of helping me learn myself and know her with depth. Movement and dance have been my subscriptions for tuning in to these signals and reading my body’s language. I’m thankful for this gift and this relationship. It especially comes in handy in my ability to nurture and to nourish myself how I need to in times of uncertainty – to access an understanding of my needs and my desires and their roots. I’ve come to learn that the body is equipped with an abundance of this information and is constantly clueing me in on its knowledge. Receiving the body’s knowledge, really listening to it, is something that’s become less common as we’ve collectively socialized toward values in capitalism. For centuries we’ve adopted the norm of habitually looking to “professionals” to tell us what we need; to explain what our bodies are doing – relying on a third party to translate our own body’s language back to us and accept that translation as an accurate explanation of our needs. We’ve learned to disconnect from our bodies, from ourselves, so that we can be reconnected by an outside source and pay them for the ‘service’. Meanwhile, our vessels are our compasses, our containers, and these are tools for knowing self. The body’s ever-adjusting, growing, accommodating nature was built for sustainability. Movement is a means for listening to, sensing, and understanding the language of the body. While accessing the body’s physical and emotional signals allows us to make necessary adjustments toward dietary health, more efficient lifestyle choices, and conscious behavior patterns to increase overall wellness.. we can also utilize the body’s language to understand deeper nuances of who we are and to unpack meaning from our movement preferences and habits.

Our movement narratives house rich histories that are constantly accumulating content. Utilizing movement in its full capacity – by engaging the entire kinesphere and exploring its reaches, we gain familiarity with a fuller version of ourselves and can know our bodies more intimately. Dance invites us to explore the repertoire of our movement, the capacity and the boundaries of our bodies, and allows us to indulge in expansion beyond the confines of the pedestrian postures that we can so easily limit ourselves to. Solidifying a relationship with the body – one where we engage in a continuous feedback loop of giving and receiving means developing the skills to use the body’s tools for self-regulation and grounding in times of stress and discomfort.

My improvisation practice is one that has reintroduced me to myself again and again. Letting the body and it’s impulse to move in correspondence with rhythms and breath and whatever mood I happen to be in, whatever physical sensations happen to surface, is a way of releasing tensions, or simply identifying them, and returning to foundations in a wellness that encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. A wellness that the body has always known, and will continue to know intuitively. I’ve been doing better with this listening, and look forward to sharing what I’ve learned.

Building Bridges is supported by Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers.