I really liked high-school science, specifically physics (secondary school for my Caribbean readers). I never tired of learning the principles that naturally occurred in the physical Universe, and I still marvel at humanity’s ability to harness them. I know about Bernoulli’s Principle, yet every time I’m in an airplane or I see one taking off, I’m in such awe I swear some kind of sorcery is involved. Don’t get me started on Quantum Physics. That’s some advanced level wizardry right there.
I continue to forget most of what I learned, but two particular principles stick with me: Newtons’ First and Second Laws of Motion. The First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. The Second Law of Motion states that if an unbalanced force acts on a body, that body will experience acceleration ( or deceleration), that is, a change of speed.
Why these two? Because they are a perfect metaphor for who I am as an Enneagram Nine. While Nines are often lauded as Mediators and Peace Makers who can skillfully guide opposing forces to the middle ground of compromise and mutuality, we are also conflict avoiders who are well versed at numbing out and not being in touch with our own feelings. This stems from the erroneous belief that if we make others unhappy they will withdraw their love, and all we want is to be loved. So we make their needs our needs. It’s not the love flex we think it is. In merging with them, we lose ourselves in them, and when we’re not misguidedly loving them, we have no idea what we want for ourselves.
It’s a terrifying feeling not to know who you are outside of your dedication to others’ happiness. We escape the unsettling anxiety by numbing ourselves with anything from narcotics to sex to hour after hour of mindless screen time. We become a body at rest, and we stay at rest, loving ourselves less and less, forgetting ourselves more and more.
Moving helps us find ourselves. It’s the antidote to numbing. It’s a reminder that we exist. Almost any motion will do: stretching, jumping, walking, running, lifting, dancing, swimming, biking, calisthenics, yoga, martial arts. As long as there’s enough effort that requires attention and intention beyond the autonomic going-through-the-motions. Moving invites us into ourselves, a place that many of us would rather not go, to face the unhealed and unresolved parts we’d rather ignore.
To be clear, these activities can also be narcotic. Too much of a good thing ceases to be a good thing. We can just as easily avoid ourselves by becoming obsessed with wellness and its trappings, harming ourselves just as the wellness industry so often causes harm by perpetuating systems of oppression like capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and ableism.
Moving awakens the body, and in so doing it awakens the mind, and the spirit. The mind-body-spirit triumvirate governs both our existence and our being. And when we move with others, we may discover a healing refuge of community and connection.
We're not just healing from our own well-worn wounds, but from generational trauma, as well as the daily assaults from a world intent on exploiting our bodies through hustle and grind culture. We are not here to toil and labor for those in seats of unearned power and privilege. We are called to live free and fulfilled. Moving decolonizes.
So let’s move… into joy, into wholeness, into love, into liberation.