Editor’s Note: We asked Ron Gelblum, “How does moving the body move the mind?” He consulted Hannah Baggins, a yoga teacher; Nancy Thompson, of the Figure and Health Spa; and Sarah Keith, an instructor of T’ai Chi. Then he asked himself.


Why move? Why persist in it when all my material needs are fulfilled? Is it the playing out, the dance, of neurosis? The urgings of a subtle psychic movement? Why move? Curiosity? There’s something pleasing about motion. For we of the West who are oriented towards achievement, accomplishment, progress, domination, aggression, etc., movement perhaps gives the illusion of going further, of gaining something.

But there is movement, and there is movement — that springing from confusion or fear and that expressing harmony and integration. Often the manifestations appear the same, at least to this observer, who considers his perceptions to be still on the gross level. Unfortunately, we live in such a topsy-turvy way that we cultivate poise rather than peace. We’re so busy suppressing our panic in the face of an over-loaded reality which strains our ability to cope, so involved in the effort to project competence, that we do harm to ourselves and others by failing to differentiate between living and going through the motions. Of course, there is an inherent chicken-egg question here: does right movement inspire right thought or vice versa? (Answer not as important as the realization of interconnectedness.)

One senses a correlation between moving with grace and feeling good. There is no need to startle the universe with violent, awkward or clumsy movements. In our languages we have a name for the art that cultivates physical grace — the dance. Strangely, practitioners of this art are the only ones for whom it’s considered worthwhile to strive for grace of motion. The rest of us, I presume, have better things to do.

Since we are bound to move, we might as well do it gracefully. Not just for the sake of aesthetics, but because physical grace engenders spiritual grace.

It’s not where you go, it’s how you go there.

I aspire to be constantly suffused with the awareness that every motion, every gesture, is meaningful, to put a stop to attempts to “figure things out” instead of living, which when done artfully produces no surprises, and necessarily entails the best possible performance of the best possible actions. Putting the body through healthy paces can reap nothing but good for the soul.

Ah, to get at the bottom of the mind-body merry-go-round. Sound mind in a sound body makes sense to almost everyone, but there are varying definitions of sound and differing regimens for achieving soundness.

The better you move, the better you feel.

Sometimes it all becomes too much, and one must move. Discernment is needed to know the propitious time, to gauge the ripeness of the moment for movement through space. Calm, peace, the confidence of that which lives are prerequisites for testing the water and joining the flow.

Experience teaches. It is to be lived. But don’t ask it questions. It is too busy living. Just trust it.

Who is moving, and where? What is moving? Is anything moving? Is this a frozen, circular, revolving tableau? The “movement” of the imagination is sufficient to sustain life.

Joy comes to the integrated mover.

I hope you don’t think you’ll get anywhere by thinking without moving, so as to better concentrate on the sordid business of straining the rational mind. Don’t do it! Don’t do it! That way lies madness. You are not your body. You are not your mind. Your soul cleaves unto them for the time being, but be not deluded. Certainly think not that mind is transcendent or most powerful. It is encased in the body, and the path to health lies in dealing mentally with the givens of the body’s circumstances. Do not overreach; do not go beyond the natural potential of the moment.

The body carries the mind through the physical plane. There is much beyond the body, but it is not mind. The brain, mind’s body within a body is always working, like any other organ. So what? It will spin out some fantastic tales, thoroughgoing analyses, and other flotsam and jetsam. Disregard this facet. Use the body as a purifier, a fumigator, a clearer of the air. The physical form is a launching pad for its rocket, the mind. Let those who doubt the symbiosis give up their bodies and then tell me what happened to their minds. Any takers? Ah go on, live the life of the mind. Wallow in a cerebral pool and come up dripping with moldy leftovers.

Mind-body advancing on all fronts, cagily expanding itself in spasms of phantasmagoric rejuvenation. I was told that yoga is reintegration, is total, something one does every moment. There was talk of colors becoming clearer. I also heard that there is no way to separate mind and body, though fanatics have tried. Perhaps the body must undergo stress, for that which is inside to be transferred to the physical. A teacher of T’ai Chi spoke to me of centering the life force, of moving meditation, of peace in movement. I was told T’ai Chi is a movement bridge between yoga and dancing, that it will take you into itself again, smoothing things out. Do it outside, and you truly touch the day.

Names for movement, seeking of grace. Names for seeming splits in our nature. Mind? Body? Come again? Unravel it and you follow an infinity of ever retreating waves. Though we may never get past the semantic limitations, it’s enough to sense that moving the body moves the mind, and vice versa. Where does that leave you? More enlightened than many of our greatest “thinkers.” The awareness of oneness is as good a starting point for a grope down life’s corridor as any other.