Grounding Through Equal Pushing


All bullying happens in the context of unequal power. When working with a class group, I want the targets of bullying to feel their strength and I want the bullies to accommodate to others.

Pushing against another person or even against a wall provides a solid connection to the ground and to your core, which helps you to feel strong, centered and calm.

In the picture to the right, my Dance/Movement Therapy class at the University of Wisconsin, Madison is trying out equal pushing.  I had the class form two lines facing each other.  With children I sometimes use the image of a stream of water between the two lines.  I have everyone put one foot forward and slightly to the side with knees bent.  This stance lowers the center of gravity and provides a balanced position from which  to push.  Arms are put out in front of the body, the flat part of the hands in contact with their partner’s hands.  Elbows need to stay bent. We begin by pushing  lightly and gradually increase the force.  No one is allowed to push harder than their partner can push so you have to stay sensitive to the push you receive.  If one partner has his or her arms bent up close to the body or elbows straight and locked then the pushing is not even.  If the arms are not in the middle of the ‘stream’ one person is pushing harder. The goal is for both partners to feel their strength without overpowering the other.  With children I may choose partners I feel are closely matched so that everyone gets to feel somewhat challenged.

Once your group has the idea of pushing, it is important to put recuperation into the movement. I time the push, saying “Push, and push, and push and Breathe….. ”   The release happens while remaining in contact with hands your partner.   Partners bring their arms  up in the air together as they take a slow, easy, breath.  After the breath we push again.  This forms a rhythm of pushing and releasing, pushing and releasing.  When this reciprocal use of strong and light, tension and release, is done in time with a partner, a sense of connection develops.