Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Silent Language

"Dancing is wonderful training for girls, it's the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it." ~Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle

Following your partner's lead in dance is a crucial first step. It continually amazes me how the slightest nuance of my partner's move and body position creates an automatic reaction in me. My brain doesn't even have a chance to process it - my body simply reacts.

How often does this happen in our day to day life? Continually!

The language that we speak without ever opening our mouths, it is a universal language that is understood by all.

Oprah featured Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor on her show yesterday (her book is "My Stroke of Insight"). Dr. Taylor suffered a stroke which affected the left hemisphere of her brain. She lost her ability to speak, understand or communicate language, she lost the constant 'chatter' that goes on in your brain, her past, her ability to cognitively reason. The words she tried to form were garbled and the words she heard sounded like that of a golden retriever trying to talk. It was as if she was a new born infant inside of an adult body.

Yet ... the right hemisphere of her brain fully understood the nuances of the language being spoke. She understood by the tone of a voice, that help was on its way. She understood by the inflections of voice what was positive. She felt the positive and negative energy of the nurses that entered her hospital room. They didn't say a word, but she felt their energy and could tell the difference between those that were going through the paces of their jobs and those that took a moment to look her in the eye, touch her and make her feel like a vital presence in the room. She didn't know who her mother was, but the moment her mother saw her, she (her mother) instinctively went and cuddled up to her. The communication without words spoke loudly to her right hemisphere - she knew that she was safe in the arms of this stranger.

It was amazing to hear her tell her story. As a doctor who studies the brain (before her stroke), she had an awareness that she was able to consciously study her own brain as this was happening. It took her 8 years to recover. And now she is a walking testament to those who have suffered a stroke and to those whose communication skills have been lost. She speaks candidly about how simply it would have been to just fall asleep and let it all end. Living in the right hemisphere of your brain is a very blissful place to be.

The unvocalized communication that spoke to Dr. Taylor throughout her experience spoke volumes to me. Body language speaks louder than words. The most subtle movement is processed unconsciously by us continuously throughout our life time. From the moment we are born ... with every interaction with another living being ... every day of our lives.

Life is like a dance ... sometimes we lead ... sometimes we follow. Sometimes the lead is firm and strong ... other times it is subtle and uncertain. As we dance along, to the music we call life there will be times that you must lead when you want to follow ... and times when you must let someone else take the lead. There is nothing more reassuring than dancing through life with people who understand your every move ... and you understand theirs.

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