Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recent Events: Parents Weekend at CCC

See the following post from first year student Nell McCarty about her experience with co-facilitator Julie Brannen at CCC's Parents Weekend 2012 and applications of what they learned for your own body-mind health and wellness while traveling. Nell and Julie were invited to lead a stretching session for the Parents' Brunch hosted by the library - it sounds like a wonderful experience for all! Check out the photos (photo credit: CCC alumnus Alexis Ellers)!!

A huge thank you to Kim Hale, Head of Marketing, Outreach and Special Initiatives for the library (and the best departmental liaison!!) for inviting us to collaborate for this event.

From Nell:

A long awaited update for the 2012 fall semester!

The Department of Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling currently is continuing community outreach and involvement in different ways. As the first-year “Community Outreach Assistant” I would love to begin with an introduction. My name is Nell McCarty, I am originally from Minneapolis, MN and moved to Chicago after living in New Jersey for the past four years. My position within the department has allowed me the opportunity to work consistently in two community settings as well as sporadically for Columbia College events.

Recently, one of the second-year Community Outreach Assistants Julie Brannen and I co-facilitated a brief “stretching” session that was held during Parents Weekend and was hosted by the library within Columbia College. What we were brought in to do was to give the parents a chance to stretch and regroup before they head off on lengthy journeys home. What I experienced as being one of the most meaningful aspects of our brief class was how our DMT studies positively influenced something as simple as stretching. Julie and I were able to make conscious movement choices through our understanding of what can help regulate the stress that occurs physically and mentally when traveling long distances. We were not throwing theories at our willing participants but rather we were able to give them movement tools.

Julie led the beginning of the session with a seated breath-to-stretch flow of movement. Breath is incredibly influential in movement regulation and is the foundation of any movement tool. It only made sense that during our brief group class breath became our core focus. As we came to standing I led the group into poses that focused on using the polarities of tensing and releasing in our muscles. The idea behind using these polarities sprouted from the idea that we become completely exhausted at the end of traveling. I know that when I drive for extended hours, I often find my muscles tensing without even realizing what I am doing. I felt that being able to access the feeling of tensing and then choosing to release hopefully could be applied during their trips. So, when participants found themselves gripping the steering wheel, maybe they would be able to notice and loosen their grip. Julie reminded the participants throughout these tensing poses to keep breathing.

The point of explaining the details of our stretching session in this post is not just for an update of what the department does in the community. It is also so for you, as a reader, to notice how influential your movement is in your everyday life. The simple tensing and releasing of muscles as well as your use of breath can completely change your mindset. Finding movement tools to relax with can be incredibly influential in your own ability to regulate stress and anxiety. So, next time you anticipate to travel for any length of time, remind yourself during your ride to take a breath and release your grip. The commute may continue to be taxing in length but hopefully you will leave your car, train, bus or plane without the migraine or muscle aches that form from the stress of traveling.

A quiet moment....

Nell and Julie in modified tree pose

Post author Nell!

A tight twist....

Seated stretching

Photo credit: CCC alumnus Alexis Ellers