On Wednesday 11th June 2014, residents at SHAFA HOME Delhi were gifted with their sixth meeting with the fantastically charismatic Ms. Maheshwari Jani, experienced behaviour analyst and master of neuro-linguistic programming. In this session, our residents investigated why dance is a crucial part of therapy. This age-old art form physically expressing the freedom of the soul not only reveals our innermost emotions, creativity and coordination, it also releases stress by channelling coarse negative emotions into a harmonious rapture of bodily symphony. Nobody needs to be the next Hrithik Roshan or Kareena Kapoor to take part in and enjoy the energetic and furious fun of dancing! All it requires is genuinely willing heart and a sprinkling of imagination...then anyone can well and truly become ‘footloose’!
Resident’s know to leave their inhibitions at the door every time the vivacious Ms. Jani enters the house; it’s high time for smiles, surprises and a riotous blast of shout-out-loud excitement! This session would demonstrate just that! Today residents were coaxed to leave their comfort zone and embrace a new and fresh image of themselves as happy, confident and expressive folk. Many of our residents are dealing with low-self confidence and suffer from shyness and negative self-image. So, the resounding consensus of both staff and residents was that a session on self-expression would be a fantastic addition to their ongoing portfolio of knowledge.
Rest assured, Maheshwari Ji’s plan for the day would soon shake off our resident’s blues. They formed groups of three and were instructed to show each other their ‘groove’. This was the preliminary activity that was designed to melt the ice and facilitate the residents to feel comfortable in each other's presence. Then all embarked on a brief dance warm-up to vitalize and energize themselves and then launched into the morning’s educational frolics. For the next two hours we would break from our sedentary routine. This wasn't going to be like any ordinary session, we all knew we were going to be up and bounding about in no time!
Resident’s then had to imagine themselves as human paintbrushes...The ‘painting’ exercise required us to move our arms and legs artistically coordinating our limbs. A few minutes into the exercise, it was noticeably evident to see that the initially hesitant residents were now slowly breaking through their inhibitions. Did it matter what others were thinking? A lot of our residents were slithering on the floor like snakes, but were smiling and giggling! It was beautiful and heartwarming to see them getting in touch with their inner, innocently happy-selves that they had neglected for an incredibly long time while in active addiction. This exercise had an underlying message applicable to life: We should not be moved by other's judgments, nor should we try to copy anyone else; since in doing so, we lose our own unique charm. Only we truly know of our capabilities, strengths and working points. We are entitled to feel joy, not be bogged down by other's negativity! The truest trend-setter on life’s dance floor is the fearless and optimistic individual.
Next, residents played “pass the basketball”...standing in a circle, residents used their imagination and creativity to generate sequence of steps before calling out another resident’s name and bouncing the ball to them. This tested how well they could perform on impulsive. The wider message behind the activity was that life constantly throws situations our way that test our reaction speed. The question is “Are we able to demonstrate the aptitude to perform a set task that has a time-bound limitation with calm, cool composure? Our residents sure did!
Chocolate is a winning incentive to hook anyone's attention, our SHAFA residents are no different. When we heard chocolate involved, of course we wanted to know more!! Maheshwari Ji encouraged the residents to visualize a goal they had in life; whether it was ‘go to college, get married, start a business etc.’ Residents were instructed to creatively form a dance-step routine while moving towards the chocolate [imagining their particular goal in their mind]. Each resident had to demonstrate the unique pursuit of their goal and audibly express their joy and gratitude for accomplishing it. Some members gracefully pirouetted, while others performed a bhangra and break-dance fusion. The common factor? All met with their goals and happily munched on their prize!
The next two activities had our resident's joining pairs, the first exercise they would take it in turns to be each other's shadow. The aim was to seamlessly copy each other's movements. This allowed our residents' ingenuity and innovation shine through in all its glory. When asked why this was done, members chirpily expressed that it tested their leadership and communication skills.
Establishing trust was the primary objective of the second exercise. We were instructed to place our hands on our partner’s shoulders, close our eyes shut and place blind faith in our companion to lead us round the hall without bumping into anyone else. As the “conga line” of pairs wound its way round the ‘Asha Grah’, beaming smiles and emphatic congratulations emanated from residents’ faces. This exercise urged us not only just to trust in our environment, but also to remember we are all team players. We can only avoid collisions in life if we follow our own path with our eyes wide open, totally aware of where our route is taking us. If it won’t lead us to our desired destination, only our hands can change it!
Behind the razzle dazzle, Maheshwari Ji was asking us this important question...”can we dance to the rhythm of life?” Life’s pace is constantly chopping and changing it’s up to us to match our stride alongside with the changing scene, without losing our unique sparkle. If we choose to remain rigid and inflexible, this is to our detriment only. The rest of the world will inevitably continue however we will be the ones who lose out on the opportunities life has in store for us.
This session superbly added to residents’ self-efficacy beliefs, self-empowerment and positive self-image. Everybody had a smashing time swaying and sashaying their troubles away not to mention receiving a yummy chocolate reward for busting great moves! We learnt nothing in life ever remains static; it’s up to us to boogie along with the beat. Our deep and sincere thanks to Ms. Maheshwari Jani for a brilliant session!
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