When we are in sync with our lovers, life feels grand. When we get out of sync, life can feel scary. Maybe we busy ourselves or zone out to ignore the discomfort. If we have tools that help us be curious about the out-of-sync times, we can wrestle our way through those times and back to things being groovy.
With Shelter in Place rules, our lovers may be the only people we have close, in-person contact with for weeks at a time. Being out of sync can get very edgy, even explosive. Chi for Two® helps us recognize and shift the sensations that our romantic dances stir up in us. Couples counselors have been exploring for a long time how romantic interactions stir up childhood patterns. We now know more about how those childhood patterns affect nervous system functioning.
Chi for Two® helps couples risk connection even when things are out of sync. When we are babies, being out of sync with our caregivers creates severe nervous system complications. When we are out of sync with our lovers it can stir up similar distressing feelings. When we are in sync, it attends to one of our needs as human beings – the need for love and belongingness. Chi for Two® helps us feel our adult bodies. These practices help us feel our ability to bring spiritual support to ourselves so we can be present with our romantic partners in ways that our love flows freely.
Here are 5 Chi for Two® movements that you can try.
1. Sit side by side on a sofa or edge of a bed and each takes a turn saying, “You are on my side.” See if you can hear the words naming what is meant by the expression, “They were on my side.” The expression, “We’re on your side,” means, “We hope good things will happen for you.”
2. Whenever you are each ready, you can take a turn slowly leaning back into the potentially supportive surface of the sofa or bed, exploring how okay or not okay it feels to relax on this surface. In times of stress, it can be hard to relax our muscles unless we are disembodied. Technology invites us to zone out by binge-watching shows or mindless scrolling on phones. However, zoning out is not the same as relaxing. Zoning out is good for waiting out danger but it is not replenishing.
3. Whenever each of you feels the urge, you can stand up and go to a wall and push into it. Hopefully, you have a wall space with enough room for your partner to join you on your side, but the main movement goal is to push into something that can support your push. A door or door frame will work. Pushing into a wall or door helps us feel core strength. Pushing into the wall lets us push against the floor—against the pull of gravity—with our feet. When we push, we can feel how it is to be oppositional. We might recognize an urge to be oppositional, which might be acted out in arguments with our lovers. Ideally, when we were babies, we were able to push into the holding arms of our caregivers.
Hopefully, a caregiver was capable of providing us with a secure arm under our heads and blankets that swaddle our limbs into our torso. When we are babies, pushing into the arms of a caregiver helps us feel our emerging core strength. As adults, we need to feel core strength too, especially in times when so much is out of our control.
4. After both partners feel done pushing out the urges to be oppositional, you can slowly and mindfully move to face your partner with your hands up. It is as if you have brought your wall with you—two walls with space between them. You each have your own wall, your own support for wrestling with oppositional feelings inside you. Feel the space between your walls—a space for something new. You can look into each other’s eyes and each says, “Sometimes I wish I could control you, but I can’t.”
5. Whoever is ready first starts some sort of playful dance that might make their partner laugh such as wagging your tail or pretend tap dancing with your feet. When the first dance finishes with a bow, it is the partner’s turn to do their dance. These dances are meant to be fun, authentic, playful, and funny whether they are big dances like an overly dramatic ballet-dancing dinosaur or small dances like a tiny, shy wave of a pinky finger.
The goal is laughter but remember: We cannot control what’s on the other side of our energetic wall. We cannot control many things on our side of the wall, but our dance with gravity gives us control of some things. We can stay on our partners’ side. We can notice how okay or not okay it is to relax into potentially supportive surfaces without technology. We can notice when we feel oppositional and push into a wall. We can recognize that our partners are on the other side of our energetic wall and our inability to control them creates opportunities for new surprises that can be sexy and fun.
Dee Wagner is a licensed professional counselor and a board-certified dance/movement therapist. She and her artist husband, John Cargile, created Chi for Two® for romantic partners. Dee’s son, Tai Chi and Meditation teacher Stephen Wagner is developing a version of Chi for Two® for parents and kids. Dee, John, Stephen, and his wife Erin will lead a couples retreat for Braveheart Workshops in September.