Embodying the SHE RECOVERS® Intentions & Guiding Principles

Suzie Spitfyre | SHE RECOVERS Team Member & Volunteer Dance Facilitator

“SHE RECOVERS Dance is redefining the concept of healthy movement – going beyond traditional ideas of western exercise and incorporating a unique bodyful consciousness.”Suzie Spitfyre, SHE RECOVERS Dance Facilitator

Happy and content black women sitting in a garden

“SHE RECOVERS Dance is a trauma-informed guided movement experience facilitated with a carefully curated musical playlist, intentional cues and markers based on embodiment, mindfulness, and energetic movement. It provides the participant with the opportunity to create their own unique dance in an inspiring, playful, and judgement-free space that promotes self-discovery, body liberation, freedom, joy, and empowerment.”

Even though this is a summary of SHE RECOVERS Dance in written form, it’s so much more expansive than that, and it simply cannot be summed up in words…it needs to be experienced. SHE RECOVERS Trusted Advisor for Embodied Movement Erica Hornthal would say that’s because “we learn to move before we learn to speak.” Dancing is a way of tapping into our primordial selves, our inner children, our sentient body that is free of cultural conditioning, learned behaviors, social norms, and even language. Erica also says that dance is the body’s way of journaling. Participating in a SHE RECOVERS Dance circle is “doing the work,” without it feeling like work at all. Conscious movement is a healing modality that goes straight to the source of our thoughts and emotions – our bodies. In recovery, the practice of listening to and with our bodies allows us to process emotions and work through trauma, while building physical, emotional, and mental resilience through breath work, movement, and everything in between.

The first time I tried SHE RECOVERS Dance, it happened to be an in-person session on retreat, so unlike our weekly online offerings I wasn’t able to turn my camera off to feel more comfortable.

I had to let go of my fear of being seen as awkward and unfit by others, work through my anxiety over my jiggly bits and anticipated huffing and puffing, and put down the self-critical stories I was making up in my mind that I wasn’t the kind of person that should be doing this kind of thing etc…I had to get out of my head and into my body. And, when I did that, things changed. I’m not promising this will happen for every one, but once I was given a flowy veil to dance with and the music got cranked, I went with it. I was Salomé, I was a Can-Can dancer at the Moulin Rouge, I was Josephine Baker and every contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. If embodiment theory (the idea that because the brain is integrated into the body’s sensorimotor systems, thoughts and emotions are mediated by the body) stands, then the movement of my body influenced my mind. I am, therefore I think. If thinking triggers perception of experience, then wouldn’t body-related activity stimulate thought? It was an inner body experience, movement directed mind and how delightful and healing it was!

If you don’t believe me, believe the neuroscience, psychology, and social and cognitive development theories that support embodied movement as a pathway to healing, or better yet, join us for some guided intuitive movement at SHE RECOVERS Dance on Sundays – or register now for an exclusive and comprehensive introduction to embodied movement practice as a healing modality with SHE RECOVERS.

Below, I’ve danced my way through the SHE RECOVERS Intentions & Guiding Principles sharing how SHE RECOVERS Dance supports holistic wellness and recovery-focused, radical self-care. After all, everyBODY has a story to tell, wisdom to share, and healing to experience…we just need to drop into ourselves and listen.

We are all recovering from something…

Ain’t that the truth? I love that SHE RECOVERS is redefining recovery with particular focus on inclusivity – we are not only focused on serving women with substance use disorders but also support women with mental and behavioral health issues and other life challenges. And speaking of mental health, SHE RECOVERS Dance is particularly powerful in getting participants out of their heads and allowing them to drop down into their bodies. SHE RECOVERS Dance supports and empowers the building of a strong, compassionate, non-judgemental, playful, positive, and joyful relationship between the self and the body – and improves corpoREALITY!  Like SHE RECOVERS itself, SHE RECOVERS Dance is unlike any other recovery practice I have participated in – inviting participants to explore embodiment, mindfulness, and energetic, intuitive movement in community with other like-hearted humans in, as SHE RECOVERS Dance creator, Payton Kennedy, would say “a sharing circle like no other.” 

Recovery is a journey to wholeness.  We take care of our body, mind, emotions & spirit.

SHE RECOVERS Dance encourages this intention & guiding principle in particular because it is through somatic practice* that we can more wholly explore the connection between body, mind, emotions & spirit. Just as SHE RECOVERS is redefining recovery, SHE RECOVERS Dance is redefining the concept of healthy movement – going beyond traditional ideas of western exercise and incorporating a unique bodyful consciousness. 

*Somatic practice is an embodied method of tuning into your internal self, utilizing that connection to tap into how we process and store information and experiences in our body, these exercises can often be enlightening and facilitate healing. 

We understand that the practice of radical self-love is paramount to our well-being.

During a SHE RECOVERS Dance session, participants are invited to show up exactly as they are and move in community. We embrace our own intuitive movement that encourages practicing self-expression, personal agency, and body autonomy– creating individual experiences focused on radical self-acceptance and love. Two of the foundational pillars of SHE RECOVERS Dance are CURIOSITY and SELF-INQUIRY which feeds nicely into the next which is ACCEPTANCE – how can we understand the correlation between radical self-love and our well-being if we don’t practice curiosity, self-inquiry, and acceptance?  

Paramount to our well-being is tuning in…asking ourselves…

  • How does my body like to move?
  • How can I move with what is here?
  • How can I love through what is here?
  • How can I allow movement to bring more self-acceptance and self-love to my recovery?
  • What does practicing body autonomy  look and feel like for me?

And realizing that we are fine just as we are…

  • Recognizing that our bodies and our movements are unique; accepting and embracing ourselves just as we are
  • Celebrating our authenticity…accepting and loving our idiosyncratic and imperfect abilities

SHE RECOVERS Dance is a lesson in corporeal gratitude.

We don’t have to hit rock bottom to pursue recovery in any area of our lives. We believe in early intervention.

SHE RECOVERS Dance is an accessible, distinctive, and active way to pursue recovery. Who doesn’t desire to have a little boogie every now and then? Focusing on the joy and freedom individuals can feel while dancing, it encourages resilience-building, positive brain activity, and emotional and energetic shifts – an accommodating practice for the recovery-curious and tenured experts alike!  SHE RECOVERS Dance is a joyous, fun entry point into recovery…or a freeing, celebratory addition to other healing modalities.

We answer the call to heal our past wounds and intergenerational traumas so we can live fully in the present.

SHE RECOVERS Dance, as a conscious movement experience, invites us to listen to our bodies – encouraging us to create space for processing emotions and trauma in a way that heals our past wounds. By cultivating a supportive space for women to heal in community, SHE RECOVERS Dance invites dancers to reclaim our bodies and build mental, emotional, and physical resilience so we can live more fully in the present.  

We do our individual work in order to create & hold healing spaces for everyone. All women deserve recovery.

I particularly love the idea of SHE RECOVERS Dance as part of “doing the work.”  In my experience, sometimes “doing the work” means unpacking everything in therapy…but sometimes it also means giving my body a chance to express itself by  dancing away in the kitchen as I prepare a meal or blasting some tunes to get through crunchy feelings.  As a participant in SHE RECOVERS Dance I was surprised at how music, movement, and dancing in community had such a profound way of shifting my energy, I was able to brush off the week or flick off feelings that didn’t serve me.  This SHE RECOVERS offering has a powerful bottom-up effect – my body informs my mind instead of the other way around…and that creates so much more space for my emotions and spirit to play.  As a facilitator, I want to help empower and support other women to explore the space for healing that dance/movement creates.  We all deserve to recover in the ways that resonate with us most.

We must be supported to find & follow individualized pathways & patchworks of recovery.

Just as SHE RECOVERS endeavors to co-create a welcoming and supportive environment for all, so too does SHE RECOVERS Dance – we welcome all women (and non-binary individuals) in or seeking recovery. SHE RECOVERS Dance is built on mutual respect for all participants, we don’t critique or criticize, we suspend judgment of ourselves and of others as we dance. All pathways and patchworks of recovery are welcome. Every BODY has a story to tell – our intention is to create a supportive environment for people to explore and celebrate their own unique movement practice to add to their individual patchworks of recovery.

We focus on our strengths, not our defects.  This is how we change.

We focus on our WILLINGNESS to explore and celebrate our own unique, intuitive dance moves.  There is no wrong way of dancing in SHE RECOVERS Dance – move how your body, mind, emotions & spirit tell you…by choosing to move with CURIOSITY & SELF INQUIRY rather than judgment and criticism we can bring more self-ACCEPTANCE into our lives.  This empowering practice supports resilience-building, JOY, and FREEDOM.

When we’re ready, we recover out loud so that women who are struggling can find & join our movement.

When we’re ready, we dance with our cameras on!  – Just kidding, you can have your camera on or off!

Simply showing up for an online session of SHE RECOVERS Dance within a bodyful community of like-hearted folks exchanging energy is “recovering out-loud” to our bodies. Cameras are optional, but I love it when I see other women moving and shaking in those squares…listening to their bodies, working through emotions, healing trauma, feeling their recovery and, as our beloved friend Nikki Myers says, dancing out the “issues in our tissues.”

By co-creating these supportive spaces and recovering out loud, we can engage women who are struggling to join our movement…or should I say, movement practice?   

Connection is our sole (soul) purpose.  We’re stronger together.

“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” – Brené Brown

Others in the SHE RECOVERS Dance community have their own meaning of connection or its importance in this space, but I will say that I feel seen, I feel heard, and I feel valued in the sacred dance circle. That is why I had such a deep desire to facilitate this practice…because there was no judgment in connection with the movement. I felt like I could move and just be exactly who I was…who I am. SHE RECOVERS Dance met me exactly where I was. What a wonderous idea!  Acceptance without contingency. Women being their authentic selves moving in community all around the world with the intention of healing. That sacred connection is empowering, enlivening, and the reason for our very existence, I think.  

“There is a wild woman under our skin who wants nothing more than to dance until her feet are sore, sing her beautiful grief into the rafters, and offer the bottomless cup of her creativity as a way of life. And if you are able to sing from the very wound that you’ve worked so hard to hide, not only will it give meaning to your own story, but it becomes a corroborative voice for others with a similar wounding.”― Toko-pa Turner 

So, let’s dance until our feet are sore and sing the song of recovery at the top of our lungs so that other souls can see and hear us and perhaps even be inspired to join in.

Suzie Spitfyre has been a SHE RECOVERS devotee since Yoga for Recovery on Tuesdays with Taryn in 2013. It was then that the self-proclaimed storytelling people person, culture-vulture, all-round-ally-and-advocate, and artist-at-large started her recovery journey, but she didn’t know it yet.

Recovering out loud, Part 1: As a contributing author for her local newspaper and her own blog, Suzie was living and writing about health and fitness recovery – her stories were a humorous, auto-biographical look at the human condition.

Recovering out loud, Part 2: Done with courting social acceptance by shrinking her body via diet and exercise to conform to the pervasive belief that thin is the pinnacle of health, beauty, and success, and determined to change the culture that surrounds our bodies by embracing the understanding that healthy and fit comes in many packages, Suzie started an online group for individuals longing to be more comfortable in their own skin. She experienced poor mental health, disordered eating, alcohol misuse, codependency, and low self-worth when faced with the disparity between her perceived ideal and her corpoREALITY and didn’t want anyone else to feel alone and unsupported, to feel shame, or be discriminated against for being their authentic self.

As a SHE RECOVERS Dance Facilitator, Suzie regularly invites others to reclaim their bodies and the space that they take up. Everyone deserves to heal. She is grateful to be able to drive social change and connect, support, and empower more women in or seeking recovery through bodyful intuitive movement.

An archaeologist turned make-up artist turned researcher/writer and now marketing & social media specialist for SHE RECOVERS Foundation, she is grateful to live, work, and play on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən People (Victoria, BC) where she lives with her husband and two cats.

Embodied movement is for everyBODY.

Join us for an experiential and immersive workshop designed to help you come home to yourself through embodied movement.

Coming Home to Ourselves Through Embodied Movement | A SHE RECOVERS® Through Self-Expression Online Workshop

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