An interview with Deborah Jay-Lewin on the healing and transformative potential of Open Floor Movement Practice
Having had the opportunity to study with Gabrielle Roth and some of the world’s leading pioneers of conscious dance, Deborah Jay-Lewin currently teaches Open Floor Movement Practice in the UK and around the world. She plays an integral role in making the essence of the practice available for future generations to come.
I was fortunate to catch up with Deborah whilst taking part in an Open Floor workshop at the Findhorn Foundation Community and Eco-Village, in the Scottish highlands. During the inquiry we explored her story of transformation and wisdom through movement, dance and personal connection. Some of the main threads of that conversation are recorded in what follows.
A founding member of Open Floor International, Deborah is part of a diverse and global network of teachers advocating the development of dance as an evolving creative and healing modality. Holding the vision of “A world where conscious movement and dance support community, creativity, healing and happiness for everyone,” Open Floor encourages dancers to be fully embodied – physically, emotionally, mindfully. Simply put, to be at home in our bodies: “To show up and learn to stay with our experience whether it’s comfortable or not.” As a longer term aim, the practice intends to “integrate embodiment across disciplines such as, but not limited to, health care, education and the arts”. In providing such a key service to the health of larger communities, the movement fulfills its dedication to work for the common good, for the benefit of all beings.
As an expanding organisation, Open Floor International explores a holistic model of decisionmaking called Sociocracy: “a system of dynamic governance using consent decision-making and an organizational structure for evolving agile and resilient organizations. Sociocracy fosters equivalence, radical honesty, and participation of members of OFI, with values that reflect the nature of the work on the dance floor.”
As a form of embodied dance, Open Floor Movement Practice facilitates a heightened awareness of our subtle internal sense of connectedness. “On the open floor, everything is included, moments of joyful release and ecstatic surrender as well as the challenging ones: physical pain in the body, shyness, self-limiting beliefs, a sense of isolation. Anything that is pushed away can become a limitation.” This approach emphasizes the understanding that there is wisdom in each moment, everywhere we look, but it requires that we stay with and not ignore whatever is arising. “In time we may start to see how our inner states are directly reflected to us in our immediate relationships, ancestral relationships and also what is happening on the earth.” This understanding of the relationship between internal and external manifestations empowers dancers to move into a new paradigm where they no longer see, or believe in, states of separation.
The New Paradigm
Borne out of a felt sense of knowing the inter-relatedness of all reality, the new paradigm calls for co-operation and collaboration in contrast to competition: listening to others, rather than self-seeking interests and an unconditional attitude of respect to all beings and all levels of relationship. “The new paradigm values the right brain as much as the left brain, the unseen world as much as the seen; and values different kinds of intelligences, including beyond the human realm. It values vulnerability as strength.”
There is really no separation between the physical body and the earth. “As we mend, repair, listen and respect the wisdom of the body, that automatically has an effect in all relationships. However, putting this into practice is not necessarily easy.” Given the pace, pushes and pulls of modern living, it isn’t surprising that creating a safe, quiet and still space is an essential component, to help us uncover the truths and pearls of guidance held within.
‘Just Me’ Retreats
Deborah has devoted much of her professional work refining the “Just Me” programme; bespoke retreats offering in-depth private sessions in the heart of Northeast Scotland. This is where years of teaching experience and self-work is shared with a personalised and focused series of one-to-one sessions and movement facilitation. The experience offers participants a chance to explore states of self-realisation that empower new ways of being in the world. The unique environment and atmosphere that this level of work requires is crucial in delving through the layers of distraction that are the norm for most people. Together Deborah and her clients co-create dynamic results, embodied on multi-dimensional levels. Deborah’s expertise lies in holding a space that supports and integrates new insights in a way that is practical and self sustaining.
Deborah Jay-Lewin is a mother, dance teacher, and energy worker. Currently living in Northern Scotland, she facilitates personalised retreats and teaches regular classes and workshops around the globe.
On the web
TEDxFindhorn: Restoring health and wisdom through embodied movement