Women in a row doing yoga

We all move to the beat of an unfathomable melody

In Mind and Movement, Yoga, Dance and Movement by Shireen Tripp3 Comments

Though her mother’s carers encouraged non-movement, Shireen knew that she needed to dance. She was right; after starting a regular wu tao routine, her mother truly came alive again.


What a difference the walker made for the elderly lady who had suffered the effects of multiple silent strokes. She had wheels to move. As night folded into day, and day folded into night, her energy seamlessly flowed from her to her walker.

Movement had made her come alive again.

She’s old, they said. Old people shouldn’t be expected to dance. They like to sleep all day long. They like to sit all day in their comfy chair. Your mum too should be allowed to do that.

And so the carers made her ‘more comfortable’ to encourage non-movement because that’s what old people do, isn’t it? It’s also easier to manage.

The carers’ mindsets were immovable, stuck and rusted through lack of their own movement. It was easier for the daughter to rush home from work to perform her elderly mother’s music and movement therapy (wu tao) herself, than to shift an embedded, immovable status quo. To dislodge the carers’ embedded mindsets was simply too hard. Their default stance was that she might fall – even though the elderly lady barely weighed more than a 12-year-old. The likelihood of falling during this customised, choreographed music and movement therapy was nearly zero.

The truth was that it was easier for them not to move from their belief system. Belief systems are the hardest to move. This was ‘new’. None of the other clients had asked them to dance. They didn’t do ‘new’. It was against their workplace health and safety regulations.

The daughter would flick on the music the minute she returned from work. She would bend down to a seemingly sleeping old lady and clasp her tiny hands. Locked in her daughter’s arms, the mother lifted herself up, opened her eyes, and smiled. The two would gently sway and twist to the music. A physiotherapist had at first looked over her shoulder to check that she was doing no harm with the wu tao movements, which had been especially customised to the elderly lady’s needs.

The daughter blended these to music, especially composed for movement therapy. She held her mother’s hand now, as her mother once held hers. She willed life into her mother, as her mother once willed life into her.

The daughter was trained and licensed in wu tao. The daughter brought knowledge, training, commitment, ingenuity, and imagination to convince the carers that movement should be incorporated into her mother’s care plan, but to no avail.

Hold my mum, she implored. Feel the music wash over her, through her, and drench her in its life-giving force.

They were uncomfortable and embarrassed. The greatest human fear is the fear of making a fool of oneself. Our belief systems are the hardest to shift.

They were disconnected from their own natural inner rhythm. Thus, they could not see that dancing was akin to breathing; a very natural human expression. For them, dancing was constrained within the shackles of step, step, stepping to dance studio disco rules. If you did not know the steps, you did not dance.

Elderly woman walking with frameThey could not ‘feel’ it – could not feel her mum’s life force connect with the cosmic rhythm when she moved to music.

Others have gone to elaborate lengths to prove the very essence of life is movement. Studied as the Higgs particle – also called the ‘God Particle’, by some – physicists interested in it constructed a mind-boggling experiment, deep within the earth’s bowels. The object was to still the Higgs particle sufficiently to obtain its signature. The more they probed, the more mysteries they unravelled. It was by its ‘movement’ that the Higgs particle left its signature on its surroundings. Its presence was known only by its movement.

We are no different. Movement is what we are. Without movement, our inner sauce, sticks, strings, tubes and gum, would count for naught. Without movement, we would, literally and figuratively, stagnate and die.

The daughter did (eventually) win the compliance of the carers to enable her mum to move at regular intervals. Their compliance came too late. Her mother died of complications triggered by a pressure sore.

Looking deep into her mother’s eyes as she lay dying in a palliative care ward, the daughter thought she glimpsed an ancestral mother, spinning a prayer wheel, or perhaps fingering prayer beads.


About the author

Shireen Tripp

Shireen Tripp is a registered wu tao dance instructor. She is at peace with the manner in which her mother's life journey unfolded. Her mum was 95 years old. She had a good life.


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  1. Thank you for this article.I am sending it to my sister who oversees my mother’s care at a memory care facility.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Shireen. I can see how the music and movement of wu tao would have been beneficial for your mother on many levels.

  3. Thank you Shireen for all that you give, this tugs at my heart strings. I share Wu Tao with the general public and those living with memory loss in Fremantle, WA and it brings me joy.

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