A Little Transformation

Flower Zoom

I’d say that going from  miserable, painful and frustrating to less miserable, painful and frustrating is transformation – even if it’s a little one.

In our June training, we did an Awareness Through Movement® lesson that had me doing a lot of internal growling.

Almost every aspect of the lesson, except for the side resting was difficult and uncomfortable and at times downright painful. Nothing I did seemed to give me any relief or allow me to do the lesson with more ease and comfort. At times, I allowed it to get so painful I had to stop and imagine the movements in my mind. Nothing like being hitting a concrete wall to be confronted with my limitations. I had to stop and rest many, many more times than usual and my ego was being a judgmental jerk.

“You’re flexible enough to do this! Do it!”

“Why can’t you do this without pain?”

“You’re doing it wrong! Stop doing it wrong!”

“Why can’t you do it right?!”

I felt as though I was twisting myself into knots, creating more and tension throughout my spine instead of less. And the only sensations I was noticing were uncomfortable: stiff, sharp pain, grinding, pulling and pushing. This lesson included spinal rotation in side-lying and all of the above was taking me further and further, not only from improvement but from awareness itself. The main experience that had my attention was achievement and pain.

Achievement.

Pain.

The lesson finally ended 4 hours later! (Not really. It was actually under an hour, but it felt like it would never end.) For the rest of the training day I walked, sat, and stood in various degrees of discomfort with my low back whining and neck feeling sticky and uninterested in turning easily.

If that had been my first lesson, I would have possibly never taken another one. However, due to some learning I did in another less-than-comfortable lesson, I knew that the next time I faced this lesson, it would be a different experience. I hoped it would be a more pleasant experience, but I knew that it might take some time for me to integrate what I was learning from this lesson.

My only real hope was to approach it next time from a less physically hostile place!

Fast forward to today:

 After a month or so of opportunities to integrate the richly challenging lesson, today seemed like a good day to revisit.

It was.

From the beginning, I felt more able to pay attention to my body’s sensations rather than getting caught up in what my judgy mind was thinking I should be able to do.

I felt the stirrings of pain in my low back as a place to stop (and breathe) instead of a stubbornness to push through. Today my neck felt “congested” instead of contrary. I was able to feel  more clearly how much work I was doing in my neck that I didn’t need to.

This time through, the “see-saw breathing” helped me to soften along my spine so that turning was easier and better instead of being another movement to fight through.

I kept the repetitions low in hopes that I could avoid crossing over to the dark side of judgement, achievement, pain and anger, i.e. increased tension and increased discomfort.

Without the pressure of achieving something despite real or perceived limitations,  my experience of this lesson was much happier.

I felt the changes that have taken place since the first go-round. I was also present to what I could do a little differently in the moment to increase my skill level with less effort/work.

This time I could create movements that were smooth. Not every movement, but the entire experience was a distinct improvement in every way:

my mind was open, focused and just waiting for information

my emotions were quiet

my sensations were less intense and more pleasant

my body was more responsive and available.

(And, I don’t feel achy and sore as I go on with my day.)

What began as miserable, painful and frustrating is now pleasant, more enjoyable and more relaxed.

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Can You Be More Comfortable in Your Car?

Driving Comfort

Every year, at least twice, our family makes the 18-hour drive from Chicago to Savannah. I have spent many hours being really, really uncomfortable in the driver’s seat.

Due to this fact, I think a lot about being comfortable in a car, both as driver and as passenger.

Recently, Feldenkrais Method practitioner Rachel Hamstra offered this blog post about car comfort:  http://www.rachelhamstra.com/blog/2015/5/11/how-to-find-car-comfort

I found Rachel’s suggestions to be helpful and I’ve got a couple of my own:

Notice your breathing. Are you holding your breath? No need to breath in any certain way. Just breathe your way.

Move!

You are not glued to your seat so move yourself around regularly. Turn on some music and do a little car-seat dancing. (Dance wisely!)

Sing!

Singing gets your insides vibrating nicely and gives the inside of you a little workout. Singing is also a good way to get rid of traffic stress (and any other stress you may have lurking about).

Avoid texting. Texting is challenging enough when walking (I can’t even believe I wrote that), but driving and texting is insane (not to mention illegal)! Even if you’re at a dead stop, unless it’s an emergency (and if it’s an emergency, make a call). Texting in the car causes tension (which it should since we have no business doing it) and increased tension is bad enough in a short drive, but in a long one, it can lead to pain.

In short, attend to your driving and your body.

Take some time to set up your cockpit. Rachel told us about the adjustments that may be available for the seats, so try them out.

Also, as you set up your cockpit, see if you can make it so that you don’t have to reach for anything – even if it feels a little close at first. If you don’t have to make compensations you will be more comfortable. Even small compensations can lead to big discomforts after a while.

Take care of yourself.

Take breaks when you need to. Find a safe place to pull over, so that you can get out and move around some more.

Be gentle.

You may feel like you really want to stretch hard after being in the car for a while, but your muscles, tendons and ligament might prefer that you go easy. You might start with a walk. Look around as you walk – really look around. Where your eyes go your spine follows and looking around is a nice, gentle way to give your spine some relief. Owl impressions are not necessary, but look in every direction a few times – even under you and behind you.

Thank you, to Rachel Hamstra, for her blog post and inspiration for this post.

Driving Comfort 3I think she’s the only one who can be comfortable and even she has to have modifications!

Blow Out That Candle

Darkness 8

Not everything that takes us forward in a positive, productive way feels good.

Change and integration can take us into some pretty dark places.

To insist on thinking of the dark places as “negative” and something to be avoided seems childish and fearful. As does insisting on only having positive thoughts and only being around “positive” people.

I’ve never been comfortable when someone only has “blissful” stories. There’s no grit. There’s no mundane struggle. Life couldn’t be better every minute of every day.

On occasion, there is something to be said for opening the door marked Dark PlaceThere’s more to be said about stepping in and milling around. Loitering and observing what comes up.

Resist the urge to light a candle.

Resist the urge to curse the darkness.

Get acquainted with the dark.

The uncomfortable.

The unsettling.

The uncertain.

The unsupported.

The vulnerable.

That which does not bring happy thoughts.

That which takes us into the depths.

Bliss is easy.

Play with a child, a furry companion; have lunch with a friend, watch it snow, see a movie, listen to music, make love, you get the picture. It’s a simple choice and is available in abundance all around us. (We may decide that it will not be an easy choice, but it is indeed a simple one.)

To be in that which will change us; that which may leave us shaken, disoriented and momentarily away from the familiar path is not simple, nor is it easy.

It is also not a place in which to dwell unnecessarily.

Just because a little is good does not make a lot better!

A little can go a long way, granted that it is from the depths and not just the surface.

Expect to find something you don’t like and just let it be what it is. Don’t try to change it. It will change itself.

‘I went through hell and all I have to show for it is this lousy t-shirt’ sounds like a missed opportunity. You certainly don’t have to go through hell, but see if you can come back with more than a t-shirt. How about ‘I survived the other side’?

 To be clear, when I use the term dark, I’m not referring to punishment. There need not be pain involved to experience break through, reward or a small step forward.

So somewhere between the t-shirt and a dungeon with devices for self-torture seems fair.

We don’t always know when an opportunity will present itself. Being present to what is in front of us and willing to to do a little digging around can help. (Just make sure to always have a shovel on hand – a hand trowel will do, and something with which to clean the shovel.)

Darkness 4

Blow out that candle.

Daily Practice: What If… It’s Not As Hard As You Believe It Has To Be?

QM Question Mark 2

What if you could mark improvements in your movement activities by going slow and easy?

What if, instead of having to work really hard to move forward – you don’t have to work really hard?

What if, all that hard work is hard because you’re asking your body to do something it isn’t ready to do and it’s first response is “no”?Since our bodies are designed to protect themselves from injury, this theory is worthy of consideration.

What if, specificity training isn’t the last word in training?

What if there’s something else?

What if, injury doesn’t have to be inevitable?

What if, pain is not an inevitable effect of aging?

What if, immobility is not an inevitable effect of aging?

What if, it meant you had to go more slowly to go

fast

faster

higher

lower

bigger

lighter

longer

better

?

Would you?

Why wouldn’t you?

Do you dare to invite change?

Daily Practice: What Do You Know?

Beginners 5

To move better and feel better moving, sometimes you have to let go of what you know.

For two reasons:

First, when you believe you know something, you tend to stop paying attention: “I know how to do that, what’s next?” At the very least, it detracts from learning as much as you can.

Second, knowing tends to lead to expectations and when you have expectations, that generally leads to one of two results:

success

or

failure.

Neither of these options are helpful.

Success:

I don’t have anymore to learn here. I can stop paying attention

Failure:

Why can’t I do this? Everybody else is doing it! This just isn’t for me. Or worse bashing and bruising of self.

How about someplace in between?

It is what it is. What happened is what happened. Without labels. Without judgment. Without excuses. Without explanations. You have useful information.

Improvement and rich learning don’t require competitive goal-setting. Or someone else’s approval.

They do require desire.

And courage.

And commitment.

Don’t miss an opportunity to learn something about what you already know. Or about something in which you know nothing!

Want to make your movement better?

Want to make your life less stressful and more pleasurable?

Then maybe you have what it takes to be a Beginner.

Chaos and Flow

Ocean 6 Crazy Wave

This morning I chose “Chaos and Flow” for our Nia class out on the deck.

Find it

Notice it

Go with it

Observe it

Create it

Let it go,

Chaos in the Flow and Flow in the Chaos.

Liquid in the Percussion

Cool in the Sultry

Quiet in the Quick

Texture

How it’s interwoven in everything around us and within us.

Moving around it.

Moving within it.

Inviting it to move through us.

Vibrant and Fluid

The Perfect Words

Words 4

I have spent more time not writing this year (and last)  than I have getting anything down.

I’ve spent great amounts of time not writing – but thinking about writing – because I couldn’t seem to find the “right” words.

The perfect words.

So rather than communicate the amazing experiences I’ve been having, I imprisoned myself in a mental quagmire  – a swamp, a bog, a morass.

I’ve decided to free myself before my head pops off!

I’m a little like Sheldon Cooper in that if I don’t say what I have to say, weird things can happen!

This is a blog dedicated to awareness; to living in body sensation in order to live more productively, more generously, more gently, more truthfully, and more authentically.

I’m weird. From the time I can remember, I have lived in body sensation – my earliest memories are sensorial. The stories came after.

It is a gift and this blog is dedicated to sharing what I can to help you to live in your body – the only body you will ever have

with more ease

with more pleasure

with more fun

for longer than you thought possible.

Join me.

There will be not-perfect words.

Words 1

Body GPS? We’ve got something better!

Rumi Listen

Part One

Awareness is the ability to pay attention.

It is a skill that takes willing practice.

I once had a friend complain to me that if he spent all day paying attention to the sensations of his body, he’d never get anything done.

At first it may seem like that – your full attention has to be on your body all the time. Be patient with yourself and just be dedicated to noticing when you remember to notice. Congratulate yourself when you remember and let it go when you realize you’ve gone for hours (maybe even the whole day at first) without paying attention and notice what you notice.

After some practice,  you’ll find your awareness will be constantly running in the background of your consciousness.

It will be “on” all of the time to a far more sensitive degree and you’ll only have to gently shift your focus to receive information.

Without that practice, it’s more work. You may even have to set time aside, go to a particular place in your home and prepare your mind.

With practice, you are welcome, of course, to set that time aside, designate a special place in your home to focus on your body sensations – or body meditation, but you won’t have to.

You’ll be able to check-in any time.

And receive information that may prevent injury, and even help you heal more quickly from injury and illness. You will receive information that will give you the power to choose what to do next.

You will have a choice, instead of doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different outcome; without knowing you can do it another way.

Think of it this way:

You’re driving to work and you come across a construction road block.

What do you do?

If you’re aware of any other routes you can take them, right?

What if you aren’t?

Then your choices are:

to sit at the road block and hope it will go away before you’re late for work,

drive your car into the roadblock, attempting to push it out of your way and hope no one gets hurt and you don’t damage your car or get arrested,

or drive around until you accidentally find another route.

You can use body awareness in exactly the same way.

Now I know somebody out there is thinking, “I’ll just use GPS.” I love GPS. I am so grateful for GPS and for the fact that it is so useful because the city streets rarely, rarely change.

In terms of body awareness,  not only is “GPS”  information from an external source – another person who cannot possibly fully grasp what you are feeling, but it is information about terrain that is changing constantly. We are different every day, even moment to moment (how long did your last meal keep you full? If it’s 3 in the afternoon, are you still as full from your lunch as you were right after you ate it?).

You are simply not the exact same person you were last week – or even yesterday.

What we have is so much better than GPS. It is highly responsive and totally interactive. Even just thinking about doing something differently is enough to create change and that may be all you need.

Can any GPS do that?

Ok, so you’re listening

what do you hear?

what does it mean?

What are you going to do with the information?

Go ahead, dive into your new practice and we’ll talk about these parting questions next time.

Life As A Practice: Coming Out of the Forest

Blue Misty Forest

Check email.

Both of them.

Multiple times a day.

Check Facebook invitations.

Check Facebook Messages.

On all 3 pages.

At least once a day.

Update phone calendar.

Look at phone calendar.

Daily.

Check “To Do” list to make sure what’s been promised to others will be delivered.

?????

Make “To Do” list and look at it!

Do the things on the list because someone is actually going to ask for and about what’s on that list.

Check “To Do” list to make sure that what’s been promised to myself will be delivered.

Shit.

Make “Do To” list and look at it.

Brush up on eating-in-public manners.

Practice not looking startled when others ask what you do.

Practice using your words to tell them what you do.

Looks like it’s time to come out of the forest.

Wave good bye to the cave (for now).

Have a glass of champagne.

Life As A Practice: “Small Is Beautiful”

Crytanthus Smithiae Leaves

This blog post deeply resonated with me: http://marketingforhippies.com/playing-small/

I’m sick to death of being told to

make more noise,

get noticed,

speak up,

be loud and obnoxious,

be something else.

“You have to have a brochure that says just the right thing to just the right people, and the perfect business cards that tell your story.”

Nothing tells my story like I do, when I start to move.

 “Say it like this”, well-meaning people have told me.

Public verbal communication is not my gift. Movement is. Change and healing through movement are my gifts to share.

I am a brave, intelligent, quirky woman who does not want a big business. I want a series of rich, deep, intimate (detail-filled) moments that allow me to share what I have to share.

I especially loved the part about charging what your worth. Above everything, I want what I do to be accessible, not exclusive. I want to be available to everyone, whether they can pay for it or not. That means I will not always get what I’m worth? More bullshit!

All of the concern I created over taking advice from people who have no idea who I am or, really, what I can do – has taken me away from the practice where my attention was most needed. I’ll chalk it up to a leaning opportunity and see that it doesn’t happen again.

Ruminating over unfinished brochures, over how to get more people in all of my classes (and maintain my integrity), over the perfect logo and design for a business card – hours lost. Awareness Through Movement classes untaught. Functional Integration practice – unpracticed. The jewels left to grow dim and dirty while I occupied myself with the superficial.

I wandered off the path.

The path that gives language and form to my unusual gift bent strength skill knack. The path that, naturally, reinforces my integrity.

In the meantime, I have been blessed with an introduction into a community of women who simply wait to see what I bring and look to support and encourage.

I am, as always, deeply grateful for my students, who, dance with me in the studio, and out.

Oh, yea, and while I realize that not everyone will want, need or understand what I do – my demographics are still

every body.

Yea.

Body-Based Practices, Whole Life Results