Tag Archives: Awareness

Touch. Move. Feel. Move. Magic in Relationship. 1

Stone Arch

Saturday’s practice had a different feel. This morning, not unlike many or even most of the classes and practices I lead and share, held

My classes and practices, much like my kitchen, are laboratories, teeming with curiosity and possibility. I’m never completely certain how the process will turn out.

My personal practice yesterday focused on sensation through emotion and how emotion shapes the way I move and in turn how sensation shapes the way I move.

This morning was a continuation. The stimulation was touch. With a variety of objects, we moved like the squishy pig, like the poky bouncy ball, we differentiated between moving like a string of Mikimoto pearls and a string of Michael’s (craft store) clearance bin pearls. I discovered that a string of 2-inch wood dowels are more mobile and flexible than I imagined from looking at them.

I noticed how moving with squishy pig changed the relationship between my bones in a way unlike moving with a squishy weighted 5-inch ball. Then moving with a small “school yard” ball changed the relationship between my joints and the music in yet another way from the squishy weighted ball.

And in this, how was my mind and mental energy in relationship? To my body? To the music? To the objects? To the concept of practice as laboratory? How, where and when did my attitudes and beliefs join the party and what was their contribution? How did – how do my attitudes and beliefs arrive and dance in relationship to my desire?

Moving what I see can be a vastly different experience than moving what I feel through touch. I find that my movement can be directly affected by what I touch. I am a highly tactile human (as the guard at the Phoenix Museum of Art will attest to!) and I spend a significant amount of time present to what comes under my fingers. I’m drawn by texture. Not so much to get a closer look but to experience it more deeply. My visual sense isn’t enough, I want to “see” it with more of me and in texture there is movement. Give me texture, I’ll give you movement. Inversely all movement has texture.

When we went down to the floor (or deck as the case was), the Five Sensations showed up…

for tomorrow’s post.

Beat. Breathe. Flow.

FernLined Forest Stream

“You can’t go home again.”

I remember hearing this statement as a child, my mother and grandmother discussing Thomas Wolfe. I was 8 or 9 years old and I remember the sensation of dread that began in the pit of my stomach and churled up my spine. “That’s not true!” my child’s mind vehemently argued, “I come home every day after school.”

That combination of words haunted me throughout my life until I began to see life as flow rather than a static, stagnant event.

Our culture of the mind conditions us to trust in what our minds tell us and show us, whether or not they are true or accurate. We have the ability of recall and used properly, can be beneficial. Remembering one’s phone number is quite handy, as well as remembering one’s home address. While still fluid, these facts are more “concrete” then we are.

Life and the human condition are more like the flow in a river.  Time doesn’t stand still and it doesn’t flow backwards. It is always moving forward or at least outward. We don’t grow younger, we grow older, richer, deeper and hopefully, wiser.

With this train of thought, the expression “status quo” and specifically “status quo ante” cannot apply because it is not possible.

People step into our river and join their flow with ours. They might step right back out or perhaps flow with it for awhile before stepping out. I would venture to say that there are varying degrees of joining of rivers, blending and stepping out. Even in long term relationships there is a level of stepping out (time to themselves, personal development, working in different fields, to name but a few examples). In some other relationships, stepping out defines leaving our river and thus leaving our lives altogether.

We are different every day, though we are so close we don’t notice changes until either change is caused by a dramatic event or we invoke recall.

I find change most observable in my dance. I don’t strive for replication, so I notice that while the movement or pattern may be the same, I don’t feel like the same dancer from the inside. My balance, equilibrium and stability may be better or worse. Either way, my precision is affected; my ease may also be affected. If I demand that my body perform as it did yesterday or the last time I moved through this pattern, I lose an aspect of ease. I also lose an aspect of pleasure. The “whose body is this” sensation I have makes me wonder if I am experiencing a kind of out-of-flow. I’m resisting being in harmonious relationship with my flow. I’ve chosen to attempt to stand still or even swim upstream.

I also wonder if this applies to moments in my life in which I am insistent on a direction even though I am cognizant of the fact that the way, value or mission is not mine.

My sentimental heart wants to cling to the idea that familiar equals safe – even though I know that this isn’t true. For me, occasionally the knowledge that every moment is an opportunity for growth is overwhelming.  I want to stand up in the river and let it flow without me. Just for a little while.

Then I remember that, like my heart beating and my lungs breathing, the flow will happen and I will grow and change just as my heart beats and my lungs breathe.

Getting out of my own way releases me to flow and “home” can be where I am at any given moment at any point in my life.

In my body. Awake. Aware.

I am Home.

More Pleasure. Less Effort.

Softening to Flow ChocolateLearning to go through life with less effort.

Spending time in FeldenCAMP and Awareness Through Movement Feldenkrais classes with Julie Francis has helped me to become aware of how much tension I hold just lying around. The classes are also showing me the places and parts of me that have not been given adequate attention and where awareness is lacking.

The focus for this morning’s class was head and eye movements and I felt like a Picasso painting with one eye feeling huge and the other feeling more like a tiny slit.  As I worked through this lesson, I noticed how much effort I was exerted to move my eyes up and down behind closed lids!  Not to mention the amount of focus required for me to stay connected to this lesson. To move my eyes.

I found that my eyes did not tract smoothly and it took awhile before I felt as though they were moving together! This thought makes me giggle every time I think it. I can imagine my eyes all googly, wandering up and down independently, without any regard at all for how they’re supposed to be moving. I can only think that they are, indeed, moving the way they’re supposed to, considering the neglect they have endured!

Awareness on a new and deeper level.

“Simply” lying on the floor with my eyes closed and moving up, down and neutral brought sensations of little electrical sparks of nausea running down my spine, a stiff neck, a headache and managed to interrupt my normal breathing pattern. I also experienced a particular crispness to my vision and the differences in my contact lens prescriptions were far less noticeable. My body also felt better moving through space. I left with a peripheral awareness that this lesson had affected my nervous system, but I’m not sure how to accurately describe it yet. Interestingly, my hip stayed loose, relaxed and deliciously mobile all day despite the amount of time I spent sitting and reading between the Awareness Through Movement class this morning and my Nia class tonight. That looseness never happens – never.

I don’t fully understand how moving my eyes can affect the condition of my hip but I suspect that the fact that it elicited sensations through my spine is a clue…

The breathing lessons in FeldenCAMP last week and class this morning have both changed the way I move – and the way I feel in my body. On Sunday I played with the sensations of simultaneous root and uproot to creating smooth, light and grounded movement. I felt as though I was dancing in a flow that was effortlessly strong, patient and buoyant.

Dancing in the flow.

I want more of this!

Letting the Light In

Candle and Wrought Iron

Weekly Tips:

For: Adaptability. Strength. Flexibility. Stability. Mobility. Ease. Pleasure Longevity.

Tips that are short, sweet and to the point.

And free.

Tips to increase awareness.

Tips for exploring and reconnecting to Body, Mind, Spirit and Emotions.

Tips to re-define aging and enjoy more of life than we believed possible.

Mind. Body. Heart. Spirit.

Every Friday night, a new Tip will arrive in your inbox, just in time for the weekend!

Once a week, you’ll receive a PDF with your your tip for letting the light in.

To sign up, email me at MovementAlchemyHeals@gmail.com with your first name and you can start receiving them.

Time to Receive and Nourish

Skills Incubator

I often wonder how much change, refreshing and sharing of “new” material my students expect. This also brings me to swim around in the expectations I have around myself as a teacher. Am I falling victim to The Shoulds?

I go through periods where every class feels new to me. I cue it differently, I bring in a different way of moving through a familiar pattern, change the music or bring a routine with which they are unfamiliar. Inspiration is practically shooting out of my head like sparks!

Weeks like these two past, I feel as though I’m delivering more repetition and staying connected longer to a focus and playlist.

I’ve noticed that this in a pattern of mine. It shows up when I’m learning. Even when I’m sharing with my students, I’m still processing the new material I’m taking in outside of class or group practice.

The new material hasn’t found it’s place and I don’t know what to do with it yet.

This material can be books, an alternate movement philosophy, a theory of communication, a performance of movement or music that inspires me, specific continuing education, workshop material from another’s workshop or from reasearch done for my own, an additional movement endeavor (like learning to play tennis), conscious changes I intend to make, classes I’m taking, or something in my life that I’m going through.

In the past I would panic when I would come to realize that I’d been teaching the same thing the same way for longer than a couple of classes.

Then the light came on. First, I never teach the same thing the same way – it’s not realistically possible and I don’t attempt to. I may use the same music, focus and choreography but it is not the same experience.

Second, I have come to better understand the way I learn. My creative energy will naturally go to the background so that processing can take place. If I interfere with this, I get frankly crappy classes! I’m like a juggler who performs beautifully with 8 objects, but it’s the 9th that becomes the potato in the gears.

Third, what kind of energy am I sharing with my students? Does my scattered, distracted energy foster ease and trust?

Giving myself the time it takes to receive new information and time to let it settle is nourishing for myself and for my students. Being open to simply BE-ing in and with the material while the settling is going on is equally important for me. This gives me the opportunity to discover how to best use this juicy new “stuff”, as opposed to deciding ahead of time what I want to use the information for or defining before I begin, what the information is used for.

When I begin with an intention I find it more useful to be open to tweaking, adjusting or even changing my intention as I deepen my relationship with the material. Everything is energy including this information. How does this energy flow with the most ease for my purpose? How can my purpose be in relationship with the information energetically for a beneficial result? Sometimes it can’t and I have to let go. Maybe I’m not ready. Perhaps it just isn’t for me.

If I don’t take the time, I won’t know how this works. I may spend many frustrating hours when they might be curious hours instead. I’ve done the beating-my-head-against-the-wall of I-want-to-use-this-information.

When the material and my purpose or intention are an energetic match, there’s a flow even when there’s still a ton of work ahead before integration and embodiment. In this, the receiving becomes as nourishing as the end result.

Body Speak

Stones and Water 5

Listen.

To what’s going on inside you.

Every movement and position has a different “voice”.

When you swing your arm, your shoulder communicates information in one way. When you sit for too long, your sitz bones communicate information in a different way. Pay attention to the tone. Is it a murmur or “yum” or a shriek of “nooooooooo”? Is it flat ache of a body part asking to move or the weary moan of a body moved too much?

Listen.

For your way to move. You’ll know it, even if it’s buried in technique and relentless instruction. It’s voice may be almost too soft to hear, but it’s there. Shut off

right

this way

suppose to

learned.

And hear what your body has to say – for itself.

Your body needs no translator or interpreter. It only needs a willing listener.

Your mind does not own your body nor does your body own your mind, therefore one doesn’t know what is best for the other.

To take care of your body, don’t rely on your mind for the answers – ask your body and LISTEN.

Don’t look at your watch. Your body follows natural time and will give you the answer in that time. Listen.

This may be your meditation. This may be what you journal about.

Listen.

It’s your body rediscovering it’s voice.

Listening is never a waste of time and energy.

Want to be more productive? More efficient and effective?

Listen to your body.

Keeping Brain and Spirit Fresh and Vibrant

Brain Sx for Beginners

Also known as the Joy of Awkwardness.

Do something different – really different.

By “different” I mean pick an activity that makes you feel totally uncoordinated.

Do it at least 6 times.

If you wind up loving it, keep doing it.

And pick something else you don’t know how to do.

If, after 6 sessions you still feel awkward – keep doing it.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.

It’s not about looking cool, in control, graceful or like a pro. That may come with practice.

It’s about giving your brain something it doesn’t know how to do so that it can learn and change – a process called neuroplasticity.

It’s about practicing mental agility and flexibility for increased ease and personal power in the journey of life.

It’s also about courage.

It’s not easy to be willing to look like a beginner as an adult.

It’s creating balance; something like eating a variety of foods. Balanced nutrition means eating a little bit of almost everything.

A balanced life is not about time-management; figuring out how to get everything done. A balanced life is not about professional obligation. It’s not about externally defined personal obligations. Self-care becomes a priority.

A balanced life begins with self-care in body, mind, emotions and spirit. Living a life that is in alignment with your values; not your spouse or partner’s values, not your parents values – your values.

Living a life that feeds and nourishes you first. When your nourished, you can nourish the world.

It begins with the Joy of Awkwardness.

“Use Your Words!” Awareness of Fear?

IT by Stephen King

Last week I delivered my first prepared speech. I had the opportunity to talk for 4-6 minutes about myself. I went prepared with a Leg of Skeleton in my backpack. No, really, I borrowed one of Shelly’s legs as a prop in case I fell apart and my index cards were suddenly written in a language I don’t currently speak. (“Shelly” is the full-sized skeleton that stands in my living room. Poor dear, he’ s but a shell of a man…)

Twice a month, I attend Toastmasters and gather with others who want to hone their speaking skills, overcome their discomfort with speaking in public or enjoy speaking and have a desire to share their skills.

Why?

I’m talking to one of my students; someone who comes to class regularly and has supported my work. In other words, I’m talking with someone who appreciates what I’m doing and gets it. We’re talking about form and technique and it’s all good. Then she asks what Movement Alchemy is.

One of two things happen.

Either I hit one of my “cue” words and I’m off and running and well-articulated thoughts are just pouring out.

OR:

I suddenly develop a nasty case of Sludge Mind.

Without warning, I’m in the mental equivalent to an unfamiliar, pitch-dark room and I’m looking for a light switch. I’m all starts and stops (if I used “uhs” and “ums” – I’d be all that too!) as though I just forgot what I was about to say. If I’m lucky, I see the work in my head running like a movie, but my words have abandoned me. In moments like this morning, it’s as though the processing upstairs is grinding to a thick, mucosal  halt. All the while inside my head, I’m screaming, “I know this! I know this!”

This used to happen to me when I was a child (mostly in math class) when I would be called to the board. I’m standing there, in the spotlight (which, for those of you who know me know this is not my happy place) and the light will not come on. I knew the answer 5 seconds ago, sitting at my desk. Like I knew the answer 5 seconds ago when I was teaching class!

I’m an introvert – definitely. Emotional baggage? Yup. Fear of public speaking. It’s in my way.

I’ve learned from experience that if I can’t talk about it, no one is going to come asking. I could be totally crazy and have no chance of building a financially via business, but if I can’t tell anyone about it, I absolutely have no chance.

My first speech went well, especially since throughout most of the experience, I couldn’t feel my face. As someone who spends much of my time in my body and developing whole self balance, this was an uncomfortable mental exercise. I lost my body. I don’t even remember feeling the pounding of my heart. I do remember feeling ungrounded. Eventually I began to float back to earth. Next, I found myself with enough presence of mind and body to check the clock. As I felt a small part of myself begin to regain consciousness, I decided to leave Leg of Skeleton for another time.

Someone recently told me that even after the many, many years Johnny Carson spent on the Tonight Show, he still got nervous before every show.

Great.

Quiet! I Can’t Hear What I’m Feeling!

Fireworks on Red Sky

Noise.

Movement.

Mind chatter.

Strong, loud emotions that don’t belong.

Energy wasted stuffing down and stifling emotions that do belong.

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Do. Go. Faster.

“Too much on my plate.”

“Not enough time.”

It’s almost impossible to hear a whisper at a live concert.

When we are emotionally overwhelmed, it is incredibly difficult to make clear choices. Stuffing them down isn’t the answer either. Ever eat a meal on an already full stomach?

When there is an over-abundance of inspiration, we may find that no creation takes place at all. Too many options…

It is the same way with body sensation. The harder, faster and larger the movements, the less of the body’s voice I can hear. Spending time in slow, deliberate movement; playing with repetition until I can truly see, hear and feel not just what I’m doing, but also how.

Can you hear what your body is saying to you?

Spend some time in how.

You might be surprised!

Touch. Balance… On and On

Tree UpTouch.

Touching the space the way I Touch my skin. From the inside. Within the space Touching out and in at the same time.

Move from feet Touching the earth. Awaken to the soles.

Touch the world with my movement. Blend. Flow. Breathe.

No need to reach to dance with the trees – I am already trunk, branches and leaves. I am the sway, the rustle, the lean, the fold and flower.

My feet, heart and spirit remember deep roots. Roots, alive and pulsing, the thriving nexus that feeds my relationship with earth, air, water fire and aether.

To thrive our roots need movement. Without it we grow brittle and movement becomes more and more difficult and when something becomes difficult we find ways and excuses to avoid it. Without movement we become less sensitive to sensation and without sensation we cannot heal. We lose pliability and having lost the ability to bend, we risk breaking.

Movement for our bodies, our minds, the state of our emotions and our willingness to be open to inspiration. To survive and  move forward, we have to be willing to listen and hear, look and see in order to learn, change, adapt, grow and evolve. Flexible and agile.

Learn. Change. Adapt. Grow. Evolve. Body. Heart. Mind. Spirit.

To live and make choices based only in emotion is no more out of balance than to live and make decisions based only on thought and ideas. Neither are complete. Neither superior.

When you go to a restaurant or a store, do you go with only an arm (and your head so you can see to drive)? Is that one of the stupidest questions you’ve ever heard?

Then why would you ever make a decision based solely on what you think?

Touch connects all parts of us – within ourselves as moving, thinking, feeling, imagining and sensing beings and to what is “beyond” our skin.

Touch. To notice.

Touch. To be awakened.

Touch. To connect and be fully in relationship.

Touch. To feel.

Touch. To hear, see and understand.

Touch. To move and be moved.

Touch. To Be.