Tag Archives: body sensation

The Sensation of Conflict

Sit Still.

Exercise – Move more.

The human back is it’s most vulnerable in the sitting position.

Still your body.

Still your mind.

Monkey mind. Mind chatter. Focus issues.

It hurts, be still. It hurts more, be still longer. It still hurts, see a doctor. I have pills. Now I can sit with less pain as long as I take the pills.

Control your emotions (which means exactly what? Suppress? Repress? See a therapist?). Manage your energy (not that I’m going to communicate to you how to do this. Again, therapist?). Why are your shoulder blades so tight?  Why is your neck always stiff? The two commands in this sentence remind me of telling a child to ‘be careful’. What the hell does that mean anyway? Stifled. Muted. Shut down. Restless. Frustrated. Conflict.

The above reminds me of television in which delicious rich ice cream is advertised, followed by an ad for a weight loss program. I have to be able to eat ice cream and still be thin. Guilt. Shame. Isolation. Conflict.

I keep reading that we need to learn to be in stillness. First of all, clarity is needed here. In terms of movement, we are still far, far too often. Stillness of the mind is what is needed. In an interview included in the video Inner Wave, Gabrielle Roth suggested that in order to still the  mind, we must move the body.

It’s not as if we’re not in a shortage of thinkers. We tend to think too much. Thinking about the meaning of life (does there really have to be a meaning?!) rather than living it. Thinking about my purpose, rather than allowing myself be drawn by what is important to me and what I’m good at. What will the neighbors think? Thinking about the “right time” until there is no more time at all. Thinking about what he meant by that or thinking about how she feels about this rather than asking them and living closer to truth than an imaginary world. I’m not even going to step into a debate about what is truly important to be thinking about as opposed to dangers of self-absorption.

It looks as though we have created “exercise” in order to counteract the results of “sit still”. And it’s fun too, right? For some of us, it is. For others, they hate it so much they take the consequences of being sedentary. Interestingly, as children we all play (with few exceptions) and we don’t often complain about it.

It’s when we stop playing that our bodies and minds become less flexible. I’m not talking about our adult redefinition of play – adult version of play, which, for the most part speeds up the deterioration of the human self. I’m talking about silly games, games that make us laugh so hard that we risk needing a change of clothes. Chases that take us nowhere but leave us deliciously exhausted for about 5 seconds. Imaginary beings that do exactly what we want them to in worlds that only exist in play. Getting lost in the story. Thoroughly engrossed in the search or the ‘perfect’ hiding place.

For no other reason than it’s fun.

When children play they fall down from time to time, skin knees and elbows and occasionally break bones usually as they’re learning. It’s not until adults step in and begin registering them for formal sports program that the path is altered. It’s not until adults step in and start treating them like little adults. Left to themselves, children will run and play until their bodies are tired. Then they stop, drink out of the garden hose or grab a snack from the cupboard and go back outside. If it’s been a particularly tough play day, they may sit down and watch some tv or play a video game. Then, back to play. It’s when we, the adults tell them to keep playing;  they can rest when the game is over, or they can wait to have a drink until half time or go to the bathroom until whenever it’s convenient, that we teach them how to disconnect from their bodies. The process of disconnection starts younger and younger. Conflict.

Disconnection starts early, so that when they’re 20 they’re willing to pull all-nighters in school. So that in the 30s and 40s they are willing to forsake rest, healthy nutrition, mental and emotional wellness as well as their families for the job.

Even at this point, though, the body will still express the sense of dis-ease that registers as stress. I’m not happy. I hate my job. I can’t wait for the weekend and even though no two Mondays are ever the same, I dread them all as I drag myself back to work; the thing that sucks the joy out of my life and and strangles my soul. I’d much rather be doing something else, something more fun, but… Conflict.

Our bodies register the lack of ease, or flow in our lives. We would rather be doing something “fun”; something that feeds the soul rather than depletes it. So why don’t we?

Don’t even say ‘to pay the bills’. Careers aren’t built to pay the bills. Jobs that don’t interfere with a life in balance are what pay the bills, right? C’mon, be more creative.

What if we were all having fun? What if we all chose to make a living at what makes us happy most of the time (nothing’s perfect). What would happen?

Our medical visits might decline which means our medical bills might decline.

We might not have to live with the gut-wrenching guilt of hating what supposedly sustains us while having no time for family or self. Possibly our need for antacids might decrease. Our need for over the counter pain relievers might decrease.

We know the sensation of conflict. We know it so well that almost everyone I meet will either admit to being extremely uncomfortable with conflict or their behavior shows me that they can’t manage conflict at all.

Is it possible to live without conflict? As ‘good’ as that may sound, it may create imbalance, however, is it possible to live without so much deep, unresolvable conflict? Better? A little conflict creates growth – we’re not all perfect; our every word a choice of genius, a little calling out keeps us honest and our perspective a bit more clear.

What are we going to do about it?

How do we create balance?

What is it worth?

The Sensation of Awareness

For as long as I can remember I’ve been having conversations with my body.  I have earlier memories of body sensation than I have of events. I have also noticed that I sense emotion in my body as sensation before I’m aware of it as emotion.

I watch and I do. As a child, I would see someone doing a particular thing/movement and my body would send a rush through me to “try” it. I rarely made any serious attempts in a public setting. Past humiliations reminded me to take it home to my room or to a safe place.

The first sensations I remember are moving my body with a purpose and the sensation of failure/humiliation (one and the same for me).

Cool, wet, heavy, thick, slightly sticky mud pies.

Scratchy, pointy particles in my sandals.

The scorching hot summer sidewalk on bare feet.

The chill of fear, hard rigid pedals and the burning of skinned knees as I learned to ride a bike.

Heart pounding nausea of driving lessons. After the weeks of dread; of stomach-pitching inability to learn to drive a manual transmission – I woke up one morning with the entire process in my body. Driving a “stick shift” is rhythmic and the rhythm was playing. As I walked out to the car my body was playing the rhythm for me as practice.  After my dad had given up, I got in the car by myself and drove it. (Incidentally, I still love driving a manual transmission!)

Now, I like playing with new movement skills (I hardly ever get fear-stricken nausea anymore!). I’m fascinated by the sensation of disconnect, where my body doesn’t yet understand what it’s being asked to do. The motion moves across in my mind’s “eye” like a movie as though my body is simply going to get it. Meanwhile my body is actually gallumping along hoping not to hurt anyone if I’m in a class and relieved that no one else is witnessing this if I’m at home practicing – anything but graceful. Sometimes the get it happens, often not. When it does, there is still a roughness to the movement – the mechanical quality that commonly accompanies brand new skills. When it doesn’t, the sensation is initially a sinking one, then a tingly curiosity – why can’t I just pick this up? After the initial sinking feeling, panic overtakes me as I frantically search for my feet!

I don’t know how to do this. 

Once the screaming stops, and I slow down, I become aware of hot or cold, vibration, weak-in-the-knees mush, and tension. I notice that I’m holding my breath. Breathe. When I open to breath releasing the tension, the whirring in my brain slows down and three things happen for me: first I relax, next I begin to “see” how the main movements are composed of smaller movements and I am acutely aware that my body wants to play and enjoy learning. The movements begin to break down;  the tension continues to dissolve and I am absorbed – body, mind, spirit and emotions.

Now it no longer matters whether or not I have it, I’m no longer hoping for the flow, I am the flow. I am ease, I am pleasure. Energy ripples effortlessly through my movements. I am in the sensation of my body’s way.

In sensation I can be both inside and outside of movement.

Moving from the inside, I get to create what feels natural. Instead of responding to someone else’s movement, awareness gives me the opportunity to move according to my body’s wants and needs.

From the outside I connect to where my body is in space, in relationship with everything around me. As a teacher, awareness gives me the tools to know, every minute, what I’m modeling for my students.

Awareness.

Crisp. Sharp. In focus. Present. Connected. Clear.

The Sensation of Music

This post is going to be a little more personal. Music, for me is deeply personal and what has come this morning wouldn’t be organic if I changed the frame of reference  in which I received it

I grew up in a household in which there was hardly a moment without music. There must have been, but that’s not how I sense my childhood. My mother was a professional vocalist and pianist. That meant that if she wasn’t practicing at home, she and I were headed to a rehearsal during which there was something playing o the radio. If she wasn’t practicing a piano piece, I was. Or she was practicing a vocal piece, or I was. As for my father, at the time he did not play, but his passion for my mother drove him to learn to appreciate the music she loved so much and to participate when he could.

I did not inherit my mother’s lyric soprano voice nor her gift for the piano.  My ear is not bad, though and my body responds to music like crazy!

 I was preparing for class this morning with a desire to pull a mix of music together specifically to support the focus of awareness of body sensation. Interestingly the song Monday by Ulrich Schnauss popped into my head. While I’ve listened to this piece a few times, it’s been a little while and I haven’t yet used it in class.

I clicked play.

The first thing my body told me was “this isn’t regular”, “you’re going to have to wait for it to tell you how to move to it”. This piece has alot going on, but it’s layered with such finesse that it works. By that I mean that I receive it consciously in The percussion is attention-getting and almost distracting, but I can’t let go of the haunting melody that caresses my nervous system.

What makes me tingle is the places where the drums drop out and I’m left, as if in mid-air, or mid-breath, my body suspended in anticipation. Pure, unadulterated Joy. Musical details fill the spaces and whisper promises, drawing me into the feminine. But I still find myself holding my breath for the drums to start again.

Simply listening to this piece became in itself, an exercise in awareness.

The tickle of anticipation. My own movements of response to the wave – like quality of the delicate almost crystalline sounds.

Listening to it repeatedly opened the door to creativity in terms of how I could tell the “story” of the music.

The first few times, I was mesmerized by the breathlessness of expectancy and let that experience wash over me again and again.

This time, I’m inviting the drums to take a different role. Is that what I’m doing or am I inviting my nervous system to process the sounds in a new way?

Now, the drums are focused, decisive, even insistent and demanding; they speak clearly without hesitation or apology. The sounds that co-create this piece with the drums are not running to keep up. They are patient. They speak up, but not to be noticed or heard but rather as a gesture – an invitation for an auditory pas de deux.

Over and over into the warm ocean of sounds that wistfully lap against the sides of me. Wistfully. Another new way to hear. I’m never floating; never on autopilot. I’m present to sensation – the sensation of music.

The drums become the heart beat. Each drum stop is a breath. Inhale. Exhale.

At one point I notice a pulsing sound, not unlike the fetal heartbeat heard on a Doppler monitor used in doctor’s offices. Shifting experiences into embryonic.

This time floating is not letting go but becoming.

Through the floating I learn to use my body in the way it was designed. Movements are just the right size and scope; in this place they are perfect. My effort is exactly what it needs to be – not too much to fatigue me, and not too little. I am safe. Everything I do is wonderful. Everything feels good and serves my growth. How could I ever do anything else?

In this place my body tells me what I need to know. Why would I ever listen to anything else? My body knows what I need. Why would I ever listen to anything else?

Thank you, Ulrich Schnauss, for creating this piece of music through which I could take this journey.

Andrew, thank you for sharing this piece with me.

Mom, thanks for all the other stuff. I am grateful.

Photo by Resim and Fotograf