Tag Archives: Listening

I Can Teach Through Injury

Mortons Neuroma Feels Like This

For a long time when an injury was taken to medical care, the prescription was to stop doing whatever caused the injury.

Makes sense. Like the hammer thing.

Then we shifted to the idea that we might continue to do what we want, but at a different level. To stop moving at all isn’t a solution either.

In another realm of our social existence came the proclamation that to admit to pain is bad enough, to modify our activity stood us on the precipice of public humiliation, but  to stop to rest – turn in your jock strap ’cause it’s over. Unless you want to lose your social standing or even be shunned you’d better suck it up and play through it, run through it, dance through it – get through it. So what if you have debilitating pain for the rest of your life? That’s what aging is, isn’t it?

I’m currently teaching injured. A skeleton schedule, but still teaching nonetheless. I’m also considering the wisdom here.

With Morton’s neuroma, I am unable to put weight onto the ball of my right foot without pain that literally stops me. On carpet in 2 pairs of socks and a pair of thick, fuzzy knee-high booties I can walk with relative comfort. On hardwood, nothing is comfortable.

In class, I’m still experimenting with what I can wear to protect my foot without disturbing my alignment. So far, nothing.

What is fascinating to me is how I have been impacted by the compensatory movements I choose in order to avoid pain.

In a simple clock step, stepping to 12 and 6 is a fluid and continuous motion – on my left. On my right, the momentum into 6 o’clock stops rather abruptly so that I don’t

1. put the ball of my foot down

2. fall down.

My low back does not like the abruptness and is confused by the imbalance. My ability to co-create movement with other parts of my body has been compromised. First, the change shifts my natural rhythm and my other body parts don’t know when they’re supposed to do their thing. Second, I am distracted by creating compensatory movements, hoping to avoid pain, and I forget to use the rest of me.

In a cross behind cha-cha-cha, my left knee is unaccustomed to the stress when I don’t put my right foot on the floor in a certain way. If I decide not to put my foot down at all, my knee actually growls at me. With my knee receiving more weight to manage than is usual, shifting my weight to go into the cha-cha-cha is heavy and slow.

What I also find interesting are the moves that my foot will tolerate as long as they’re not specific to the ball of my foot. I can shuffle laterally – to the side – as long as it is to the side. Since there is far less rolling of my foot onto the ball , it works for a while. After that my body begins to realize that there is a laying down and peeling up of the foot from heel to toe, even in lateral stepping or shuffling. Huh! Imagine that.

Like I said before, my back doesn’t really appreciate the choices I’ve been making. My choices result in my back moving quickly in unusual ways, stopping sharply and also in tightening and holding where it would like to be free to move.

When movement cannot occur where it is designed to occur, the body will find another route. I know this too well. The human body is remarkably adaptable. But there is always a price. What moves should be able to move. Our bodies are built to manage stress. We have built in shock absorbers (the discs between each vertebrae and the synovial fluid in certain joints are just two examples), but when they can’t do the job the way design intended damage can be the result. My left knee is reminding me of this fact. My back is reminding me of this fact.

So, what now?

I can design the fast clocks and the cross behinds out. Squish walk out. Bow stance out. Releve’ out. Stepping onto the ball of the foot, out. Rock around the clock, out. Slow clock out. Traveling in Directions – turns – mostly out.

Or, I can do it all on one side only. That’s actually more complicated than it sounds – just ask my students who’ve watched me teach a complete move on one side, only to appear to lose coordination in the modification on the other side. I forgot the direction change I cued 2 minutes ago. Oh, yea, and there were core and arm movements that went along with the feet…

I can teach through this.

Should I?

Think You’re Aware?

Tornado Painting by Toni Grote

How aware are you?

I would almost be willing to bet money (if I was ever willing to bet money on anything), that you are not as aware as you think you are.

On a day you are going to be interacting with more than your family, spend one day noticing how often you interrupt others, then multiply it by 5 per each person you’ve talked with.

My experience with some of you out there, is that you interrupt and you don’t even know you’re doing it. It’s your rhythm.

Nia teachers, check yourselves out – you’re doing it too!

Can you catch yourself?



(Original Landscape Painting by Toni Grote)

Why am I offering The Sensation of Hearing?????

After months of incubating this piece, after weeks of defining, refining and seeking concreteness that would slip elusively through my fingers each time I sensed a touch.

As we lose Gabrielle Roth, in corporeal form, I finally feel a sense of connection to this piece.


Through sound and music to:


those around us,

our community,

the world.

Music reminds us to feel.

How does this sound make me feel?

What is the voice expressing?

What does the artist want me to hear?

In the lyrics (if there are lyrics)?

Instruments that were chosen?

Timbre of the sounds?


Is it a celebration?

Can I celebrate?

Does it grieve?

Can I grieve?

I move.

How does all of that help me create movement?

 How does it help me to sort myself?

How will this experience open me up, without force and violence, but with tender fingers? Invite me to become more accessible? For myself first. Within myself, where I create a safe place to feel.  Accessible so that I may participate more fully in every moment by feeling more deeply now that I have established safety in myself?

In that safety I know what is mine to own, to move through and to release. Sound lovingly reminds me to feel and move on and I know that I cannot move on if I have not allowed myself to feel. I will not heal if I don’t spend time. I’m not healed if I’m not functional, no matter what I tell myself. My dance knows this. My body’s response to the music speaks. Clearly if I am willing to hear. Others may feel sorry for me. I may feel sorry for myself. I may convince myself that what I’m doing is ok – but my dance knows.

Through sound…

Ofcourse, I won’t communicate much if any of this in the workshop. First, it’s a deeply personal experience. Second, this is not a therapy session and I’m not a therapist. Some will discover this whether I make it a point or not. Some will refuse to discover it. I will only bring the opportunity to uncover something new.

Through music.

Awareness. How? Listen.

Every time I teach a class, somewhere I utter the phrase, “listen to your body”.

This morning I woke up with the following churning in my brain:

Why is it so difficult to connect to our bodies and do it OUR way?

            From the time we were born, our mothers said to us, “listen to me”.

When you would sit on the ground, your mother might have said, “don’t sit there, you’re going to get wet”. Did she ever say, “listen to your body, it will keep you from getting hurt”?

Did our mothers ever say that?

Mine didn’t. No mention of a body of any sort.

After our mothers, it was,

“Listen to your father”, then

 “Listen to your teacher”, then

“Listen to your coach” and

“Listen to your doctor”

“Listen to your boss”

“Listen to your financial advisor”

“Listen to that woman hawking weight loss medication”

“Listen to your friends”

“Listen to that politician”

Some are beginning to say things like “listen to your intuition, but without a connection to  body, what does that mean? And when “intuition” has such a negative connotation –  tied up in “women’s over emotional/hysterical state” – where is the value? What do they mean?

 When does anyone say “listen to your body”. Intuition is not about what you think, it’s what you know in a different way – what you sense in your body.

When others ask “how do you feel about that?” what they often mean is “what do you think?”

Interestingly when we stop listening to our parents, we start listening to our friends and anyone with the appropriate “coolness factor”.  So now we’re being told what to wear, when to wear it, how to wear it, how it should look on our body and the most challenging – how our bodies should look. Still looking outwardly – still listening to others.

Our entire lives, we’re told to listen to sources outside of ourselves. We’re told early by people we trust implicitly, so we must do it and it must be what’s best for us.

If no one tells us to listen to our body, it must be b/c listening to our bodies has no value.

Now, as Mind-Body guides, we tell our students to listen to their bodies. When they look back at us with a blank or “deer in the headlights” expression, we’re surprised and even frustrated.

I tell my students that they know their bodies better than anyone.  Sadly, I’m not sure that’s actually true.

What we have come around to is this:

  •         adults do not know what it means to listen to their bodies
  • adults do not know how to listen
  • if adults cannot listen, they cannot hear

We hear the body loud and clear and we tend to act when it hurts.  Even that can be situational. If we believe we have to be at the job, or that pain equals weakness or that to get through we must endure pain, we may choose to stuff down the pain, suppress. “Suck it up”, “be a man” (although interesting to contemplate the levels of pain women endure during childbirth…) – the belief seems to be that pain is of itself. In other words that there will be no repercussions to what we expect our bodies to endure.

        It has been made clear that the value is in listening to sources outside of ourselves. This mentioned (several times) I realize that there is no trust in this process – there can be no trust.

Without putting too fine a point to it, distracting us from listening and responding appropriately to our bodies is in the best interest of those around us who are in positions of “power”.

In order to exert control, we must have another’s attention and we must keep it. If they start thinking for themselves, we risk losing control. This does not speak exclusively to malicious or dangerous situations. We may be referring to a mother crossing a busy street with her small children. She must be in control of some element of the situation; she cannot control the traffic so she must control her children.


            It’s vital to our quality of life that we learn how to listen to what our bodies tell us. The next step is then to respond with self-care. Self-love is a goal. Not only for ourselves; we have to share this with others. We have to share this information with our children,  our friends, with our lovers, spouses and anyone else in our lives.

            In order to create the ever-elusive Balance in our lives, we must first experience Balance in our bodies.

We are more than a mind in a bag of bones. We are a body inspired by a mind.

BODY, Mind, Spirit and Emotions.