Sunday, July 31, 2011

Body Intelligence, Part I

I have to admit, my body often (frequently) knows more than my brain does.  If I am teaching a class and I get that uh-oh feeling---when I’m not sure I remember what’s next, if I continue to think with my brain, there is just a big, empty space where my memory should be.  If I can let go of thinking in that moment, my body just knows where to go and I don’t miss the step. 

In fact, people who have taken my class for years think they couldn’t remember choreography to specific songs.  However, if they just put on the music and let go of their brain, their body would just go ahead and do it.  Moreover, when I can’t let go of my brain during an empty memory moment (ugh!) I know one of my clients is going to bail me out without even realizing it!  So often, they do remember the choreography and dance it without even recognizing they aren’t watching me at all anymore.  Our bodies remember. Everything.  Even when our brains don’t.

Your brain can lie to you about your feelings.  Your body can’t lie.  (Sometimes that’s unfortunate. And uncomfortable.)  Have you ever had a conversation with someone and left it feeling like something’s really wrong, but nothing “wrong” was said?  Your body’s telling you something.  Probably it’s not something you want to know or you’d already know it.

The body will always tell you what your feelings really are, even when you can’t articulate them to yourself.  The body is not always right about everything, but it is unerringly correct when it comes to how you are feeling about anything; even if your brain is telling you something entirely different.
So, if you are ready to know your truth about anything, trust what your body is telling you.

You can run from your body, but you can’t hide for long.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wrong Turn?

I did a new dance the other day and kept turning the “wrong” way.  I am extremely right handed so I always want to spin to the right.  I could tell people were a little frustrated because I demonstrate it one way and then get confused and turn in another direction.  I understand the frustration because when I see what I’ve done, I get flustered and then it’s all over---to save my own life I couldn’t remember which way is “right!”

This is why I almost always try to end a turn with the weight on both feet; because then it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter because when you have your weight evenly distributed on both feet, you can go anywhere.  You always can end up in the “right” place even if you took a “wrong” turn to get there.   What’s more, you can make that turn “your own”—you can make it look any way you want without making yourself  “wrong.”  You can create your own way of executing the turn.

In life, we often take “wrong” turns or make choices and immediately think “D’oh!”  But isn’t it funny how often we end up in the place we want to be anyway?  If we remain steadily with both feet on the ground (solid in our principles) we can choose any number of ways to reach our goals.

Often the path that gets us to a goal is one that we never could have imagined. There are many paths to get where you want to be.  Just make the steps to get there your own.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes Stopping is Moving Forward

In a dance, movement is, of course, paramount.  However, stopping is just as important.  You can use energy to propel yourself into a leap or a turn, but sometimes the choreography calls for you to just stop and be still.  If you are stopping after an energetic movement, you really have to contract your core muscles to achieve stillness.  This entails transferring the energy of momentum into the power of stillness. 
Sometimes in our lives we need to stop a behavior that is no longer serving us.  A habitual behavior has a lot of momentum behind it and it takes all our inner (core) strength to just stop it already! 
When dancing to stillness, we can see in our mind’s eye what that looks and feels like. We can then contract our core muscles and achieve it, but it might take a few rehearsals to really accomplish.
It is the same in life.  You have a vision of what you want to achieve and you may have to rehearse stillness (or NOT acting in your accustomed manner) before you successfully end the behavior. 
Allow your inner strength to guide you but don’t be hard on yourself—it always takes some rehearsal to stop the momentum.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Martinis and Lawn Lessons

When a choreographer creates a dance, she has an infinite array of movements to choose from.  Whatever movement she chooses becomes real to the dancer and the audience.

Modern science says that in every moment there are an infinite number of possibilities for us to experience.  Whatever we look at is what becomes real in our lives.  A simple example: is the glass half full or half empty?  Although this seems a trite exercise, the way you perceive that glass colors your perceptions which define your reality.

Mr. Winton was our neighbor when I was a child.  We lived on a hillside and his home was next to ours.  There was a little hill that was part of Mr. Winton’s lawn that reached up to the edge of our driveway.  Mr. Winton was scary and hysterical about his immaculate lawn.  If we so much as stepped on the edges of his lawn, he was out of his house like a shot to discipline us.  Instead of enjoying his lawn, Mr. Winton seemed to be lying in wait for any trespassers (or smart alecky little children) to mess it up. 

One evening my dad had a few too many martinis and drove our car down the hillside into Mr. Winton’s lawn.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to hire a tow truck to get the car back to our driveway. 

Mr. Winton was focused on and created exactly what he was most afraid of.  He was seeing his lawn as ripe for ruin, and that’s exactly what happened--(hmmmmm- martini glass half empty? Lawn a muddy mess?)

What you choose to focus on becomes your experience.  Rather than thinking about what horrible thing might happen, instead choose to focus on the choreography for your life that you want to experience. 

Don’t worry so much.  You might get a car on your lawn.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Are We Choosing?

In a dance class, when the music starts and we all move together, a natural synchrony occurs.  People start to breathe and vocalize at the same time. We are all individual cells in the body of the same dance.  Spiritual traditions (and also quantum physics) tell us that even though we appear to be separate, we are all connected on a deeper level all the time.

I was all “blissed out” after class and was at the grocery store.  There, I was “reflexively friendly”*(see definition below) to a woman whom I wanted to ignore.  She had offended me and I decided I wanted to hold a grudge.  I know—not exactly a “higher self” decision.  However, sometimes it really feels good to hold that grudge.  It can make me feel really “right”.  I saw her and said “hi” and smiled before I realized exactly who it was.  (D’oh!)

As I was cursing myself, I thought, “WHAT am I doing?!!?”

First, this woman probably only just barely knows I am alive.  Second, if she even remembers we had “words” (doubtful) she probably blames me as much as I blame her.  Third, who cares??!!??

This made me realize how ridiculous holding onto animosity is.  It takes so much energy to hold onto resentment, and for what???  It’s like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Although my relationship with this woman is certainly distant, she is “one of us.”  We all have a spirit that is separate from our personality, what we show to the world.  If we can try and see the truth of this spirit in one another it would go a long way to creating harmony between us and also harmony within ourselves.  Kindness is generally met with kindness. 

And so the dance goes on.  What will we do with it?  Will we use it to harm or to heal?  It’s our choice. 

*Reflexive friendliness:  an involuntary reflexive condition developed as a child, when one must have manners even when one’s hair is on fire.  (“Yes sir, yes ma’am, my hair is indeed on fire.  May I please be excused? Thank you.”)