The intentions of the Spring Equinox - to launch a blog and converse with you about movement, dance, practice and body awareness - were like perfectly viable seeds that didn't get enough water. I fell off the path of writing into a side gully of deep introspection, work, solitary practice, and tons and tons of reading & listening (mainly other peoples' blogs and podcasts, and a few extremely nutrient-rich, dense, thrilling books that I'm still digesting and will tell you more about soon.) Sorry. I'm back.
In the last months unexpected events and serendipitous encounters have put me face-to-face with my blind assumptions. I'll be writing more about these, but know that it involves dipping into a new layer of vulnerability. I'm asking my readers to write back, comment, ask, provoke, participate -- I don't want to be all alone here.
In the same way that my investigation of Stretching (which we used to take for granted as an essential prelude to movement) has led me to practically discard it, other physical and cognitive realms have also been turned on their head by the invitation to look closer and question my experience. These range from the rather technical questions (such as: how much ice is necessary for healing an injury?) to the very personal (such as: what is my emotional relationship to finances?).
Some of the themes of the first half of 2017 for me have been:
- break trance
- do fewer things better
- try things in a radically new way, don't just tweak them
- slow the f down
- listen completely, with ears and body
- suspend the compulsion to act as a way of filling up the space of the unknown. Antero Alli speaks so eloquently about how our nervous systems can only handle so much uncertainty before we become "anxious monkeys." I notice this so viscerally.
- have many auspicious and transforming encounters at exactly the right time with new people, thinkers, writers and ideas!!
so what's new:
In April I started earnestly working a new way in my bodywork practice, incorporating private movement work off the table with clients. I've been doing this in addition to the Natural Human Movement classes, and it's a more focused way of paying attention to how individuals move in their daily lives. I learned that the group classes are sometimes intimidating or too accelerated for people. In parsing how I want to encourage their awareness, and changes in personal movement habits, I've been paying extra attention to my own habits, feeling like I definitely need to get rid of my couch, and I hear myself telling people to stick their butts out more than ever.
A most potent influence over the past 18 months has been the work of Esther Gokhale. The bummer about having so many great teachers to learn from is that sometimes they contradict each other, reveal false assumptions or no-longer-valid beliefs (see themes of 2017), and plunge me further into anxious monkey-mind. Much of what Esther teaches rubs across or against some of my previous training, and forces me to do more direct investigation rather than take as Word the teachings of other people. But her work feels so deeply, immediately, intuitively right that I'm just going to go with that for now.
In June I completed the fourth phase (and fifth year) of my 8Elements Datura Style Dance Training with Rachel Brice. You can read more about that here. It was not exactly an easy breeze through the finish line, but I've relished every moment. Though ostensibly a dance program, for me this course of study has more than anything been an encounter with myself and my relationship to learning, to practice, work, perseverance, and to the experiences of failure and success. I'm proud to have completed this milestone at last and to offer a new dance class format that hopefully brings forth as much as I can of my teacher Rachel's incredible trove of resources and practices.
Through my time with the 8Elements training, and especially this final phase of Teacher Training, I've been exposed to an array of methods and principles that are in essence about Being Effective and Reaching People (instead of leaving them behind, lost, confused, frustrated and unsatisfied which I have definitely done.) I'm looking forward to going back again and again to the wisdom of these resources for the rest of my life. Let me know if you want more specifics.
[Similarly, but not related to the dance community, my accidental discovery of this podcast has me pretty excited. Warning, not safe for work. I'm actually very interested in having conversations about this. It has everything to do with using our speech in a deliberate way, and having communication with others via physical presence.]
As I shift my focus back to simple practice and return my primary energies to teaching, not performing, it sinks in that our dance troupe has decided to take a hiatus for an undetermined period of time ~ perhaps forever? This has brought so many issues to the surface. The breaking of a form that existed with continuity for most of 9 years has let me touch and taste Change in a more immediate, refreshing, panicky, nauseating, relieving, thankful, grieving way. This is still rather astonishing so there isn't much more that I can write about this at the moment, but I will. I'm forever grateful for the many experiences of creativity, challenge and community that I shared with these incredibly talented women, and excited about the new faces showing up in my dance life.
Speaking of change, another life-altering thing has been the discovery of the work of Jean Claude Guimberteau. He's a French plastic surgeon who has done extensive micro-endo-photography of fascia in the human body. We Structural Integration Practitioners (aka Rolfers®; sorry for any copyright infringement but I'm trying to share information here) definitely work with mental and visual models in understanding the plasticity of the human form, and the ability of tissue to change. For a long time our images of fascia came from cadavers.
Imagine when this image (standard dissection view of fascia)
gets replaced with a more magnified, alive-person perspective on the fascia in our bodies
Guimberteau's work reveals that fascia is, truly, "like drops of dew suspended in a 3-D spiderweb." This enhanced knowing of just how fluid and motile we are affects not only manual therapy work but the work of living and being itself. Is my life a rather dry old piece of sinew that's going to need a lot of massage to soften it into another shape, or is it a delicate jelly-like network that can be influenced by the subtlest of intention? But I digress.....
Lastly, because it has everything to do with fluidity, I want to share one more person who has touched my life in a big way. I love Rain Dove. Here is the video where I first encountered them, but there are many more interviews, blogs and posts about the amazing work they are doing in the world. And P.S. As a sign of my adaptability, this is the first time I've ever used the they/them pronoun like this, in defiance of my grammatical fixity. Old leathery fascia?