Thursday, January 6, 2011

It was right behind me the whole time.

Bear with me on this one. I'm gonna go a little metaphysical on you. Or to be more precise, I'm going to go somatic on you.

I am super interested in the subtle and not-so-subtle patterns we hold in our muscular and energetic bodies. Often, these patterns relate to past experiences and our body responded appropriately at the time. Let's say you were frightened of something. The withdraw response, which is primal and kicks off a whole sequence of events in the body, took over. Within a second, your entire body does the following: Eyes close, jaw and neck become tense, neck forward, shoulders lift, elbows flex, fists clench, chest flattens, abdominal muscle tightens, diaphragm contracts, breath shortens, perineum contracts, gluts rotate legs in, things adduct, hamstrings contract, knees bend, arches lift: the subjective feeling is fear.

Now let's say that you have thoughts that are fearful. Let's say, like me, you are worried about connecting with projects that can sustain you financially. I know that every time I have fearful thought, I am putting my body through the wringer ... the sequence above is hardwired into me and even when I am not aware of it, my body and mind are in a dance of subtle movements.

One of the reasons I am so interested in movement and mindfulness is so I can be a sleuth into my own patterns ... what thought and/or related movements are keeping me stuck?

And here is what I have recently discovered: I hold fear in the middle of my back.

I kept losing things and then finding them weeks later RIGHT BEHIND where I was looking for them. So I paid attention to that. I wondered what else was right behind me that I was ignoring. Since I am a dork, I thought maybe a guy who I was supposed to meet lived behind me. I wondered if I was supposed to look further (really? again?) into my past.

But just this week I figured it out: when my thoughts go crazy with fear, my upper back right between my shoulder blades freezes. My breath shortens and I am no longer in my body or in the present. I am in the past or in the future.

So I've been focusing on letting that go. I have been actively working on surrendering my back muscles throughout the day. Whenever I do it, I return to the here and now. I feel more confident and less afraid although I am very aware of how much I've stored up there. I think it will take awhile to let it all go, this life time of super subtle fearfulness.

In addition to focusing on movement through the spine this week at dance, I have been focusing on the fine art of surrender.

Over and over I take a deep breath and soften muscles in my neck and back and belly. And I say thank you thank you thank you for the gift of consciousness.

(And also thanks to Ron Hamad for this beautiful photo which I use whenever I can.)

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