Jun 072017
 

“It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder‘.”  — Aldous Huxley 

 

Practicing kindness toward myself has been the biggest growth opportunity of my life. Being stern with myself has always seemed necessary and normal, but I now recognize that it doesn’t actually help me accomplish my aims — or feel more at ease, which I now see is a prerequisite for success! For that I have the Alexander Technique to thank; learning to be (more) comfortable with being uncomfortable has made it possible for me to be receptive, explore, express, and — MOST importantly — have FUN.

Being okay with feeling awkward was the foundation of learning to dance, taking my first classes at age 29 and progressing from modern dance through swing, blues, and salsa to Argentine tango, while dabbling in 5Rhythms, Nia, and who knows what else. I discovered I could PLAY: in addition to dance, I’ve gotten a kick out of comedy improv, contact improv, getting to know my innards by rolling around on the floor, exploring movement like a baby, sharing games with my students and classes, and acting foolishly in general 🙂

Lightening up is a kindness I offer myself. To be clear: I don’t ALWAYS exercise this option, by default, but I have access to it — on the occasions when I do remember, or I am reminded by a kind friend. “Oh, that’s right, I’m being rather serious about this…” Finding ways to make something less of a big deal is a “general organizing principle” that serves my emotional, mental, and physical well-being, because it makes me receptive to the positive intent of Life. Because I do believe that Life is good, and well-being is the order of the day, and that when I don’t get all “heavy” about the details,  l e v i t y  shows up!

Huxley, Aldous. 1977. MOKSHA: Writings on psychedelics and the visionary experience (1931-63). New York: Stonehill, p. 291.

 

 

 

 

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Nov 212016
 

wheelAfter a 10-year hiatus, I am back in the pottery studio. It is an absolute gift to reconnect with my craft, and with all the work I’ve done to heighten my body awareness, I get to discover anew how to dance with the clay.

Centering on the wheel is a real challenge: It requires steady effort, and in the past I caused myself serious wrist and forearm injuries by working at it inefficiently, with too much exertion. Now I am thinking about the tiny bones in my hands and wrists and arms, the way force is transmitted, muscles and ligaments and the energy of fluid. I look for all the different ways I can relate to the clay, find balance and support in myself, and above all ENJOY the sensation!

As I explore this process with fresh perspective, I find amusement in the metaphor: When first plunked down on the wheel, the lump of clay is uncentered. With a steady influence, I have to actually take the clay further off-center, asking it to move this way and that so that I can bring it back to coherence, to unified potential.  And then it is ready to be opened and shaped into a vessel.

This Quaker song captures the message perfectly:

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free

‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be

And when we find ourselves in the place just right

It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained

To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed

To turn and to turn will be our delight

‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.

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