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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Magic Pause



Following a week of intensive Alexander Technique Post-Grad curiosity and discovery I felt quiet and smooth. Steady and balanced. Open and soft. The ravages of June’s house-moving finally soothed away.

Then I came home and resumed the preparation for my major house renovation beginning four days later...

You see I tend to be a ‘get on with it’ sort of person; a somewhat creatively disorganised version, but my intentions tend to be about being-alive-action. Now, against the backdrop of last week, me and my usual patterns began to be revealed in ever greater clarity: basically ‘rush - push - rush - hurry’.... How did I know this? By my frequent, inquisitive, self-requests to ‘pause’ in my movement - by entering a moment of lightly suspended animation, not unlike ‘musical statues’ - and to make discoveries about what I was doing with myself.

In my belief that ‘this is a frustrating and unnecessary thing to have to do‘ I found myself winding up an electrical cable with my nose about 12 inches lower than it needed to be - as if there was a ‘nose-to-cable muscle' - and by shortening it the action of pulling my face directly down to the cable-holder would somehow get the job done quicker. This was not self-kindness, but a kind of self-bashing!

Smiling to myself I waited a moment in this scrunched pose, and then softened, released, and sensed my body’s uncurling, like a coil of fern in the springtime. Ah yes, even after 38 years in this work I can be caught out in pulling myself into a curl-up by things in my hands. I am so glad to know these things through the work; not knowing would mean I would likely stay in that shape forever.

I paused again a while later: I was crossing a room, ‘musting’ - I must get this done. I must hurry. I must sort this out. I must cover that in a dust sheet. I must, I must, I must.... I found I had my feet on the ground, but my head a foot in front of the rest of me... If I had let go towards the pull of gravity I would have fallen flat on my face, such was my Tower of Pisa angle.... Ah, another moment of self-unkindness. Again I softened and released, allowing my whole self to uncurl, as a bloom rises towards the sun...

Ah yes, even after 38 years in the work I can pull myself forwards of (or behind) my head so I am no longer over my feet and standing on the ground beneath me. In my keenness I can so easily be five minutes ahead of myself - which then becomes the five minutes ahead of that moment, and so on, until I end the day exhausted from being in all the five minutes I am not actually in - living in a space which doesn’t exist - a place called ‘soon’, but not ‘now’.

These ‘pauses’ are magic places; it’s in them I can discover how I actually am versus how I think I am. It is the space between me and my assumptions. It is there I can release the holdings and scrunchings, the liftings and pushings. I might end a day wondering what hit me, but if I bring in this pause I discover I am hitting me and can stop. I can push and pull, scrunch and lift... Or not. And the pause gives me the chance to see much more precisely what I am doing to/with myself.  The boxes, bags and people didn’t exhaust me, I did. 

I didn’t just lift the box, I lifted me. 
I didn’t just push the shelving, I squashed me. 
I didn’t just pull the bags out, I dragged me down. 
The person didn’t just pressure me, I mostly compressed myself... 

Ah yes, it’s so easy to be pulled and pushed about - from the inside out.

But time? Is there really time for all this? I have things to do, places to be, people to see....!?!  All this pausing and awareness and softening and releasing - who’s got time for all that?

I do. You do. We all do. Even if it's perfect to not be pausing all the time, remembering to give it a go and reap such benefits!  Initially it seems things will take longer, but in reality time seems to stretch to accommodate the activity... Time slows down. The rushing ceases. The pressure releases. The effort reduces. The job gets done. 

Squeezing, contracting, pushing and pulling take so long! Without them there’s so much more space in the air, time on the clock, and energy in my body... 

Have a go? Even just a tiny bit? 
See what time feels like and how much easier it feels right now 
to release and lengthen your ‘nose-to-screen muscle' *......
and to be softly tall in your own space.........
and to know you are there............? 

Now that's self-kindness in action.


* A hint: how about these 'muscles'?
Nose-to-phone?
Nose-to-screen?
Nose-to-knife?
Nose-to-plate?
Nose to screwdriver?
Nose-to-piano?
Nose-to-needle&thread?
Nose-to-pen?
Nose-to-mirror?
Find me some more and post below?

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Mind and Body have a conversation late on Sunday night....

(From tuning-in to listen within following getting fed-up with feeling grumpy about having moved house and being about to renovate said house whilst pretending I'm not missing my old house....)

Mind: It’s all ok. Nothing’s wrong, just different, and things are reminiscent of the old days in their decor, sense, look...

Body: Don’t like. Want soft, clean, dry, light, space, surfaces, Tree House.

Mind: Well, I know, but things have changed now; we’re in a new phase of our life and it’s exciting. And we’re still so lucky in all we have.

Body: Don’t like. Don’t know. Don’t understand. Confused.

Mind: I’m here to guide you so don’t fret so. What’s worrying you so?

Body: Want shower. No shower. Want bath. No bath. Want clean mugs. No hot water. Want chop fruit. Nowhere to chop. Want to sit in soft chair. No soft chair. Want favourite books. Packed in a box. Want that box. Too many to un-do. Want sit down and settle. We keep going and going. Up and down - long car rides. Eyes want to see things which will stay. Instead eyes yes seeing things which will go very soon. Ears want to hear the sea. Ears hearing cars and broken floorboards creaking. Nose wants to smell sea. Nose smelling old house and not smelling sea. Eyes seeing rats and rat droppings....

Mind: Don’t worry about that; we’ll get the rats, you see. And the floorboards will be mended - it’s nothing. And we can shower at friends. And we’ll get a sofa as soon as the work is finished. And we can go live near the sea again one day. And the books will soon be on new shelves. And the new kitchen will have wide surfaces for chopping fruit, and hot, hot water all day....

Body:....want it Now. 

Mind: Impatience isn’t going to help. You know that....

Body: Don’t know that. Only know the Now compared to the data in my cells of old experiences. Liked the old experiences in that bright roomy house  - soft, clean, dry, light, space, surfaces.... They fitted me very, very well. Now + previous data is not computing. Now data upsetting. The result is grump.

Mind: Cheer up Head; there are so many worse off than us.

Body: I don’t dispute. That is you and Heart’s job. My job is feeling and giving you that information so you can make wise decisions for us. And I yearn for old data. Familiar data at least. Current data too strange. And you’re not listening to me. So, grump.

Mind: Hey! You’re meant to feel what I tell you to! And I’m telling you that all is well, we can do this thing. We can make discoveries about all sorts of creative and innovative means to get through the ‘interesting times’ of renovating a house. Sort of grown-up play! Come on, lighten up?

Body: No; don’t feel light. Feel heavy and clunky. Grumpy. Scratchy. Chalk on blackboard. Tongue on wooden ice-cream stick. Fingernails on polystyrene. Want somewhere to rest. To stop. To be still. To be held. To land. To feel safe. To stay in the same place for more than four days. To take time to know where the hell I am.

Mind: Attached to me, of course! Silly!

Body: Silly? Silly? Mind, it’s about time you remembered that listening to me is the only way. Argh, you and your imagination - mostly about how you think I am feeling! How I am coping - not! And what I might want or actually need!

Mind: Oh. Sorry. Yes. I guess so. I was just trying to reassure you all was, and will be, well. And all I was doing was using my worrying mind to reassure my worrying mind!

Body: Well, if you’d listened to me sooner for a nanosecond you’d have discovered why that’s really not working. Thanks for the good intention, but I’m the one who gets to tell you how you’re feeling, not your grandly assumptive mind! And I’m grumpy!!! And grumpy comes from uncertainty. And tiredness. And I’m tired from being uncertain most of the time. I’m in a new place. One that I gather is going to change again as it’s renovated so I can’t even get used to it. I don’t ‘get’ the place. I don’t much like it. And I miss where I loved so very much. I miss it. I yearn for it. I know you don’t want to think about our old home, and as a mind you know not thinking about it can be a way forward, but as a body, nothing will change the missing of it other than time. And a companion and witness in this time would be really, really nice. And I’d like it to be you. Please can we work together? I am tired of being squashed and ignored. And that’s why you’re tired. We need to listen to each other and respond accordingly the best way we can. At the moment you are riding rough-shod over me, dragging me disrespectfully behind you in the dust. And you wonder at the grumpiness in you! Yes, it’s me! I am grumpy!

Mind: Oh, Body, I am so sorry. Yes, you are so right. I have been so busy with all the plans and new work and old work and travelling and where to sleep, and, and. and....  And yes, I haven’t asked you how you feel because I didn’t want to feel your feelings; I don’t feel I have time to feel things because there is so much to do and fit in and get going. Plus, we can’t go back. We don’t live there any more - Tree House or Cornwall. But we are lucky in all we have. It is scary. It is new. It is odd. It is strange. It is cramped, dark, old, smelly, creaky. We can’t find things. We are having to do without favourite things for a little while. But I know I know that even having these things is a blessing, even if boxed up, because so many have nothing. But I know that isn’t Body language - you just feel as you experience - and I haven’t taken the time to speak with you, hear you, sense you, soothe you, and no wonder you’re in a grump. And no wonder today you grumped into irritation and fluster.... Would you feel happier if you had me being fully aware of all of you?

Body: I would. Would you feel happier if you actually saw, heard and sensed me instead of pretending you are but twisting my messages into lies?

Mind: Ah, since you put it so succinctly, yes. I don’t quite know how we’ll do this 24/7 because there’s a lot I have to get on with....

Body:....through and with me though; I am your earth-suit remember...!

Mind: Ah, yes... Well, is it ok if I don’t check in with you every nano-second because, well, I think I’d go nuts.

Body: Why?

Mind: Well, because some things just have To Get Done and I don’t think I have the head-space to be that aware right now. If I check in with you lots to see how you’re doing though...? How often?

Body: Hmm, well, ok... I reckon check-in every ten minutes? We’ll see what that does, but I’ll shout if I need to in the interim minutes? And if you would be willing to just keep a brain cell or two focussed on me all the time...? A light awareness? That would be great. I wont feel totally abandoned then. And I know you think you have been doing just this, but remember that moment earlier today when you saw you were thinking about looking after me but were actually just playing lip-service to me...? 

Mind: Er, yes....

Body: Well, make it real? For us? Please? And, yes, we can do this, but together - a pair, a team, not two-ones? Dear of you; you think you’re so clever, but you can’t do this without me. And I’d rather grump at you now to remind you of this than have to scream later on through something far more severe than a mood! So, you and me? Together? You using your immense computing ability and me my immense sensing ability? Then we can be ‘Knowing and Gnowing go forth’?

Mind: You’re such a star, Body. Thank you. Thank you so, so much. Sleep well now.

Body: You too. Good night.