Saturday, June 04, 2005

How To Get Out Of Your Own Way

Often, it is what we don't see that is most important. It is what is apparently not there that is vital. Trees are lovely, if you value nature. Wood is great for building a fire or a house. These needs are real, but they are variable. Yet, it is the unseen air we breathe that is most vital to human life. Even so, it is the tension we carry that we are unaware of that may the greatest hinderance to the fulfillment of our potential in ways we cannot even imagine. Posted by Hello


Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
Tao Te Ching

In the practice of AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM), it is developing a sense of that which is unseen and unfelt that is most crucial. It is the low level tension you carry below the surface that makes your back give out one day when you bend over to pick up a tissue on the floor. ATM lessons create a context that allows you to begin to observe that which has been imperceptible to your senses: constant excess tension. How can you be impaired by something you don't even notice? Ask someone who's had money embezzeled from them bit by bit, drop by drop. It all adds up over time.

Perhaps you don't believe that this is an issue for you. The thing is, by the time you realize that there is an issue, the distortion to your posture is already so huge that some part of your musculoskeletal system is already way out of whack. Like a car with bad alignment, the tires wear in a particular pattern that eventually leads to a gradually increasing loss of control, so that the car keeps veering off to one side no matter how straight you hold the wheel...You can wait until chronic back or neck pain begins to impair you daily activities, or, you can nip the whole process in the bud.

Often, you may not notice you are hurting yourself when you pick up that full trash can. It may not be until the next day that you notice you tweaked yourself. My goal, as an ATM instructor is to give you the skill to catch the process first as it happens, then before it happens and ultimately before you even do anything that would begin to go in that direction. Most people treat their bodies like a rental car. They grab the keys and they're off. But if they give you a ferrari and you don't really know how responsive it is, you can land yourself in a ditch quite easily. It may be that you are driving a ferrari and that you have no idea how amazingly responsive it can be. The practice of ATM can give you access to that level of responsiveness so that you can apply it to everything you do.

Unfortunately, most people wait to do anything proactive until pain and nervous tension have become so problematic that some kind of symptoms develop. They wait until the shoulder craps out or the knees are 'bad.' Knees aren't bad, they just are. It's how we take care of ourselves, or how we don't take care of ourselves, that's often less than optimal. It's not intentional. Iit's simply because most of us have no inkling of the level of tension we carry. The more tense we are, the less we can feel. Eventually, even the simplest action is accopanied by so much tension that any effort is exhausting.

The amount of distortion possible is so great that you may be exerting effort when you think you are doing nothing. You can't feel it because it's normal for you. Your body will adapt to whatever conditions you present it with until it can no longer deal with it. And in the meantime, it will gradually wear out individual parts because the compression on your joints is virtually constant.

In the practice of ATM lessons, you learn the skill of sensing how you contribute to this detrimental process. The beauty of the Method is that it is not necessary to fix it or to work at improving. Often working at it causes an adjustment to the opposite extreme. It is enough to simply place the lens of your consiousness on yourself as you move in an ATM lesson. You learn to become adept at sensing yourself. Once you check in, with your intention in alignment with your use of consciousness, it changes, because the system you inhabit is self-correcting. There is something about this intentional use of consciousness that only human beings possess (as far as we know), that acts like an amplifier turning up the volume on previously inaudible signals. Gradually, you gain access to the sensitivity to change that which you could not even feel before. If the body is truly the temple of the spirit, why not open the door and look inside?

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Comments & questions are always welcome. What are your biggest challenges? Have you had similar experiences? Where do you want to go with your own practice? Share your insights, don't practice in a void of isolation. Consciousness is everywhere!