Saturday, June 11, 2005

Intention and Tension Are Related

Do you ever perform for yourself? Probably not, the very idea of performance assumes an audience, an observer. But, you probably rarely play either. Kids do, adults just don't. Or, when they do, it has to count, it's competitive. So, we're back in the realm of performance again. If you almost never move your body unless it counts, is it any wonder that tension constrains your comfort? Understanding the relationship between intention and tension may shed some light on the presence of unwanted stress in your life. Posted by Hello

We are not separate from our environment. Nothing we do can be separated from the environment in which we do it. Neurologically, the brain is organized to function for survival. Any function you like, be it eating, sleeping, sitting, or standing is usually done in a specific position. Once you put the person in a different position, the neurological relationship to that particular function is challenged and the brain is able to perceive that action as if it were a completely new phenomenon. This is one of the principles that Dr. Feldenkrais takes advantage of in AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM) lessons.

In Buddhism one of the prevailing themes is the idea of cultivating the ability to approach the world with 'beginner's mind.' In ATM, the design of the lesson allows you up to appreciate being in the experience of your own body with beginner's mind. How is this done? Each lesson is a set up expressly created for the purpose of helping you to see how you move in a new way. By having you do ordinary or not so ordinary movements in foreign positions your brain is tripped up to see the mundane as unusual. Rather than requiring a shift in perception in order to see the world as new, ATM uses your neurological organization to challenge your everyday perception. The brilliance of this design is that what you normally take for granted becomes apparent and is no longer hidden from view.

This is not always comfortable, initially, but then neither is the first day at school, or a new job, or the beginning of a workout when you are in training. To start with, beginner's mind is often miles away, submerged under 'monkey mind,' which equates to the automatic gyrations of cumpulsive thought and judgement. Monkey mind is extremely verbal, and very redundant. It spouts off a non-stop stream of mental spittle that questions, compares and reminds you that your ego is alive and kicking. Thank it for sharing and proceed. For underneath the compulsive thought you will find the gift of beginner's mind wrapped in the beauty of a renewed relationship with your own senses.

Now you have entered the realm of play. You move because you're curious, it feels good or because you are in the zone. What zone? The zone where creativity is born. The place where nothing is present except what you are doing. You are so focused that the rest of the world is on it's own for a while. No matter. It will get along fine without you for now. At this point, you have let go of goals. You don't care what the other people in the class are doing, let alone how you look doing it. You have completely let go of acheiving anything. You are in your experience. This is a crucial transition because it's only when you no longer need to perform that you are really able to completely release tension.

Tension is tied to intention. Release the intention to get somewhere and the muscles relax. Release the intention to get something and the brain organizes your muscles around that intention. Release the need to perform and feel your tension evaporate. Release the desire to please, the obsession with a certain outcome, the attachment to control, and feel your body regroup. It's a more pleasant place to be. It's certainly a more pleasant body to inhabit. Clean up your internal environment. Move into a body that can freely negotiate the path from necessity into pure spontaneous presence.

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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!