Friday, July 01, 2005

Living In Perpetual Postponement?

Funny how photographs can frame the environment selectively, so that there is an emphasis on a stair or a flower. Usually there is an intentional use of proportion by the photographer to create a sense of balance. Reality is like that also. Unwittingly, we see a version of the world that is framed by our vision, or our lack thereof. The problem is, the framing often is unconscious, given that we are usually unaware of the basic assumptions we make that govern what we see. Taking time for ourselves allows us a chance to start to see what is usually hidden from view. Posted by Picasa

"The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes." - Goethe


Have you ever caught yourself thinking that someday you will start taking better care of yourself, or that someday you have every intention of getting into nutrition or exercise or meditation? If you live in this land of 'someday, maybe,' the question you have to ask yourself is do you really want to feel better? Superficially, you may think, 'Of course, I want to feel better.' If you take a deeper look, is there some payoff that keeps you from taking the first steps towards change? What are you really attached to? What really moves you?

Looking back on your life, how do you see it overall? What is it that you notice first? Do you see mostly the best things that ever happened to you? Or, do you see your life as a series of difficulties? These first impressions of your overall experience provide clues to your unconscious self image. In the FELDENKRAIS METHOD, it's a given that we all have preferences that govern our choices, our behavior and our results. The most startling aspect of this, however, is that these predispositions are so deeply ingrained that they even govern how we approach things we have never done before. In other words, we have habits about how we do things we don't even know how to do. AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM) is ingeniously designed to use movement lessons couched in the totally unfamiliar to make those habits more readily apparent. This is a practice that can facilitate seeing the preferences that for the most part go unnoticed. Certainly the signifigance of how powerfully they affect our lives goes unnoticed.

Ben Franklin said, 'A small leak can sink a great ship.' Many such small leaks will sink it faster, no doubt. Having a self image perforated with habits of thought that lead to permanent postponement is like riding the crest of a wave in a leaky boat. There's the Scarlette O'Hara approach, 'I'll think about that tomorrow.' Today is a survival emergency. Time enough for comfort later, when the potatoes are harvested. A more modern offshoot of that is the myth of the woman who can do it all, birth babies, bring home the bacon, keep the house and bake cookies too. No time for self in that scenario. I am not suggesting that work is bad. But workaholism can be just a self-absorbed as egotism. I am not advocating self-absorption either; merely taking time to notice, periodically, what is going on under the surface. Shimmering waters can be deceptive.

These underlying attitudes usually become apparent at some point during life's less pleasant moments anyway. Why wait until your hand is forced? It's a lot more painful to wait until strong emotions run rough shod over your plans than to regularly take the time to peak under the carpet. Needless to say, a single dust bunny is easier to deal with that an entire carpet laden with dirt.

An ATM practice affords the opportunity to notice the amazing grace of life before it disappears. It brings presence to moments we let slip through our fingers. It teaches us to find the immediacy necessary to stop living a life of endless postponement. How? By the simple expedient of honing those amazing senses we so readily take for granted like life itself. We rarely think about how awesome it is to be able to see, unless, for some reason, our vision is taken away by injury or disease. Hearing can be a gift or a curse according to what the noise level is around you. For music I am eternally grateful. For now, I am focused on my own internal rhythm in spite of the construction going on outside.

Four thousand years of human experience in disciplines like yoga, chi gong, and meditation attest to the fact that amazing results can be acheived by focusing on the very act of breathing. What makes ATM different? ATM provides a frame for channeling your attention so that beginning is easy. ATM teaches you how to focus your mind, so that the overwhelming glut of information that modern living belches onto your desk no longer dominates your experience. ATM provides a refuge that is not religious, not concerned with striving, acheiving or struggle. It's part art, part science. It's derived from Martial Arts, Child Development, and the principles of Engineering as they apply to living structures moving in the field of gravity.

It's a much more gentle beginning than some of the aforementioned disciplines that have evolved over the centuries. It can provide similar benefits, glimpses into a more fulfilling consciousness, greater mobility, comfort and energy, but in a way that invites through the playful curiosity that motivates children to learn spontaneously. ATM is unique in that it concentrates on living from the inside out rather than from the outside in. It is not cosmetic like many of the values of our times, rather it is fundamental. It sheds clarity on our relationships with self, with others and with the world. In my view, this is exactly what the world needs; people skilled at seeing the big picture, within and without at the same time. The somatic approach is even more inclusive than that, for it includes vision, taste, smell, sound, feeling, and choice based on what works rather than unconscious preferences. ATM is a practice of non-judgement not out of moral superiority, but because judgement is about attachment to personal outcome, which actually hinders the ability to hear, see and feel what works.

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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!