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Benefit or Harm

One simple image consumes me today. Benefit. Benefit every movement. Benefit every signal I receive through my eyes, my ears,my touch, my health. Benefit every connection internally and externally.

My sensation is a flowering, a flurry, a bursting of signals that give me access to every direction in space, in thought, in emotion, in anticipation, and hope.

The sensation may be like yawning and spreading myself to the extremities of my breath. Every part of me wants to engage, to connect, to both be aware and to surrender to the flowering sensation.

Benefit as an image may begin here in the shower of signals. This is a specific network of signals I experience with a focus on a broad whole view of myself and my world.

My focus then shifts to examine what this benefit means to me, how I can expand this benefit, how I can apply it to every area of my life. In this process, the body brain monitors the effect of the benefit and sends out signals to find receptor points.

When the flowering signals are received by established networks of receptors, monitors, and supportive responders, the benefits are easily accepted and applied.

When the signals enter unresponsive networks, the benefits may appear to be demands that appear stressful. I am very aware of the times I react and reject benefit that is freely offered. The immediate response of the entire system is to run for cover or to seek any distraction to minimize the fear and to calm the stirred up trauma introduced by the unfamiliar signals.

Responsive networks are established in the early childhood years. Beyond that it is up to me to develop networks of signals. I have explored the network building processes of music, dance, and religion. Each one is a guide to switch focus from the sense of the whole person to the specific goals of building responsive connections internally and externally.

I am aware that each person forms their own mosaic of connections that make sense of stresses and responses. My personal search has been to find the realms of study that encourage these shifts of focus from the broader whole view to the specific goal focus.

Within the specific goal focus is a benefit monitor that operates a continuum from self benefit to empathetic benefit outside the self. There is also the continuum of more or less effort. Another is the monitor for risk of harm and prevention of harm.

Another elusive monitor has something to do with a continuum of satisfied benefit and tortured benefit. This monitor is related to the human skill of making snap judgements and instantly determining a response. In the case of benefit, this monitor can become a driver of self deception and justification of any harm to receive a benefit.

Snap judgements based on a minimum of information often mean the choice of a tortured benefit meaning a calculated loss for self or other. Someone has to lose. The harm has to accompany the benefit. Examples are the athletes insistence that the goal is worth any injury or even death. The examples are everywhere that some people or forms of life have to be harmed in some way to gain a benefit. Addictions are an example.

Self deception and justification of any harm easily lead to distractions that further confuse the need for human responsive networks to receive benefit.

I keep asking what drives us toward self deception and harm? I can use an example from dancing. I learn a movement combination and my body brain instantly wants to establish a pattern. There is a difference between a perceived pattern and a networked pattern.

My instant conclusion is what the movement should look like. I jump from understanding the movement to an imitation of what I think it looks like. I make a map not of the movement but of how I should look.

Ballet has a solution which is group class that takes simple movements that connect signals into networks. A movement begins as networked connections. Each movement is supported by the whole body. The students learn moment by moment how to shift from the focus on the entire networked body to the specific skill of specific movements.

The self deception monitor keeps tugging towards imitation. Actually imitation is a specific skill focus that gives information for the shift of focus to the individual dancer’s whole network. It is in the whole network view that the dancer creates their own images that guide their movements and their monitoring choices.

My study then is to experience the two shifts of focus to build supportive connective networks through every part of myself. Rather than looking for the pattern to imitate I look for the signals that may have to wobble to find the connections that need support in my body.
Tim Hurst 01/02/18

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Dancing Brightness

I am obsessed with the question of how the dancer enters a brightness of movement and attitude. The brightness permeates every move they make even when the emotions and intensity vary.

The brightness perpetuates itself in the movement, even in the preparation and completion of every movement. Stillness holds the same brightness as long as the dancer is engaged.

One simple movement captures my imagination, the basic principle of rising and lowering taught in most beginning dance classes. Using different words, the dancer connects two distinct experiences, lifting and spreading.

This can be understood by tracing the dancer’s approach to each area of the body. As with other activities, breathing is a process of lifting and spreading the rib cage as the air rushes in and eases out. The feet lift from beneath the arch in a rise and spread to lower for another action. The legs and arms rise and spread in alternate movement of lifting and lowering. The pelvic diaphragm initiates a lift in the spine then spreads to support a lowering of the spine. The three dimensional area connected to the solar plexus lifts the upper spine and the spreads the upper torso. The top vertebra, the atlas, lifts the top of the spine and spreads the supporting muscles with gentle movement of the second vertebra, the axis. The face, the nasal cavities, and the brain rise with energy from the spine spreading to exit from the top of the head.

The dancer connects all of these different lifting and spreading motions and creates networks that can be accessed with simple commands.

So how does brightness relate to these networks of lifting and spreading? The sensation of continuous movement may be uplifting in itself. Bill Reidler of the Global Relationship Network would say if you are depressed look up and show your teeth. The action itself does not work but there is a moment of being uplifted. The dancer studies this moment in depth.

Something about continuous movement relates to anticipation of the next rise and fall. Then there is the connectivity of one rise and fall leading to and coordinating with another rise and fall. The body brain is engaged in the forming and reforming of these connections.

When the brain is fully engaged we identify total experiences like “falling in love” and spiritual ecstasy. The brightness could be the moment by moment hope of this kind of falling and rising.

Another question is, how do the movements of rising and falling relate to action and rest, formation and reflection, building and pruning.

Each of these is a form of continuous rising energy that the spreads beyond itself. We might find help in a broader view.

Dance training may be a process of rejuvenation. The basic principle is like the rising and falling of our breathing. Like the sound wave and the light wave, our movement may also rejuvenate and perpetuate itself. The characteristic of rising and falling is that they are continuous even at the transition points, at the peaks of the waves. There are many other characteristics like the variation of quality, intensity, and speed. These variations continually engage the body brain in exploring new territory that requires action and reflection, specific focus of energy and release of energy.

Could dance be a process of gaining access to every area of the body brain and psyche for a unified experience of movement and reflection?
Tim Hurst 12/31/17

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Two Sides of Me 2017

Even my sweetheart Ginger straightens me up as my lean to the right revisits me in moments of fatigue. Or perhaps the lean is always there throughout my hours of dancing. With all my awareness and my dancing there are clearly two sides to my movement and distinct sensations. Perhaps my feeling of having to direct every new learned movement is correct times two.

Today I will honor two different worlds. On my left is the world of steadiness, a whole sensation throughout. There is vague sense of having to hold on, a clue from Rachel Meador that my left foot was always gripping the floor as if I were going to fall to the left. On my right is the world of collapse, yielding somehow to a deep sensation of trauma.

There is a reluctance to both sides that do not want to be stirred. One Feldenkreis session with Matt Williams ended with his observation that he had to bypass lots of resistance, find alternate routes to move my legs.

I did not pursue the sessions out of a fear to face the ache I would find there from previous trauma. The reluctance is still there, aches not wanting to be touched but the rewards of movement call too strongly to resist.

So today I enter the delight of the dance with a bit of caution. I know that the echoes from past traumas will ache to not be stirred. Or perhaps they will gladly yield to movement as they want to do.

The image that will replace my caution is two versions of the wave down and the wave up, the rising and falling at the core of a dancer’s awareness. On my left I will introduce a spongy loosening of the firmness. The emphasis will be on the downward wave. For my right side I will introduce a springy playful emphasis on the upward wave.

As I move, the sensations are both very distinct. My left side seems to be in new territory, having to release in new ways to feel the downward wave. My right is likewise a little unsure like it has always relied on having a buddy leading on the left.

I explore the double helix image differently for each side. On the left, I shape the image as collapsing vertically to allow a spongy quality to the movement. For my right, the shape is the rising buoyant nature of the rotating double helix. The quality of springy is a continuous upward feeling.

The images come and go from my awareness giving me the clue that either I do not want to go there or I need to allow the image to work outside my awareness to go past the fear. I gently bring the images back and observe. I will have to repeat this experience many times to get a read on what is actually happening.

My movement on the other hand is very demonstrative. My ankles give way and respond to my arches in very fluid ways. My movement is more sweeping and my looping floor patterns are surprising. I welcome all the movement and notice the ending of phrases going into twists that engage the rotation from hip, through the mid back to the opposite shoulder.

I follow this rotation as I build awareness in turns that move forward into the cross body twist and then into a backward version of the twist for the opposite side of the turn. The 360 degree quality in my body is very satisfying.

Moving side to side I engage the rotation in the Dancer’s Diaphragm under the arms while sensing the rotation in the opposite hip,leg, and feet. My hope is that these movements will give me more awareness and access to the leaning into my right side.

More sessions will tell. I can integrate the experience at the end of the rotations and even feel the echoes of trauma in my hip. Standing still afterwards causes me to avoid the sensations. Perhaps in another session a portabrae will help.
Tim Hurst 12/30/17

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Health Review 2017

Health concerns are at the top of my list today. Bladder infected areas are benign but I feel fatigued. Next area to examine is the prostate. Also troublesome are wide swings in blood pressure and sugar response.

Dance experiments have been a daily part of keeping my attitude bright and my focus on the overall healing my system is attempting to keep up with. By keeping my focus clear and shifting throughout my body, I have kept pain areas from tensing and kept other areas from spasms that sympathetically respond to the stressed areas.

So every time I begin a dance phrase, my entire body brain enters a bright attitude toward movement connections. It is the connections that engage the networks of the body brain.

This attitude of responsive inquiry helps my blood pressure. I continue to ask how I can consistently respond to these times of intensity.

Concerning the bladder and prostate, I find help in freeing the area to receive more oxygen. My experiments with movement of the pelvic diaphragm are helpful. Adding the hands to assist the movement makes new connections for the pelvic floor muscle to expand and contract.

I just began consulting with a Physical Therapist to explore their approach to the pelvic diaphragm. With my experiments and study of these muscles in Pilates, I am eager to see the exercises PT’s give to a broad range of people. I am aware that the source of the exercises are from dancers who pioneered the attention to the pelvic floor.

The value of PT is the way they have chosen one aspect of a movement and through repetition explored its effects. I will benefit from the specific exercises and I will ask questions that will lead me further.

Today I had many realizations of the importance of the dance image but I will have to write those another day.
Tim Hurst 12/29/17