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Dancing the Breath

Dance Trains the breath to be just as malleable as movement of the body, of the thoughts, and of the emotions.

I have a very tight neck and jaw. Dance teachers and some who are Pilates instructors, say to breathe regularly and with more ease. Easier said than done. I enrolled in breathing classes that practiced specific exercises to get me to breathe into all areas of my lungs. I took Yoga to coordinated my breath with specific movement patterns. I learned to follow a counting sequence that slowed down my breathing.

Because my learning curve takes longer I was patient. Or probably I was learning to force myself to do things that were contrary to the source of my tightness.

I changed direction and tried several forms of both sitting and moving meditation. I was looking for a way to get beyond my tightness and to somehow deal with my focus upon commanding myself to breathe. Of course the worst suggestion was to “just stop thinking so much.”

Actually what did help was moving my thinking in many different ways. I found Modern Dance technique as a way to simplify movement into parts and then to practice the movement through improvisation. Then I did years of study of using imagery as a basis for both the technique and the improvisation.

There was a sensation associated with my breathing. The breathing sensation would capture my attention as I followed a Deborah Hay image like seeing only what is above my head or seeing with every cell of my body. My body and my breathing were totally engaged in the image that revealed changes of sensation and surprises beyond my imagination.

Every thing about me was malleable, shifting and changing at every moment. My breathing and my movement were exploring the contours of my conscious and released relationship to the image. Everything was aware or everything was flowing on its own. Movement surprises would take my attention and then disappear into the variation of another improvisation.

I was able to put words to this effect on my breathing after adding improvisational singing to my dancing. Musically I was opening areas of myself with phrases.

Dancing puts together phrases that flow melodically and rhythmically. My breath could be used to begin phrases and continue them as long or short. Musically my breath could emphasize a movement or make the movement a kind of quiet secret. The shifting image could take me to a conscious focus on these kinds of musicality or my focus could shift to my involvement in the phrase with my whole body.

My breathing was able to change with the interaction of my sensations and thoughts. An image guided the discovery of a variety of phrasing that captured the attention of my breathing.

As I learn more about the ease of breathing for singing, I the union of my breath with dancing. Both dancing and singing rely on the rising of a phrase followed by the continuous release of the phrase into a state of receptiveness.
Tim Hurst 01/23/18

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My Inhale Walk

My walk today was in 95 degree noon day sun. I had to take a slower pace to savor the shade and not push too hard in the sun. Already needing a nap and needing to eat as well, I had to find ways to rejuvenate my energy.

My eyes were being shocked as I moved from shade to sun. I began rejuvenating my eyes in the shaded areas. Allowing my focus to wander through the flickering light of tree leaves calmed me and my eyes were being kind of rocked in the light cool breeze.

When I moved into the hot sunlight, my eyes would go into a rest state as if they were riding the cool breeze of the shade I can just left behind.

To rejuvenate myself, I slowed the pace of my body into an easy rise and fall along with my breathing. Then I realized that even with a slow overall body speed, my feet were speeding up to get to the next patch of shade.

I slowed my feet by catching the weight of my legs in a rise and then releasing their weight into a fall. Even the arches of my feet took this easy rise and fall pace. My breathing was heavy but deep and easy. I wonder if the air drafts under an airplanes wings were this kind of catching weight upwards and then weight lowering through air drafts when the craft slows.

A clear sensation began to form. Each cell of my body opened in anticipation of the next inhale. I felt like a ballon with trillions of air sacks to lift me as I walked in this slow rising and falling rhythm.

My study of dance came clear. Ballet lowering and rising is the experience of opening every cell for the next inhale. The visceral anticipation opens my curiosity to the next moment of fun and interconnection. The nutrients and oxygen on the way is a kind of reward for the hope I hold before me. All I can think of is to ask for the delight of my next breath.

Finding a deep shade on the sidewalk, I completely yield to a dance of following energy curves in multiple directions and shapes. I bank and dive into roller coaster curves with ever so slight and unnoticeable dances.
Tim Hurst 09/20/17

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Dancing the Upside

My play today is with the upside. My teacher, Deborah Hay gave direction for the plié, ” The down is the up. And the up is the down.”

This is a definition of the sine wave. The upward motion contains the momentum and the energy of the downward. The downward motion contains the momentum and energy of the upward.

My emotion and sensation is anticipation and curiosity both approaching the top and the bottom of the curve. Within me is both the delight of life and a kind of responsibility to embrace each wave with willingness.

Here is the place of my dance today. My study is to rise with the breath instantly filling every vessel, every organ, every cell. Toe to head and every millimeter between becomes a sack that fills with oxygen. The whole of me is also in an easy gentle rotation imaging multiple winding helix simultaneously spiraling upwards and downwards.

My body rises with the oxygen filling me. My pelvic diaphragm lifts, my Lung Diaphragm spreads, my Dancer’s Diaphragm behind my solar plexis rotates open, the oxygen opens my cranial base and frees my top vertebra to balance my bobbing head, my Singer’s Diaphragm opens my soft palate reminding me of the slow and gentle third eye and the meditator’s fourth ventricle at the back of my head.

My entire body is filling and with ease extending in all directions beyond my own boundaries. My internal image of a winding helix is participating in the extension not only upwards and outwards but also downwards.

The energy of the spiraling helix is simply upwards and downwards at the same time.

This is not an abstract motion. This is the motion of anticipating something I love, an embrace, holding a child, riding a bicycle. This is the lifting beyond my self and at the same time connecting down within myself. This is the balance of exuberance and personal joy. This is the meeting of people, animal, and plants. This is my reaching to receive the gifts of my creator, Life.

Returning to my practice and experiment of rising with and through my breath, I come face to face with my willingness. The renewed life from the oxygen is both delightful and overwhelming. I have a choice, to force the breath through willful direction or to embrace each breath as a new creation.

The process of life is vast. The repetitive simple inhale and exhale opens and connects every part of myself. With each repetition, my cells die and are replaced with fresh new cells. The circumstance has changed.

My choice is to embrace the extension as both upwards and downwards or to attempt to force myself into one direction. If I choose to only extend outwards then I limit myself to brittleness. If I choose to instead fall into the downward nature of the curve, I will also limit myself and clasp my fists around anything to stabilize my fall.
My willingness is literally embracing the life that is filling me. If I do this slowly in the preparation for my dance, I have access to trillions of minute variations and qualities of moving and being. Any circumstance will be a place to extend beyond and within myself at the same time.
Tim Hurst 09/22/17