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Dance Trains the Spine

Dance trains each area of the spine to command horizontal and vertical signals. Two principles seem to be that each section of vertebra engage the nearest part of the body, and that each section networks with other parts of the spine to interconnect the entire body.

My search is for a simple way to engage myself in movement physically, emotionally, and intentionally. The building blocks to simplicity seems to be signals originating at the spine.

With one simple image of a signal connecting an entire area of the body, I can bypass all my thinking about which muscles need to move and which muscles are restricting movement.

Rather than two separate intentions of sending signals and receiving feedback, the spine becomes the instantaneous sender and receiver of information.

Dancers learn this simplicity in the process of a detailed study of movement engaging the entire body at once. I had to go through the back door to understand this simplicity that becomes apparent to the serious dancer.

A common dance image is to send energy from the feet up through the body and out the top of the head. This is one signal. The signal can be varied to activate each area of the body as it rises. The signal can even go beyond the feet to ground the body or beyond the head to extend the sense of lengthening the muscles.

My clue for understanding horizontal signals was the ease of raising the arms in Ballet. The dancer describes the signal coming from the spine between the shoulder blades, traveling under and around the arms, lifting the forearms, and continuing through the fingers of each hand. As the fingers of each hand approach each other, the signals continue making an energetic connection between each finger. A spreading movement of the arms emphasizes the returning signal to the spine.

The signals in each area of the spine travel to every edge of the body, front, back, and side. I loosely refer to these areas as diaphragms because they are interconnected tissue of all kinds muscular, neurological, vascular, Limbic, and glandular.

This is only the beginning of training this area of the spine that I refer to as the dancer’s diaphragm. Signals are varied to spread and raise the arms while maintaining this energetic circle within the arms. The signals are clearly only for the arms allowing the shoulders and neck to be supportive but not fully engaged.

The training extends the range of the spinal area with slight twists, and the rolling of each vertebra forward and back. Engaging these muscles around each vertebra requires specific training to bend and slide horizontally in each direction.

Using these upper vertebra as an example, the next step of learning is to network the signals from this area with other areas of the spine. Networking signals means that the vertebral areas are interconnected through both sending and receiving signals.

The breathing diaphragm, attaching at the lower vertebra of the rib cage, networks signals to the dancer’s diaphragm. The signals are spreading,suspending, and releasing that correspond to breathing.

Receiving signals from the breathing diaphragm, the dancer’s diaphragm opens the upper chest and the back to allow breath into the upper lungs. The arms in any position receive sensations of these spreading and suspending signals.

Signals to the dancer’s diaphragm also network to the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic diaphragm engages the lower vertebra connecting the support from the inner legs, ankles, and feet. Lifting the pelvic diaphragm also sends signals to the erector muscles along the spine that contribute to the sensation of lifting and spreading throughout the entire back as well as the chest and neck areas.

The lowering and spreading of the pelvic diaphragm also sends releasing signals to the breathing and the dancer’s diaphragms to support the sensations of suspension and continuous lowering.

The value of networking is so all these interconnections can happen at once with the least amount of directed commands. The access to each vertebral,area gives the opportunity to monitor and respond specifically to the areas that need adjustment or support.
See also Spinal Imagery
Tim Hurst 01/23/18

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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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Nurturing Back Strains

Today I nurture my Quadratus Lomborum (QL), the little square of muscle connecting my pelvis bone the iliac to my spine and to my lower ribs. I have again strained these very tense and unforgiving support muscles. At its worse, I could not straighten my torso and had trouble rising from a sitting position.

Lifting from my pelvis and sending signals to lift under my rib cage has given me freedom to undulate my spine and to swivel around it in all directions.

Counter rotations of paired arms and hips with head added a freedom to slow my visual focus and to internally follow my full body experience.

Then I add an image of a double helix that passes signals from pelvic diaphragm through my QL, through my center spine diaphragm at the lower rib, through my suspended diaphragm between my shoulder blades crossing under my arms, through my neck and cranial base and out the top of my head.

The image of a double helix is two spiraling strands crossing and recrossing from my lower spine through the top of my head. The purpose of the double helix is to organize the signals connecting my entire body. This image allows an instant broad view of the intricate connections of each system of muscle and bone and intention and emotion.

In other words, I can simply visualize the double helix through my body and allow the integration of signals through every system. I can vary size of the double helix to surround only my spine or expand it to encompass the outer circumference of my body.

Today as I purposefully nurture my QL I allow gentle signals to pass through and keep my entire body supple and responsive to initiation of movement that includes signals of many qualities.

I feel lightness and a bright curiosity with each signal passing through my lower and upper torso. I can lift in one area and support the other in a curve forward, back, and diagonal. My QL goes along for the ride without seizing up or complaining with pain.

The counter rotations seem to ease my mind and foster a flow of focus through my entire body.
Tim Hurst 10/17/17

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Clarify Double Helix

Today I feel the double helix as an image that sustains my movement. What I see in dancers is what I feel in me as the image moves with a delightful agility from area to area in my body.

I change the position of the double helix image at will. I send any signal through the image, fast or slow, intense and large or subtle and small, floating or carving space. The image is the structure for expansion or compression. The spiral shape is perfect as instantly responding as a spring or as an undulating mass able to articulate any area of my body in multiple directions.

I send signals from my spine outwards to both arms with two ends of the helix as a structure. The signal can continue beyond my body with an extended helix image or allowed to disappear into space.

I can make sense out of ballet images for crossing signals in the back from hip to shoulder. The double helix image can follow those pathways and bring sensation to all the edges of the body, front, back, side, internal and external.

The signal has a structure to return to my spine or make a curved transition into another direction. The ending of the helix can be shaped as a figure eight image to make this returning signal instantaneous.

Tilting and banking my body at the different horizontal diaphragms becomes totally different from directing myself to bend backwards or pull my abs in to roll over. The helix has only to be rotated slightly for tilting and angled for banking motions.

Applying the double helix to my feet is an exploration in itself with the many combinations of arches and joints.

The double helix image carries any variety of signals to the smallest area or to my entire body and psyche at once.

The shape of the double helix is two intertwined spirals. The image of two spirals define a circular space between them that can activate and manage interactive fields of energy in small or large areas. A double helix image around the spine interconnects both sides of the body. Likewise an image of a horizontal double helix can activate at least eight cross sections of the body. Combining the vertical and the horizontal images provides inter-connective networks through the entire body and a way to change to many diagonal pathways.
Tim Hurst 09/14/17