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Our Tension Matrix

Every person has their ways of storing tension. After a while the tension becomes pain or a troubled system like digestion. We often ignore the discomfort allowing it to get worse or confronted it with massage, medication, or a vacation.

There are many other ways of dealing with tension. I prefer to change my habitual ways of responding to stress. The three most powerful ways of changing the way I think, feel, and act are through the study of dance, music, meditation, and prayer.

(Each of these rewire the signal networks and manage the energy flow through the body, intention and thought processes.)

A favorite tension matrix for accumulating stress begins at the spine between the shoulder blades and goes up into the head. We experience grabbing sensations in the shoulders, chest, neck, and jaw.

I feel this gathering of tension when I concentrate on a project and grab with my facial and eye muscles. These tensions call on my upper body to join in the fun, and there I have it, lingering tension.

My mentors deal with tension by waking up the energy flows in the entire body. Using the help of the arts and meditation, dancers and musicians rewire the networks connecting intention, emotion, thought, and the body.

This upper body tension matrix gives way to changing the energy flow. Piano players concentrate the energy flow through their upper torso into their fingers. The agile changes of focus on musical melody and rhythm relieve the tension.

Singers connect the energy of breathing with openings of the inner cavities of the throat and the soft palate. This openness of energy flow combined with vibration in the head seal the experience of refocusing the stress.

The disciplines of meditation and prayer have ways of altering energy flow using different brain waves. These affect the entire body and open up centers of focus like the “third eye” at the middle of the forehead.

Dancers have a comprehensive approach to combining all the benefits of these disciplines plus a detailed study of energy flow through the various human networks.
Tim Hurst 05/18/18

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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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Resisting Healing States

As I proceed in my quest to massage and free my bladder from pain, I come across a resistance. I know this well especially when trying to slow down my movement, my thought, or my runaway energy.

In meditation as I begin to slow down I want to move around. I sometimes must have the car radio on or some activity to keep my mind occupied. All these are my resistance to slowing down and receiving calm or even a basic care for how I am doing. Too tired, hungry, frustrated, in pain, all these elude me as I resist slowing down enough to respond.

So this morning I am spinning following the gentle spiral of a double helix image. The image is my massage tool to encircle and undulate the bladder area. Yet as I slow down to receive messages from the area, I feel the urge to keep the speedy spin going. Acceleration is exhilarating and it seems easier to feel the entire body engaged at once.

Yet when I slow down, my whole system want to urge me to speed up. I can only surmise what this feeling is, a deference to my directed system of body brain or a fear of knowing too much or a lack of responsibility to respond once I am asked to respond. Whatever it may be I have only one approach other than forcing myself to be still in meditation or increasing the intensity of my focus on moving slowly.

One approach is to follow the movement. In meditation we are encouraged to follow the breath and allow energy to flow through us. In dance, acceleration and deceleration are two ends of a spectrum so the approach is to simply follow the movement to the end of the spectrum of slowness and then stillness. This is a specific study in dance and feels normal.

These are procedural answers that seek to by pass the resistance. My problem is that if I have to keep thinking and conjuring up ways to get around resistance, that takes away energy and throws me more toward the forcing of myself to sit still or moving slowly.

Instead I always revert to one basic approach. I ask. This is more elusive and comes with more responsibility. I ask myself to accept the slowness. I ask my body what it needs to release. I ask to receive strength, care, and clarity from the basic processes of life within me.

Asking and willingness to receive is called surrender. This is a different network of brain and body that has no goal, only to receive. Challenging? Confusing? That is why most people do not pray to know and respond.

Surrender is an open space with no guarantees, only the freedom from direction to receive what we need. Of course the warning is that as humans we jump to conclusions and deceive ourselves. Comes with the territory and means for me more asking and more listening. Argh. I do not want to make the mistake from deceiving myself. I do it anyway and get back to clarifying my question so that I can recognize the next message as clear.

This is more information than any of us wants to know. So we choose our piece of the pie that we can live with and ignore the rest. That has got me here with a compromised system allowing my blood pressure and bladder to respond to my busy life. More asking now and more surrender to an open view that allows agility of movement to prevail. Tim Hurst 12/08/17

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Enter Healing States

Today I am challenged by my illness and my body wants to lay down and cry. Everything wants to tense around the internal hurt of a compromised bladder.

As usual I begin to move and immediately shift to a dance state. How are all those grungy feelings erased? They change as I raise and lower through my entire body and as I rotate around my spine in every possible variation.

My focus shifts between my whole body with all its emotion and specific areas like the pelvic diaphragm that alternately expands and lifts. I use a simple pressure point on the side of each hip to encourage this movement.

Then I shift the double helix image into vertical and horizontal placements to keep a gentle rotation going while I focus on the nurture of specific areas.

In healing, I have to keep reminding myself to receive signals as much as I send them. My eyes are the best teachers for receiving, releasing, and refreshing myself. The eyes naturally receive images except we direct and focus our eyes to match our desire to push toward more.

When I relax my eyes and slowly follow a hand or follow a tilt of my spine, I experience a refreshed lift in my attention and in my hope for the next moment. Then as I allow my eyes to circle in an opposite direction from my facing palms, the movement is calm and releasing to the muscles of my eyes and to my breath.

The healing state is one of receiving strength, hope, care, and joy. I experience the dance state as a methodical process of entering the healing state.
Tim Hurst 12/08/17

An explanatory view.
I enter Healing states to experience movement as agile, supple, and supportive to my entire body. The basic principle of connecting body and brain is to move slowly. Signals with in my body will move at lightning speed yet my attention is on slowing everything down. Slower means more integration of healing signals and more ability to receive healing signals.

Whether I use the defined center spine movement of Ballet, the counter rotations of Tai Chi and Chi Gong, or the spinning of the child and the Sufi, I enter a healing state.

For me this is a dance state trained to access every section of the body horizontal and vertical. The dance state interconnects all the body sections while setting up networks of signals between them.

Especially for healing it is important to not only build connections but be able to receive signals through those connections. Instead of pushing the body with a singular focus, it becomes important to receive strength, to receive the warnings and the care offered, and receiving the joy that comes from entering the dance state.

The moment I begin dancing I feel my emotion and body join. I anticipate the next movement, the next insight as a precious surprise to be nurtured and shaped. My hope is to respond to the calls for help and for celebration from every aspect of myself.
Tim Hurst 12/08/17