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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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My Platforms My Spheres

At the base of me, my platform, my pelvic floor, a diaphragm, a sphere surrounding me edge to edge.

One pathway of interest calls me to soften and spread my diaphragm so wide. Yes all this falling through space toward a gravity unknown as my most distant platform!The Feet supreme! Also soften and spread. Also fall deep into the earth beyond the gravity I wish I knew.

My jointed knees only yield to the fall, Pelvis to Feet, as they soften all and spread the wideness of my edge to edge body.

My knees reaching the bottom springing point respond to the lifting of my pelvic diaphragm. My feet too lift as my bottom most spine raises following the springing at the center of my pelvis. My narrowing hips catch the flight and gather QL muscles connecting fronts and backs of me.

The lift and the rise floats my arms out of a Dancer’s Diaphragm balancing solar plexis to the front, mid spine between shoulder blades behind. Signals float spine to Lats spiraling around arms to meet at the energy sphere of palms and fourth fingers. The Dancer’s Diaphragm joins in the spreading of my wings this time rising to meet the gravity aloft in flight.

The breath welcomes the rise with a bellows of air to sustain the spreading and the rising awaiting a peak passing through the neck and cranial base to lift the spine right through the roof of my head’s back fourth.
Tim Hurst 12/21/17

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What are Hands to a Dancer?

When a dancer touches palms together an integrated circuit is formed connecting the entire body.

When the hands are touching and move apart, leaving space between the palms, the integrated circuit continues with signals passing between the palms and between the inner surfaces of the arms.

I love watching babies touch their feet and mouths to establish these circuits.

I experiment with touch as I initiate different dance movement. From my experience as a practitioner of Craniosacral Therapy, I experience touch as both exploratory searching and receiving of information. With this kind of touch, I dance allowing my hands to initiate a movement and catch the movement in mid air.

With dancing I experience a wide range of emotions and qualities of movement. More and more I discover how these experiences build networks of signals. I draw from my Craniosacral Therapy experience to identify diaphragms that cross the entire body and to seek connections between these areas of the body.

As I experiment with the hands, I remember the ways many people use their hands in different situations. This is a review of what I have seen or experience myself.

Touching both knees with my hands, I experience a crouching sensation ready to stalk and pounce.

Hands on my hips is a readiness stance while I straighten my pelvis and pull energy from my feet and pass energy through my body.

Hands to the lower back is a resting pose common to frontier women performing back breaking labor.

Hands to the belly is responding to internal turmoil of some kind.

Hands to the lower ribs in a caving in motion is a response to a blow from trauma, either physically or emotional.

Hands to the solar plexis at mid chest is a sense of surprise and curiosity.

Hands to the collar bone is gasping for breath to deal with a sudden flood of signals rushing from the body to the head.

Hands to the sides and back of the neck is a grasping for understanding and an attempt to stabilize from a flood of new data.

Hands to the temples is a sense of unbelief and a call to all systems to integrate to face what is happening.

Hands clasped at the back of the head is a meditative resting pose that connects to networks for gaining a broader view of our experiences. This is also an important position of the hands in Craniosacral Therapy.

Hands on the brow between the eyes is another call to all systems for help in integrating experiences pleasant or troubling. In some systems this is called the Third Eye.

Hands on top of the head is an anticipation of surrender to new information passing through the body.

How do the understanding of hand movements relate to the dancer?

Each area of touch is a sensory platform or diaphragm that dancers explore to build signal networks. The dancer explores each area being touched as platforms to initiate movement and to gain access to sensory data. Improvisational dance movements will often touch these sites to vary the dancer’s experience of an infinite variety of qualities.

Different qualities of signals within a touch requires a level of awareness and access to sensory data that is not easily studied. My guess is that the child is moving at light speed through subtleties of emotional and physical connections. This level of growth and learning may be overwhelming to us as we get older. This might explain why we relegate this kind of sensory data to spiritual exploration and to the realms of the artist. The isolation and demeaning of these sensory explorers might be just an adult fear of traveling at light speeds within us.

Just a note is that within a light wave are many spectrums and a variety of speeds that produce an infinite range of intensities and qualities that require the human system to slow down in order to process. This experience of slowing down and speeding up may be one of the ingrained phobias of the human.
Tim Hurst 11/01/17

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Whole Body Networking

Today I experiment with a macro view of the entire body moving at once.

Since signals of all kinds move through our bodies all the time, my question is how do dancers network the entire body as one unit with many divergent purposes and directions.

I take my exercise with hips on top of a small ball to loosen my hips. The goal is to lift and lower my legs feeling the heaviness of their weight and using a minimum amount of force. I feel a degree more freedom of movement in my hip joints in this exercise.

I have already discussed my discovery of the dancer’s use of weight as floating up as well as falling down. This image along with my own of the double helix seems to require little effort and increases my freedom of movement.

While moving my legs, I want to unify signals traveling through my entire body. Many variations happen within one dance class connecting movement of the legs and arms, the erect spine, and the head and neck.

First I make specific variations on my leg movements with bent and extended knee. I lower and raise my legs with whole leg and with specific parts such as ankle, arch, heel as I lower and raise my legs. I circle my legs in these different postures.

Then I add my arms extending as a semi-circle out from my body. With each movement of my legs I coordinate the arms out and in. This regulates my breath into an effortless inhale and exhale.

Dance continually trains the two way movement of energy through the spine and out the top of the head. My movements have a new lightness and ease as I send pulses of energy from different areas of the spine upwards and down through my feet. This engagement of the whole body is a different experience from moving only the legs. I feel more liveliness and more anticipation before each movement.

Adding variations of head and neck movement with each expansion of legs and arms became yet another experience. I especially liked my reminder to connect the top vertebra of the spine with a slight bobbing motion of the head. Doing this I relaxed my neck muscles around my spine and even my jaw before tilting or swiveling my head.

All this networking is essential to me with my tendency to clamp down my movements with extra tension. Establishing these networks of connections help me to move more freely and with less effort.
Tim Hurst 10/04/17

Pulsing my outer hip muscles engages the pelvic diaphragm

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Networked Movement

As I experiment with my feet finding a balancing place between all the extremities, I realize how my signals work. Neurobiologist believe that these micro movements in babies are random twitches.

My experience is that signals are always at work connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting networks. That would mean that the many signals I feel in my feet are going in all directions at once doing their work to sort out relationships and functions like weight transfer and balance. These signals may be called random but that does not account for the purposeful relationship with the entire body as a network that includes the brain.

I studied Rewiring movement from Nina Martin, professor of dance at TCU in Texas. We were asked to lay on the floor and to allow signals to come from our spine that would slightly move different parts of our body.

The image Nina used was of a baby just before going to sleep. Often the baby will go through a series of twitches like an adult might do when ready to do something but being very frustrated. As I have mentioned neurobiologists study these flurries of signals as random movements essential to making connections in the brain.

Nina was not dealing with random movement but with the flurry of movements exploring all directions at once. When our brain kicked in to make the movements into patterns, Nina suggested we follow the pattern briefly and return to the exploratory flurry of signals initiating our movements.

My work with Nina Martin gave me ways to experience these signals to gain a perspective on the ways I move and how I can vary signals to affect my habitual and learned movements.

What this means to me is that the signals to and from my feet are always networking using exploratory movement. Patterned, learned, repetitive movement is another layer that can be adjusted with an awareness of how my signals work.

Deborah Hay innovated ways for dancers to disengaged from patterned movement so they can discover the layer of signals beneath. At this layer all systems can be engaged at once with movements that are directed and non-directed, physical and emotional, intentional and surrendered.

The method that Deborah used was the image of the individual cell having its own intelligence. As the dancer tunes to each cell a greater awareness develops of a complete network throughout the entire body. The necessity to plan and execute movement gives way to another kind of inner communication akin to meditation. Deborah can then give an image or a brief movement idea as a template for the cells to follow. The necessity has been transformed to listening to the cells rather than to our thoughts.

So with my feet I first become aware of the micro level of signals at work continually. Then I move into that micro level slowly enough to build awareness of the connections being made as networks. Then I can both follow and direct the networks individually and as full body networks.
Tim Hurst 08/23/17

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Balance Dancing

As I experiment with dance each day, I feel a specific type of signal that comes through every movement. The feeling is subtle. I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement. It came from my study with Deborah Hay and later work with Contact Improvisation and Alexander Technique.

Deborah had us fall down on the floor, rise quickly to the metatarsal of one foot, with both arms raised and pointing two fingers of each hand up. We were to be in this raised position for as long as possible and then fall down. How long we repeated this motion I do not remember.

The immediacy of this sequence, the openness of the results, the tactile sensations of falling and rising. Everything insisted that I enter with all myself and play with each variation I found in my balance, my emotion, my trust in myself.

The principle Deborah uses is that every cell has an intelligence and in this case every cell understands balance. We only pay attention to that intelligence at work and follow wherever it leads.

With Steve Paxton I first experienced my body in a balanced pose laying over another person. This was my introduction to Contact Improvisation and the feeling of balancing on one shared point with another person.

The balance point between two of us was like floating and included so many experiences. Now working with the image of signals, there were millions of signals at once delightfully playing in that single moment of balance.

Studying Alexander Technique with Sumi Komo brought this feeling inside my body. The image of an egg balancing is so elusive yet I came to feel balance points in my feet, at different points in my spine, and with my head bobbing on top of my spine.

Today I imagine every movement as this kind of converging of signals toward balance. At first it seemed complicated but like the balance point in Contact Improvisation, the focus is singular and all the playful signals organize around an area or a shifting point.

All of these experiences I combine into one image of “being in the balance.” Returning to this image with every movement seems to reorganize something in myself. I often feel very vulnerable. At these moments of approaching balance, I feel the challenge of balancing self doubt with clarity of movement.

Well there I am, “in the balance”. By experiencing the vulnerability of balancing signals in my movement, I arrive at a moment of curiosity about myself approaching balance. Subtle maybe but very real to me as I go through my day. Reorganization of myself requires attention and yet allows the balancing forces to work.

This is the lesson I had to learn in ballet, to keep the movement going and allow the balance and the strength to work itself to a steady point.

It seems that being aware has two kinds of focus, one focus on the overall process of the signals working toward clarity and balance. Another focus is on the specific signals to move from point to point.

So my next practice is to take each area of my body and explore the experience of being in the balance. To review, that means to me that I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement.
Tim Hurst 04/25/17

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Balance Signals Spinning

I am curious about how the arms and head affect balance in dancing. Obviously Ballet and Modern Dance have developed intricate use of the arms and head for spinning.

One of my first Modern Dance teachers, Dee McCandless, studied Sufi spinning dances. I love this spinning because I can vary the use of my arms and head as they float above the rise and fall of my legs and feet.

I must also hold an awareness of balance in each movement, in the transitions to an opposite direction, and at sudden stops in stillness.

The sensation of the arms is floating up in the wind created by spinning. The pathway the arms can follow is similar to Ballet in extending outward, one arm raising while the other is extended, or both arms easily raised. The hands can be facing down, up, or one hand up and the other down.

The curved pathway of my arms and head interests me, not a direct forced line but a curve or as the spin progresses, a variety of curves and spirals that grow and subside with the intensity of the spin.

It is at the transitions of direction or speed or stopping that I get to observe the spiral motions of my arms and head. The sensation is of the spirals continuing with slight variations.

I play with slight variations on contrary motion and then return to simple spinning. Observing my balance and ability to allow the movements to grow is an interesting process.

I return to experiment with continuous spiral pathways in all my Ballet and Modern balances. I explore my wobble while learning to balance and ask if curved pathways can give insight into my learning.
Tim Hurst. 04/15/17

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Balance Signals Continuous

I am curious about the adjustments we make throughout the body for balance. In Ballet class I slowly gained confidence to allow a wobble to become what my body needed to balance. I remember many Modern Dance classes when I would locate my most vulnerable places of being out of balance and play with holding a balance. I took a Balance Class for Seniors at Ballet Austin experimenting with the connection of balance to vision, body position, and doing more than one task at a time.

I studied Alexander Technique that compared a human balancing with an egg balancing on its tip. My understanding is that there is not a balance point but a continual adjustment or modification to stay in a balanced pose.

As I experiment with balance, I wonder if every movement is some kind of wobbly stage that becomes more secure. And what does this wobbly stage have to do with coming to balance?

And how would I change my experience of balance from the point of view of signals?

I am aware of a single signal from the center spine traveling up and out the top of the head. Also the continuation of the signal beyond the body as an image for lifting the body. Equal and opposite signals come from the center spine to activate the legs.

Alexander Technique trains specific signals from the spine between the shoulder blades. These fan like signals can initiate a lift in the torso to support balance using the legs. Also signals to the vertebrae at the base of the spine can help to relax the neck and lift the head in any rise to balance.

My goal is to learn how dancers train all these signals to work as a network that are initiated from a single point or points.
Tim Hurst 04/15/17