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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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Dance Like Eating

Had two Pilates sessions to introduce my grandson to an intense workout. This was a perfect chance to test out my experience of the pelvic floor for three dimensional responsiveness through the body.

So far I am playing with the pelvic diaphragm for vertical lift sending signals to both the lower limbs and the upper torso. Horizontal wave motions regulate the position and signals to and from the hips,

First exercise of pushing out with the legs, Karin Carlson helped me identify my overuse of the thighs and need to connect the back of my legs and gluts. By alternating between horizontal and vertical lift motions of the pelvic floor I was able to immediately change my orientation. Signals moved easily through the front and back of my legs. My thighs were supported and I was able to continue to push against a heavier weight than ever before.

I continued to use this experience as I explored extensions. Balancing countering actions with each leg meant sending signals down each leg. Finding the passage points on the pelvic floor came quickly and made it easier to equalize a shorter leg and keep both hips engaged and aligned.

In the second session, I asked about the tension behind my knees. Karin suggested that I pull up from the knee caps to engage my entire thighs front and back. After feeling the sensation, I applied outward compression to both hips engaging the thighs and simultaneous lifting of the pelvic floor.

I had access to more movement in the back of my legs. Sending signals through the entire knee area gave me the extra freedom to release into more of an extension. Long way to go and lots of Ballet classes before all will be functional.

Coordination of the legs brought new sensations in muscles I had not experienced before. New cooperation had to be worked out. Stretching also felt different.
Tim Hurst. 05/14/17

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Stillness in Workouts

Stillness for the dancer is very different and gives insight into how we train our bodies. The information going through a dancer’s mind and body is vast. Stillness becomes an active inner sensation perceiving every part of the body continuing to move. This active sensation of stillness has dimension and can expand or contract energy beyond the body.

In everyday terms we think of stillness as inactive. For the dancer stillness is a musical term that gives active space and rhythm to a melodic flow of energy.

Stillness is a part of ballet training when the dancer seems to pause after a melodic phrase. This moment is filled with so much information for the dancer and for the audience who understand the importance of stillness.

Stillness at these completion points holds many images and they are understood in different ways by each dancer. Like the child spinning until falling, the dancer allows the motion in the body to equalize and return to a balanced state. This experience is one of gathering energy. The entire person is flooded with a kind of integration of everything that has happened and what that means to the rhythms of the breath, the senses, the emotions, and the understanding of the self.

For the dancer who is prepared to receive this much information, the stillness moment is a celebration of arriving with all the clarity of each success and also each wavering variation that may be seen as error.

For those of us simply basking in the joys of ballet, stillness comes to mean a basic jiggling of our energy back into place. The teacher asks us to hold the moment after a simple phrase. That is our time to breath and to integrate the connections we are making throughout our entire body brain networks.

For other dancers and other workouts, stillness plays an important role. After a workout, rather than hanging our heads and feeling overwhelmed, we can supercharge the end of the workout, or a rotation, or a distance run.

The principles are simple. When able, stand solidly on both feet. Enjoy the energy flowing through the entire body. Stand tall. Eyes are open. Accept the exhilaration of thoughts and hopes filled with so much energy. Appreciate the fullness of breath and the release of everything you are in this moment. These moments calibrate and integrate every experience in your workout, your creation of the day.

For the aging heart, these principles begin with the wisdom of the race horse trainer who takes a cool down walk after an intense sprint. Moving slowly in place or in a circle allows the heart to equalize. Eyes up when possible is a welcoming of breath through the entire body. Then take your moment of stillness.

The experience of this moment is worth a thousand meditations attempting to arrive at a balanced state. And yet there is a final closing step that we can learn from meditations. That is thanking ourselves. Yes for this little part of our workout, for this moment in our day, the greatest arrival is gratitude.

We forget that when we came to workout or to dance, our goal was to benefit ourselves. We did not exert ourselves so we could prove that injury is worth the effort. We came to benefit ourselves.

So the simple conclusion of every movement phrase is a quiet, “thank you!” The other messages might be “yes!” or “not quite there,” but the momentary conclusion is one of complete arrival at integration, “Thank You!”