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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

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Dancing a Concussion

Struck my head again, a repetition I seem to lean in to.
Ice and arnica soothe a space of hope.

I can only think of loving the Centrum housing my third eye, pineal, and fourth ventricle all poised at the brink of tranquillity.

And yet as a practitioner of Craniosacral Therapy, I know my conversation can not push its way into the precious lung like sponges of my inner self. These seemingly unspeaking sparkles within me, these cells, can they lead me to the source of my concussion?

Like a conversationalist of any persuasion, I ask first what questions we share within these depths that reflect to the surfaces in my tottering movement.

I walk into the trees allowing my apertures to play among the nearest and the fartherest, among the subtle and the bright, the yellowing and the greening. Behind my eyes, I fall into a lovely hovering space.

It is here where I can counter my movements side and side, around and through, back and forwards. I can allow my eyes to spin ahead or behind me, tottering in the first steps it seems of my mind to pass a thought of myself from brow to resting point at the back of my head, which happens to lie just above my spine as it enters my brain.

And it is here that I can gulp enough to ask about the question I share with this light bounding amongst the tree sprigs. I can now admit that the grape vine leaf is like me, tittering at the end of a spindly twig. We both balance in ongoing movement shared with the breeze, with the sound of creek water below us, and perhaps with the warmth of our shared energies.

In this delicate shared space , I need not ask what life we hold in common. Going beyond the huge question, I must brave a glimpse of our clarity. What cells do we share and what wishes do we create as we discard and reshape phase upon phase?

To surrender the question and its journey through me, I ask to see life passing through my brain’s Centrum. I ask for the presence with my cells to inquire of their life.

And as if waiting for a distant breeze to return through the trees of an immense gorge, I move through my asking toward receiving a surprise worthy of the immensity on which I am delicately perched.

And yet I am not a grape leaf attached to a vine strangling the trees around it. I lift ankle and foot prancing in place as I spin on my precipice with a joy beyond anything I could imagine. My Centrum and I arrive at a moment of balance.

Yes my eyes ask only to grasp at a stare that will slow the turning. Yet my Centrum spreads a smile through me and I have no choice but to love the arriving moment.

My concussion registers my tottering around and through a stare, through a frozen landscape to a lush receiving of many versions of light and glimmering shape in resonant sounds that each of my cells can taste. My concussion is in conversation now and I can lay this dance of myself to rest to welcome waters of cleansing and gratitude to wash over me.
Tim Hurst 10/02/17

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Brain Body 2X Helix

Today I felt the image process of replicating a double helix in my movement. For the first time I experienced the Chi Gong healing movement of counter rotation following the shape of the double helix. The figure eights of the head and eyes along with the hips travel up and down my body imitating a helix spiral. With palms facing my arms move across my body in counter rotation with the unity of head and hips rotating in the opposite way. The counter rotation is the double helix that meet at one crossing point at the body center in front of me. This crossing point moves slowly up my body and culminates at the peak of my reach overhead. My hands then fall caressing the air on either side of the helix until my hands hang at the sides of my body preparing to rise into another wave motion.

What the experience meant to me was the importance of a macro view of a structure through my entire self.

I experienced the importance of an image being energy and the shape of lines or bands or cloud like vortexes being a quality that I vary. With a micro view I am also varying the speed and the willingness to allow continuous motion to flood me with a fully engaged perceptual experience.

I experienced the importance of the image as a structure that is in continuous motion connecting and reconnecting all of myself. With a macro view I allow all my entire self to join in the continuous motion that brings me into the fully engaged perceptual experience.

I experience the image as a continuous motion internally to externally as well as the opposite externally to internally. My ballet teachers constantly remind me that signals must go down through the feet and through the floor to access the power of rising whether it be a small movement or a leap into the air. Likewise the landing of the lowering is not a crash but a continuation of the lowering of each cell in anticipation of the rising.

This moment by moment shift of micro and macro imagery is integral to the experience of dance no matter my states of awareness. It is what gives the quality of my movement an equal attention to weight in the springing upwards, the floating downward, and the landing in preparation for another spring. This is the dance study of a balance of force at each point of a movement.

The importance of the absolute slowest rate of motion becomes more apparent. My focus wants to skip in order to take everything in at once. Heloise Gold as dancer and Tai Chi Master have taught me that I can train myself to experience the coordination of slow motion of the eyes with slow motion of each part of my body. The Chi Gong healing movement is what I return to often.

Like the wave motion of lowering anticipating the rise and rising to a peak anticipating the lowering, I experience the expansion and contraction like the wave of my breathing. It is the attention on breathing that many meditation techniques and forms of yoga use to experience the wave motion within all the senses.

I experimented with taking my experience of the double helix in this healing movement into a spinning motion used by the Sufi as a form of communication with God. I simply took myself into a slow spin with the semi- circle of my hips to the back. My head and eyes followed my hips while my arms were in counter rotation to the opposite direction. I combined two traditions of entering full engagement of my entire self. The busyness of the multiple movements easily become a full person experience from a macro view.

To shift my spin to the opposite direction, I rotate my hips in a back semi-circle to the new direction, follow with my head and eyes. My arms, palms facing, moving in figure eights across my body. My arms move upwards and downwards imitating the crossing of a double helix.

A visceral experience of the double helix occurs when I stop spinning. This is a favorite movement of children who have discovered the connection of cells in the brain and body within the spin. Stopping the spin, the entire body perception is equalizing and the double helix experience is waves of crossing and recrossing energy.
Tim Hurst 09/30/17

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Reversing Trauma

My study is of the point of venturing beyond known territory and receiving the courage to surrender previous connections. Prayer, meditation, and religious ritual have long been the entry points for this balance point. The tools for these practices since the earliest humans have been dance, rhythm, and singing. My study of these practices is my life’s work.

So many discoveries are being made about our neurological connections to our experience. Anat Baniel works with children and adults to retrain neurological connections. Her books, Kids Beyond Limits and Move Into Life are breakthroughs as are her therapeutic work with all ages.

Last night I saw two movies. One called Resurfacing was about the discoveries of combat veterans who stored their experiences as PTSD. This group used surfing to bring the veterans to confront the way they stored their experiences and get ways to begin there lives again. They used phrases like, “Learn to tell yourself a new story.” Meet that place of complete uncertainty. “I was totally engaged with the wave. Nothing else could get into my mind.”

They also dealt with the larger question of vulnerability that has been erased from their minds as soldiers. The ocean became a power greater than themselves. Their only hope was to respond to the power of the waves under them. Crashing and bailing off the surf board were a part of the learning. So was surrender to personal intuition and to the power beneath their feet and beneath the board they were standing on.

A second movie used martial arts and sword fighting in Korea as a metaphor for dealing with past traumas, ancestral and personal. The television series was Lucid Dreams. The process was the meditative experience of being able to go backwards in time to change an experience. Their use of music, artistic imagery, and martial arts gave me a visceral experience of this process.

With lifetimes of practice individuals supported by groups have achieved the ability to go inside a trauma or a guilt and reverse a downward spiral of self destruction and addiction. Today this critical balance point is being explored by the necessities of modern culture.

Experience of this balance point have been codified for example by meditation and martial art practices. What happens in building a code for a process like tottering on the unknown is identification of a specific goal like Nirvana or domination. Then we have to force ourselves to be true to the process. The examples are obvious, to meditate we have to remain still or maintain positions beyond our endurance level. With martial arts we have to hold the goal of meeting an adversary.

These systems have value in themselves yet they do not deal with the original search for access and entry into both an open macro view with no specified goal and a specific micro view to create and interchange connections.

My study is of the point of venturing beyond known territory and receiving the courage to surrender previous connections. Prayer, meditation, and religious ritual have long been the entry points for this balance point. The tools for these practices since the earliest humans have been dance, rhythm, and singing. My study of these practices is my life’s work.
Tim Hurst 09/06/17

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Experiment Dance Meditation

Continuing experiments with sending and receiving signals, my wish is to prepare my attention for the unexpected and become responsive to the messages of my body, my self.

I practice movement meditations that blend micro movements, spinning, and singing. One element of dance that is consistent to these experiments is curved motion, rising and falling in every movement and movement patterns that involve loops and spirals.

I may follow a sequence but mostly I practice listening to my inner messages and making shifts of direction and using pauses that seem to satisfy the flow of my sensations, emotions, thoughts.

Dance incorporates this kind of responsive meditation at the beginning of each Ballet or Modern class. These beginning sequences are often called Barre whether standing or laying.

A dance approach to meditation is different. For me it is important to understand what is involved in meditation and how it can help me to be more receptive to internal and external signals.

Dance has inspired and absorbed the wisdom of many traditions, one is meditation. Meditation is an attempt to be completely receptive, attentive to internal sensations, feelings, and thoughts. The process is to allow all these inner experiences to flow through the self awareness without interruption. By following this process, the hope is to train ourselves to an agility in our thoughts, emotions, and eventually our actions. The results can be peaceful or can be a flood of unattended emotions and fears that must be allowed to work their way through our self awareness.

Meditation is a ritual to follow and has been associated with holding ourselves in stillness and sometimes in a variety of positions as in Yoga.

Dance has also inspired and absorbed the wisdom of interactive prayer. Interactive prayer is the sending and receiving of messages that are designed to open the doorways to the person. Messages sent vary from gratitude to asking for openness. Messages received also vary from a kind of spacious anticipation to specific insights or even visions.

Interactive prayer is also a ritual that has been associated with both stillness, with singing, and with movement. Examples of singing range from communal singing to ritual chants. Examples of movement are monks walking a labyrinth and Sufi spinning dances.

Dance training mirrors this process as each dancer develops a receptivity to their internal messages, asks for an attitude of curiosity for the next moment, responds with melodic sequences that reflect their discoveries, and then hold a moment of silence to allow their whole self to integrate these experiences.
Tim Hurst. 04/05/17. D