So this relationship is complex. It moves. Today, to cope with more movement and complexity than I feel capable of, I’m holding in mind the assistance that comes from paying attention. From attending to the listening relationship, about which I write here so often.
Today I’m thinking about the physical as a metaphor for dignity.
Oh well we all know about the indignity of the physical. To take but one example, the ever-popular toilet joke. If that sounds like fun to you, check Sara out. And there’s a hilarious post on the subject here. I enjoyed both of these a great deal yesterday.
Yesterday I wrote about Mary Debono’s miraculous work with Chilee the Chihuahua. Mary got in touch with me, and a burst of connectedness ensued. Mary’s partner is Gary Waskowsky. Gary is a drummer like I am and he, too, is a FELDENKRAIS practitioner. Gary emphasizes that FELDENKRAIS isn’t about flexible bodies. It’s about flexible minds. And from that, it’s about restoring human dignity.
Those not familiar with FELDENKRAIS might find it difficult to imagine how physicality could be connected to dignity. Have a look at this video. An elderly lady (I can say that because I am one) talks about getting up after a very public fall. She wasn’t scared, she said, because she had the sense, through her FELDENKRAIS work, that she knew how to fall. And then, getting up, she felt confident. She knew she could “retrieve” her balance “without a sense of being damaged.”
In physicality, we have resources by which to retrieve ourselves. Those resources may be unfelt, but we have them nevertheless. As the lady says, we can retrieve those resources. By FELDENKRAIS with ourselves, by Tellington and Mary’s SENSE Method with other species, and by other mindfulness practices of many stripes. We have emotional resources, too. These may be less concrete than the physical, but they are no less real. And the physical and emotional are connected. It doesn’t really make sense to separate them.
Last night I watched WAR DANCE, nominated in ’07 for an Oscar. It is amazing the way this film uses image to present material that would otherwise be too painful to take in. I felt the filmmakers put me in the hands of the Ugandan children. And, hand in hand, those children led me a little way into the appalling darkness of war. I got just a taste of it . . . any more than a taste would be unbearable . . . .
And I was primed, by the end, to feel this in my bones: The camera focused on a young girl, as she began to dance, and I could feel it, I could feel transported into the ecstacy of it, the redemption of it, the pride and beauty of it –
These children have been subjected to unimaginable abuses that no living being should ever have to endure.
Yet they found their beauty, their power, in movement, rhythm, music. In the words of the woman in the FELDENKRAIS video, they “retrieved themselves.”
that which has become frozen.
Teresa explains that, as in FELDENKRAIS, the Tellington approach draws on the notion that animals, just like we, can get stuck in limited patterns of response to the world. Both methods are about sensing existing areas of ability and freedom, extending awareness into those areas, and, from them, creating a wider base for balance to emerge. Stuckness may melt, because it is no longer needed. It has served its purpose. From a more balanced base, freedom emerges. And from that freedom, thoughtful self-expression, connection with self and others, may then be explored.
Our animal friends demonstrate, by example, the graciousness of physicality, deeply, simply, directly.
Consider what fancy rat Miep (“Meep”) tells us, on today’s Pet of The Day. Miep used to bite others, rat-mates as well as humans. She was therefore at risk of becoming snake food. Her human says, however, that Miep “was not bad, she was just misunderstood.” Now, after investing in relationship, her human says Miep is “the loveliest rat I could ask for.”
So this is all about what we pay attention to. What we want, choose, to attend to. Our physicality, thoughts, feelings, our hopes, our dreams. To invest attention into that which furthers our feeling for life, ours and others’.
Like Dr. Stephen Macknik said the other day: We really don’t know much about the strong ties existing between emotion and attention. I want to invest in, to investigate, those ties. (“Why Read This,” Feb. 7th).
I take Dr. Macknik’s point as the scientific imprimatur to assert that no matter how expert any given opinionated hedgehog may be, I’m going with the fox. Who asks, not tells. Who listens. Considers. Moves. Feels. And asks asks asks.
Bugs is the one who knows. He will tell me what works.