Friday, March 26, 2010

Dancing Through March- Week Four

This past week, I did as I promised. My dances were an exploration of an area in my back- a small specific place that is creating what I might describe as an intense localized sensation.


This little area- so small, but so effective in calling for my attention. I once heard it said that pain is "attractive." What an odd word to use, I thought. But yes, it does a great job in attracting the attention. The attention that I give to the area runs the continuum of annoyance to frustration to despair. This week, I decided to give the area attention in the context of inquiry.

How does my back wish to move?

This was the question I asked each time I danced this week.

Often the dances started out very slowly. Sometimes the movements were microscopic; at other times they were big and undulating. The one thing that was consistent about how I moved, throughout this week, was that it was always a surprise. That makes sense though. I wasn't imposing the movement, but allowing it to arise so I didn't know what would happen.

And here is what I learned. I learned to sense my back in a way I had not sensed it before. I have thoroughly studied the muscles and bones of the back of course. I teach classes about the spine. I am always surprised when students say that until they took my class, they thought of the spine as one large bone. I know differently of course. I know all about the back. But this week, I learned about my back.

It was Isadora Duncan who said, "What one has not experienced, one will never understand in print." I experienced my back this week, understanding it at a level that I wasn't able to before, despite all my knowledge. I learned to isolate my latissimus dorsi. I learned that my scapula are mobile and can slide in every direction with ease. I learned how to direct my breath right into that spot that keeps demanding my attention. I learned just how fluid my back can truly be as I was no longer experiencing it as one big piece capable only of the gross motor movements of spinal rotation, side-bending, flexing and extending. To experience movement in the back as rivulets of enlivened motion is thrilling indeed.

Here is something else that I learned. My first reaction to pain and stiffness is often frustration. Frustration followed by worry. I don't want the pain. I resent it. I want it to go away. This week, rather than meeting my pain with resentment and trying to get rid of it, I tried instead to accept the state that my body was in and to explore it instead.

The pain is not gone, but it has diminished significantly. In fact, most of the time I am unaware of it. The difference has been amazing.

Consider making an appointment for a Somatic Rebalancing session in order begin to bring movement to those spots that are calling for attention.

Wishing you balance,



  1. Fascinating! My main "spiritual" practice is a body-based, somatic meditation that I think of as a kind of unwinding or unraveling or untangling. When you asked "How does my back wish to move?" it rang a bell with me, as it reminded me of the general attitude I take when I practice.

    Basically, I lie down on the floor and resolve to actively inhibit any movement that feels voluntary or like I’m “doing” it, while allowing movements that feel like they are “just happening” of their own accord. The moment the “just happening” movement turns into an “I’m doing it” movement, I stop, and wait for something else to “just happen.” The fascinating thing is, when I stick with the process long enough, there usually comes a point when the line between doing and happening disappears. In that state, the distinction seems utterly meaningless and non-existent. Soon enough though, I slip out of that state, but it is really marvelous while it lasts!

    My other main somatic practices are 1) Hanna Somatics, and 2) Dancing up a storm in my living room!

    Thanks for these posts and for this blog!

  2. Bob- Yes! This sounds very familiar to me. Thanks for the reminder too that we do slip out of that state- sometimes I get frustrated when that happens, instead of accepting it. Often will start my practice with somatic exercises, constructive rest or sounding and then let the movement arise. Have you explored Continuum at all? I think you would like it.


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