Gray

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My new winter coat, gray. Leggings and tunic, gray. The Honda I drive, a lavender gray. Overhead, dull gray.

Day after dark day, the sky is a bland blanket draped over trees and rooftops. Fog. Damp. This is the scene in central Ohio. Twice a week, under, you guessed it, gray skies, the OSU Alexander Technique class meets. One day only, the first day of class, did we see a glorious pink and orange sunset out the studio’s west windows.

Night falls as class begins, and this is what we’ve been up to—

Constructive Rest, AT Talks, Thinking-in-Activity (most recently, Arms-on-Back-of-Chair), hands-on lessons. Devoting 180 minutes of one’s week to an AT class is no small commitment. Time is at a premium. The academic demands are many. So when the instructor says, at the conclusion of Constructive Rest, ‘You have all the time you need,’ it can sound clueless, uninformed, and downright impossible.

However. In this moment, you do have all the time you need. Just this breath. In it is the world. The mere typing of those words resulted in me pausing, leaning back into my chair, and sipping water from a waiting glass. Often I  get so ‘busy,’  water glasses can be found all over the house, partly full, all forgotten.

In the grayness, pause. Breathe. Sip. Timeless time.

 

 

Light vs. Heavy

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There is a certain kind of heaviness and insulation we can grow used to. The body can feel strange when it inhabits the world in a lighter way, when it encounters a form of happiness or fulfillment for which it has no apprenticeship. A lightness and litheness that gives us a sense of ease, movement and potential….

David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea

Where are you on the light-to-heavy scale? And what are your preferences? Do you like the feeling of heaviness and insulation?  I sure do in the winter time. After last weekend’s snow/ice storm with below-zero temperatures, venturing out required two layers of socks, a hefty pair of boots, lined pants with leggings underneath, multiple pullovers, coat, hat and hood. Completing this ensemble with bulky black gloves, the total effect reminded me of Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, lurching down the sidewalk on his way to school.

I look forward to summer days of warm breezes, arms and legs bare to the sun, when getting out the door requires nothing more than sliding on a pair of flip-flops. Until then, it’s heavy on the insulation and light in spirit!

Car trips, domestic tasks, writing at my desk, reading a book, laughing in a coffee shop with a friend, all these daily activities are experienced differently when giving some attention to my physical self, inviting length and space. In the midst of this cold snap, as we welcome the heaviness and protection of our winter layers, include a light heart and a few Directions for good use. The phrase I found myself using yesterday was, ‘Lengthened, widened, grounded.’

Stay warm. Keep safe. Be light.

 

 

 

 

Idleness

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graphics courtesy of pixabay

1.the state of being inactive.Syn.  Dawdling, pottering, shilly-shallying

2.disinclination to activity. —Syn.  slowness, indolence, slothfulness

Webster’s New World Thesaurus was fairly upbeat with its ‘idleness’ entry until ‘indolence’ and ‘slothfulness’ made an appearance. Here we enter into the realm of judgment and the expectation that incessant activity and productiveness is a preferred mode of being.

Easter Sunday was a rare day of, yes, I’ll claim it, indolence.  The positive spin would be ‘rest.’  The massive and very dead ash tree along the Rt. 296 lane had finally been removed and Mike was tired.  Our social life found us happily out late the night before, celebrating the season with long-time friends.  The plan had been to hop in the car the next day and get ourselves to the hill, but after sitting on the back porch in perfect bliss with our morning coffees, we concluded a trip to the farm was altogether too much doing.

Or as my godson Lyle used to ask, when I picked him up from preschool and proceeded to run errands, ‘Diana, could we please stop going?’  Yes, Lyle, we could.  What a fine question.  We do not have to keep going.  Stopping is a very good idea.  Essential, really.

We live in a world with very few pauses, and I write this week to encourage the finding of spaces, moments, hours, even a day, to quit with going and doing.  This Easter Monday finds me refreshed* following a rare day of do-less-ness.  Wishing for you the same—-

*Thanks to Beth C. for her delightful uses of the word ‘refreshed.’  

 

 

Activism and the Alexander Technique

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In earlier days of activismI marched the streets of New York City, chanting for the Nuclear Freeze Initiative. I served on a Columbia University board promoting a national peace education program. Closer to home, collaboration with others at the The Interfaith Center for Peace resulted in the creation of a mediation program for use in schools and churches.

Huzzah for me. And then…..I burned out.

There is a particular energy to activism consisting of equal parts fear and anger.  Not exactly the ideal emotional state, and certainly a burden on the body. Is it possible to be an activist and an Alexander Technique practitioner?

Here’s what I know so far. It’s hard. It’s possible.  A few recent opportunities:

  •  Observing my body’s startle pattern while marching past yelling bystanders at the Ohio Women’s March to the Columbus Statehouse.
  • Choosing to return to the balance of head-on-spine while attending a high energy start-up meeting of 600 for a local Indivisible chapter.
  • Noting (over and over again) my body in downward pull, usually while at the computer or phoning offices of elected officials. Once noted, choosing to ‘Think Up,’ and gently give myself some space.

Please wish me well, and may we all respond to current political and social realities with courtesy and kindness, resolve and commitment.