unpolished thoughts 4/12/2019
Right now I have a string tied between the top of my breastbone and the bottom tip of my right shoulder blade. As I pull shoulder blade further down into my back, my sternum lifts.
Actually, it’s just an imaginary string, but I did take some time to tie it on there and check that it wouldn’t slip off.
I had just finished my morning’s study of Awareness Through Movement, focused today on how to direct the movements of my arms from the middle of my chest.
How would I use my sternum to roll to the right while sweeping my right arm up to create a resting place under my head while sweeping my left arm down to my side?
How would I use my sternum to roll to the right again, but this time with right arm going down and my left arm sweeping up and over my head?
The answer to questions like these can become crystal clear when you practice slowly and patiently, listening systematically to your sensations in one place and then another.
After some time, you understand that you have always have a choice: to move in the way your body keeps telling you is easy, or to create internal tug of war by shouting at your body to obey commands whether it likes it or not.
Actually, there is no “it” or “your body” – there is only you.
How do you want to treat yourself?
The problem is that we spend so much time in autopilot. We don’t even ask ourselves the question about how we could move most comfortably. We mostly just move, experience the result, and complain to ourselves when it’s not to our liking.
Then, most likely, we command ourselves (using the name of certain body parts) in order to “fix” things so that they’ll be the way they “should” be.
That’s why Awareness Through Movement, even if it’s just an hour a day, is a beautiful antidote to this habit of ordering ourselves around.
We spend this time in a state of respectfully listening to our internal sensations. We treat them as the authentic communication of a wise and wordless part of ourselves that is always looking out for our best interests.
We learn the difference between our habits and our potential, and discover the opportunity to form new patterns without coercion or force.
This morning, I felt a clearer path for my shoulder blades over the back of my ribs that made my arms lighter. In so doing, I brightened the image of the top of my chest and began to feel a deeper network of biological levers available to serve my needs.
I also felt a strong compulsion to derail my discoveries at any moment when my right shoulder became involved.
On that side of my body, it was always necessary to go slower and smaller than on the left, in order to find the same quality.
And yet, my tendency was to always want to move faster and bigger – to “get it over with.”
When I stood up after my practice, my chest floated higher off the ground and my shoulder blades sank further down my back.
Still, every time I went lax in my attention, I discovered an almost immediate sagging through the right side of my ribs. My right shoulder blade would drift back up and away from my spine as my sternum shortened and my ribs winged out to the left.
So eventually, I decided to tie that string there.
It’s not a perfect fix, but it serves as a reminder, not unlike a string you might tie around your finger.
An hour of careful study was enough to show me a new possibility. But it didn’t settle the question. The old habit is still there. I need to continue to take my practice with me into my day.
But there is something new that I didn’t have before.
Now I have a choice.