Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is catching. . .

One of the many charming aspects of the city of Houston, Texas, is its year-round allergy season. Whether a full-on cold, or just lingering sniffles, you quickly learn that everybody's got it, or has had it, or will get it -- and eventually, you will, too. I found this cool animation that reminded me that we're all connected in some way, and that whether we're passing a ball, a virus, an idea, or an attitude, our participation is required. Click here to view.

Perhaps you're like me -- did it take a moment to realize that YOU are the one who keeps the ball in motion? It's ironic that for all the awareness work I do, I was so habituated to moving the computer mouse that I didn't realize I was doing it! This past week, I've been thinking about participation, and contribution, and -- contagion-- in the most surprising places.

Last Sunday, I attended an open house at one of my favorite workshop venues, The Spectrum Center. The Spectrum Center offers a wide range of programs and services, befitting its name, from psychotherapy to anti-clutter workshops to writer's groups to movement and various somatic practices. Around 200 people popped in during the afternoon, and the vast majority were there in time to witness something extraordinary. As part of the general "blessing" of the event, we all participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. In such a diverse group, sharing tea and good intentions for each other was a perfect way to find common ground, and community. It was only afterwards that I stopped to realize how different we all were, in background, experience, politics, religion -- but the universal values of hospitality, humility, beauty, and respect were ones we could all agree on. The effects of that ceremony are still with me. If values are contagious, what are you spreading?

Second example: 365 in 365. A small group of nuts in Houston, Texas decided to do something BIG in 2009. Their intention is to exercise every day, for 365 days. As part of the intention, a blog appeared where group members could document their progress and get acknowledgment and encouragement from the others. The best part is, the idea is completely for you to define and develop. There is no program, no uniformity, not even a standard! You decide what qualifies as "exercise," and how much of it, and you commit to do something every day -- that's it. Not surprisingly, the idea is appealing -- so appealing, in fact, that the blog and the group are gaining members every day, from around the world. Such is the power of the internet, and social media, and a good idea. What is the spark that makes someone think, "I could do that!"

Yes, one of my good friends (and
Feldenkrais clients) is the founding"nut," so now I am one, too! Although I am a professional "mover," I've never been able to sustain a proper exercise program. I am completely captivated by this idea, as I imagine the personal benefits, the benefits to communities and to the world at large if people just set out to be mindful about movement and exercise, and do SOMETHING every day. You can check them out on their blog, 365 in 365. The group consists of devoted exercisers, and never-exercisers. Everyone is a valued member of the group, everyone is seen as having something to contribute.

The tea ceremony and the 365 group are powerfully contagious, because of the
power of their intention. I felt a tremendous resonance with the work of the Feldenkrais Method. Our world-view is one of the dignity of each human being. In each Feldenkrais class, you are invited to shape your intentions for each movement, and for yourself. Some who come with the identity of "patient," with the intention "to be fixed" will blossom as they explore a new intention. A powerful shift occurs in the transformation from "patient" to "student," from "helpless" to "capable," from "thwarted" to "effective," and from "impossible" to "possible."

"What I'm after isn't flexible bodies but flexible brains. What I'm after is to restore each person to their human dignity." --Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.

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Vita Kolodny said...

MaryBeth: As usual, a great blog. You have a great knack of teaching us something new each week as well as weaving in important events, issues of the day. 365 in 365 is a GREAT idea. I love that you get to define what is exercise for you. As long as you do something the benefits are amazing. Good luck with it. Vita

Vita Kolodny said...


Anonymous said...

You are so creative, Mary Beth. I can hardly wait until Sunday when the SomaQuest blog appears with super ideas. I love sharing the ball graphic and of course, I will exercise every day.. that group has something going! Thanks again for sharing your good ideas with us. I appreciate you. Barbara McCool