Monday, October 5, 2009

Making Sense of Life

Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement(R) lessonImage by divamover via Flickr

Life is interesting.

Through good times and bad, great joys and great sorrows, all we can do is make the best sense of it we can.

It is this "making sense" that so intrigues me, and to which I have devoted my life and work. It seems that we have all learned to separate what is going on in our thinking processes (logic, linear progressions, judgments, or imaginations) from what is going on in our bodies. Most people (especially Baby-Boomers, newly perceiving themselves -- ourselves -- in decline) come to see their body as a maintenance problem, constantly to be exercised, strengthened, stretched, moisturized, conditioned, fueled, satisfied, and monitored for signs of impending doom. Everything that goes in or comes out of our bodies is scrutinized, and we actually FEEL very little of what goes on. How much obesity occurs because the person cannot feel the sensation of fullness, or satisfaction? How many injuries occur because painful warning sensations are ignored? My continuing fascination with the Feldenkrais Method usually comes back to the interplay within the system of moving, thinking, feeling, and sensing. Improving our sensitivity to our senses can help us to "make sense" of the world around and within us.

Here follow three stories of people "making sense."

Divergence Vocal Theater presented their third artistic collaboration and multi-inter-extra-disciplinary production this past weekend. Their performances defy description; even their self-proclaimed status as "Houston's renegade, indie opera company" doesn't do it justice. Artistic Director and Founder Misha Penton embraces her vision to let more and more of the experience evolve for her performers and her audience. The evening was a mix of contemporary vocal and instrumental music (harp, sitar, and piano), spoken word, modern dance, and stunning visuals created through lighting, film, and long diaphanous strips of colored fabric. The fabrics, in warm oranges, taupes, and sages, stretched the length and breadth of the performing space, on the stage and in the audience; constantly changing, weaving, carried, carressed, abandoned by the performers. The entire evening, around the theme "Autumn Spectre," was one of achingly beautiful sensory demand. The performance defied all traditional expectations of making sense, if you needed a story line, characters, conflict, or moral. However, sense was made in the way love is made, one delicious sensation at a time. Each person made their own sense. Even seated in the space, all were moved.


The little girl is four years old. She is bright, funny, cheerful, and beautiful, and every day is a struggle. Because of a rare anatomical defect in her brain, she has not yet sat up by herself, crawled, or supported her weight to walk. With gentle playfulness, we access her own deep knowing of how to move. We explore the human developmental sequence, picking up at about 6 months of age, where the limits of her brain structure reached and then sort of stalled. With each movement, lifting the head, or tucking the chin, or bringing knees up over her belly to roll back and forth, her brain is making new connections, finding "ways around." Her sensations give her input on which to build toward the next part of the sequence. She rolls over onto her tummy much more easily and readily. It's a thrill to see her roll her pelvis then so that one knee can begin to bend and come up alongside, then under her. Her family and I are banking on neuroplasticity -- the ability of the brain to change, grow, and adapt to useful input -- and we are seeing progress. We are all making sense -- discovering it, sensation by sensation -- the best way we can. Who knows where it will lead?

It's a lovely fall Friday evening in Houston, and happy hour is underway. Self-identified geeks -- a mix of web and software designers, programmers, photographers, and other technophiles get together for beverages and conversation at our favorite Midtown watering hole, The Coffee Groundz. Another group intermingles with them -- people who get together quarterly with the sole purpose of socializing while wearing tiaras. The Venn Diagram of the two groups has a surprisingly large overlapping center. Frivolity reigns. There's nothing like a group of people together relaxing and having a good time. One can sense that these people work hard. They play with great dedication. They'll go forth to conquer the world again on Monday.


Take a breath, try something new. Use your powers for good. By feeling your way, you're bound to make sense of some of it.
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