The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

WHEN YOUR HEART IS TOO BROKEN TO FIX, THE REAL WORK BEGINS

 

The first week of June 2020 has broken us.

Maybe like me your heart is in pieces, maybe like me you are aware that fixing it is not an option.

Words are not my native language, but I try. The day on which I wrote this was a “national day of stopping” business as usual. Stopping to look at what we have become, where we are as a culture, a country, a gathering of human beings.

This is a new level of stopping I wouldn’t have come to on my own, if not for the public health crisis brought on by COVID and the senseless murders of black people in this country: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others that I don’t, yet, know by name. Memory is embodied in language as “knowing something by heart.” There are so many that we have never even collectively heard of, whose names are known only to their families and friends. Every day now as I write this new unknown murders of innocent black people are coming to light – all of them happening since January of this year. It’s too big for my mind, but not my heart.

Without my heart my mind is useless.

What saved me this morning was picking up bell hook’s book “All About Love.”

It helped me to remember that I can look at everything that’s happening right now as if it was all about love. My fear, pain, anger, even hatred of Trump when it comes, is all about the loss of love and the need for love, the profound effort to return, over and over again, to love of life in all things. The risk that young people are taking in the streets is a return to love. The smashing of stores is painful and often senseless, but the refusal to put profit over life is not. It makes deep sense. We have let hate become a way of life and we have to stop it.

All the work we have done to get in touch with our bodies is going to come in handy now. Your body, your true home, is so vulnerable. It has everything you need to know about racism contained in it. Your body knows what it means to feel free, to move as you wish, to have space to breath. Your body knows what it really means when you forget about how important that is for other human beings.

Your body knows what it feels like to not be free to move even an inch, to breath, to speak. George Floyds last words were words of love. If you watch the video, you don’t just hear that love. You feel it in your whole body as his precious life is taken from him. Your heart knows what it is to be stomped on, enslaved, imprisoned for profit, brutalized, and beaten. Our sensitized bodies feel the violence done to others as if it was happening to us.

Because it is.

Our body instantly recognizes the complete disassociation expressed in the calm, cruel demeanor of policeman Derek Chauvin as he took George Floyd’s precious life away. I’m grateful to feel broken, to feel angry, to feel outrage, to feel grief, to feel hope. I’m grateful to be a mess today. Today, these are the fruits of embodiment.

I’m not scared of these feelings.

I’m more scared about what will happen to us if we can no longer feel them. And that gives me courage to keep doing what I’m doing.

Get close to what you love. Hold, touch, and share it. Help each other to get close and stay close to it, whatever it is. Trust it and let it be your guide.

I want to thank the students who came to class this week and helped me to stay in touch with my body, heart, and mind in motion. And that’s what we need to do – move forward in a new way. Let the old broken way go and stumble on, not knowing how we are going to end racism but knowing that we must if we love life.

There is something very important about a dance class – it’s a collective revivification of ourselves in each other’s presence that energizes us in a way that we cannot do on our own. Even online, this magic always visits us.

We move forward together and reconstitute our broken hearts into something new.

June 10th, 2020 • No Comments

DON’T BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE COMING WEEK

 

 

 

I turned on the radio this morning during breakfast and the announcer said

“Brace yourself for what could be the worst week in American history!”

And I thought, “is bracing myself going to make this week somehow better? I don’t think so! How does this guy know ahead of time that this coming week will be the worst ever? I’m not saying this is not a crisis, but what if next week is worse. Will bracing myself help then either? Not.”

Bracing causes broken bones.

What would happen if I softened myself instead?

After 14 days of fighting what was probably COVID19, I’m feeling a bit… quiet. What I had was mild, according to what I hear, but I was humbled and made vulnerable by the experience. It truly stopped me in my tracks. Am I grateful for the Alexander Technique? Yes! Did I practice Mobilignment™ in the bathtub, and in my bed? Yes! Did those things make a difference? They did to me in the moment. Scientifically I have no idea, and I don’t want to alarm you in any way by making you think that you need what I have in order to be OK. You do not.

I do know that bracing against reality is a total waste of energy. Bracing isn’t going to keep our health care workers safe, or bring the grinding hulk of greed and profiteering going on in our government and healthcare industry to a halt. All it’s going to do is stress out your already challenged delicate tissues even more.

I prefer to Mobilize and Mobilign. There is positive energy in the quiet softness of your mind and body. It is an endless resource that is always there for you. None of us as individuals can beat this thing, and no hero is going to save us with their braced puffed out chest and superhero suit. It’s going to be you, fighting like the dickens to take the best care of yourself that you can, and it’s going to be us, caring for each other, one creative moment at a time. It always was.

April 7th, 2020 • No Comments

HOW CAN I IMPROVE MOBILITY IN MY FEET?

 

 

Have you signed up for my newsletter? If you have, it gives you a chance to engage with me and ask me questions. I make a video once a month, and this year I’m going to choose topics from the questions my readers send me. February’s question comes from Dana, a ballroom dancer in California:
 

“Can you please address some ways to mobilize the feet for greater range of movement? What points would be helpful to use to be able to point my toe better? I’d also love to mobilize the ball of foot so I can rise higher on my feet (demi-point).”

 
The video is one of my longest – 12 minutes long – and even so I only answered the first part of the question. I couldn’t fit all of my thoughts on the topic into it so I’ll say more below for those of you who have the time to read. The question raises three important issues that dancers must deal with:

 

Issue number 1: Limiting Ideas

You may have an idea about the limitations of your body that is too narrow, based on your past experience. I have never had one single student that didn’t have more mobility than they thought! Mobilignment™, however, proposes that making more effort may not lead to more mobility – it’s the quality and specificity of your effort that will pay off in the end. So keep your dreams alive as you read the next two issues!
 

Issue number 2: Over-valuation of flexibility

Valuation of flexibility (which is a variation of shape) over mobility can cause imbalance in your movement. They are both important aspects of expressivity for dancers, and there is a lovely tension between them. In many forms of dance, a high arch and a super-pointable toe are highly valued. A pointed foot creates a line that extends the leg out into space. Strong feet allow the dancer to get high up on their toes which can be used to express elation (:-) and make turning and jumping easier and more flashy. Unfortunately dancers tend to over-contract the achilles tendon and calf muscles to point their feet, and achilles tendon injuries at the back of the heal are common. So is arthritis in the big toe from over-working demi-point. Mobilignment™ proposes that we can make a shape without becoming rigid and damaging our tissues.

 

Issue number 3: It’s OK to have limitations

Is an external aesthetic or idea about shape more important than your body’s limitations? I find that dancers often have much more mobility than they think, especially when they learn how to keep their whole body in their awareness instead of hyper-focus on only one part. That said, we all have genetic gifts and limitations. Some of the greatest dancers in the world have limitations like flat feet, inflexible spines, and other gifts from their ancestors. It’s how they put together their body, their imagination, and the meaning of their dance that creates the magic. Shape is only one tiny part of that. If you want to increase mobility it’s a good thing, but make sure it’s in the service of your overall expressivity, ease, and fluidity. Cause that’s why dancing feels good, and that’s why people love watching you do it!

 

WANT TO CONNECT DIRECTLY WITH CLARE? HERE’S HOW:

1) Free 15 minute phone consultation: (718) 243-2720

2) Private sessions in my Madison Square Park Studio in NYC

3) Private sessions online

4) Check out my YouTube Channel 🙂

WAYS TO STUDY MOBILIGNMENT™:

Next open online class:
Sunday, March 29, 11 – 12:30 EST
Go here to register.

MOBILIGNMENT TEACHER TRAINING: THE NEXT LEVEL ONE TRAINING WILL BY IN AUGUST 2020. INQUIRE FOR MORE INFORMATION!

Mobilignment™ Trainings are for movement teachers who want to take better care of themselves and teach more effectively. Mobilignment™ gives you ways to access the power of the Alexander Technique simply and quickly for use in the classroom.

The next Mobilignment™ Level 1 Training will be in August 2020. Drop me a line if you are interested.

Here are some of the things that my Mobilignment Level 1 Teachers say about the effects of Mobilignment™ on their teaching:

“My AT teaching has been SO EASY this week after the training!!!”

“My students are much more engaged in their own learning process and actively discovering things for themselves instead of me having to ‘teach’ them.”

“I feel relief at discovering what is holding me back!”

“It’s so important that I, and my students, have time to integrate our emotional responses to change.”

“It’s amazing to see myself clearly without critical judgement!”

March 5th, 2020 • No Comments