Whoa. Spring! In the past couple of weeks, things have sprouted, others have withered, I’ve felt cold to the bone, and I’ve gotten sunburned. So much feels like it’s moving – and in lots of directions. Last week alone, we played with cat-like tread and danced Firedance in honor of St. Patrick, I took two of the Nia 52 Moves classes with Jeanne Catherine, and the ACAC Nia Team went on a field trip to the PVCC Cadaver Lab with our friend and Nia student, Professor David Moyer. I taught a Dharma Dance class that focused on noticing the sensation of living our dharma, cheered my step-son and husband on as they played soccer, and am now getting ready for a few days away in South Carolina.
The Spring Equinox offers a balance of light and dark. The Earth gets to that balance one little micro shift at a time. Every day just a few minutes in the morning, and nudging a few minutes toward balance in the evening. And we’re the same way. Stand on one foot for a minute. (Come on. Stand up. I’ll wait.) Our precarious upright posture is maintained by tiny muscle contractions and releases that keep us balanced. Can you feel those little micro-movements? Balance isn’t a static state. Balance is a verb, not a noun. Constant tiny little adjustments keep us aligned.
As we stepped cat-like steps in Firedance (again and again and again), and we practiced the Nia 52 moves (again and again and again), I was reminded that this is how the body does it. One little movement, one little choice, one more repetition, over and over. As I stood awe-struck over a body that someone had lived in for over eighty years, I could see how he had used his muscles over and over, how she had used her joints, how he had used his lungs. The history of all those little choices was written in the tissue and bone of the body. In Dharma Dance, as we moved and connected to the sensation of breaking habit, trusting the body and living on purpose, I could feel in my own bones the seduction of habit and the scariness of moving in way I haven’t before. One choice at a time: break the habit and face the fear. As my two soccer players, ran and passed and kicked (to victory, I might add), I could see that their performances were a result of thousands and thousands of repetitions and choices and practice.
Now I’m getting ready for a little time away. Five days for a break, a change of scenery. This is the other side of balance. Even today, on the Vernal Equinox, we are already moving toward the big shift toward “out of balance.” At 1:14am, the earth was in perfect balance. Immediately it began its shift toward the longest day of the year when the light far out lasts the dark. We’re the same way. Paradoxically, the best way to improve our physical balance is to take the body OUT of balance. Playing with big movements and changes that throw the body out of equilibrium is what strengthens my sense of balance.
As we did explosive jumps and runs in Firedance and we shifted wildly off center in Cat Stance in the 52 Moves, I could feel my balance getting stronger as my core and legs adjusted to my shifting weight. In the cadaver lab, I could see the dramatic shifts that happened in the body to bring balance: the broken bone that actually leaves the bone stronger after healing, the hip replacement, and the sternum wired closed after open heart surgery. (I’m conjecturing here, but I do note that it is possible that these last two “dramatic shifts” were imposed on the body after all the tiny adjustments were either not enough to bring the body into balance or were over-ridden by the mind. The twisted posture or mis-aligned walk that wore down the hip made a big adjustment necessary. The love of milk shakes and French fries made the open heart surgery needed to create more balanced blood flow. And I really don’t know what the circumstances were. Just sayin’.) Dharma Dance invites big shifts in movement and thinking: a big letting go to paradoxically help us relax and center more deeply. The soccer team sometimes makes big surprising shifts — a little tap of a corner kick instead of the usual booming one, pulling the keeper out into the field, players switching sides or positions – all to shift the energy and strengthen the endeavor.
So as I take a little break to reset my own balance, I invite you to check in with your own. Are you noticing the little changes and choices that are happening all the time? Are you sometimes playing with shaking it up to strengthen your balance? What do you need to pay attention to this week? As always, I’d love to hear about it. See you Monday!