If you make a fist, holding it maybe just a moment, and then relax your fist, it takes a little while to soften, and to settle. Even then, your hand may not be totally without work. Many of us are walking around in a fist, and we don't know! And even if/when we do know, we might not be sure how to address it.
The more I teach Restorative Yoga, and the more I work with clients, the more I am aware that we all are working far too hard. I don't mean your job, although, perhaps that is also true. Instead, I mean muscular work.
I am continually learning this truth: before I can change any behaviors that turn me into a fist, it is necessary to learn how to soften, to do nothing but yield and breath, to be available to myself, to be available for breathing. I must take the time I need to begin to let myself un-ball, unwrap, unwind. And I must practice doing it, so that it becomes more possible to be that way more often in my day-to-day.
Most of us are working twice as hard to be in gravity as we need to be, because we simply have no other way to accommodate gravity than to fight it. We have only what we know how to do, and what we have developed out of habit. But, you know, it is very hard to be ready to move, or to walk, or to run, when the body (you) are already tense. Being tense is like a state of continually flinching, being ready to run, always in fight or flight at some level.
That tenseness is sometimes called high-tone, high muscular tone: like with sound, low tone would be soft, and high tone would be hard. We usually think of tone as a positive--strong = toned--but in this case, it means ON. If you are ON, like a light, how much brighter can you become? If your hand is in a fist, it isn't immediately available to do anything else. Many of us are walking around so tense, we aren't aware of how "on" we are. No wonder we are tired. We've lost the off button. A well-toned muscle needs to be able to be on and off, so that when it is needed, it can be turned on, and when it isn’t needed, you are not spending our resources keeping a light on for no reason.
And we need to be able to tell when the lights are on, and when the lights are off.
This is where Restorative Yoga and the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education are such powerful practices for me, and for my students.
This work of taking the time to do this practice of softening is deeply profound. It is a practice of being embodied (and learning to be embodied) mindfully, gently, without agenda, judgment, fear. It is a practice of being in the moment without being in a story we were told about ourselves, or a story we have been telling ourselves. It is about creating through our breath, through our inquisitiveness care for ourselves, our own experience of what it means to be. BE.
Curious? Go to heatherdanso.com.
I’d like to share three things with you.
Heather Danso wears many hats. As an artist, she playfully explores work in Acrylic, printing, and multimedia, creating portraits and abstracts that explore expression, playfulness, identity, and the possible. Her CV is here.
She is also a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner, yoga teacher, Awareness Through Movement® teacher.