Friday, January 29, 2016

Finding My Footing

For my latest adventure in neuroplasitcity I went to see Lynn at the beginning of November. It had been a long busy month since my last session so I was feeling...tight and unsure. I am usually enthusiastic, if not genuinely confident. She asked me if I wanted to start with an improv or if I wanted to led through something and I 100% wanted to be led. Just an observation, maybe my body having a better sense of what it was in for was...taking me down a peg so I could be present. Maybe that's nonsense, who knows.

I started sitting in a chair, Lynn asked me to choose one of my favorite characters I've played. I picked Babe from Crimes of the Heart since I'd just wrapped up my stellar performance as the youngest Mcgrath. She told me to curl up until I disappeared. In the past when I've been asked to be smaller I waited anxiously for the stretching out that always came next, but my mood lent itself to invisibility. I stayed in my vanished state a few moments before she asked me to "reappear" as Babe. Maybe to someone who isn't a performer this sounds completely bizarre, but I assure you it changes your physicality and that my friends is the whole point.

Next, I rocked front to back and then side to side in the chair. The side to side rocking was much more challenging. It was during this motion that she encouraged me to think of my ribs as an accordion opening. That was a very pleasing image and like a lot of this work made me think of Alice in Wonderland.

Rocking has always been a soothing motion to me, but this rocking had a goal. I was searching for that elusive feeling of being grounded, the openness my habitual muscle tension robs me of and the gift of feeling something else. Lynn asked me to think of my body as a "team" working toward achieving a goal. That sounds very simple and it was exceptionally difficult. I noticed first with some dubiousness and then delight that when I lifted my rib cage I felt a tug on my troublesome shoulder blades.

When I said as much, Lynn rolled out Mr. Skeleton (just like the one my AP biology teacher had) and showed me how lifting my rib cage does tug on my shoulder blades. Neat stuff, but in all the the physical therapy and the "squeeze your shoulder blades and hold them" no one ever said float up your sternum like there's a balloon attached to it or open your ribs like an accordion! These images were far more effective for me than the "strengthen the part that hurts" method.

Lynn talked about how the fascia gets bunched up and creates the feeling that things are "stuck". Tricky, tricky... I already mentioned making my sternum light and we worked with the image of a string from the crown of my head (Pinocchio, anyone?). That image is certainly not new, but in conjunction with open ribs and a light sternum it makes a big difference. We discussed again how I have to change the dialogue from "fighting" my body to communicating with it. Ugh, me and my body forever in couple's counseling.

Next, we focused on my feet for a bit. It's not my feet's fault really somewhere along the line I just started putting all my weight on the right and hardly any on the left and it messes me up pretty bad, pretty often. So we went through putting weight on the toes, then heals, then arches. I have no idea how long this lasted, but I know I could have done it all day. When we stopped I felt weight evenly in both feet in a really wonderful way. I think I said "Woah!" when asked how it felt. It was really great.
After that we decided to give shaking another go. Last session was my first try and very little happened and I was kind of bummed. The procedure was the same this time: I laid on the floor, moved my legs in and out until they fatigued. This time though I shivered all over like I was cold. It was both trippy and encouraging. I think Lynn was right about the shaking increasing over time.

Lynn wanted to see me walk with my cane. I felt annoyed by this prospect, but I am annoyed by my cane in general so that's not a surprise. After watching me hold and walk with cane we decided to adjust it slightly. No issues there, then she suggested I place it more in front than beside me, that was fine too. When she told me to use the wall for support and try switching sides...issues. For the record I switched to this cane when my shoulder blade pain got bad because it fit me better then the previous crutches and because I was supposed to switch sides. Great plan in theory, but I don't switch sides. I've attempted it here and there, but it's no good. Anyway, she asked me to use the cane and the wall for support so I could switch sides. I put the cane in the other hand and promptly burst into tears. I know we had a conversation about why that was, but I was emotional so vulnerability/balance issues some such things. I know that I stood there with the cane in the "wrong hand" a long time before I was ready to take a few tentative steps. Then Lynn said another brilliant thing "Maybe the first step isn't to do it, but to think about doing it. To just rehearse it in your mind until your ready." All the sudden there was a first step and I wasn't a blubbering failure.

Before we departed she gave me the homework to spend ten minutes everyday rocking, opening my ribs like an accordion, etc like the beginning of the session and then doing a movement improv, I left there having the unique feeling of a sensual experience with every step. Toes, heals, arches...two feet. That evening in the shower I wasn't doing my one legged (flamingo) lean against the wall. I was standing on both feet. I hadn't thought about it at all just found myself that way. The following days it happened quite a bit that I'd discover I was standing on both feet. I loved the feeling! It was at my daughter's bus stop two days later that I thought "I wonder how long this will last."

1 comment:

  1. This is Margot…Gregg's NY student. Yay! You found the high that is shaking! So much better than getting high on drugs am I right? LOL. It's the best sensation I have had in my life so far. So thrilled for you! The crying outbursts happen to me after shaking too. It's perfectly natural in the process of the work. Do not worry. Just let it all out. It's only a release. I know how hard it is to be vulnerable but you have to be in this work. The new sensations will stick if you reinforce the images.


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