MindBody Connect asks “Does Your Posture Support You?”

By Chris Dopke
A starting question:  Does your physical structure, your posture, support you in the many things you want to do as you go through your day?  If not, do you have an awareness of what is amiss?
As you read these words are you also aware of your posture? Is the alignment of your spine supporting the weight of your head, or are the back and neck muscles working to hold your head in a forward tilting position? Would you like to practice paying better attention to your self-use in everything you do?
Using body movement as a toolbox to explore attention in a relaxed, slow-paced manner can increase your awareness of your habits and help you discover other possibilities that may be easier or take you away from chronic pain patterns.
As she went through the Feldenkrais Teacher Training program, a colleague of mine became conscious of her lifelong habit of eating without ever paying attention to her sense of fullness. By the end of the four year program she looked and felt like a different person- at a healthy personal weight for the first time.
There really is no limit to the benefits of learning to be more connected to ourselves. MindBody Connect is a class that gives you the support and tools to mindfully explore your body, and develops new tools and mind-body “pathways” to enhance and strengthen your movement.  You will be come aware of your personal movement habits and gradually learn a practice that enhances your own ability to  create healthy, functional movement in your body.  Chris makes the practice accessible to a wide variety of bodies and physical challenges.

Opening Up and Letting Go

Cill

By Cil Richards

Cil Richards is a professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.  She has a committed meditation practice and teaches and leads a weekly meditation group at Aloft Studios.    Here, she shares thoughts about meditation and shares why she meditates.

In this politically charged election year I have been thinking a lot about views and how much trouble they can cause.

View plays such a big role in what we believe, what we think about, and what we experience. It’s easy to say that we should drop our deeply held views and assumptions but that won’t make it happen. Fortunately meditation practice is a means to help us see those deeply held views and their effect.

When we meditate do we really open up to what is there or do we make assumptions about what we are experiencing? “I’m tense, I’m sad, I’m not good at concentrating. I’d be able to meditate if I wasn’t so hot.” Persistent investigation reveals the holes in these assumptions about experience. Anyone who has sat and watched their mind knows that it’s a madhouse in there. Thoughts and moods come and go like crazy. Things are constantly changing. And although sometimes that can be a little disconcerting, it’s a good thing. The fact of change means there is opportunity, possibility. I’m not sad, or angry, or hot. Those states come and go. Further investigation can reveal under what conditions these states arise and the patterns of behavior that play out over and over. For example, when I am stressed I often find that there is also some craving or aversion present. By looking closely we begin to see that we often fabricate our own reality based on views. Accompanying views are associations and memories that the mind uses to solidify and manufacture a way of viewing experience.

A helpful analogy from the physical world is a rainbow. We have all seen rainbows. No one would argue that they don’t exist, but we have all discovered that you can’t catch a rainbow, can’t touch it, and there is, alas, no pot of gold to be had. But what is a rainbow really? Is it a thing? Isn’t it really a process? One that happens when certain conditions are present? The recipe for a rainbow includes sun, rain, and an observer (you or me). Take away any one of these three and you don’t have a rainbow. The rainbow observed depends on where the observer is. That is, no two people ever see the ‘same’ rainbow. There is no ‘true’ rainbow. The rainbow ‘exists’ in relation to the sun, the rain, and the observer. Viewpoint matters.

We all hold some mental model of how the world works. Most often, when confronted with information that violates that worldview we ignore it or deny it. By doing so we miss an opportunity to learn. Through meditation if we really look at what’s really happening we see many things that challenge our worldview. If we can loosen our grip on our views and allow a new way of seeing then the possibility of transformative learning or insight arises. Letting go of views and allowing for different ways of seeing and views is an important part of meditation practice.

In my own practice through the years I have let go of and loosened many of my views. This has not been easy since as a professor I have certainly suffered from the ‘know it all’ disease. However, letting go of knowing how it is and seeing how it really is has really opened up my mind and practice.

Curiosity of Movement

 

By Chris Dopke
(Join Chris for  “Asleep/Awake-Aware” on Thursdays at 11:00, a healing movement class in the style of movement of Moshe Feldenkrais)
Ever since l learned to do backbends and headstands when my mom enrolled me in acrobatics at age 7, I’ve been curious about movement. However, looking back, I see that for many years through my experiences in gymnastics, cheerleading, diving- it was always about my ability to see and mimic movement and not at all about what does it actually feel like to move myself.
In 1995 I started taking yoga from a teacher in Eugene and marveled that every class was an opportunity to discover something new about my body and how I moved. I did notice that when I took from different instructors I did not get the same level of new information. Ten years into my studies with Deborah I finally said to myself, maybe I’m learning so much in her classes because she’s also a Feldenkrais teacher. Aha moment, you might say!
In 2006 I began the four year Feldenkrais teacher training in Bend OR and learned to think about movement and flexibility and effort and the body’s intelligence in a whole new way. I found I am a creature of habit and the lessons were giving me options I had never considered before. I am endlessly curious about  all the patterns and habits in my use of self, and now I enjoy teaching these lessons of discovery to others.

On Slowing Down, Being Mindful, and Truly Seeing — By Marji Neill

I love to share words from others about why you value your practice, and how you manifest your practice in your daily life.  I share some words Marji Neill shared with me, along with an image of where Marji meets herself/her spirit:

“Hi Kristine,

It was great being with you in class today!   I’ve missed seeing everyone.   I had to chuckle when you were talking about being mindful, slowing down, and making eye contact.  Lots of thoughts came to my mind.   I do not have many natural talents [editorial note from KZ:  this is not true!], but for whatever reason, complete strangers have always opened up to me.  My girls noticed this when they were young and it is something that drives my husband nuts.   When we are out, and I speak with total strangers, he will often ask, “Do you KNOW that person?”   Growing up with an “always be busy, busy, busy” mentality, I tend to walk briskly, but I like to smile and greet anyone I see.  This has led to a ton of “little while friends” and fun conversations.  Also, it seems like my guardian angel or spirit guide (or whatever energy is helping me through life on earth), likes to draw my attention to wildlife at just the right moment, and it’s been a fun part of my life.    Lately I’ve noticed I’m not walking as fast.  It made me wonder if I was holding back to not irritate my cranky knee (chronic), or if I am just getting older.   But, you gave me hope that maybe I am finally understanding that if I zoom through life with my head down, I will miss a lot.   After all, I want to know how that wild turkey family with seeming limited good sense, is doing!”

Sept 29, 2015

Finding Your Quiet Place

IMG_1162Let’s face it . . . We all need a break sometimes.  We need moment to step back, gain some perspective, recognize that we are more than the thoughts and emotions we are having in the immediate moment.  We need a moment to realize that we are more than the physical pain, the grief, the fear, or the illness we are experiencing.  It’s no wonder that, within the traditional path of yoga, four of it’s eight limbs are dedicated to learning to quiet and focus our minds.  In yoga, it’s sometimes called “cultivating the witness.”  We use our breath, our ability to focus and concentrate, our posture, and our intention to become familiar with that part of ourselves that can “witness” our thoughts, feelings, even our discomfort.  We initially learn to recognize, and then gradually to be at home with, this witnessing part of ourselves.  Once found, the witnessing place within us can be a powerful reminder that we are more than the sum of our immediate strong feelings, thoughts, story-lines, physical pain, even illness.  Cultivation of the witness within ourselves empowers us to make choices where before we felt victim to circumstances and situations beyond our control.  We meet the witness as a loving, non-judgmental place within ourselves.  Spending time in this witnessing place creates a sense of sanctuary and peace.

We begin learning this process early on in yoga practice, and then we integrate it into our asana practice.  Once we are able to consistently find it in yoga, it has the benefit of expanding outward into the rest of our lives.

Threshold Moments

 

Why Dance?

“I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know [the Sacred], to love and serve [the Sacred], and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.” ― Anne Lamott

“I would only believe in a god who understood how to dance.”  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche

Whether we dance to laugh and play, to let go of heartache and tension, for exercise, to find ourselves, the Divine Light, or all of the above at the same time, it’s a good thing!  Nia:  Wednesdays 4:30 – 5:30; Thursdays 1:00 – 2:00; Nia/Yoga combined into a single class on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30.  And the best part is, you don’t have to actually be able to “dance” at all — just come, ready to move!

The “Red” Layer

Friend and yoga student Stephanie Crabtree who is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at WSU, read my post on the naming of KivaSpace, and added the following:  “After reading your description of kivas on your webpage I would like to add that they are not just ceremonial, but functioned as multi-use spaces for not only important religious rituals, but also offered places to get out of the hot sun or the cold winter, to dance (thus many of them have footdrums, like at Aztec) and to reconnect with the ancestors. :)”

I love this.  My vision of the space includes the possibilities of a multi-use space, a space to create community, and (goes without saying), a space to dance!  And a bit ago, as I worked in the space, I had my own personal moment of “reconnecting with ancestors.”

Gladish Community Center used to be the high school in Pullman.  Both of my parents attended high school in this building — it’s where they met and began dating.  In fact, the building is named after the man who was Principal when they were students — Oscar Gladish.  Mr. Gladish loved my mother (she was very bright and very socially active).  He had concerns about my Dad (Also very bright, but only taking band, shop, and typing his Senior Year, and frequently found sneaking out of the band room window to go down and play pool at the City Club — Guess Gladish has always had good windows to climb in and out of!).  So Mr. Gladish would lecture my mother, urging caution about dating and getting serious about that “Zakarison boy.”

Advance forward about twenty some years.  Gladish was turned into one of 2 local middle schools, and it was the one I attended (I can still sing the “Fight Song” . . . just ask!).  The little corner where KivaSpace is now coming to life was the P.E. teacher’s office and girl’s locker room.  As I was working on the space recently, scraping off layers of paint, I hit the “red layer” that you see in the picture.  Bam! I was transported to a memory I must haved buried a looong time ago.  For those of you that don’t know, I have epilepsy, and it turns out I had my very first grand mal seizure in this very same space, then the P.E. teacher’s office.  I had forgotten all about this until I hit the red layer of paint, which figures prominently in my memory as I hit that same paint while hitting the floor during the seizure.

I now have sympathy for that teacher.  Imagine an adolescent girl, walking into your office, telling you that she feels “really weird.”  The teacher suggested that maybe I was about to begin menstruating or having some sort of “personal/emotional issue.”  I then dropped onto her floor and had a seizure.  I remember coming back around, with her demanding that I quit “acting out for attention” and get back into the gym.  I remember being really scared because I felt really strange and I didn’t know what had happened.  And then I tried to walk out of her door, fell over, and got sick on her floor (Yes, the red one!).  She wasn’t pleased, I felt like a freak, and my epilepsy went undiagnosed for five more years.

So now that same space becomes a place for healing.  How’s that for calling up the ancestors and creating a space for loving forgiveness?  Here’s to all your healing journeys.  I hope that KivaSpace will be a part of them.