Let’s face it; the past five-six months haven’t been easy for most of us. As we struggle to reconcile our beliefs about the world with what we see emerging around us, tension and depression aren’t far off. I occasionally find myself in utter confusion, longing for a time when the world made sense, and I didn’t have to worry about how I… how we were going to fix things.
The result of the confusion has been a period where I’ve paid more attention to what’s happening in the world and less attention to my inner world. The need to resist and help turn the tide is growing and, with it, the tension and turmoil it brings to both mind and body.
I don’t want to simply engage in bitter, angry rhetoric about how messed up the world is now. I want to make a difference. Resist. But how?
Last weekend, I participated in the first of a series of three residential workshops by Peter Wilberforce titled Body, Voice, and Being. One of my big discoveries during the weekend is how my movements start from a place of tension. If I move or sing with a tense body, my movement will be limited, and my voice strained. And so I practiced, again and again, to let even the tiniest tension – in my jaw, in the back of my neck, in my pelvic girdle, or wherever – loosen and melt. And then, gently, subtly, let my breath discover what movement or sound wants to emerge.
And, the only way to get there is to start with an open, inquiring mind, trusting that something will emerge. My litany all weekend was, ‘You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to get things right. You don’t have to understand this.’
What did emerge were essential and authentic movements and sounds. No force was needed to give them power and clarity.
Getting back to resistance, Asian martial arts practices, like QiGong and Aikido, have taught us something similar. Moving from a centered, still place in our body and mind, increases our strength and fluidity. Brute force is no match for the centered flow of a QiGong master.
I often think I’m relaxed and centered. When I quiet down and focus on letting all the tension melt away, it becomes obvious how tense my body actually was.
We need to get out there and fight for the world we believe in. We need to resist. But, as Ariane Huffington has pointed out, we can only do this if we don’t get stuck in the outrage. Her excellent article contains basic tips to stay healthy, sane, and effective in the battle for a compassionate, ecologically sound world. One of the tips is: Breathe.
Just breathe. You don’t have to get things right. Quiet down, loosen the tension, and breathe.