Saturday, June 18, 2005

Judging: Part II

Part II:

Choice is freedom; freedom is choice.

Don’t forget there are always rules.
That’s karma.

Not choosing is also karma.
We have no choice but to choose.
Is choice really free?
It does not matter. We can choose or not choose, that is a choice.

Choose awareness, not just of the mind but of the being.
Feel; sense; intuit, with your body; your mind; your Being.
If you cannot let go of the story, things will not change.
Let it go. It is what it is.
You cannot make it different, except as you change yourself to something new.

Judging: Part I

Part I:

Stop judging.
Stop judging other people, and yourself. Ultimately yourself.
Judging everything makes everything else seem judgemental in return.
If we feel others are always judging us, and we them for judging us, then we are also judging ourselves, for we imagine ourselves how we appear in their eyes.

One needs to forgive others, and one needs to forgive oneself.
To forgive is not to forget, nor is it to overlook that which needs seeing.
Unconditional love does not mean uncompromising acceptance.

It is about our relationship to ourselves, because when we allow ourselves to react habitually to the outside world, we stop being truly alive.
We become a series of responses that will always attract triggers.
We cannot blame the universe without becoming a nail to be hammered.

When we react with negativity, we become dense. Our energy goes down.
Things that resonate at that level, such as anger or resentment, tend to attract things that are enmeshed at that lower frequency of energy.
They stick to us because it’s where we’ve chosen to resonate.

By letting go of attachment to our own negativity, we stop resonating on those levels. Those things no longer sense our presence, and so pass through.
We become transparent.
When we can choose how we direct our attention, we free ourselves from manipulation.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Using Intuition

Last night I did something I haven’t done in perhaps 20 years. I picked up a hitchhiker.

This is something we’re constantly told is dangerous, a big no-no on the personal security scale. Back when I was a teenager, hitchhiking was common and popular. I can recall in the late 60’s catching rides frequently to get into town from a rural area. It was something young, free-spirited people did, popularized by hippies and adopted by many others. Then things started getting uglier. Stories of psycho hitchhikers abounded, and soon nobody would stop anymore. As rides became scarce, people stopped sticking out their thumbs.

Occasionally I’d see throwbacks at freeway entrances, particularly in Berkeley, where dusty young couples or students on vacation break would sit with signs indicating where they wanted to go. Even these disappeared; nowadays the only signs are begging for spare change.

The last hitchhiker to whom I gave a ride was back around ’82, a sixteen year old runaway girl on the side of highway 17 in a remote stretch outside of San Jose, trying to get to Santa Cruz. I figured she needed to get out of there before someone with bad intentions offered her a lift. I dropped her near the beach, and that was that.

Last night, however, as I was returning home from teaching a class in Pleasant Hill, I spotted someone walking down a long lonely piece of road, carrying a potted plant. This person was simply sticking out a thumb while walking, not even bothering to turn around. This is often the sign of someone who’s lost hope of getting help. There was something so forlorn about this person I almost stopped right then, but there was no turnout and traffic behind me kept me going. I passed so quickly I couldn’t even tell if it was a man or woman.

I drove on a couple of miles to the freeway, debating if I should go back. Logic kept telling me to leave this alone, that I didn’t have to get involved or take a risk, that someone else would take care of this person’s need. The further I drove, the more my conscience pricked at me. I realized I was giving in to fear based on social conditioning, and something was telling me that this was a moment I would always doubt if I simply looked away. What I recognized was a feeling of shame at not being willing to see a fellow human being for who they were. A little voice said that sometimes we are tested on our compassion, and the deeds we choose, for good or bad, become part of our character.

By this time I was miles away on the freeway, coming to the last exit at the crest of a ridge before a long stretch with no turnarounds. I realized this was the last opportunity I would give myself to make a decision, and so on impulse I turned the car around, driving the seven or eight miles back to where I’d seen this person. I figured if the person had a ride by then, no problem. I had time to spend, so no big deal. If they were still there, I’d at least take the opportunity to check them out and assess the situation. For once I didn’t have a dog with me in the car, but I’m usually armed in some way and control of a car is itself a position of power if things go awry.

Sure enough, the person was still on the rural road, taking a rest by sitting on a guardrail in the middle of nowhere. I could see it was a man, medium sized with a beard. I turned around at the next intersection and went back. By now he was walking again, barely bothering to lift his hand. I pulled up behind him and hit the high beams several times before he realized what that signified.

It turned out this guy walked all that way from the Pleasant Hill BART station, about 8 miles or so, having missed the last bus. The plant was for his wife, who’d had a heart attack two days earlier. He was trying to get to the hospital in Martinez to visit her. Aside from the long distance I went before deciding to help, the actual detour to drop him off was relatively short, but I saved him at least another hour of walking on a dark and winding country road. This person was not only not a danger to me, but it felt like a blessing to have helped this man.

I’ve always felt that my intuition was something to be trusted, a deeper level of consciousness. John Wong, my late Tai Chi teacher, talked a lot about listening to one’s inner voice. Last night that voice was loud and clear, telling me not only that this person was not a threat to me, but also that in some way, I was being tested on my compassion and also my ability to perceive the message being sent.

If one chooses to ignore that quiet inner voice, it becomes silent or gets buried beneath the shrill self-involved noise of the ego. On the other hand, listening to and acknowledging that voice invites guidance from a higher source of consciousness into our lives.

If my intuition had said “beware” there is no way I would have given this person a lift. There certainly have been times in my life that I received warnings of danger, some of which have been validated. First one must pay attention, recognizing the feeling comes from a deeper level. Then one chooses how to proceed. In my case, it took perhaps ten minutes to get past my rationalizations to acknowledging a need to act outside of my normal parameters, but once I did, the feeling was strong that I was following the correct path.

I believe tests like these are not random, but come our way to measure our trust in our inner guides. Had I ignored my intuition last night, today I’d be wondering if I had done the right thing. Today, though, I have no such doubts. To the anonymous man to whom I gave a ride, I was a blessing. He doesn’t know it, but he was that to me as well.

Dialing It In

I’ve recently hit on a way of explaining fine-tuning movement that seems to work in class, so I’m trying to put down the analogy here in writing.

Imagine scales of measurement, such as meters, centimeters, millimeters. When we move our bodies, we have various different scales available to us to dial in the precision we desire.

Too many people only see movement as a single block, when in fact our bodies employ a sophisticated system of levers and counterbalances. Within an integrated whole there are subsets, specific aspects that can be accessed and addressed.

The first level is the macro. Imagine having a yardstick. These are large-scale movements that get you where you want to be using big levers and gears such as the legs and hips. These heavy-duty structural components are responsible for the overall position of your body; your alignment in the direction you are facing and your alignment with gravity.

Once in position you switch to the micro-measurement to dial it in precisely, going from yardstick to millimeters to implement smaller gears. The main control is the foot, which with small rotations pivoting from the ball or the heel can adjust weight transfer or open or close the gross angle of the hips. These shifts from the ground transmit to the whole body.

The waist is also a small gear set in the chain, using abdominal muscles to align the spine. This can be together with or sequential to the foot micro-alignment. The foot’s direction of alignment extends upward through the waist, our center, to control the upper torso.

The process of moving involves constant shifting of weight and balance, a weighting and unweighting of the left and right sides of the body. In Serrada, for example, we frequently use a forward weighted stance, which means our energy will be grounded through the front leg. This will be the result of positioning with our primary movers. Our fine-tuning adjustment will therefore come from the rear leg.

Rotating on the ball of the foot tends to widen one’s base whereas rotating on the heel narrows it. Using the ball also adds one more link to the energetic chain from the ground up, a small but significant difference.

Take a technique and walk through it, then think about what are the large movements and how the small ones interact. An analogy sometimes used is cracking a whip. Whips taper from thick to thin and the energy increases speed as it moves down in diameter. It is not purely sequential as many people think of it, however, because even as the tip of the whip cracks, it is still linked dynamically to a live, moving and responsive hand at the other end, not separate but integral.