Refuge From the Aggression of Life, Blog by Lindy Ost
Awareness,  Potential

A Refuge From the Aggression of Life

Conflict. Some people thrive on it, others run from it. What’s hard is to sit with it or even know what to do with it.

Competing interests create conflict, tripping us up, holding us back, basically making a mess of things.

All conflict has a home in the mind/body and is acted out through our actions, meaning our muscles are at play. In stressful situations muscle activity increases, giving us the perceived experience of tension, tightness, or pain. 

Reducing Conflict

In order to reduce conflict, a change in the entirety of the neuro-muscular system has to take place as well as in the psyche. Does one change before the other? Or do they change simultaneously or is there a latency? Those are great theoretical questions. What I am interested in is the practical side of things.

What we do know is that there has to be a reduction in the way that the nervous system fires. Stress fires the fight, flight and freeze response. Reducing that response and moving towards the rest and digest response takes a change in action or time or in the removal of the stressful situation; that is, the stimulus.

In Practice

Yoga, massage, meditation and exercise are well known for reducing muscle tension and therefore relieving stress. Many people find what works for them through trial and error. New systems, products and information are discovered, learned and marketed on a regular basis for reducing pain, feeling better and relieving the burden of muscle tension.

We can support the change in our nervous system by intentional actions. Slowing down, focusing our attention on something pleasing or at the least, neutral, and on our breathing, helps to lessen the disturbing situation, smoothing the rough edges of our experience.

Awareness Through Movement®

The one practice that makes a difference for me in changing my state from arousal to calm is doing Awareness Through Movement lessons. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. It isn’t quite like drinking water, but it is as important as getting outside in nature, reading a good book, or listening to music that moves and soothes. Why? What is it about doing an Awareness Through Movement lesson that I deem it a must in my life? 

The Steps

First, I can get comfortable. No need to hold myself up against conditions that I find unpleasant or even deplorable. I can stop all the incessant busyness. I can stop, period. No nap needed. No screens needed. No people needed. Just me and the floor.

Second, I can listen. I can listen to my breathing. I can listen to the pulses and rhythms in my body. I can notice the thoughts and feelings telling me about me. Believe me or not on this one, but it is a heck of a lot better than trying to get other people to tell me about me!

Third, I can choose. I can choose to do or not do. I can imagine. I can drift. I can activate at my level, in my time, at my interest.

The Change

And then be curious about the changes. It can feel magical, like the times when I felt my skull changing positions or my brain making sounds, fascinating me. Feeling a relief in the jaw, or in breathing. The relief could be anywhere. I might notice how tired I am or how annoyed or happy or content. I can come into confusion or uncertainty and engage with it. I find new paths, new ideas, new options. It is where I practice choice. 

The Alternative

Practicing choice is so much harder when I am upright and busy in my life. There are pulls of others, of imperfect systems of history, hierarchy and culture, of demands, deadlines or obligations.  

The floor provides the place to consciously practice reversibility and learn something about myself. The how of restoring, reinvigorating, renewing. It is how I work with my own nervous system, how I work with my own psychology, with my own interests, not based on what others want from me, what my work demands, or what this culture in place and time demands, but on a quality of engagement that only I can experience within myself. It is personal and profound. 

Safe Haven

Lying on the floor, immersed in an Awareness Through Movement lesson, is a safe haven of discovery and renewal, of movement with ease, movement with intrigue, movement with less effort. It leads me to follow, to follow life, to follow possibility. No wonder Moshe Feldenkrais said practicing his method is “Making the impossible possible, the possible easy and the easy elegant.” It is finding one’s own self, one’s potential.

We need a refuge from the aggression of life. Awareness Through Movement lessons help us feel what can be done to find a soft spot and to rest.

Register for classes today, or purchase series recordings.