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Archive for March, 2010

I spent the week as the only non-actor in an acting class arranged on the spur of the moment by a local theater group and taught by a visiting director from across the pond. The email had read; “for actors, directors, singers, dancers, writers, and anyone interested in better understanding the connection between the emotions of the body and the physicality of the spoken word… come one, come all.” Fifteen actors showed up. Then there was me, walking wide-eyed into my most unnatural form of exploration—movement—to explore my most undeveloped element of writing—character development.

Unlike actors, bringing my awareness inside my body, paying attention to the moment, radiating my presence, and then moving is unnatural to me. In fact, in a misguided search for safety through invisibility, I spent years training such behavior out of myself.

So I knew when I signed-up, that although I am trying to learn about character development from many angles, this angle could release a Pandora’s box of ancient and nascent traumas, each with their own particular stabbing qualities of abject rejection from my most intimates and isolatory flavors of exposure beyond nakedness accomplished by sheer strangers.

It is a particular child’s life that sets her up to hold her breath and individually store each selected trauma through the fractures of divorce, threat of physical violence, and weeping fear that there is no safety. It is a particular child who stops each traumatic event mid-arc, expertly bundles like events, then seals and buries the rawness in deep and individual locations thorough out her small, smooth body. Each placement builds her personality to the world.

Now, years later, on the non-moving side, I can challenge anyone of these actors to a two-hour power sit, and boy I can cream them in that competition. But ask me to be in my body while moving, and the movement breaks into what is expertly sealed.

I am grateful for what I learned from sitting meditation. I can allow the arc of the damped down energy to release and run its course. I know how to do this. I can remember this is only a moving meditation. Because I have practiced allowing  it, paying attention to it, the result is no longer the carpet getting pulled out, leaving me to fall, unaided, through stories of years and events. These days, the landscape only turns to a block of baby Swiss cheese, a foundation of reverse land mines, where falling is quick, incomplete, and recoverable. Not to say that there have been side effects. Tuesday evening, I left a burner on the stove on for an hour. Wednesday, I swore that I did not receive a handout in class, yet discovered it later in my notebook. I still cannot reconstruct the moment of receiving. These are some of the small current events wiped out when old, escaping arcs of energy eclipse random moments or hours. The secret is to keep oneself from danger when it is happening. Little driving. No major decisions. Limited use of the stove. At least the releasing is always a good thing. It is why we meditate.

photo: Now is the Hour directed by Tom Cornford at the Hill Street Theatre, Edinburgh, August 2008

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There is a story on the radio about a man who had a project where he took a photgraph everyday. A woman found a comment card in Starbucks saying, “We would love to hear your thoughts.” So she has been writing a thought a day to Starbucks for five years. “Dear Starbucks, my boyfriend broke up with me today.” “Starbucks, the winter is turning into spring.”

This story got me to write here again. Writing today is a baby step in a day of exhaustion and spinning, after weeks of not stepping in this direction. This is a moment that I can focus. It is a brief time. It is focus that is not allowing room for depth, connotations, or meaningful tangents. I was taught—focus is meditation—if you cannot focus, start with one minute. Start with three minutes. Ask only that. That is all I ask. That is what has been done tonight.

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Ahhh, sangha is so, so, so important. Thank you so much to those who have sent words of encouragement to keep posting. It looks like I am taking a month off, but your kind words have made me commit to being back to posting within the next week. I have a bunch of notes on events such as a telephone meditation retreat and my surprising reactions to an hour in a sensory deprivation tank where you float in salt water.

Namaste and a gracious spring to all.

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