Saturday, September 18, 2010

Slowly, Slowly

When Shmuel Tatz is Body Tuning, he’ll do some work and then he’ll ask the client to get up. He’ll either want them to roll over onto their back, or to get up onto all fours, or sit on the edge of the table or get up and walk. He always says, “Slowly get up and...”
and it is amazing to me how often the person will quickly get up and throw themselves into position.

“Slowly, slowly” Shmuel will say.

Why are people in such a hurry? Why is there such a resistance to moving slowly?

Moving slowly gives the mind an opportunity to be aware of the body. When a body moves it creates lots of sensations. If the body is moving quickly the sensations will come and go more quickly than the mind has the ability to process. So what ends up happening is the mind will not perceive the sensations of the movement.
“Slowly, slowly” is a way to sense. The people are coming to Body Tuning so that they feel better. How will they know if they feel better or not if they don’t give themselves a chance to have full access to their sensations?

Body Tuning is changing the structural alignment of the body. It encourages the body to find a new normal. If the person who’s body has just been tuned begins to move without full awareness, they have no choice but to revert back to their habitual ways. In many cases, right back to the habits that put them in this situation in the first place.

“Slowly, slowly” allows a person to try on their new body. Since the body had been reeducated and is now realigned, the sensations may be different than what they had been previously. To get up off of the table after a session of Body Tuning without exquisite awareness of yourself moving, is a shame. You run the risk of immediately undoing much of the work.

I’ve noticed this even outside of the treatment room. Walking in the streets of New York, I wonder, why is everyone in such a hurry? I want to ask people, “are you late?” “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” “Is someone chasing you?” “Do you even realize how much you are speeding through your life?”

I recently had an alarming instinct. I wonder: Are people in such physical pain that it actually hurts them to slow down? I hope not.
I’ve been guilty of rushing, too. But whenever I catch myself rushing, I hear Shmuel saying “Slowly, slowly” and I relax into a more comfortable, leisurely pace. I immediately start to notice much more. I can feel my body more. And I notice people and dogs and signs and I feel a sense of peace with the world.

In my Nia classes, I’ve been toying around with this concept as well. Lately, I’ve been asking my students to move more slowly so that they have time to go deeper. Not only physically deeper, but sensing deeper. My students have been reporting me that they feel more heat in their body from working this way. Especially the older students have been saying that the opportunity to take the time to move slowly has really helped them with their balance and their sense of security. I can feel my body getting stronger from moving “slowly, slowly.”

There was a recent article in Psychology Today magazine about how the latest research is showing that moving SLOWLY, with a great deal of awareness is better for your body than exercise! This is big news. Tai Chi and Yoga, two practices that have survived for millenia, are both big on the concept of moving slowly and with awareness. They have been embraced in the past few decaded by western culture but with one exception. Especially with yoga, we’ve taken the practice and sped it up. Time after time I see that the most popular yoga classes in western culture are the ones called Vinyasa, or Power Yoga. These classes blast so quickly through the postures that there’s scarcely enough time to perform them correctly, let alone with much awareness. And certainly there is no time to “be” with the poses in a yoga flow class. For this reason, I teach a detail-oriented class called Yoga Tune Up® and I’ve been inspired to create and teach a class I call Deep Yoga. Both of these practices embrace the benefits of moving slowly and with great awareness.

“Slowly, slowly.” Let’s all slow down. I think it would do us all a lot of good. We’ll feel our bodies more, which will inspire us to be more mindful of taking care of them. We’ll see each other more clearly and we’ll have the time to really connect. “Slowly, slowly” will not only heal your body, but maybe it can heal the planet.

It’s worth a try, right?

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