Friday, 24 October 2014

On 15:11 by Victoria Stanham in , , ,    No comments
A blog about the importance of giving yourself space 

Hello. Nice to see you here!

Today I’m starting a new series of blogs in which I mean to elaborate on the 6 principles that I work from.

This is why, in order to honor this new beginning, let’s take minute to center ourselves and return to the present. With closed eyes let’s slowly and deeply breathe in and out.

Today’s purpose is precisely that: to talk about this action of centering and returning back to yourself. I’d like to communicate to you a bit about how powerful and integrative this simple act of returning to your body before every new action can be.
We’ll therefore talk about the Principle of Context and Content.

And since we’re going to be talking about returning to our bodies, it’s a good idea to feel it a bit to begin with.
I invite you to yawn and stretch, move your joints a bit. Whatever makes you become aware of the physical presence of this fabulous container: your body.

Ready? Great. First the theory.

Principle of Context and Content:

Context determines your experience of the content.
This means that how you do something has a direct influence on how you live it. In other words, the conditions in which you perform the action are fundamental to your opinion of said action.

In terms of your body-mind, context is determined by space.
It’s quite different to perform a physical movement with space in your joints, than to do so in a state of compression and collapse.
It’s quite different to make a decision when you give yourself space for thought, than when you’re hurried.
It’s a quite different emotional experience to get in a tiny lift by yourself or with a close friend, than to do so with a stranger.

Minding the context does not mean ignoring the content; rather it means giving the content the best conditions for its manifestation.
The content (your ends) are the reason why you do stuff. If you go to a talk on a subject that interests you, you do so because of the information that will be imparted. In order to take full advantage of said content, know yourself, know what suits you and what doesn’t, mind your conditions.

Coordinating your context is the first step in every action.
First we need to organize ourselves both internally and externally; then we take action in the world. Certain people are born with natural inner coordination. If, like me, that is not your case, learning to coordinate and integrate your mind-body functioning should be a priority.

Enough theory, let’s get practical.
But first, let’s move a bit, shall we?
Interlace the fingers of your hands, rotate the palms outwards and stretch your arms forward and up. Release the fingers and let the arms come down slowly, drawing big semi-circles down your sides. Close your eyes and shake your arms and shoulders.
Great. Let’s move on.

Today’s practical bit has 2 components:
1. Creating a Safe Space.
2. Stopping and Remembering Myself.

1. Creating a Safe Space.

a) Physical Space:
The place where we perform our activities is importante for our sense of confort, security and freedom. All our senses are involved in this.
- Look around and check if what is in your visual field is pleasing to your eyes. What about the sounds? And the physical sensations? Smells? Company? Adjust whatever you need to feel safe and at ease.

b) Body and Mental Space:
Your skin, your muscles, your bones, your organs, all of them give you consistency, limits and support, as well as fill up your internal spaces. Learn to become aware of them with any of the following ideas:
- Feel your skin by caressing it all over your body, in all the nooks, crannies and crevices. Alternatively you can do so by showering, taking a bubble bath, or standing in the breeze.
- Check out some anatomy images where you can get a general idea of your bones, muscles and organs. Give yourself a loving massage while you palpate the different bits, becoming aware of their consistency, elasticity, density.
- Alternatively, try out some of the self-observation exercises I give in this blog, or this one.

Your thoughts also have a quality and consitency, get to know them and note their effects in your body.
- An excelente practice to discover the workings of your mind is to try a simple mindfulness meditation, following your breath.

c) Personal Space:
The space that surrounds you is also part of your personal space. It pays to recognize it and inhabit it.
- Notice how it expands and contracts depending on the circumstances. What determines its expansion or contracting? Can you do so voluntarily?
- If you are sitting, note how you can integrate the chair to your sensory system and “feel” where its legs touch the ground.
- With your feet on the ground, note how you can be aware of the floor not only right under your feet, but also around your feet. How far can you “feel”?

d) Shared Space:
We share our spaces with living and non-living things.
- Note how you react when something or someone comes into your personal space.
- Note how others react when you invade their personal space.
- Note if it makes a difference when permission to share space is requested and granted, both in yourself and in others.
- Ask someone you feel comfortable with to take your arm and move it around, while you keep your awareness in your inner and outer spaces. Do you contract away from the contact at any point?
- Switch roles and move your friend’s arm around. While you do so, be aware of your inner and outer space, integrating your friend’s space in your movement.

2. Stopping and Remembering Myself.
During any of the above practices you’ll notice that at times your attention has wandered off the task at hand. When you do so it’s time to stop and come back to yourself.
Returning to yourself is returning to your inner and outer spaces, it’s creating space for yourself and being aware of it.
Returning to yourself is how you take care of your context, so that your experience of life’s contents is as enjoyable as possible.

Well, that’s all for today.
Today’s was a longish blog. If you’ve read this far you surely need to move a bit your body again. Let’s yawn, stretch and shake like a wet dog one last time.

That’s better. As usual, any doubts, questions or comments you are welcome to leave them in the space for comments below.

Let’s breathe together one last time. In… Out… Ah!

Thanks for stopping by.
See you next time.


Victoria

Saturday, 11 October 2014

On 10:46 by Victoria Stanham in ,    No comments
A blog about how to free your breath. 

Hi! Nice to see you again.

How did last week’s space-creation exercise go? If you have any questions or comments about it, feel free to write them here in the blog, or send me an email.

Let’s start with today’s work by coming back to our centers. Shall we?
Let’s stop with whatever it is we were doing and just breathe, allowing the air to reach our feet and ground us. Let’s now exhale allowing the air to flow up from our feet, through our pelvis, tummy, chest, neck, and out the top of our head.

The subject of today’s blog is how to liberate our breath. I mean to share with you three areas in your body that it’s worthwhile to have free of tension in order to facilitate the intake and outflow of air.

In order to perceive the areas I want to tell you about, it’s a good idea to start by creating a little bit of space in our joints. Therefore, I invite you to yawn and stretch a little, like a cat or a dog after a nap in the sun.

What do we need to know about breathing in order to free it up?

1.  Breathing has an effect and is affected by all your Self (principle of Unity). When your body is free of unnecessary tensions, your breathing generates a wave like motion that can be felt from your head to your feet, and which massages all the inner organs. Breathing is also a superb barometer for your mental and emotional states.

2. Breathing “happens”, it “does itself”. If you don’t interfere with the mechanism by tensing up, it works without effort or strain, and without having to think about it (principle of Design).

3. Even when you do not allow it to work freely, you still breathe no matter what. However, all the added tension affects the efficiency of your breathing (principle of Use).

4. When you realize that your breathing requires movement of your ribs (which means movement in your sides and back, and not only in the front of your chest) and that it generates movement in your belly, you can start to imagine which areas need to be free to be moved by each inhalation and exhalation (principle of
Perception).

5.  Since breathing “does itself”, you do not need to “learn to breathe”. What you need is to learn how to stop interfering with your breathing mechanisms (principle of Means and Ends).

6. And now that you know that breathing happens by itself, next time your asked to “take a deep breath”, you know you need to stop your desire to make a huge muscular effort to suck in a lot of air. Instead, give yourself a few seconds to become aware of the areas that need to be freed up to move freely and thus create more space for more air (principle of Habit).

Ok, enough theory for today. Let’s go to something practical. But first, do a shake out of your body to wake up. Move your neck, shoulders, hips, blink, yawn, wiggle your fingers and toes… or just shake out vigorously like a wet dog.

Where do I need to create space to free up my breathing?

The places that you’ll generally hear when you ask this question are your ribs (back and sides of your body) and your abdomen. And that is correct.
However, I’m going to tell you about 3 other key areas that need to be free to allow the back, ribs and abdomen to truly release their tension.
I suggest you try the following exercise lying down in semi-supine.

1. Your groins.
When you create space in your hip joint for free movement of your leg, you’ll find that the pelvic diaphragm, your lower back (lumbars), the abdominal diaphragm and the lower ribs also release, as the pelvis comes into a better relationship with the leg bone (femur).

2. Your armpits.
When there’s space in your shoulder joint, the neck, upper back and upper ribs on your sides get a chance to release too.

3. Your jaw.
When you stop clenching your back molars and allow a little space between the top and bottom back teeth, some of your face, throat, tongue and upper neck tension are allowed to let go.

Now, create space in your whole torso and neck by drawing imaginary diagonal lines that join opposite armpits and groins, and opposite armpits and ears.

Finally, become aware of the flow of air that goes in and out naturally as your system breathes. When the air comes in, allow your jaw, armpits and groins to let go a little more, feeling how the sides of your body expand.
When the aire comes out, allow your diagonal lines to let go a little more and expand your whole torso and neck, feeling how you thus grow in width and length.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to play around a little with your breathing, you can try making your exhales longer than your inhales, by just thinking a longer release across your diagonals as the air comes out. This is a great exercise to calm down the nervous system, for it slows down your breathing rate without tension.

Always remember that you are not “doing” anything, you’re simply “allowing” breathing to happen more freely by letting go of unnecessary tension and thus creating more inner space.

And since we’re already breathing so freely, why don’t we go ahead and yawn and stretch allowing our bodies to expand and contract freely?

This week, I invite you to experiment and play around with these ideas on breathing, and then tell me if you want what you discovered.
If you have any questions, doubts or comments, please feel free to write it down below or send me and email.

Let us close this meeting by returning to our centres, breathing there, allowing the waters to come to a stand still, and thus preparing ourselves for our next activity.

See you next time.

Victoria.


Friday, 3 October 2014

On 15:53 by Victoria Stanham in    No comments
A blog about creating spaces

Hello. I’m Victoria. Welcome to the blog. How are you today?

I tend to be a bit hurried; out of my center. That’s why I like to stop when I do realize something new is about to start.

Let me invite you to center ourselves. Just stop with whatever you were doing, notice your breathing and the sensations that arrive to your from your senses. Let’s inhale and exhale together…or go ahead and YAWN!

Thank you. Now yes, let’s begin.

In this blog I’d like to tell you about what I’ve learnt about creating spaces: mental and physical spaces, spaces within and without, spaces between the stimulus and my response.
I’ll be happy if by the end of this blog I am able to communicate some of this freedom that comes from giving oneself those spaces; and if you don’t know anything about it, perhaps to tempt you to try it out for yourself.

 What has been your personal experience with your personal space?

I’m going to show you how I create my own.

I work from the following principles:

Unity: If I create space in my body, I’ll have space in my mind to think clearer.

Design: My body is designed to occupy a certain space in full freedom, and it will do so if I allow it to.

Use-Structure-Functioning: When I give my structures their due space, they seem to work a lot better.

Improving perception: When structures have space, I can perceive them better than when they are all tight and pressed together.

Stop and Choose: Since my habit is to trip over myself in my haste to do stuff, I need to stop before acting, to give myself space to choose better.

How over What: I can only give myself physical space if I give myself mental space too. How I give myself those spaces is important. That is why, if I’m all hurried and frazzled, I lay down in semi-supine which gives me the best conditions to actually stop.

How about if we stop before moving on, and give ourselves a little space?

I invite you to yawn and stretch a little, just to lighten up and air out the tissues and joints.

Ok, so, how do I create my spaces?

The first thing to do is decide which spaces need to be made available.

Where is the flow of movement or energy getting stuck? Where is the tension? Where do I feel out of rhythm or out of tune?

Once I identify the area that is asking for more space to work better or to become integrated to the whole, I look in its structure for some points to use as reference, and try to understand how the area is designed to work.

If what I want is to create space in my feet, I can look at their bony anatomy in a book, and then palpate the area in my own body.
If I have no idea where to start or what to do, I ask for help from someone who know a little bit more than I do.

I choose two points in the structure that I want to free up. I touch them simultaneously and realize there is a space between them. I joint them with an imaginary line and imagine that the ends of that line float away from each other, as if carried away by opposing water currents.

I invite you to try this out for yourself. Choose some points in your body, join them with imaginary lines, and alow those points to float away from each other. It helps to do all this while lying down on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, and your head lying on one or two paperback books.

While doing this exercise, recognize all the space that is available between point and point. You can also acknowledge the space around you, allowing your lines to float beyond the limits of your skin, into your surrounding space.

This space that you create within, without, between you and the stimuli that arrive to you, this space makes you multi-dimensional, it makes your real, it gives you back to yourself.

I invite you to live from this space and to return to it as many times as you wish.
It is your own personal space after all.
It is your house, your true home.

See you next time.


Victoria