September 19. 2012
by Cat Fitzgerald
Lately my attention has been drawn to transitions. This happens a lot: My attention, my awareness, opens up and gets drawn towards something, and, if I listen, I get to be a part of something amazing while being present at that moment. I am trying these days to be smarter; I’m trying to remember the lessons from before while learning the one at handso I can grow in a geometrical, linear, parallel, and quantum fashion. By this point you are either unconscious, wondering if you had a cup of Timothy Leary tea, or asking the eternal question, "So what."
I often use the physical as a training methodology and/or metaphor for emotional and spiritual development. Ok!Transitions.
Transitions are a huge deal. There are books, classes, coaches, etc. solely dedicated to the art of transitions in the sports world. People spend huge amounts of time and money in the training of smoother transitions. Funny enough, transitions are usually the times in our lives we are in the biggest hurry to escape, so we tend not to be present in the moment and, so, fail to realize that there is a whole lot of fantastic stuff for growth during those times. Those are the macro areas and I want us to look at the micro this month.
We tend to focus on things themselves– atechnique, object, goal, the object of a finished "doing." This by itself is interesting as we focus on the "going to" and the "did/done," the very conjugation of "do" to "doing" demands us to be present in the moment, not just of the pulling and pushing, but how we got there and get from one to another.
For example, stand and mimic your swim stroke, what happens immediately after you have "finished" your kick?Take time to pay attention to your draw and then to thatin-between moment when you’ve finished the draw and begin your kick. We don’t want to be Scuba Steve, the battery operated diver who kicks back and forth mechanically. It's time to discover the next phase. There is no draw then kick and draw again; there is flow. Shift your perception to include the transitions, and then to flow, that place where there is no separation. Like a car engine, it's good to be able to take it apart to fix, but we want it to run like one unit, not simply the sum of its parts. Processing how we move through space should allow us to become more efficient, competitively viable, or, at least, increase our quality of being.
Let's work our Spleen Meridian,
the lateral hamstring stretch. Lie on your back, pull your right leg up and grab the back of it, both hands to the inside. Now bring your left knee to your chest; your right leg should have drawn closer to your chest also.Hold your right leg there while you reach away with your left leg. This should increase the stretch behind and inside your right leg. Once you have this down with both legs I want you to try alternating legs. Once you are comfortable with that movement, you can start trying to explore the moments of transition between the stretches. You should notice work in your abdominals, hip flexors, and quads, all of the balancing muscles that allow you to have a strong kick. Further exploration should lead you to more elasticity, range of motion, efficiency, and, strangely (not really, but it will feel strange initially) enjoyment.
The second exercise is a breathing exercise we do in Aikido.
It will be easier to watch this quick video than to read Tolstoy's dissertation on what the hell is happening. Watch for the moments between your inhalation and exhalation, and when the hands are at the top and bottom of the cycles.
Flow this month.