I spent a lot of time ice skating as a young girl – 36 hours a week.
One of the things I enjoyed most was the feeling of gliding across the ice at maximum speed with all the other skaters. Often we would pass one another, intently focusing on our jumps and just miss each other. It was exhilarating to be so in tune with my body and my in the moment response time. We always adjusted for each other with great adeptness. I could feel the wind from the other person as we passed each other, but no tangled skates – just our energy bodies seemed to connect.
I bet there is some math equation involved in this but for me it was all feel and intuitive response.
The art of ice skating requires a highly developed sense of being in one’s center; it’s feeling in 3-D – knowing where your axis is and how to adjust for curve, lift or speed. It is a type of pure centeredness to lift off the ice into a jump and land perfectly on one foot with grace and strength. I miss that time as a time of pure freedom and a sense of being alive through to my core.
I watch my daughter do gymnastics and I witness this inspirational experience in her. No nervousness, no fear, just feel/knowing/action and grace as she moves on the uneven bars and balance beam. It’s as if the requested move is coming from within her rather than being taught to her.
Like Michelangelo’s chained statues in Florence that seem to be exiting the stone as you stand there and look on.
Centeredness is something that happens from the inside out. It’s a listening, an experiencing, a honing, and an honoring.
Another of my favorite activities that requires centeredness is throwing clay pots on a potter’s wheel. The wet clay begins as a triangular blob and becomes a beautiful pot, vase, plate, bowl or cup.
The key is to position it centered on the wheel and then work the clay evenly as the wheel spins. Sounds easy but it takes a deep sense of connection between clay, potter, and potter’s wheel. It’s an art that requires being with while guiding the development of the shape and navigating the centrifugal and centripetal forces.
When I was starting out as a therapist, I used to get my therapy supervision while throwing pots. I have many examples of wobbly cups or bowls when I was not in my center. The pottery wheel can sense an un-centered person and it produces off-centered pieces under those conditions.
So what do these two vignettes have to do with the art of mindfulness? The art is centeredness that leads to an openness to the simultaneous competing factors that lead to clarity, and clear action.
Mindfulness requires inner and outer, present-moment sensing and action. In the most basic form one needs to be standing in their center to be open to mindfulness.
Standing in one’s center is a concept of standing in the center of your knowing while being open to new information that allows for change in perception and action.
This all happens at light speed like breathing. While breathing for most of us doesn’t require practice, being in our center does because most people have spent their lives contorting their center in order to remain in situations which required developing habit reaction pattern formations. These are reactions that have no connection to one’s true center.
See you tomorrow.