onsdag 14. januar 2015

Pass the pudding

(This is the English version of Ta den ring)

Christmas is a hard time. Christmas is a long succession of lengthy meals with lots of good food: turkey and steaks, the traditional "lutefisk", cakes and puddings. One hardly has time to recover before having to attend the next meal.

Often there will be guests and then one has to dress up and behave. More people around the table means further to reach for food. Being Christmas you can't just lean over and help yourself. You ask Aunt Gertrude if she would be so kind.

When receiving, you receive more than just the plate or bowl. You also receive information about the sender. One thing I noticed at Christmas, with many people around the table, was the big difference it can be receiving something from different people. During that tiny movement when you both are holding the plate, bowl or bottle, it is possible to get an idea of the condition of the other person's musculoskeletal system.

Some might find it odd that it is possible to know something via a plate of meatballs and sauerkraut. The plate is completely dead. But this is also the point. The plate, or other relevant item, is entirely neutral. Everything that happens in the other person's musculoskeletal system can be transmitted without interference.

I use this sometimes when I teach violin, and often when I teach Alexander Technique to musicians. Instead of touching the musician I can, by touching the instrument, get a very clear idea of what kind of muscle tension is used to handle the instrument.

It may well be that one must have experience as a teacher in Alexander Technique, or the like, to be able to notice this exchange of information. I have education and long experience in using touch to recognize subtle nuances in the bodies of those I teach. But I think anyone can do this to some extent.

Here are some suggestions for games you can try out with a friend:
- One person is holding a pencil. The other holds the other end and, with eyes closed, tries to notice if something changes when the first person, without moving the pencil, alternates between holding loosely or firmly.

- Take an object that weighs a pound or two. Close your eyes and send the object between you. One of you has the task to tighten in various parts of the body. Can the other person detect when that happens? Is it possible to get an idea about which part of the body that is tense? (Hardly possible, even for an Alexander Technique teacher, but give it a try).

- Practice for next year's Christmas dinner. How softly and elegantly can you send and receive the pudding? The secret lies in receiving the weight with the entire body. To hold something, the weight has to go through your whole body and through the sit bones to reach the ground (chair). If you are able to keep the musculoskeletal system dynamic and flexible all the way between your sit bones and your hand, you don't risk jolting the other person. 
Send a plate (or similar) between you. Do it at first very slowly and see if you can receive using the entire body. Receive the weight by allowing the arm to be long and the back wide. And the neck free and the head going up, of course.

The same thinking applies whenever you are picking up or putting down something.

Related blog posts (in Norwegian):

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