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PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT LESSON
You may proceed to the without answering these questions, but you will get more out of this course if you do, and you’ll teach me something:
What did you gain from the last lesson?
What problems did you encounter in the last lesson?
What changes, if any, have you noticed in your thoughts, actions or movements?
Please email your answers to: email@example.com
LESSON FOUR: DEVELOPING GROUND AND CENTER
Body wisdom is singular. This course has separated learning body wisdom under pressure into three interconnected components. The separation is made to assist mental focus in learning. When you first learned to ride a bicycle, you separated pedaling skills from turning and braking to enable your mind to concentrate on the basics, but when you took to the hills, your body integrated these distinctions.
Three Components: Gound, Center and Extension
This lesson covers the first two components, Ground and Center.
Without ground and center, engagement with pressure (extension) from your core is unreliable. You'll learn these elements by enriching already familiar movements such as stepping forward and back. Later they will be applied to engaging with pressures.
Stand comfortably, feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, with arms relaxed, with palms slightly open, as though feeling for the floor. Imagine a line in front of your toes, or stand in front of a line on the floor. Let your weight settle.
Step back with your right foot, just a comfortable distance, allowing it to open to the right, forming a triangular stance at right angle (or comfortably less) to your front foot. Continue facing forward. Notice your weight distribution in your feet. Shift your weight forward or back, only as far from the center as it was when you first noticed. Shift slowly back across the center to the place where you started.
Slowly shift forward and back each time crossing the center point equal distances in front and back, progressively reducing the distance from the center each time until finding stillness without rigidity. Rest here.
Now bring your back foot forward to the toe line and rest, feet parallel. Then step back with your other foot in the same manner and repeat the sequence practiced above. Step forward to the toe line again and rest.
From the starting position step, with either foot, back and down. By adding the "down" element, we have a new practice, which challenges the initial practice of finding center. By "stepping down" I'm suggesting dropping your attention and your body weight, as if backing down off the bottom step of a ladder on to the ground. Feel the down.
Notice if stepping back and down leaves you in front of or behind your center-point, the place where your weight is equally distributed. Pushbackers will find more weight in their front leg and have to practice adjusting further back to find center in movement. Repeat the weight shifting, now with the added element of down. When you settle in the center, you should feel more connected to the Earth than you did in the first centering only practice. With your back foot, step forward again without losing this grounded feeling of connection to something beneath, and rest.
Step back and down with your other leg and repeat the practice, settling into ground and center. Notice the feeling of center with ground.
Step forward again to the toe line, and immediately step back and down with the other leg. Adjust to center, then step forward again to the line and back and down with the other leg. Alternate this practice slowly enough at first that you can find center more easily and with decreasing adjustment. Increase the pace of your practice at a rate that enables you to continue to feel ground and find center.
Initially, as you increase pace, you will sacrifice ground, center, or both. Notice what happens, as it will inform your practice, and slow the pace intermittently to deepen the practice, pausing regularly in stillness, either at the toe line or in either triangle pose. Make spaces in which to settle.
As you learn to increase pace without sacrificing center or ground, you will want your arms to become involved, but avoid swinging with muscular exertion. Instead, a feeling of energy passing through your palms can be extend forward and around in movement that has verticality. It bounces. Hands release energy into the ground and receive kinetic energy from Earth. Open your hands (fingers touching, extended but relaxed,) as though are carrying something and receiving.
Take a walk, slowly. You have learned grounding by stepping back. Can you feel a change in your connection with ground while stepping forward? When you can, you are ready for lesson Five.
Stay in touch with the planet, like the actions of water and the cycles of the moon.