On moving and being moved

The relationship between moving and being moved was the theme at one of our MOVING MEDITATION workshops in Aarhus last night. This evening became a particularly warm, fun and insightful group exploration, and I think the theme played a role in this. Although of course, as always, the main thing is the presence of a group of wonderful people who came to meditate and explore together – given this main ingredient it is actually quite hard for a facilitator to fuck things up.

If I am right that this theme was particularly helpful, it is probably because it combines philosophy and practice very directly. We were able to reflect it in a new series of variations of our meditation practices and exercises, aimed directly at 1) “listening into what is moving” in some experiential field, and 2) “exploring how you may go with it, pause, share or bend it” in some field of expression, with both kinds of fields varied through the meditation series.

This made it possible for the participants to look into detailed processes and steps of moving meditation and explore what we might call degrees and shades and colors of AGENCY, of being the actor or creator in life.

Developing a loving and nuanced awarenes of just this – the degrees and colors of agency – could be a very helpful practice element.

We are used to thinking of agency in terms of dualities: we want to be either totally in control of things, or to be indifferent and innocent. In other words, things are either 100% subject or 100% object, not just in experience but also in action. This deep-rooted dualistic attitude tends to try to stay in place even when we engage in something utterly embodied and participatory such as moving meditation practices. I have often heard participants express the idea, in one version or the other, that they are not  good enough at it, not quite able to get the practice of moving meditation right, because they are unable to produce or find some kind of automatic or authentic impulse that would dance them – some trance-like compulsion or possession. But with the approches we explored yesterday, this all-or-nothing framework was gently replaced by a playful investigation of moving-between.

Our lived reality may be much more like this, “a world of many streams”, than we try to make it. At least if the Buddhist analysis is correct, it is exactly our clinging to fixed ideas of self, objects and projects of control that creates suffering, harm and lack of presence – and conversely, what the meditation is all about is exactly the letting go of that clinging. The investigations of “the dance of agencies” that we started last night seems a promising path into that. Among many paths, of course. As with other Moving Meditation practices, we don’t really think we are creating or doing something new here, we are just enjoying and exploring an embodied version of what was already there – which may be helpful in making the classical meditation process very accessible, concrete, graphical.

So – is there an intermediary between moving and being moved?

There is. Dancing.

2 thoughts on “On moving and being moved

  1. First of all, thank you, Niels, for facilitating the beautiful co-creation of yesterday’s endeavour. 🙂
    Secondly, I did enjoy reading your account of last session. It made me reflect on my own subjective recollection of it. So I’ll just share some of it with you.
    Curiously, while playing ‘A and B’ I’ve noticed that (both me and my partner) at times had hard time playing the B role, and even taking over, after the sensation of inability to accurately follow A, which made me think a great deal about our sense of insecurity that rises from our perceived ‘impotence’ while dealing with uncertainty.
    I agree with your reasoning on agency, Niels, but instead of duality I would use a concept of extremities, while referring to that inner struggle that you’ve talked about. At least to me, duality, evokes an image of co-existence, whereas extremities, I feel, are mutually exclusive and thus in opposition. I agree that being an observer and being the one in charge need not be the opposites(!), however, more often then not, we tend to make it so in our life. Where I am going with this is: that there may be deeply groomed beliefs that being in charge is ‘better’ than being an observer, since to observance we ‘tend’ to attach a label of passiveness/indifference, which we internally downgrade. Thus maybe this statement of being “not good enough” is streaming from us judging ourselves to be in an ‘inferior’ position (an observer). Thus, disassociation with oneself takes place, when we express auto-criticism, which leads to stagnation and blocks the energy flow. It’s sort of as if we ‘desert’ ourselves, which makes it hard to employ any intermediary agencies between moving and being moved, doesn’t it?
    I like the idea of channeling as an example of intermediary. It’s not you who’s totally in charge of your body, but neither is it deliberate ‘I give up’ attitude. Attuning to what’s there and aggregating it into some shape or/and rhythm, without implicitly imposing your frame on it. That was how I took the task myself yesterday. I feel that the session helped me to try out this ‘letting go’ and at the same time to nurture loving-presence in it. Nonetheless, I must admit non-judgmental listening to the inner silence till it develops into a melody, is something that I would like to learn to master. To feel and (patiently) learn to interpret ‘it’ or channel or transform ‘it’ in some way through dance, is where I saw the opening potential of the session (keeping in mind that it was the first one of such sort for me).
    Also a distinct feature of the session was the formation of ‘eggs’, there’s something so powerful in that give-take synergy that I can only thank you, Niels, for facilitating it…
    And maybe actually answering your question: I take there is intermediary between moving and being moved, but this interplay must be explored with curiosity on our part, since as you said: there’s degrees and colors of it.

    Thank you.

  2. Greta, thanks very much for sharing these observations and reflections.
    You go very directly to the heart of what we were exploring and training.

    In the pair exercises I think most or all participants experienced what you describe: that it is not so straightforward to be 100% in the role of A or B (fully active or the fully receptive part). It is not really something one gets plainly right (or wrong) according to an instruction – as in the case of a yoga posture or an IKEA cupboard. Which of course illustrates or makes tangible, and dance-able, the point that giving and receiving are not sharply split but rather something like diffused in various mixes all over the place. Sensing this, as you did so clearly, is very much the upshot of the exercise. But it would also be wrong to say that the attempt at being A and B is flatly impossible. And indeed, you are not saying that. It is SOMEWHAT possible to focus or invite things in that direction, with some specific flavors and degrees in THIS situation. It may be that next time I guide this I should acknowledge more directly that it is perfectly fine not to be able to accomplish absolute giving or taking. But basically I feel it sat well, and that people did feel good – and fun – about the partial colorful ventures in those directions…

    Also your suggestion of using a language of polarities and coexistence rather than that of flat exclusive duality is well taken. Duality and dichotomy is the language of the diagnosis. not of the cure. Actually the very classical diagnostic language of Buddhist meditation and related traditions. Your metaphor of listening-forth a piece of music is a nice shot at speaking from the other side, non-dual process. I think we may need the diagnostic as well as a range of utopian languages for a little while 🙂

    More than that, of course, we need more curiousity, practice and sharing. So thanks very much again!

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