Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Small Victory

Palmyra, Syria I was going to slip in a short guitar session before dinner today, but decided first to read through a section of Missy Vineyards book dealing with the prefrontal cortex and inhibition.  As I read, I would pause and follow along with her thinking experiments.  Sitting in a chair with no guitar, I began to apply her thinking first to "not playing the guitar" but then decided to apply inhibitory thinking to my right arm & hand.  After 10 minutes or so, of gently playing with these thoughts of "forward & up to the prefrontal cortex" and not holding onto my arm, then my elbow, and then my hand, I returned to the whole arm again.  During this time I had a sense of my head on top of my spine and at times sense a lightness in my torso similar to what I believe she was describing.  My relationship to the room also appeared to change, a different sense of the space around me.

Then at one point, a muscle on the right side of the back of my neck let go.  Though I can not name this muscle, I know it since it has been sore at times of extended playing and/or typing.  Just a simple release of tension, certainly unnecessary tension as all I was doing was sitting, occasionally reading, and thinking inhibitory thoughts.  This muscle is part of the habit I named "The Lean" last week.  Could this muscle tensing be the cause of putting the system out of balance on my right side leading to the execution of "The Lean" as I move my arm into position to play?

Certainly a small victory in line with what Alexander said: "This is the principle of the whole work - not to do something but to think.  We redirect our activity by means of thought alone.  This principle is the hardest of all to grasp.  People just don't see it. Yet we know that it works.  It is demonstrable." (Thanks to Missy V. for this quote that Goodard Binkley attributes to Alexander in his book The Expanding Self.)  I have had this experience before with working with AT inhibition and direction, but it continues to surprise me when a muscular release arises by thought alone. 

When I did move to the guitar, as soon as I sat with my instrument and practiced inhibition again, I noticed my relationship to the room changed spatially once more.  I lack the descriptive power to elaborate on this, but this happens to me with the hands of an AT teacher and occasionally through arriving in the present moment.  I began to play Senseless Loss and was enjoying the act of making music, listening to the melodies,  being present with my activity.  Then the fantasy thought arrived - "Could I do this in Missy's upcoming workshop."  The connection I had with myself, the guitar, and music was short circuited as this thinking rattled on.  I stopped playing and began again.

On the second run through, I kept the thinking and chatter down, but then noticed the tension developing in my left hand as the piece neared the end.  "Should I stop playing now?"  "Or develop my stamina with this piece?"  Needless to say the ending fell apart.  Which is fine, the overall process was successful and will lead to deeper revelations and releases I am certain.  In the words of Todd Rundgren "Give us just one victory and we're on our way ..."

1 comment:

  1. Nice to hear such an articulate narrative of your experience.
    For the next step, perhaps noting how long you can sustain the discovery you discussed here? Tolerance for the unknown is definitely a learned skill. Sustaining a discovery state usually progresses with practice, just as any other skill does. Opening up your curiosity as you have been doing is key... I can't wait to hear your continuing results!