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January 3, 2017 Body Awareness: Making Connections

I decided, after giving this matter considerable thought, to have a third New Year’s Resolution. I hereby resolve this year, 2017, to get in and stay in good physical shape. For the past year, on and off, I’ve been attending Feldenkrais and Tai Chi classes. I’ve been doing both, though a bit more sporadically than I’d like. I am going to continue to do both and to be less sporadic. The Feldenkrais classes are offered in Anchorage, twice a week. Pete and I both attended these short middle-of the day classes. The Tai Chi classes are offered here in Palmer, at 8 a.m. and at 7 p.m. I’ve also now attended two 3-day Bones for Life certification workshops. I will attend a third in mid-January.

Tai Chi, Feldenkrais, and Bones for Life training differ, but the premise behind all is similar. The student creates new neural pathways in doing certain exercises, exercises that are done in a slow and thoughtful manner. This releases old tension patterns. Tai Chi involves the acknowledgement and manipulation of energy fields. I suspect that Feldenkrais work does too, but it’s the movement and the awareness of that movement that brings about much needed physical change. The mental change follows suit. In both instances the body parts are working in unison so tension is uniformly released.

The trick is to see the commonalities inherent to both because sometimes the approaches differ. I just keep in mind that in doing Tai Chi not to isolate body parts (as happens when one turns their neck) but to keep the entire body moving (as happens when one turns head, shoulders, torso, hips, knees, and ankles).

I stopped going to Tai Chi classes when the A&P workload picked up. And I only occasionally went to Feldenkrais class. I have made all the Bones for Life certification workshops.

Amazingly, when I stopped going to classes I began feeling like crap. I may be felt like crap before I started going to classes but was unaware of this. I now have a basis for comparison.

I became increasingly more rigid both mentally and physically. Now, in hindsight (always in hindsight), I can’t help but wonder if I would have done better in A&P class if I’d kept going to Tai Chi class. By the semester’s end, I was so still that I could not think straight. On the final exam and lab practical, answers that I well knew just would not come to mind. It was a terrible feeling. This might have been age related, but at this stage of my life, I can counter the effects by taking good care of myself.

I recently read an article in the New York Times on the subject of (groan, terrible term) Super Agers, which are those who are older but still doing the mental and perhaps physical work of those in their mid-20s. Studies are finding that those who engage in strenuous physical and/or mental activities have more well developed limbic systems, the limbic system being the portion of the brain that’s been thought to be involved with emotion.

My question about this is this – the article indicates that one becomes a Super Ager by engaging in hard, that is difficult, excruciating physical and mental labor. I am not sure that I agree that it has to be that physically difficult. Putting one’s mind to the task at hand and giving the task their all – this is what one needs to do. And it is not excruciating. Well, it might be, momentarily. But not over the long haul.

The hardest – yes, most excruciating part about doing Tai Chi is getting up in the mornings and getting going. Classes are at 8 a.m. It’s then cold and dark out. And it’s at the moment that I am to get up that I feel sleep again coming on. Pete and I also tend to stay up really late – and we don’t get up until it’s light out. I don’t know what his reason for being a late riser is. Mine is that it makes no sense for me to get up before it’s light out because then it’s all that much harder to tend to the animals, all of whom have been awake for hours. I also cannot work at the computer early on, knowing that animals are needing to be fed and cleaned up after.

But I’m back at it. Today I went to Tai Chi class, and after, Pete and I went to Feldenkrais class. Both were excellent. And tonight, while cleaning out the horse pen, I thought wow – I feel really good. And doing this task isn’t taking all that much effort.

Of course, Pete pulled the very full manure sled up behind the hoop house and emptied it. I do not know if he’s made any New Year’s resolutions, exercise-related or not. Heave ho, and away we go . . . .

Next: 4. 1/4/17 The Home Life: New Year’s Resolution Number Three

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