Excerpts from my Master's Thesis...
Slacklining as a Mindfulness Practice:
A Heuristic Self-Inquiry Into Increasing Mind-Body Consciousness to Promote Healing and the Individuation Process
....I’ve disliked my body for as long as I can remember, hated it in fact, most of the focus being on my legs. I refused to wear shorts because I was convinced my legs were fat, debilitating my psychological self just enough so I wouldn’t leave the house. I’d tell myself, “there are more important things to spend my energy on,” but then I’d also see that this IS my reality. A deep hatred of my legs ran my life. They were my continuous disappointment and forever obsession. No matter how many pounds lost or miles ran, satisfaction and self-love was never achievable. I tried for years to nurture this wound by “working it out,” connecting with my body through rigorous movement, but healing didn’t happen. It still hasn’t.
When I truly connect to my body, I hear my inner voice, that essence that knows the right way to move, my gut. Connecting to my body helps me with being more honest. I know I still work out with the intention and hope of losing weight, of loving my legs more, by making them look different because, I tell myself, once they’re thinner and more toned or a certain way, I will love them. I will accept this part of my body. I’ve walked through the world with this wounding for many years. It’s shaped how I carry myself through relationships, experiences, traumas, and healings. How can I connect with my body in such a way that healing happens? I remind myself I cannot objectify my thighs; this is about my whole body. Be whole, be still, be HERE.
Eyes filled with tears,
I clench my body.
When all feels lost,
I turn to YOU.
11/13/15 My legs ground me; they root me into the earth and extend up to support my body. They hold me. I want to work with my body to restore balance--balancing physically through slacklining, which will help me to achieve balance mentally/emotionally--balance between contracting and releasing the muscles of the body as well as the focus of the mind. To slackline effectively, one must be fluid and free in movement, but also be aware and controlled. Balance between the two is the goal. The phrase ebb and flow comes to mind.
Connection with the body is essential--our bodies carry us through the world. They ground our souls and shape how we walk through the world. My relationship with my body has become and has been out of balance for some time.
Fully engaged with the entire body,
I can trace the energy and attention
Flowing through each limb,
To each fingertip,
To the top of my head and down to my outstretched toes.
I’ve never been so fully engaged.
Balance my body
Balance my mind
Ground me deeper into the earth and into myself.
11/19/15 Slacklining allows me to connect with and feel into my body, while simultaneously trying to pull myself out of my body; a place where mind and body are on the same wavelength; a beam of light flowing, oscillating in and out of my body and my mind, around me. The line invites me to engage my whole body. It mirrors back to me what strengths I’m lacking, my weaknesses. I’m balancing against myself.
I’m on the line, practicing my controlled stride. I like feeling every inch of my body engaged. I can feel the energy surge. This continues to challenge me, shows me how quick the human body can learn a new skill. I remind myself, when I fall or feel defeated, that I’m balancing against my own weaknesses. . . . With enough practice, weaknesses can be strengthened. I’m more aware of the ways I contract my muscles to hold my body in a way that feels balanced. I’m thinking about other aspects of my life that are imbalanced, such as my relationships with others and self, work, and my ability to regulate emotional responses.
When I walk the line,
Moments of spacious freedom
To move from my intuition.
It feels so home.
Let go, be here, be present, be still. I give myself the space to walk the line. So much more, more than I expected to come forward. I move and flow through a dimension of myself, one that’s weightless, timeless, like the space between breaths.
12/16/16 My arms, I hold them out like wings. They dance back and forth, from fingertip to fingertip. As I feel myself fall, I roll into that vibration and my body carries me back to the center. The imbalance becomes a part of the practice, not something I’m trying to perfect. I want to grow into my relationship to balance, imbalance, and how it feels like I’m always dancing between the two.
I must move along and continue in flow,
In constant motion, I roam.
It’s in this wave, I dance and dance and am free.
It’s not just my legs that carry me,
My feet gently gliding and guiding.
I can feel each muscle in my toes contract and flex.
My whole body carries me.
My arms sway and float, freely in motion, engaged by light and full of my breath
And the breath of Mother Nature.
2/06/16 I’m noticing how much the environment shapes my experience. As I spend more time here (at the park), I grow in relationship to my surroundings. Kids leave, more birds, less sun. My experience with the space grows with the changing relationship I’m developing with my body. Everything shifts. I find that I can be more present. The environment impacts my relationship to my body. The image of the center of a tornado comes to mind, be still even when chaos ensues. I know I can do this work and carry it within my being out into the world.
Like the push and pull of the oceans,
I waiver, back and forth
In and out
Side to side
My arms float like the wings of a butterfly
Delicately maneuvering, lightly caressing the universe
Holding me, keeping me grounded
And yet, I am floating.
What is my body? What makes me conscious? I can FEEL you making me feel ME. Realness, my skin drips beads of sweat, salt breaches my lips. I smile. I’m ALIVE.
I’m fully engaged, both in my body and experiencing myself in this state of embodiment. Oh how my psyche rests in that moment. How can I be aware of ALL THIS. I shout inside, do you see me? Do you feel me? Every cell is breathing. I can feel the breadth sending blood to every muscle, my arms sway as if I’m dancing, dancing through the ocean’s misty tides. My arms keep my chest open--I can breathe in and up and down and deep and out.
Then, I am suddenly aware I am in public, but that passes like the cool wind between the tiny hairs on my arm. My eyes look ahead, fixed on the tree, but I can also rise above myself and see my body dance. I see the next move, I sense with every inch of my body--and it feels so GOOD.
You carry me and I you
With each gentle step, I become aware of you
You beautiful decorated flesh
Take me where I fear to go
Show me where I fall
As I fall, I grow
As I move along, dance along rather, I tell myself: tighten the abs, breathe into my left leg as I balance on the right, flex my toes, feeling all the muscles of my legs contract and release, breathe from the belly, my chest and back engaged, the left feels a little uneven, breathe into it, ahhh that’s balanced. This helps with confidence, such growth--it’s so vulnerable. I hear people off the in the distance. I wonder if people stare. Do they think I am showing off? I’m doing my practice and it feels so good. I don’t really care what they might think. My breath brings me back to the sensations and movements of this dance.
There’s so much falling and getting back up--the challenge is worth the growth that spawns. Breath, it’s so important to this practice. I notice when I hold it, when I breathe deeply, I have more control, more depth of awareness of my movements. I am aware of this awareness. I watch myself implement these changes, these fluid moments of bringing about mindfulness to all of my body and witnessing my ability to notice my Self. I can feel all of me--my strengths, my weaknesses, my pain and comfort, how my energy flows so I can feel every ounce of my body in motion.
Taking it in all at once almost feels too big. I notice how my awareness changes and grows little by little. Since the body is in constant motion and change, no two sessions are ever the same. And how I feel in my body and mind on any given day impacts how I slackline. I try to hold the same mission: 1) Do what feels right for my body by allowing the body to move intuitively. 2) Stay open, attuned, and aware of everything by oscillating between the layers of awareness. 3) Breathe through it.