Friday 12 April 2019

Another day at the Collegiate...

Yet again, Nancy Kline's Thinking Environment Collegiate Day was profound and thought provoking. We discussed a lot, but I want to focus on just one part of the day.

Nancy is keen to encourage us to explore and expand our understanding of the components of a Thinking Environment. One of the components is Place; and the starting point is that place matters. Place, in fact, is a silent form of appreciation, so where possible, choosing a place that says to people: you matter! is helpful. But Nancy was looking beyond that understanding of place, and thinking about the place where we do our thinking, and the place where we pay attention: that is to say, our bodies. 

So she invited us to think about this question: What is the one thing you know you need to do to ensure that you are saying with your life, "My body matters?"

I was interested in my initial reactions to this question. On the one hand, I was thinking, it's not just my body, but my mind  and my soul, that are important. And on the other, I was feeling a bit complacent: I keep myself fit, exercise well, eat a sensible diet, am moderate in my use of alcohol and caffeine, sleep well, and so on.

But in thinking aloud about the question with a Thinking Partner for a few minutes, I identified four areas that need attention.  One is breathing.  I have long been aware that I have bad habits with regard to breathing, and that particularly affects my singing.  So if I really want to live as though my body matters, I should sort that out.  A second is posture - for the son of an Alexander Technique teacher, I have a remarkably bad habit of slouching; again, something that should be addressed. A third is over-work: I sometimes allow my schedule to get so busy that I practically collapse on my eventual return home from a trip. That, too, is scarcely treating my body as it should be treated. And the fourth is bottling up emotions: I need to find better ways to express and discharge disruptive emotions, rather than ignoring them and pretending that I'm immune to them.

So, from feeling complacent, and that this question wasn't really relevant to me, I moved to a position of insight and commitment: all because someone listened to me thinking out loud for fifteen minutes...

And the question that's intriguing me is about my initial responses to the question. Were they a form of denial, an expression of the lack of importance I attach to my body and how I use it?  And if so, what else am I denying, without knowing that I am doing so?

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