(If you’re looking for a quick, gentle, surprisingly effective daily practice for reducing neck tension and eye tension, and increasing an overall sense of ease throughout your body, this is for you. It may seem too simple to work, but I urge you to give it a try : )
Three weekends ago, I packed a hefty bag of snacks, threw on my favorite purple dance socks and took a workshop (my first in a long time), with my very first Trisha Brown dance style teacher. #danceheaven
One of the exercises she had us repeat during the warm-up was to look around the room. Lead with your eyes and allow your head to follow. Practice SEEING.
I was reminded that SEEING is a practice. We are very good at looking and staring. We look and stare at our computers and phones much of the day. We zone out on the train or while we eat; even in conversation with others.
In doing this, our eyes get locked, in a manner of speaking. And when our eyes get locked, our necks lock up. Our eyes, as it turns out, are in our head, and our head and neck are pretty connected.
In fact, if you place your fingertips on the base of your skull and then gently/slowly move your eyes back and forth and up and down, you should be able to detect that movement with your fingertips…
As I was practicing seeing in class, I felt my neck tension ease up almost immediately. I breathed a bit more fully and effortlessly. There was more possibility for movement, for connection with the space and people around me, for a more 3D experience of my own body.
As dancers, we need this skill of SEEING to enhance our movement and our ability to navigate space and time. It helps us orient, which helps us find balance when we need it and connect with the space and dancers around us.
Now, I realize most of you reading this are not concerned with becoming a technically-skilled dancer. But I’ll bet you’d like a little less neck pain or eye tension. I’ll bet you might like the ability to quickly break the trance of “tunnel vision” mode and come back in to your body, in to the present, and to connect more closely and clearly with those you wish to connect with. I’ll bet you might like to breath a bit easier.
>>Your Gentle Nudge<<
When you’re done reading this:
1) Lift your head up from the screen and see what you see.
2) Slide your eyes to the right and left and let your head follow. Your eyes are the leader.
3) Keep slowly, gently sliding your eyes around, letting your head follow, noticing the details of the space (colors, shapes, patterns, shadows, people, etc.). See up, down, and around.
4) As you do this, notice how that feels in your neck, your head, your chest, your breathing. Notice what feels good and what might feel challenging about this, and let your curiosity about it and recognition of it be enough. You don’t need to change anything.
5) Pause after 30-60 seconds, bring your head back to center, and notice how you feel.
Sprinkle this practice into your day, and the accumulation of several 30-60 seconds could add up to much more than you anticipated…
What did you observe? Any questions? Send me an email or post in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!
With love + vision,
P.S. Know someone who’d like a quick, somatic practice to create more ease and flow? Do them (and their neck and head) a favor and forward this along, or share on social.