BIG+E

How does your body move in the everyday? Let’s begin with morning.

Here’s how my body moved this morning:

Wake up, neck tight. Dog on my leg. Sound of birds outside. Scoot off bed. Slowly, so neck doesn’t pull. Lift heavy feet. Hunch over computer. Type. Type. Look out window. Type. Type. Look out window. Stretch fingers. Pet dog. Stretch neck. Type. Type.

This morning my body felt like an other thing. Like there is me and there is my body and I have to work to make my body do what I want it to do. But it resists. My neck is tight. I have to be careful with and around my body so it doesn’t betray me and get in the way of the work I need to do today.

What has your body done in the last two minutes? Did it sit? Stand? Reach? Squat? Push? Type? Twist? Tense up?

You probably have to think about it, don’t you?

Chances are, your body did something predictable, something it is in the habit of doing.

Chances are, the way your body moved affected you—your mood, your perception, your thoughts—and you weren’t aware of it. Like how smiling can make you feel better, like how hunching over and caving in your chest can make you feel fearful, like how lifting your chest and bringing your shoulders back can make you feel free, confident.

The Center for Somatic Studies claims that “Movement is the root of psychological functioning.”

This premise seems to be at the heart of CAConrad’s—Hump Day Hustler #2’s—delightful (Soma)tic Exercises.

Somatic. The Center for Somatic Studies says this about the word:

Although the Greek word soma originally meant “of the body,” it later evolved to mean the living body in its wholeness. [. . . ] soma is a process of doing and being [. . . ] a living process by which our bodily sensations, movements, perceptions, emotions and thoughts form a whole of experience.

Somatic study is an inquiry into our “lived body” by observing and exploring ourselves through sensing and moving. It is simply and most profoundly, the study of how human embodied experience unfolds.

Human embodied experience. What living is.

CAConrad is a fabulous poet and a charming, enlivening presence.

What makes him this week’s Hump Day Hustler is the way his (Soma)tic Exercises help us experience our bodies anew. And through our bodies (made strange and magical to us), we experience the world around us as new.

Then, out of this awareness, out of this unlocking, we write.

CAConrad gives us a glimpse of how our world can be transformed, how we might alter our experience on a cellular level, how to live sideways.

These exercises are not only fun, (how could the request to get naked and shuffle around your house while your torso and upper body remain frozen in place not be fun?), but they are also profound.

CAConrad is fearless, and I love his commitment to not letting The Man take over our bodies.

It’s one thing for The Man to, say, charge me three overdraft fees for a single bounced check he runs through again and again even though he knows there’s no mula in the banko because the check didn’t go through the first time, or the second, and besides, its his bank and he knows there haven’t been any new deposits in the last 20 minutes! (I’m just sayin’.)

But it is a whole other thing for The Man to come into my house and into my bones and into my muscles and settle there, so that my neck tightens, my shoulders lift, my teeth clench, and I don’t even know it, it just feels like me.

We cannot access joy and pleasure if The Man has tightly wound our bodies and we don’t even know it.

CAConrad brings us back to our bodies.

He reminds us of the brilliant, flexible beings we are.

For example, in #25 legs do it all! he has us:

First put pen and paper in four locations around your home. Make sure you do this when you are completely alone, and ignore the doorbell, ignore the phone. In fact unplug the phone. Now get naked and position your upper body in a pose, HOWEVER YOU WANT, limbs above your head, our out to the side, head tilted if you want, but find a pose, and make certain it’s a pose which is unusual for your body. Then STIFFEN into place! All muscles above your waist should be stiff and frozen into place. Let your legs walk you around your home like this. Your legs can skip, run, or slowly, slowly move your body through the rooms. Your eyes can move in your skull, but don’t move your neck at all. Have your legs and waist bend you into things like lamps and shelves, have your body touch things by the strength of legs and waist. Go over to your first set of pen and paper. Walk around the pen and paper, touch it with a foot, or knee. Then relax your upper body, sit down and WRITE NOTES! Sit there and write and write and write! Then find a new pose and dance through the house again. Go through this process until you have taken notes at all four locations with four different, stiffened poses.

When else do you get the chance to do that?

CAConrad reminds us that life—living—is silly, surprising, messy, intimate, unpredictable, extraordinary, and magical.

This is a kind of healing, I believe.

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Dear readers! Please help us find more Notable Hustlers! Email your suggestions to me at stephaniehop@gmail.com or Stella at stella.d333@gmail.com.

You know that thing that happens when the second and third pieces of cake plot to take you down? You’re a smart person. You know they’re out to get you. You tell yourself, Don’t! It’s a trick . . . but there you go, you do it anyway. It’s not your fault really—they made you do it.

Blame can’t save you, though, when the whole damn cake is gone and you’ve hit that point—the Why Do I Do This To Myself Please God Make It Stop I’ll Do Anything Even Stop Bickering With My Mother Point.

Nearly bursting, you sidle up to your girlfriend as she fiddles around on her computer on the couch (What does she do on that thing anyway?)

“Rub my belly?” Your voice is low, scratchy, approximating Barry White but falling way short of sexy as your grip on your protracted middle gives the desperation away.

It’s a no-go, and so you leave your girlfriend to her Facebook tests or whatev and turn to your roommate.

“Rub my belly?” You say it as if you’re giving in to her request, like, Hey, Wanna borrow my Buffy comics now? I’ll let you, but then the panicked look she shoots your girlfriend says, Do I have to? Was this in the contract? Is this something I’m supposed to do?

Sometimes it’s not the chocolate cake that gets me; it’s the news. (Minus the pleasurable descent, of course.) After a mere 15 minutes of So and so shot so and so, and this person sucks, and the world is about to end, I am stuffed to the point of near-delirium.

Like if someone doesn’t rub my belly already (Why will no one rub it? Does no one love my belly?) I will be the next major news item. Pittsburgh girl explodes across Main Street . . . that blueberry kid in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. . . . . . seemed such a quiet, friendly sort. . .

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could suck on a snappy lemon sorbet to cleanse the mental palate? A shot of news bitters to reset the track, so to say?

Well, Kirstin Butler’s new videoblog, You Digest, with its clean, sophisticated design, is bellyache-free.

What makes Kirstin this week’s Hump Day Hustler is the way she refuses to accept the status quo—the idea that we must passively sit back and be given information about our world.

Kirstin not only helps us digest the news, she teaches us how to makes sense of the madness by creating conceptual frameworks through which to filter the overload.

Unlike my battle with the cake (It always wins!), where my options are either to stuff the whole thing down my gullet or take none at all, Kirstin helps us see that we have options. She reorganizes “reality” for us, and by doing so, shows us that we have agency.

We can slow things down, taste a few select bites more deeply, play them off each other, refuse ingredients whose names we can’t pronounce, and create our own whole foods version of the news.

While it may be true (okay, I admit it!) that I do, at times, get sick pleasure out of gorging myself to the point of violent insanity, it’s never pretty, and I always regret it.

I want good digestion. I need it.

You Digest is a fresh lemony sorbet that satisfies you and lets you respect yourself in the morning.

If you like what you see, click here or on the image below to support Kirstin’s project. It’s fabulous!