I want to focus today on form and formlessness and I am starting with a line from T.S. Eliot,
“Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
So in all our conversations about flow, I realize we have not spoken enough about anchoring. If you have nothing to anchor, then you have nothing to flow from. If you have no form, then the formlessness has no container. If you are so open, that you let everything come in, but you have no membrane to separate that which you want and that which you don’t want, you may be too vulnerable to all that is floating around in the ethers. So, although I am teaching about flow, I am equally teaching about anchoring. When we are doing our movement practice, I always start by having us anchor through our sit bones, find our resting place, knowing where our foundation is, grounding in that foundation, rooting in that foundation, and going back to that foundation, because only from what is held can we release. So when we talk about direction, Alexander’s direction, he never said “neck free, head forward and up, and just go up up up up up”. He always said, “neck free, to release your head forward and up, to go into your legs, ground through your feet, to lengthen and widen your torso”. Neck free, head forward and up from the occiput, but that doesn’t mean you give up your rooting. So what I want to focus on is, what is this dynamic between grounding and releasing, pulling together and opening, to the organic flow that results from the movement that’s coming through the spine, the breath, the organs. Tai Chi is the perfect example. The form itself, your knees are bent, you are grounded through the soles of your feet, you are rooting down into the earth. That stability is what enables you to actually experience the subtlety of the movement. Without that—I mean to me it’s so brilliant because I think now more and more about old people and how we lose our legs. And you see elderly people in China who practice Tai Chi, dropping into their legs, all their movement is very low, the grounding is what guides the whole form. You don’t actually do anything unless you have that base. I am beginning to see now that the one challenge with all this language about “going with the flow” is that it doesn’t have a direction. You can’t just go with the flow if you don’t know where you’re going. You have to have a direction. Direction has a vector of intention. It’s not just moving moving moving with no destination. It doesn’t mean that we want to have a closed story of what the destination is going to look like, we want to be open to what is going to emerge. But if we create an intention and we create a destination, and we have someplace that we are moving towards; just creating that and then going back down to ground is going to create a loop, it’s going to create some kind of dynamic, and there is no dynamic if there isn’t something held. So when we do work with the voice, the body is the container for the vibration, the throat is the container for the vocal chords, the whole body then is your sounding board. So what we are doing is opening things up, but we necessarily have a closed system. There’s this dialectic between form and formless, holding and release, letting go from somewhere to somewhere, and setting an intention. The clearer your intention and the clearer your direction, the clearer your ground, the more energy you build up in that system. Just like breathing, it’s a bellows. We don’t just breathe breathe breathe. We breathe in and then we breathe out. The weight folds in on itself. It doesn’t just go out out out out. It goes out and then it comes back in. We are in a really interesting conversation here. The dynamic of the still point and the dance is what we are investigating here.