April Charlo, a language revitalist from Montana, USA, shared with the public her insights on how foreign, European concepts of ownership have been so deeply ingrained in our general culture, that we (and she) could actually be changing the future of her cultural values, by accidentally placing meaning into words, that didn't actually exist a couple hundred years ago, in the culture of her peoples.
"My mom" doesn't mean you own or possess your mom. It means you have a relationship with her.
In the traditional language of her neighbour's ancestors, there were no words to claim ownership over the natural world. And in fact, there may not have been any words to claim "ownership" of anything at all.
What struck me most about her revelation and further contemplations, goes back to the essence of language and how it is a doorway into and mirror of, one's cultural views and values.
The word "water" in her this native tongue, had the word(s) "to ask" for it's root.
To ask, means "water".
As April points out, this points to the underlying recognition that these people understood that our lives are not sustainable without water, and thus it is a gift, or something we must "ask" for, in order to live.
As I contemplate this further and bring it back to her closing statement around how she might teach her daughter differently about the concept of "owning" a bug. Instead of agreeing with her daughter who says "My bug", she would redirect her daughter's relationship to the bug with a new type of acknowledgement. "Wow, what a beautiful connection you're having with that bug", she might say.
As I contemplate this further, it is simple to see how we can mistake connection with ownership.
In "connection" there is a certain experience of union, or uniting, with another being.
That uniting or union, if taken with an ego-centric view, can turn into ownership.
Connection--- Union ---- Owning
Connection, honors that there is relationship.
Union, honors that there are "two as one".
Owning creates a hierarchy of that connection and union, often removing any validation of the other's experience as meaningful, thus becoming one-sided.
Question: What are your thoughts on ownership and how does this topic of ownership of living and non-living things play in your personal life?
Contemplating this, I notice a deep sense of freedom when I let go of the idea of saying "my water", for example. A feeling of reverence and appreciation immediately emerges for me. Immediately a new type of relationship takes place. Not only do I feel a sense of connection with the water that I drink, but become aware of the connectedness of all water, and soon after, all things in relationship to that water.
While there are aspects of ownership which I can appreciate, I prefer the word "connection". "I have a connection to this couch and these ornaments. I feel cozy and safe when I am here". or "I have a connection to this table stand. I worked hard and I have many memories of what it took to earn the funds to purchase it".
I will take April's sentiments towards "connection" over "ownership" and contemplate it in my daily life. It feels very empowering to reframe my thinking.
Classroom Assignment October 1st, 2019
Cree Language with William Cook
photo: Mohammad Nohassi
In the same way one must learn the alphabet and vocabulary before they can spontaneously express poetry, so too one must learn the vocabulary of the body, before one can express their truth through movement.
When a musician learns scales they build that musical repertoire into their bones. The movement repertoire or body vocabulary are things like understanding joints, ligaments, expansion, contraction, compression, release. Effort actions from Laban's systems, and 5 Rhythms from Gabrielle Roth. We learn what dimensions of space the body can move within and the quality of movement through those dimensions.
We can then take a psychological approach. What movement-qualities am I comfortable with? What movement types do I avoid? What happens to my body, my heart, my mind, when I push myself into new territory? Do I turn away? Do I dive in? Do I fight against emotional release?
Big Dance is derived from the word BIG. Big with a capitol BE. I have a personal relationship to this word as I worked with a Zen Master through a 16 step Koan practice.
"And what word would you use to describe this awareness?" Junpo asked?
My heart was pounding. My ribs were tight. My breath was deep. My skin was glistening.
"Big". I held his gaze.
He and his eyes smiled. "Do we give it to her?" he called out to Zendo.
"YES!" They roared in laughter.
"Big. Big with a capitol BE" he laughed.
You see Big, was the word that I was using to refer to the awareness of the unbreakable, imperturbable, vast, ever present, spacious awareness that is always accessible, even if we sometimes forget it's there.
This awareness of awareness itself is known by many athletes, dancers, artists, trauma survivors, busy mothers, fathers, business people. It is an ever present stillness that never disappears, no matter how much activity, chaos, conflict, beauty, arousal, laughter, is present. This stillness is a stillness that runs so deep, it can't help but express it's own joy through the impulse to flicker and dance and come alive.
Big Dance is the collective dance that emerges between multiple people who have accessed this imperturbable stillness, and have surrendered entirely to the movements that begin to move through their bodies, from that stillness.
In bringing this authentic movement from one's individual expression, to weaving it through a collective space, a dance bigger than you, starts to emerge. A dance bigger than your day, your opinions, your trauma, this life time.
Big Dance is the dance of collective intelligence that is dying to express itself and transform itself in the container of the movement space. Big Dance brings fourth our ancestors' wisdoms, pains, revelations, from being dormant in our bones.
Big Dance is primal. It becomes musical as our feet, our hands, our breathing, our voices start to weave themselves together, the same way bullrushes sing to rivers as the winds call from the thunders and birds cry for their mothers.
Big Dance lends itself to Big Song. Big Song, creates Big Dance.
From the landscape of our bodies, comes trails, like scales, to deeper dimensions of ourselves. You can never do it wrong, you can only listen deeper, surrender more.
photo by levi guzman.
We are all drawn to different types of music. Some of us love the low and heavy vibrations of grunge metal, while other's flow and sway to the quiet and kindness of a piano instrumental, with layers of ocean and rainfall. Many of us love the sharp cadence of 90's rap and the slurring sounds of whatever hip-hop is today.
Each of these music styles have a different effect on your mind and on your body. If you learn to tune into the effects the music has on your unique configuration of bio-chemistry, you can start using this to your advantage.
You can use music carry you through a tough work-day when you have no energy. You can use music to calm you down after a big fight. You can use music to bring you to stillness and breathing, or you can use it to break you out of your tense muscles and into freedom.
All music genres evoke different body patterns and movement bias' from all people.
Some music sends you turning in circles. Other music has you bopping your head. Other music has you rippling your spine from side to side as your eyes have a soft gaze.
While most musicians don't have any idea the impact of the their style of music on the crowd, any good DJ, musician, and dance facilitator can see the shift and changes in the crowd, depending on what music is played. They can also see that different types of people respond to to different types of songs!
We are all drawn to different music (and thus different movements) and learning when to push ourselves into "new music territory" can be the perfect way to wake our body's up for better health!
This is a very simple glimpse at what ancient civilizations have been harnessing and working with, long before we ever had science to measure it.
When you come to class, you will see how I work with my student's particular bias's and tendencies, I curate and create music playlists to help elicit the most powerful and useful movements you and the group need, to help break out of your comfort zone and into the transformation zone.
Sometimes it's about expressing deep struggle. Sometimes it's about embodying greater happiness. Sometimes it's about controlled, taught movements, sometimes it's about total spontaneity. All of our personalities have bais' towards one of these over the other. And all of our personalities are made to be expanded and explored.
Over time, you yourself will become more and more in-tune to the music and the powerful expression and power and vulnerability you can have access to.
Keep your eyes open for other blogs where I tell you about how movement can help you move through blocked Chakras, trauma from birth and even just release toxins and provide lymphatic drainage, amoung countless other health possibilities!
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