The Wisdom of Uncertainty in Movement

Pages: 26-27
Year: 2012
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration – Vol. 40 – Nº 1

Volume: 40

Sensation is not something we can grab onto and hold. Sensation is vague and absolutely essential at the same time. Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to do a movement today that you accomplished easily yesterday? Have you ever felt “now, I got it!” one day and then lacked that feeling another day? One day you feel so sure, and the next day you are not. In my Pilates practice (I mostly see people who have received the Rolfing® Structural Integration ten-session series) and Rolf Movement work, I face this issue all the time.

After I became a Rolfer, I studied Pilates, and I now teach it incorporating ideas from Rolfing Structural Integration. In the Rolfing community, it is common knowledge that quality and coordination of movement can be changed by perception. Through my Rolfing and Rolf Movement trainings, I theoretically understood why sensation and perception are important in order to change movement, but it took a while for me to really feel that in my body. During my Rolf Movement training with Hubert Godard, I had a hard time not to ‘think too much.’ This same tendency had been a challenge in my dance career – although I was very successful as a dancer, I tried to ‘think’ how I could use my body correctly and couldn’t open my perception enough. Taking what I learned in the Rolf Movement training, I just kept practicing the movement exercises and kept taking classes in Pilates, yoga, The Gyrotonic® Method, The Gyrokinesis® Method, qigong, dance, and so on until I ‘got it.’ I don’t even remember when I started feeling sensation (it probably happened gradually), but I now can feel and say that the best possible coordination happens when you are really open to perceive and sensing from that place. What I have learned from my experience is that the best possible coordination happens in uncertainty. As soon as I try to grab the sensation with certainty, the movement and moment is gone.

Sensation is tricky since it is only in the moment and cannot be held static. When I work with movement to lead my clients to move with less inhibition, the most difficult thing is how to help them feel that better coordination happens when you just let your body ‘go for it’ with sensation. I am still exploring the way I teach, but I have found one of the easiest ways is to let clients experience the comparison between how they feel when they ‘move from thinking’ and how they feel when they ‘move from sensation or perception.’ Most of the time, they notice it is easier to do a movement with sensation.

However, many say, “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything when I moved from sensation.” Even if they understand that moving with sensation is easier and the way we want to use our bodies, they feel better when they move from certainty rather than uncertainty.

The best coordination happens when someone can move from sensation. As soon as we start thinking, the quality of coordination changes. Through my experience of teaching movement in Rolfing sessions and public workshops, I observe that people feel more comfortable when they feel like they are ‘doing’ movement: they feel certain when they feel muscle tension, because then they feel like they are doing something. I think that’s fine if you are happy with it and not having any pain or body issues. However, most of the people I see come for change, so I really need to teach them that it is not about ‘doing’ but about ‘being.’

In order to teach this wisdom of uncertainty, I explore with my body first. Without my own experiencing of good coordination with sensation and orientation, speaking about it is going to be unreliable. Through my own movement explorations, I have learned that the best coordination is in uncertainty, and you may never feel certainty; you just completely open to perceive and trust yourself and then your body moves with the best possible coordination. As soon as you start thinking, “I’m doing good! I’m going to try doing this again,” muscles tense. If you want to maintain the best coordination, you have to be present to perceive sensation and orientation. It is such an unsure sensation when a movement has the best possible coordination; you want to grab onto the sensation because you want to let successful movement happen again and again, but the best possible movement goes away as soon as you try to grab it to make it certain.

When I teach Pilates, I notice that people like to feel they are using their muscles. They tend to tighten their abdominals because they think they are using their abdominal muscles correctly by doing so. However, core coordination happens with sensation, whether for Pilates or any other movement method. The goal of Pilates is not about working the abdominals but about the spine. I didn’t know that until I really started studying Pilates. In some basic Pilates exercises, people in good coordination with sensation won’t feel that muscles are being used – they’ll commonly say, “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything!” That is the wisdom of uncertainty. If they try to do the same thing again, they easily lose it. However, if they perceive fresh sensation, they have more chances to ‘get it’ and maintain it.

To stay in a fresh place of always sensing anew, rather than thinking or trying to recreate the last moment of sensation, you must be present. To be present, it is necessary to have a sense of your body and your environment. People with Rolfing experience usually have good awareness in their bodies, but they tend to stay in internal sensation. Being only ‘inside,’ you cannot stay present; we also need to be aware of the space around ourselves. One of the ways to bring students/clients into more awareness of their environment is to ask them to do a movement at regular speed, as too-slow movement makes it easier to dive into deeper internal sensation and forget about the world around them. Another way is to open other perceptions such as seeing, smelling, hearing. . .

In summary, feeling a sensation once doesn’t mean you can ‘lock it in’ forever. Things around us and inside us are always changing. What we can rely on is our sensation and perception because they are flexible with the changing external context. I think it is important that we know that happens, and it is important to teach many ways of perceiving and orienting so that our students/clients can believe in the wisdom of uncertainty, thereby activating better coordination and freedom of movement.

Yuki Ojika, a native of Japan, has been fascinated by dance since she was three years old and in love with movement throughout her life. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BFA in dance. While a student, she was one of nine nominees for the ACDF Dance Magazine Award as outstanding dancer in the United States. Yuki is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and a Rolf Movement Practitioner and has just finished her first time assisting, for a Unit 3 and Rolf Movement certification training in Japan. She is also working toward full certification in Peak Pilates®. She has a Rolfing and Pilates practice in Tokyo, Kamakura, and Nagoya, Japan and offers monthly movement workshops to the public.The Wisdom of Uncertainty in Movement[:]

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