Monday, September 17, 2007

The Other 90%

Conventional wisdom tells us that we use only 10% of our brain capacity. Whenever I watch elite athletes, it occurs to me that most of us use only 10% of our physical capacity, while well-rounded athletes and yogis approach their full physical potential. Most of us desire to use more of our brains as we get older. Ironically, we usually desire to use less of our bodies.

The last time my husband, Michael, and I visited a park with playground equipment, he encouraged me to climb on the monkey bars. While I’ve never had much arm strength, I used to be able to “monkey around” for about five minutes. Now I loose my grip after ten seconds. I wouldn’t be able to save myself from falling off of a building or cliff like the heroines in the movies do.

And then there are the things that I can do, but I go out of my way not to. I would rather walk than run and ride than walk. I would rather clean the floor with a mop rather than a scrub brush. I like to skip, but limit how much I do to avoid odd glances.

In the park, Michael and I played on the swings. Now there’s an activity that I love to do, but I don’t swing often. I feel silly, as though swings are only for children. That’s too bad, because swinging is a great activity to build fluidity. It’s easy. It involves the entire body in a coordinated movement. It evokes emotion. All are components of fluid movement.

I remember when I stopped swinging. In the sixth grade, I considered it too childish, just like recess. I thought that women did not play. That was my first step into disowning my body. The second was in adolescence when I became acutely aware of how my body did not measure up to my standards.

After more than 25 years of dis-owning my body, I have spent the last seven years reclaiming it. Hellerwork was the first step for me. It helped me to reconnect and rediscover parts of myself that I had forgotten. I carry on with Hellerwork, yoga, bellydance, and other types of bodywork that peel away the layers that I hide under.

I always wanted to be able to do a handstand from a back bend and to do the splits. I’ve given myself five years to accomplish these goals, hopefully enough time to work into it without injuring myself. I expect to use more of that missing 90% by the time I’m 50 and even more when I’m 60.

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