Internal Arts will be a series dealing with the creative process in its various guises: from meditative techniques to anecdotal material from independent artists.
Whether you are a writer, musician, visual or film artist, or just want to learn a little about the ins- and outs- of the creative process from those who struggle to make a living at it, this show is for you. We will also often explore meditative and movement practices that might not necessarily seem connected with creativity or the arts at first glance. These are quite possibly more important than all the discussions we will be having about independent arts and media production, as they get us out of the ‘the chair,’ out of our heads, and back into our bodies. It is in and through our bodies, and nowhere else, that the true creative process begins. We are not brains in bottles. It’s our hope that you will find these practices and conversations an indispensable part of your own practice.
Sasha Lee gives an introduction to movement meditation, standing.
More information on the standing posture:
Just standing is incredibly complicated, when we pay attention. There are many ways to stand. As actors know, just standing differently can put you in a different emotional space, and may project a different persona to others.
I’d like to share how one might stand to begin any sort of movement meditation practice.
Feel your feet rooting in the ground. What this means is that you feel an equal balance of weight or pressure in the front and back of each foot, and the weighting between both feet is equal.
Building an awareness of where you are weighted and not becomes very crucial in movement meditation, as well as partner practice and martial arts.
For now, feel an equality of balance in every direction. If you notice that you are leaning forward or backward, rock around a bit until you feel yourself at center. Now move your attention to your legs. Look to let them round slightly, and have a ‘springy’ quality. Cross your arms and bounce a little. Notice the difference between when you are loose and bouncing your body lightly by the springiness of your legs.
Stop bouncing and let your legs maintain that slight curve and bounce like a young sapling.
Return your attention momentarily to your feet to ensure you are still balanced, forward and back, side to side. You will be doing this as we continue up in the body.
Next, bring your attention to your tailbone and hips. See if you can tuck in your tailbone ever so subtly. Most beginners do this too extremely, so you’re standing like John Wayne with a hernia. It is enough to almost just intend to round the lower back forward to soften it.
Now bring your attention to your back. Feel each vertebra levitating above the one beneath it. With each breath ensure that you are floating above your base, that your back is straight rather than highly rounded.
There will be many times when you are using your spine like a whip, rounding it. This is not one of them. The spine is in fact the only part of the body in basic standing that you don’t want to consciously round. Why? The spine already has a natural curve to it.
You are going to however want to round your shoulder blades, softening the upper back in the process. You can best accomplish this with one of the first standing postures, which involves bringing your hands, palm down, to float directly in front of your groin. Imagine that you are holding small balls, one in each hand, and turn the hands in slightly, somewhat toward one another. Making this turn and rounding, you will feel your scapula float above your ribcage. Let your back round and imagine that there are weights hanging from your elbows. This should make your arms round further, so while you are lightly holding two balls with your hands, you are also creating a larger circle with both arms.
Continue the floating feeling in your back to your neck, and tuck your chin in very slightly. Imagine that a string is suspending your skull from heaven, and let your tongue rest lightly on the top of your mouth.
Breathe gently and evenly. Unlike much yogic breathing, where you are controlling the breath, all of these practices will seek instead to FREE the breath, and let it direct one’s movement.
Look directly ahead, and cultivate a relaxed but focused gaze, where you are staring off to the horizon, and yet remain aware of your immediate surroundings. This is almost like making ones entire range of vision into peripheral vision. As you breathe, seek to open, open, open and dissolve all tension, all resistance.
After a few minutes of standing like this, breathe in slightly more deeply as you raise your arms to chest height. Maintaining a circle with the arms, it should be as if you are holding a giant ball or hugging a tree. Remember to check your feet, make sure you are balancing your weight. Bounce lightly, make sure you are keeping a light spiringyness throughout the legs and spine. Keep the legs lightly bent.
From here you are ready to BEGIN your practice.
(This first video was shot on its side to frame the whole body so you can see the standing meditation as best as possible.)