Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees relaxed, your shoulders balanced over your hips. Close your eyes. Relax. Feel the sensations of your body– tightness, pain, buzzing, spaciousness, burning, tingling. Allow the strongest sensation to come to the forefront of awareness. Invite that sensation to become stronger, more intense. Respond with movement.
The body will "tell" you how to move. Listen and respond. Go along for the ride. Allow one movement to transform into another movement, following the physical impulses as they arise. Avoid responding to ideas that may emerge about what an interesting movement might be and simply feel the movement. Avoid worrying about what the movement looks like.
As you move, see if you can do what is unfamiliar. If you do yoga on a regular basis, avoid doing asanas or components of asanas. If you do Tai Chi, avoid doing slow motion curves of the arms as you rest in a deep knee bend. If you are a martial artist, avoid doing kicks and lunges and punches. If you do Aikido, avoid doing rolls. Find what is called for not from memory or habit, but by the body’s idiosyncratic needs of the moment. Let yourself be awkward, clumsy, goofy, quirky. Allow yourself to move in a way you have never moved before.
Continue for as long as you like: one minute, two minutes, five minutes, twenty minutes. When you are ready, return to stillness. As you rest in stillness, take a moment to feel the sensations in the body, the final resonance of the movement.
Finding the Story
As in the exercise described above, stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees relaxed, your shoulders balanced over your hips. Relax. Feel your body. Respond to a movement impulse with a simple gesture that you repeat, over and over again. Perhaps you roll your hips, or circle your shoulders, or flick your wrists. If you can, do what is unfamiliar rather than moving from habit. Commit to the movement you are doing, whatever it is. Let the mind empty.
As you repeat the movement, over and over again, invite an image to surface. What do you see? What is it that you are doing? Begin to describe the image with words, out loud.
If you are moving your feet in fast circles, you might be reminded of how you’ve been wanting to take tango lessons for years but haven’t had the courage to go to a class. How you decided to take tango lessons after seeing a Japanese film where the lead character fell in love again with his wife after he learned how to tango. How you met a man at a party who does the tango and you asked him to show you a step and he moved his foot, encased in a shining black shoe, in a quick arc on the floor and you knew you had to learn how to do that.
If you are tossing your arms in the air, you might be reminded of the way you felt when you got out of the bathtub and realized all the towels were downstairs in the washing machine. Tell us about that: who else was in the house, how you handled the situation, if you had robe or used your T-shirt to dry yourself, or simply ran naked and dripping into basement past the dinner party guests.
Avoid miming. In other words, don’t come up with an idea (like hammering a nail into the wall) and then execute it with movement (like pretending you have a hammer in your hand and pounding it against the wall). Instead, let the movement lead you to the image. The movement might not be literally or logically related to the image it evokes. The movement has a visceral relationship to images that lie in the memory bank. You might be doing deep knee bends as you point your index finger in the air and be reminded of your best friend telling you how to put in a tampon. You might be rocking your ribs from side to side and be reminded of your first kiss.
Remember: Don’t know. Surprise yourself. Let the body move and name the images as they arise.