finding softness

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A Journey to Softness: In Search of Feel and Connection with the Horse

This is a beautiful book.  I have had the great good fortune of studying with Mark, and so I can say with certainty that this is a person who truly walks (and rides) the talk.  Mark’s writing is so engaging, so plain-spoken and yet eloquent, that I find myself reading just several pages at a time, savoring the writing like rich chocolate.

As a Somatic Movement Therapist, a body person, dancer, movement analyst, I am always in search of writing that percolates into the body, that changes me as I read.  This is his gift to not just the rider, but all of us.  His view of softness is not limited to the riders hands, or seat of legs, but extends to every aspect of life.  He helps us to bring greater awareness and “feel” to each moment.

Doing that wakes us up to a bodily relationship to the present.  Ellen Langer, author of Mindfulness, talks about it as learning to notice new things. Softly holding my cup of tea this morning, I began to see how the light moved through the glass candlesticks and vase on the table as if it were underwater.  I heard the sound of the dogs moving above us like little rattles.  I felt the warmth of the cup moving up my arms.  New things.

In my last Advanced Somatic Experiencing class with Berns Galloway, he encouraged us to orient toward pleasure.  What I also have noticed, with my soft, mindful attention, is the tendency to orient toward pain, toward anxiety.  It is actually easier to harden around those old, repeating thoughts than to sit in the soft newness of the now.  Why is that?

Because being hard (hard body, hard mind, hard heart) is easier than vulnerability and openness.  In Mark’s book, the reader will find help for all of that. Look and see!

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body, mind, spirit

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I am now seeing clients and students in my new studio in Kent, CT.  I am offering Somatic Experiencing and TTouch work as well as individual sessions in Authentic Movement, Embodied Fitness and Embodied Dance.

You can reach me at josajones@gmail.com.  Email me to set up a free telephone conversation about the possibilities for working with movement and touch.   I look forward to hearing from you!

dancing into the wild

messenger 3 - Version 2The Messenger (1992)  Photo:  Nick Novick

I performed an excerpt of Mammal at the Booking Dance Festival during the APAP (Association for Performing Arts Presenters) conference on Sunday.

Now I am diving back into The Traveler, the third part of my trilogy, Body Fictions, Ragged Memoirs, that will premiere at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA June 3-4 (save the date).

Yes, I changed the name from Little Fictions to Body Fictions. During Sunday’s performance, I had the deep pleasure of being in the same dressing room as my dear friend, the brilliant Claire Porter, whom I met in 1981 when we were in the same Laban program.  We were talking and I said that telling people about the kind of work that I do (not ballet, not modern dance, not contemporary) is challenging. It is theatrical, it isn’t dancey dance. My inspirations range from Wigman to Bausch to Butoh and street dance.  After seeing Mammal, she said that the word body was important, because the work is so from the body.

Which is true, I work not choreograph from tendus, plies and steps ( I do them, of course), but from the organs, fascia, blood, membranes,cells and all the mysteries of the body.  I work from image, connect it inward to bodily systems and then send it out as  movement expression and connection. Some people call that somatic dance, but I find that term to be a bit academic.

Those body journeys can take me into some wild territory, out into untended, ragged turf, stumbling ground, places of rampant, vibrant growth, but also decay and death.  There are beasts there, as well as blossoms.  I work with it all. I am not always in control.

The Traveler is set to the music of Tom Waits.  I was drawn to him because he is the wildest creature that I have found in the musical world – a shaman, a beast, a magician, a wonder.  Watching and listening to him reminds me to keep it real, to be unafraid, to go for it all the way to the wildest edges.  Check it out.

think on these things

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 10.10.50 AM  Last night I watched our president delivering his last state of the union address.  I thought about campaigning for him for a month in New Hampshire in 2008 and again in 2012.  The excitement of that work and the devotion to this brilliant man of impeccable character and positive vision.

I subscribe to the daily thoughts from the Napoleon Hill Foundation. This one arrived this morning and just took my breath away. 

Every thought you release becomes a permanent part of your character.

Thoughts are things. Every thought you release — good or bad — is a form of energy that can affect those who receive it, for better or worse. More important, your thoughts affect you. You become what you think about most. If you think about success, you condition your mind to seek success, and you attract large portions of it. Conversely, if you think about failure and despair, you will become miserable and desperate. To keep your mind on a positive track, the moment you begin to experience creeping negativism, make a conscious decision to eliminate negative thoughts and replace them with their positive counterparts.

The creeping climate of fear, rage and racism that has arisen in the past eight years confuses and frightens me.  So many people, it seems, willing to be miserable and desperate.  And then I remember:  rage is easier than love.  It requires nothing of us.  It is mindless, reactive and addictive. 

Lovingkindness is hard work.  Not because it is difficult in itself, but because it means that we have to become vulnerable, willing to listen, open to feeling what is actually happening in our bodies and minds.  It means letting go of being right or wrong and opening to just being. 

In this picture I took during the 2012 campaign on a cold early November morning in Concord, NH, I love the skyward look of the young boy echoing the skyward look of our president asking us to move forward with courage and compassion.  I pray that we will do that now, again, each day, each one of us, together.