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  • Archive for June, 2013

    Meditation through Movement


    2013 - 06.10

    I am not what you would consider a person naturally predisposed to meditation.

    It requires being still. It requires being calm. It requires being clear-minded.

    Most difficult of all, it requires the application of some serious mono-tasking – a nightmare to someone who has just been doing therapy stretches while eating lunch while listening to a podcast on swordsmanship and spirituality while also having a conversation on Facebook, all while running through the idea of this blog in my head.

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN DO ONLY ONE THING AT A TIME?

    And so, despite my zen-guru Hollie’s many attempts to help me employ mindfulness techniques into daily life, apply focus and practice meditation, for better or for worse, I remain as ballistic as ever.

    In the newly immortal words of Jackie Chan as Mr Miyagi, my focus needs more focus.

    And then I have this amazing riding experience on the weekend with my new equestrian Jedi Master, Dylan Jones of Dolbadran Film Horses, where he pretty much Mr Miyagi’s me. I’m pretty sure he mentioned focus more than once. I’d know for sure, if I only had more of it.

    So that’s on my mind, and both getting-and-staying asleep is a drag, and then Mike Fitch, creator of Equinox’s Animal Flow program, and of whom I am an avid disciple, posts this video last night: slow flow.

    And I’m in bed way past bedtime but watching it anyway – while having two Facebook PM conversations at the same time – and I’m thinking: that looks like meditation to me.

    Mediation through movement.

    I have a feeling, like I’m on the cusp of something. In his feedback on my last video, Mike told me ‘your body will know where to go.’ If that’s the case, then I don’t give it anywhere enough credit because I’m always doing the telling and I ain’t ever doing the listening.

    So after teaching this afternoon, I put on some of my favourite music from Body Balance – the tai chi and yoga tracks, all emotive and expressive and slow - and I start to…listen. I start to flow.

    AN HOUR FLOWS BY.

    Say what?!

    I was thinking 30 mins max – I’m busy! I’ve just flogged myself in cycle and combat, I’m tired! My To Do List is a thing of terror and this blog isn’t even on it!

    But this hour just goes by and I’m all calm and focussed and stuff. I’m listening to my body, and it’s talking back. It’s a bit lost, but it’s loving not being thrashed by all the high impact, cardio and resistance training I assault it with daily.

    I have, in fact, just been in the closest thing I’ve probably ever experienced to a willingly meditative state.

    This is sort of where I got up to – I handstand all the time, in fairly average fashion. It’s a lot harder from here, and this is what my body wanted to go – into a sort of animal flow/hand balancing fusion. I am, in this film, surreally relaxed and focussed.

    This will get better. But this is a new – and thoroughly enjoyable – place to be. I may not be ready for meditation sitting still with my eyes closed, but I am right up for meditative practice through movement.

    If there’s some kind of movement you like to do, I suggest trying it without your head in the driver’s seat. Find a space, find some music that you connect to, and just…flow. Listen. Be. I’m a big fan of Nike’s Just Do It, but now I’m starting to think there should be a new slogan: Just Feel It.

    …to be continued…

    A Dream Left Dying


    2013 - 06.09

    For most of my life, I had a Dream. Just the one, and but it had no limits and it was all I needed. It was all I wanted: just a life with horses.

     

    This is not me. But this is where I went in my head.

     

    Worn down by years of begging, my parents promised me horse riding lessons when I turned ten. I will never have a birthday more magical.

     

    But before that time, I genuinely believed that horses were my destiny, so everything was possible. My assumption was that I would have a natural affinity with them, and would inevitably become an outstanding rider, trainer and teacher. Case in point for an assumption making an ass out of – well, at least me.

     

    Yeah, hilarious.

     

    At my stables we used to joke that the love of horses was an addiction: irrational to anyone not afflicted with it, and all-consuming of time and money, often to the detriment of friendships and relationships. This is perhaps less funny when you realise how true it is. Through my teens I didn’t know a horsey girl who would put the needs of her boyfriend before those of her horse. Those boys were dragged all over the country at all hours of the day to groom the horse, drive the horse, support the rider, do the heavy lifting and, most romantically, pick up poo. Myself, I never had a boyfriend. I was too busy with horses.

     

    I read every book in the school and local library with a horse on the front cover. I wrote stories about horses. I recall my mother and teachers despairing that I would write nothing else. I only discovered fantasy because Piers Antony’s On A Pale Horse had the eponymous horse on the front cover. This led me from his outstanding Incarnations of Immortality series to his Xanth novels, which frequently had equines on the cover, because he was an author who adored his horses. I think it would be safe to blame my later dream of being a writer on Piers and Helen Barrett, a sadly unappreciated writer of horse novels set in my hometown of Adelaide.

     

    But alas, after I was finally permitted to ride ponies at Sheoak Hill Riding School, reality set in. No amount of love could overcome my innate lack of natural affinity for horses, but enthusiasm ensured I learned slowly by practice what I could not intuit through feel. I was fortunate in that, although my family did not fully understand my obsession hobby, they were nonetheless tolerant and supportive and afforded my lessons until I was able to work the stables all weekend in lieu.

     

    I tell you true: there was nothing in the world that could beat a day in the stables.

     

    LOVE LOVE LOVE (photo by Exposure Studios London)

     

    Now in my adult years, I cannot put into words the excitement I felt, week after week, year after year, every time I ‘went to the horses’. It is my sincere hope for every child that they have something in their life that enchants them so, and for every adult that they have something so joyful to remember. As I remember and write this, I am quietly devastated to realise there is nothing in life now which feels as good as ‘going to the horses’ felt to my teenage self. How I do envy her those golden years.

     

    These days, when my life is a disordered mess and my dreams are multiple, myriad and confused, I say every July that regardless of what calendar year I’m turning, I still feel 19. And that’s because it was when I was 19 that this simple, consuming, glorious dream started to properly fracture. Cracks had been forming for years before, through the Dark Ages in which my run of bad luck became local legend – god, I remember a mother offering me the ride on a horse, and having to retract it when her daughter refused, in case my ‘curse’ struck them.

     

    But the year I turned 19 – and I got my biggest break – really fucked it up. I became acutely aware of my inadequacies. I began to expect and then even await the worst in all situations. I became very trapped by the knowledge of what I could not do, forgetting the existence of the alternate choice: to be empowered by what I could do.

    (more…)