HONEST WORK WITH CHILDREN
BY SHARON FRIEDMAN
“Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today. They are entitled to be taken seriously. They have a right to be treated by adults with tenderness and respect, as equals.” – Janusz Korczak.
1 SIT DOWN AND GET UP
You follow the breath to sit down and get up continuously without pause and with different parameters to develop health and awareness in all participants.
A move as Slowly as possible and with partners to touch and “freeze” the student where he is less able to see well or in an awkward pose so it is brought to his attention naturally and the watcher gets a good sense of movement and natural dynamic openings in people.
B with eyes closed and with limbs or a stick in the way: one performs the movement and another needs to choose the best way to position himself to be in the way for the partner to learn to move from any position and predicament
C twig: one first sits (you later perform the drill squatting and standing and walking in a ladder progression) and breaths as he maintains relaxed effortless vigilance and with every touch the whole body relaxes (for example if your left hip is pressed from the side and downward you relax the right calf and the left shoulder to accommodate the body moving safely to safety) to the ground and back up. You use a light twig for the contact part of this drill to ensure there is no excess resistance to contact as the force required to snap the twig is the strength needed to insert a needle or stab the soft parts of all of us.
*** Once this is done you repeat the drill but start from being prone flat on the ground in different positions and go from there. It is less apparent how to collapse when already sprawled on the ground but it is a nested awareness this drill will enable with honest practice.
2 THE SLOW WALK
There is no special guidance to this drill but to slowly spread your steps over more and more breaths and naturally you become more aware to every part of the whole of locomotion and release all unnecessary tension and movement out of it.
A use noisy ground such as pebbles or dry red earth and have a student sit a few paces away facing away from you. One walks toward the sitting student until detected and then you switch. Both learn to pay attention to sound and light (shadow) and the way our bodies move
B Use a thick brush or a few placed pipes and boxes to create a tangling vine and move through it slowly and in different directions to bring to your attention excess tension and movement and to learn to move better with obstacles. Close one eye and repeat and then with both eyes closed learning to see with all of your body again (use both looking and then working from memory and looking away as someone changes the order of the obstacles)
C One student moves as he wishes bending raising twisting as he likes and everyone mimics his movement to pay attention to everything he does. Later on you can add a stick held in hand (with a stick moving and the body moving in different planes and movements you learn to spread your attention in your eyes as well and gain freedom from tracking like a camera to become human especially in urban surroundings) to the drill and working to present a hard angle to view for the followers so you become more aware to small and distinct movement and on the other hand you learn to move from the body to avoid bracing one part to move another and become truly invisible in your movement.
3 STICK AND ROPE
Use the stick and rope alternatively to keep students aware of the space in reach of their limbs and the ability to change positions with no fixed distance or position between them.
A Start with a stick held at both ends in both palms and a student or more placing both hands on your body. Start moving the stick through the bodies of the participants as they try to both keep touching you anywhere they can while avoiding the stick at the same time. The same drill using a rope that can change in slack is much more entertaining and instructive but start with the stick to learn moving from the body first and to avoid relying on tools for getting the job done.
Hold onto the center or thirds of the stick and repeat the drill noting how the smallest movement can create a lot of diverse affects over different structures and representations of tension (stick and rope)
B Hold onto the end of a stick or rope and start to move it around you and in different shapes in the air. Add walking and start walking through your partners as they work to avoid contact with the stick.
*** It is tempting to chase down with the stick in hand and emotion can run wild as well from the base of our animal nature so moving yourself with the stick at hand is paramount to staying in control and unharmed on all ends of this drill.
C Going up and down or any other task from walking to going up the stairs when the student is ready for it with stick and rope is very telling and also a lot of fun. You place the stick over your shoulders or press it with the crooks of your elbows. You can wrap the rope around one ankle and one wrist and the options are endless. Adding the previous A and B drills to this one is also beneficial once calmness is achieved in them. You build on what is achieved by not neglecting the primal colors and not by focusing on the edges of the spectrum.
4 PUSH AND PULL
Pushing and pulling are two ways to look at the same action of moving with resistance. When you push a car or a sled it is neutral in the resistance (with the exception of sentient shopping carts in convenience stores…) but people and other animals give you more when you work with them and the progress in not one dimensional.
A Start with a student prone and relaxed on the ground. Use your feet to roll him from A to B when facing him and then back to A facing away from you. Find the working points to push and screw into using your feet without looking and then repeat the drill with constant tension in different parts of the body or with a whole stiff body to compare how both ends of the work feels and operates.
Repeat the drill while on your knees and sitting on your behind and enjoy moving each other and learning to relax on the ground which due to constraints of society is becoming a skill to learn nowadays. Also note it is natural to move from one position to another and to keep working in one for a long while can cause tiredness simply from staying still. In this regard when it is necessary to stay still you can still use different breath work which is detailed below and small movements and tension work to avoid disease and keep calm.
The next stage of this drill is for the one on the ground to resist being moved first by tensing his body or positioning himself unfavorably to the contact and then once it is established what you can do with the tension you add or replace it with moving with the contact but not where the contact is (for example if you are prone facing down and there is a toe pushing your left armpit you can move the right hip under the body to avoid moving toward the location the standing party is aiming for ).
B Stand on your fists and feet or hands and feet and look around you up and down side to side and more. Note how your spine wants to move after your eyes and allow it to do so with the body lifting or gliding any limb or limbs on the ground to facilitate looking in all directions and turning from facing up to facing down seamlessly.
Add a partner who is in the same position to press a fist or foot (and later on with his body and head) to any part of you and in the same manner you breathe and move your body to keep your vision free and your movement unhindered.
Now have a student hold onto any of your limbs and as he moves you move as well to avoid getting pushed or pulled but also to place yourself where he is occupying the space so you are not moving in relation to him (For example you are on fists and feet facing down and your partner who is holding onto your left arm is turning from face down to face up. You bring your right side under the body and turn face up as well but place your leg under where he is moving his body and so both are learning to be constantly free and aware everywhere)
C Have one student stand still as you lean against him with your body and with your limbs. See how you can use him for support in different ways and even climb him up and down if it is possible. Repeat the drill only with him moving to stay comfortable as he wishes and see how you fare compared to the previous experience.
Repeat the last drill with your partner using his limbs to escort your contact on his body along their way as he moves out of your way (for example if you are placing your fist on the center of my chest and placing your mass on it, I will relax one ankle and as my body moves I brush my forearm (the forearm is also free to move from the elbow joint) along my chest to keep the contact under my control)
Repeat the drill with either student walking and then both walking while the drill is taking place and remember to use all senses by coming from the back and sides.
5 DEGREES OF SPEED
People are born with only a few innate fears. Loud noises falling and certain family members . The social fear from humiliation and lack of acceptance to the fold can
lead to fear of the unknown and from there you have the fear from speeds you have not worked with but more from the acceleration and deceleration we view and experience.
A Start by breathing continuously in sync with your heart beats and feeling the movements of the diaphragm. Move your shoulders and hips with your heart beats and add the spine movement when it becomes free from the work you have done so far. From a standing position slowly relax your spine from top to bottom until it rests forward relaxed. Start moving your shoulders and hips again and remember to move from the body and not push and pull on the ground with your feet and allow the spine to move and release its innate movement along with your breathing.
Now shorten your breath in small steps and keep the movement and the sway of the spine according to it until you are moving at the edge of your control. Slow down again and stand up slowly and repeat the drill moving and shaking your limbs upper and then lower with your breath slow and then fast climbing in speed as you progress with awareness and control. From time to time doing this drill with breath holds will give the students better understanding of their abilities and open the lock of some hidden potential to come forth.
Once this is done relax with your spine forward again and start moving your shoulders with the breath and now add some direction to the sway and shake so you see how you can move with purpose from the body with the least amount of tension and from there relax the shoulders and start moving your hips and add releasing tension in the hips one side at a time and both sides at different levels. What this gives you along with the movement or breathing movement of the spine is a whip like motion that can propel you to upright with no excess tension and hardly any effort into it. Work with drill with a partner giving you obstacles in your way so you are not committed to drawing an arch but to the goal and remember to relax your face and eyes.
B Walk slowly toward another student and walk through him without changing your pace. Repeat from different directions and with your arms in different positions and change roles often.
Slowly speed up your breath and match your steps to the breath until you are at the edge of control and change roles again after relating to each other how it felt.
Start slowly walking toward the target as you slowly raise your arm to contact and repeat the breath speeding along with your body and limb movement. Take your time to stay comfortable as you work and see when and where you can use your lower limbs as well for this task to know from experience your own distance and timing in movement.
Repeat the drill from the start but now with the other student moving at a matching pace as well and once you are doing the drill with both at the edge of control you can start all over again with both students working to contact each other and you will find that moving your spine and head will be paramount in maintaining clear eyesight and in choosing where you want to be. What this means is that when a fist or foot or anything else is moving toward your face there will be a natural desire not to be there and it manifests in the body naturally and freely. It is our work to listen and choose how to act using the signal from the body but not relying on solely. If you feel your body wanting to twist away from an incoming fist, be also aware of your lower body and take a step turning and sideways at the same time and when you remember your limbs as well you can add them to the body movement and instead of problems you will see opportunities. Gifts instead of strife.
With a few students you can have one or more avoiding contact with their bodies and making contact with their limbs as other students work to walk through them or
contact them with limbs at changing speeds and in acceleration and deceleration and again remember to relax the eyes and face for better enjoyment of the work.
C Take a tennis ball or any bouncing soft object and stand a comfortable distance from a wall. Throw the ball at the wall and receive it back with body movement joined by limb movement so the movement of the ball is continuous and smooth. (The ball comes toward you so you move out of the way and the arm moves from the body to join the ball and guide it)Work to relax your face and eyes and keep your breathing uninterrupted.
Slowly step closer to the wall while you are repeating this drill and step away when you feel at the edge of control. Move back in and now at the same point hold your breath and enjoy the feeling of being in the moment fully.
Repeat the drill only now another student is throwing the ball to you through the wall in front of you and you have to work your way forward and backwards as you return the ball to him when things work out and also when they don’t.
Repeat the drill with the other student behind you directing the ball to you through the wall and again go closer and further with attention to the breathing and the eyes.
Take a stick or a square ruler and stand or sit a pace from another student. With hands closed pass the stick from one to the other with continuous movement and slowly move away from each other so you send the stick or ruler in the air to the other student. Again maintain movement from the body and remember the collapse is within you to use when needed and to the degree the moment requires.
6 MOVING STATUES
There is an ocean between working from where you are and simply moving. There are two distinct and inseparable qualities any student must reveal in oneself other than luck in order to get there.
We begin from the whole body movement or Vigilance by design to avoid harming the body and mind while working on the second quality of inner tranquility and gauge how to work according to the clarity of purpose the student displays.
A Have a student stand with arms to the sides and work to walk around him as close as possible without touching. Repeat the drill with facing both toward and away from the standing student and remember to keep breathing even when doing delicate work.
Continue the drill with your upper limbs in set positions and walking toward and near the standing student but without pressing against him in any way so the students develops a true sense of body movement and moving the limbs from the body. Add when appropriate fixed movements such as lifting the forearm while keeping the arm relaxed at the side of the body and repeat the drill with your attention toward awareness and control.
Reverse the process with the other student walking toward you and you moving the least amount to avoid touching and once this is done relaxed you add first upper limbs placement and then upper limbs fixed movement.
Once all have had a turn go to free play as you have before but with the added awareness you have gained moving freely and have everyone walk into each other using limbs moving from the body but also at the same time avoiding getting touched by others if not by their own volition.
B Have one student prone on the ground and simply breathing continuously. Another student will start to move him about by bending and twisting his limbs first as the other student relaxes and moves only to stay comfortable.
Continue to bending and twisting of the body and then to two and more working to help the one on the ground spread his awareness to all his body while moving relaxed and breathing according to the level of work done.
Continue by having both students on the ground and one students holds on or uses rope to attach limbs together and moves about freely as the other works to move efficiently and stay relaxed and untangles.
Continue to both students moving and another one using either rope or stick to push and pull on them when he notes their attention narrowing to help everyone stay free while working.
Continue to repeating the array of drills starting with one slow exhale alternating with one slow inhale until there is no more air to move and then holding the breath as much as possible while working and progressing slowly with this work paying attention to facial expressions and muscle tension.
Continue to working now starting upright on performing simple drills as sitting down and getting up and pushing and pulling drills while slowly exhaling/inhaling and using breath holds and add working to speak continuously while maintaining constant breathing so the ability to both intake and outtake at the same time we are born with will emerge and allow the student to reach nuances of awareness other drills may not provide.
Throughout these drills you will have to reiterate time and again to the students that it is the work which allows this release of all excess emotion and thought and that there is always a wealth of ability in them to discover so passing one threshold of ability is simply the reach of a plateau at the base of their own mountain.
C Stand in front of your partner and as he speaks draw what he says in the air using your arms. Repeat the drill as he states shapes and signs and change roles from time to time.
Repeat the drill using both legs while on your back and once this is done receive two shapes or two words from your partner and draw each one using different limbs at the same time while working to maintain constant breathing and efficient movement.
Continue by repeating the drills while you are walking and by drawing the shapes and signs with the pattern of your walking and another using the arms.
Finish by having a student delivering both body part and sign and as one works to draw it, another checks it is understandable without knowing what is being drawn. Much attention to excess movement can be given here and seeing a person as a person can bring about a lot of joy and humility even while performing such tasks with the right focus present with the drill explanation and demonstration.
August 16, 2012 ©