our new look

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Welcome to our new look!  We hope that you like it!  This post is to let you know that we are also relocated at http://www.paulajosajones.org/RideDanceWrite/, so please add us to your address book so that your computer will not think that we are some unfamiliar spam.  We hope that you will continue to read and respond and enjoy our posts.  Thank you!

Paula

young brains

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A recent New York times article, “The Case for Delayed Adulthood” struck a major chord for me.  The author, Lawrence Steinberg, a professor of psychology from Temple University claims that,  “Prolonged adolescence, in the right circumstances, is actually a good thing, for it fosters novelty-seeking and the acquisition of new skills.  Studies reveal adolescence to be a period of heightened “plasticity” during which the brain is highly influenced by experience. As a result, adolescence is both a time of opportunity and vulnerability, a time when much is learned, especially about the social world, but when exposure to stressful events can be particularly devastating. As we leave adolescence, a series of neurochemical changes make the brain increasingly less plastic and less sensitive to environmental influences. Once we reach adulthood, existing brain circuits can be tweaked, but they can’t be overhauled.”  Now there’s a caution.

In a recent episode of “Madame Secretary,” the Téa Leoni character tells her rebellious 20 year-old daughter that the cerebral cortex isn’t even fully formed until the age of 25, making the case for not taking impulsive and reactive actions or decisions.  In fact, the frontal lobe (decision making) is not yet fully connected to the rest of the brain.  Young people are often using the amygdala (limbic system) which largely controls emotions, while the most active part of the adult brain is the part controlling logic and reason.

That means that if you are expressing an emotion—say, disappointment—a young person’s brain has a 50% chance of misinterpreting it as a different emotion, like anger. Then, since the emotional part of their brain is already active from making that (incorrect) judgment, they become more likely to react irrationally and over the top.

We are still struggling with the fallout of exactly that – the too young brain of a too young child acting out in anger, fear, rebellion – WHATEVER – and setting a path from which it will be increasingly difficult to recover.  When the development of that brain has also been profoundly affected and delayed by early childhood trauma, you have a recipe for disaster.  Early childhood trauma causes massive plastic change in the hippocampus (responsible for explicit, conscious memories) shrinking it so that new long term memories cannot form.  Glucocorticoid, a stress hormone, kiss cells in the hippocampus so that it cannot make the synaptic connections in neural networks that makes learning and explicit long-term memory possible.  That means that there is an essential fracturing of experiencing and of the self that has profound, life-long reprecussions.  Our ability to form memory and to recall is an essential part of how we perceive and know ourselves.  Victims of trauma often react emotionally and somatically to something that they have no conscious memory of – something that may have been triggered unconsciously by a seemingly unrelated event or experience – often something that happens many years later.

For more information, check this out:  http://neurosciencefundamentals.unsw.wikispaces.net/Immature+Aggression

What is a parent to do?  I ask that question almost every day.  I do not have an answer.  When that same child is caught up in a defensive wall of rage and self-rightiousness, it is impossible to make a connection.  They simply are not there  – psychically, emotionally (and in this case physically).  They have left home – meaning that they are living in an unreality of their own devising.  As our astrologer says, “lala land.”

Abraham suggests a strategy that I like called the placemat process.  When you make your “to-do” list, divide it into two columns:  things I will do today (action list – reasonable).  On the other side is things I would like the universe to do.  That is a way of diminishing resistance and increasing focus.  In AA, we would call it asking for help, or turning it over (to a higher power).  It is a way of discovering the “non-action” resolution of many things that you previously thought you HAD TO DO.  I am reminded of one of my favorite AA moments, when an old timer said, “There’s only two things you need to know about God, there is one and you ain’t it.”  Persuasive regardless of your religious persuasion!

So what this parent is doing is putting all things this child on the side of the universe.  It is a prayer, it is a hope, it is the most loving thing that I can do today.

moving target workshop in boston

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 7.16.10 PMI will be teaching a Moving Target workshop this Saturday at Green Street Studios, 185 Green Street, Cambridge.

MT is a curated contemporary class series taught by a rotating group of working artists and master teachers from Boston and beyond. There is an emphasis on practices rooted in improvisation, somatic inquiry, collaboration, and release-based techniques. Classes are a chance to work out and work on new or old ideas, a place to give voice to both fresh and seasoned faces, to sweat, laugh, and have fun dancing together.

The series will establish a community around training together with class giving and taking as shared investments in physical inquiry; address categories of contemporary dance practice currently underrepresented in Boston; gather Boston’s next generation of dance artists and teachers; connect artists across cities; and generate the seeds of new projects.

This workshop is open to all movers, all levels.  Come and play!!!

portals

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Since Andrea Olsen’s wonderful class on the nervous system at the Body-Mind Centering Conference in July, I have been thinking about portals.  She began the class with an exercise in which we moved through the portals of walking to moving to dancing to performing to wild dancing, asking us to be aware of each portal and how we passed through from one state to another.  Who are we before we enter and who are we on the other side?

Each day is a portal.  Who are we at the beginning of that day and who are we as we leave it?  Can we be surprised?  Today I rose happily to get my granddaughter Laila who was crying and ready to be with us.  She was wet and I seized up her bedding and her diaper and forgetting the kiddie gate in the doorway, fell backwards through it and onto it, landing hard on my left hip.  The pain was excruciating.  The closest thing to it was when the time when I was kicked by my horse in the thigh. I spent the day in bed because I could not sit or stand.

So that was not the portal I had in mind when I awoke.  When my youngest daughter ran away, that was an explosion that threw us through a portal leading to a long dark corridor with no light in sight. We have been changed by that for sure. Other portals (the intentional kind) are kinder – the one that opens when I get on my horse or step into my studio or slide into the water for a swim.

Abraham talks about a strategy called “segment intending.”  That means that with each small or big transition in a day that we set an intention.  This is another way of thinking about portals.  A moment of opening, of change of body and mind states.  Bringing awareness and intention to each transition allows us to savor it more deeply.

“You enter a new segment anytime your intentions change: If you are washing dishes and the telephone rings, you enter a new segment. When you get into your vehicle, you enter a new segment. When another person walks into the room, you enter a new segment.

If you take the time to get your thought of expectation started even before you are inside your new segment, you will be able to set the tone of the segment more specifically than if you walk into the segment and begin to observe it as it already is.”

How are you changed by the portal of this day?