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Self: Mind Body Spirit from the Village Voice

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  • 2nd Sight
    Self: Mind Body Spirit Straighten Up: New Stances Sharpen Traditional Disciplines September 17 - 23, 2003 . ^..^
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20, 2003
      Self: Mind Body Spirit
      Straighten Up: New Stances Sharpen Traditional
      Disciplines
      September 17 - 23, 2003

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      Contents:

      Aligned Against Pain
      Queer Eye of Newt
      Make Friends With Your Weirdness
      Link: Girlfight: Self-Defense Training Prepares Women
      for Combat on the Streets

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      Photo: Balance your body: aura and chakras from Gay
      Witchcraft,
      (image: Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC)
      http://images.villagevoice.com/issues/0338/mbs.gif

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      Aligned Against Pain

      Can perfect posture relieve severely debilitated
      victims of chronic pain? While the American Medical
      Association's jury may still be out on the quantifiable
      benefits of postural and biomechanical therapies like
      yoga and Pilates, more and more medical doctors-as well
      as alternative health practitioners-are seeing patients
      achieve remarkable results from working with master
      teachers in these modalities.

      Pat Lundgren Guyton of Colorado's Boulder Osteopathic
      Center and Sara Bates, who maintains a private
      rehabilitative practice in Santa Monica, California,
      are two such master teachers. Guyton, a Pilates
      instructor, has been working with doctor-referred
      clients since 1987, and Bates, a graduate of Iyengar
      teacher training in San Francisco, has been designing
      individualized yoga programs for fibromyalgia sufferers
      since 2001. Both maintain high enough success rates to
      attract a steady stream of medical referrals as well as
      invitations to lecture or teach at local and national
      medical conferences.

      Both Guyton and Bates bring formative personal
      experience to their work. Guyton's background as a
      modern dancer gives great precision and intuitional
      depth to her style of Pilates. Today, when she talks to
      a group of medical doctors about why bodily alignment,
      awareness, focus, and balance are the keys to pain-free
      movement, she makes them learn it the way one of her
      clients would learn it: by feeling it in their own
      bodies. "And that's a process," says Guyton. "It's like
      yoga in that it's a discipline and it's a study."
      Whether she's helping people with multiple sclerosis or
      low-back pain, Guyton works their bones and muscles
      from head to toe until they learn to "consciously
      organize their posture in a vertical gravitational
      field so that their postural muscles become strong
      enough to support good alignment."

      An ideal alignment creates more ease and energy in the
      body with which to fight the effects of aging, injury,
      or auto-immune malfunction. Yoga's emphasis on proper
      alignment, breath work, awareness, and balance is
      indeed similar to Pilates principles, but Bates, a
      former occupational therapist who used yoga techniques
      to recover from her own disabling bout with
      fibromyalgia, would add that a thorough understanding
      of how emotional trauma affects posture and organ
      function informs the yogic approach to alleviating
      chronic pain.

      But what kinds of exercise can you do with people whose
      nerve endings are so hypersensitive that they
      experience any sensory input as pain? In its most acute
      stages, fibromyalgia can cause its victims to
      experience even minimal amounts of heat, cold, light,
      pressure, or sound as pain. What Bates tries to do-with
      a varied selection of yoga postures, visualization
      practices, and breathing exercises-is break this
      spiraling feedback loop, which has been known to defeat
      even the strongest pain medication.

      "If there's a line between the mind and body, I haven't
      been able to find it," says Bates, who recognizes the
      despair and frustration of her patients as yet another
      form of bodily injury. Since almost anything can
      trigger fibromyalgic pain, and repetitive movement of
      the same area can make it amplify and spread throughout
      the body, Bates teaches gentle, careful postures that
      slowly lengthen, strengthen, oxygenate, and align
      muscles so they can rest and heal. Unlike doctors who
      don't share her personal experience, she warns all who
      suffer from fibromyalgia or any of the auto-immune
      syndromes like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, CFS, or MS
      not to trigger their pain cycle by doing the same
      posture or exercise every single day.

      "Rotate your practices, " advises Bates. "If you walk
      one day, then do yoga the next." -Carol Cooper

      For more information on finding qualified yoga or
      Pilates therapists for chronic pain, search
      pilatesmethodalliance.org or yogaalliance.org.

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      Queer Eye of Newt

      Some pagans joke that in this society it's much easier
      to be openly queer than to come out as a witch.
      Fortunately for those carrying both of these unorthodox
      identities, Christopher Penczak's new guide, Gay
      Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe, sheds light on the
      path. A practitioner, teacher, and author based in New
      Hampshire, Penczak excavates occult history to find the
      multicultural roots of queer presence and prominence in
      all things magickal, from ancient cave paintings in
      Sicily to today's Radical Faeries and Dianic lesbians.
      By his account, the mythic realm of gods and goddesses
      teems with transgenderism, and shamanic healers can
      easily travel the spirit world because they carry both
      masculine and feminine energy. You'll find here many of
      the basic tools, rituals, and spells detailed in other
      witchcraft how-to's, but with a uniquely queer,
      joyfully sex-positive spin. Most pagan authors are too
      cautious to offer a section on "Lust Magick" and would
      never see the need for spells that heal addictions or
      homophobia (or respectfully offer a ritual for
      exploring heterosexuality). Penczak also has cogent,
      sane things to say about love and unconditional love,
      magick's highest source. -Eva Yaa Asantewaa

      Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe, by Christopher
      Penczak (Weiser Books, 265 pp., $19.95),
      redwheelweiser.com and christopherpenczak.com.

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      Make Friends With Your Weirdness

      Dr. Liz Margoshes styles herself "the ironic
      therapist," practicing out of an office in the Flatiron
      district. She says, "Ironic people often have trouble
      with the hyper-earnestness of traditional therapists.
      And they really don't want their slant toward the world
      analyzed away as a defense. People have the
      misconception, often, that their peculiar slant on life
      is causing the problems. And that they'd better give it
      up or they'll be miserable forever. But look at Harvey
      Pekar-a miserable-seeming person, right? His
      miserableness produced terrific comics (that people
      relate to especially because they identify with his
      miserableness-isn't art, after all, about communicating
      truths that are hard to communicate, relate to, and
      identify with, in interesting and challenging ways?)
      and gave him a way to connect to people. Should Pekar
      have tried to get rid of his slant on life? Or do we
      actually admire him for being who he is?"

      But isn't detachment something that gets in the way of
      love and experiencing life fully?

      "Ironic people," says the Brooklyn native, "are not
      detached. We stand back and observe, but that's our way
      of being involved! It's the writer's way, the artist's
      way."

      How does the irony affect the therapy? Is the therapy
      itself ironic?

      "No. It's just like a language that I speak, and it's
      often the language of certain people who can't find a
      voice in the mainstream community where therapy
      resides. What's most important is that you feel the
      therapist has the ability to understand you, to 'get'
      your experience. And that's why I seem to do well with
      clients who regard life with a slightly cocked eyebrow.

      "People are afraid of being humiliated, of feeling
      ashamed, so they hide from themselves and others, but
      by hiding they also hide the best parts of themselves,
      the odd, exciting, freaky, underground parts-the parts
      novelists write about and painters paint about. I think
      that the ability to have relationships in the world and
      do interesting work is a matter of feeling good enough
      about who you are. It's not the contents of your
      personality that determine how 'OK' you are, it's how
      you feel about the contents!

      "Irony is a particularly useful stance in therapy.
      Seeing the world with ironic detachment is similar to
      what the Buddhists tell us to work toward-a giving up
      of attachments or rigid beliefs that get in the way of
      directly experiencing the world. Irony is a wonderful
      tool for examining things. You can stand back and watch
      yourself feel and think. Gradually you change from
      believing that there is an 'objective,' immutable
      'reality' (e.g., 'I'm shy,' 'Men don't like me,' 'I'll
      never get out of this dead-end job,' etc.) to seeing
      how your beliefs and attitudes are really just
      thoughts-and thoughts can be changed-and that it's
      actually your own subjectivity that's getting in your
      way! Once you see that, you start to see that actually
      there are no limits to what you can think, feel, and
      do." -Elizabeth Zimmer

      . >^..^< . . . . . .


      More Mind Body Spirit:
      "Girlfight: Self-Defense Training Prepares Women for
      Combat on the Streets" by Grace Basidas
      http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0338/bastidas.php

      . >^..^< . . . . . .

      The worst thing about censorship is [deleted by
      censorship Bureau].

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      http://secondsightresearch.tripod.com

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      http://secondsightresearch.tripod.com/bodyandsoul/

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      http://secondsightresearch.tripod.com/cattales/

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