Compassion Strengths

Workshops, consultations, education and support for care givers.

Mindful Movement

Letting go is a basic, if not THE basic principle of T’ai-chi-Ch’uan. It is said a student’s progress is determined by how much he is willing to let go of – tension, emotional programming, fear, thinking, defensiveness, etc. The natural being is already powerful and wise. You must let go of your interference with the body’s power and wisdom.”

- Bob Klein: Movements of Magic, The Spirit of Tai Chi Ch’uan

Letting Go

Mindful movement is natural movement, a physical flow that creatively expresses the essence of the natural self. The harder you try to do mindful movement, the more difficult it becomes. The more you surrender to the natural rhythm that is already playing within your body and mind, the more natural and spontaneous your motions become.

Mindful movement is centered and connected, its movement that begins in your core and flows up through the center of your body, connecting all of your parts together in motion and rhythm, while remaining anchored to your core.

Each part of your body is separate, with its own individual awareness and intelligence, and simultaneously connected, immediately responsive to every other part of your body. No part of your body moves in complete isolation. Every movement influences and shapes every other movement.

Mindful movement is fun, containing at its heart a sense of playfulness, an almost childlike abandon to and trust of your body and the sensation of motion. At times it can start to feel like you’re floating. It’s exciting, new, refreshing, and invigorating each time you engage in the movement. There is a very deep, almost cellular, longing in the body for the creative flow of intelligent energy.

As you begin to follow the flow of energy from your core out into conscious movement, you’ll start to notice different qualities of the energy emerging in response to your breathing and the motions your body spontaneously creates. As you begin to trust and rely fully on the natural intelligence of your “body/mind” (includes the natural intelligence of your body), you can surrender completely to a continuously evolving movement, a sense of motion that, over time, will create itself.

The Stance

“The earth is calling to you. It has something for you. This great creature upon which we live, wishes to give you its energy to empower your life”

- Bob Klein: Movements of Magic, The Spirit of Tai Chi Ch’uan

Hold your hands in front of you as though you were holding a large beach ball out from your body. Your hands should be about 18 inches apart from each other elbows slightly bent, palms facing towards each other and slightly down. Allow your arms and shoulders to relax. Relax your neck and straighten your back as you allow your core center to “float.”

Now allow your awareness to expand to include sensing the energy that is literally absorbed into, and radiating out from, the earth. Sense your personal connection with the earth and with this energy; do you experience yourself as a part of, even an extension of, this living earth upon which we live? Or, do you feel disconnected from this enormous energy source?

Consciously engage your creative imagination to extend and attune your awareness to sense alive, flowing, energy that is constantly radiating up from the earth. Visualize and imaginatively sense this energy penetrate the soles of your feet and extend through your knees and thighs to your core.

Breath and Motion

Breath and motion have an intimate relationship; you tend to move with the same force, fluidity and connectedness as you breathe. When you are anxious and breathing in short, shallow, uneven breaths, your movements will also tend to be jerky and uneven. When you consciously breathe smooth, flowing and connected breaths your motion is also more likely to be smooth, flowing and connected.Begin this movement starting from the original standing position with your arms extended, elbows bent and your hands held in front of you as though you were lightly holding onto a large beach ball. Your knees are slightly bent and you feel as though you can float the center of your body.

Focus on your core

Gently bend your knees and allow gravity to pull your center slowly toward the ground as you breathe in to a count of four. Breathe energy in from the earth through the soles of your feet, up your ankles and knees to your core.

Simultaneously, allow your hands to flow in toward your chest pulling in vital new energy through your palms into your heart center. Coordinate your movements so that your hands and arms are contracting toward your heart center as your knees are slowly bending to the force of gravity lowering your center of gravity towards the ground.

Open your core and your heart to alive, intelligent, nurturing and connecting energy as you breathe in fully from your diaphragm. Sense, feel and visualize this energy being drawn up from the ground through your feet and in through your palms as your legs and arms contract in harmony.

Mindful Movement

Bend your knees and lower your center of gravity only to the degree you are comfortable. Do not push or strain for results. If you cannot bend down very far at first that is completely fine. If you have pain or injury to your back or knees, consult your healthcare provider before doing this exercise.

As you bend your knees and lower your center of gravity pay attention to your back and your balance. It is the tendency for beginners to bend forward as they lower their center of gravity and lose their alignment.

As you bend your knees and lower your center of gravity, hold your back with a little arch so that your pelvis is slightly tilted forward. Allow gravity to do its work – you just supply the brakes. As you slowly bend your knees, keeping a slight arch in your back, allow gravity to slowly, smoothly and gently pull you towards the ground.

When you reach that place where you cannot comfortably bend your legs and knees, allow your center to slow its momentum. Your hands are pulled in towards your chest. Your lungs are filled with fresh oxygen and your core and your heart are charged with energy.

Just as the momentum in your legs begins to transition from down to up, allow your legs to gently, slowly and smoothly bounce during the space that your in-breath is transitioning to out-breath. During this point of transition from down to up, in to out, inhale to exhale, there is a sweet moment of weightlessness and timelessness as breath, energy, motion and momentum meet at the Gate of Emptiness.

As you complete the gentle bounce, begin breathing out as you sense the momentum in your legs pushing you up. As much as you can, “ride” on the momentum created by the downward motion. Convert the downward energy into upward energy by “bouncing” on the ball of energy that has been created by your breath, energy and motion.

Breathe energy and awareness from your core into your thighs, knees, ankles and back as you begin to stand; just as your momentum carries you out of the gentle bounce to standing, visualize you are consciously breathing awareness-energy into the muscles of your thighs, knees, ankles and back actually propelling them into a standing position. Use minimal muscle energy to lift your body upwards. Open yourself to a different kind of energy that is created and directed by breath, energy and motion. It is the energy of effortless effort.

Simultaneously, breathe energy-awareness from your heart center into your hands as your arms begin to straighten effortlessly. Allow this energy-awareness to propel your arms and hands forward with as little consciously directed effort on your part as possible.

Breathe out slowly, smoothly and continuously to a count of six. Activate your felt-sense and visualize your breath energy releasing old, stagnant freeze-energy from your heart. Imagine this energy being dispelled as you are slowly, sighing out a deep, resonate, breath of relief.

As your legs and arms straighten in harmony with the slow releasing of your breath, allow your attention to rest in your core. From your core expand your awareness in all directions in a kind of holographic attention where you are instantly and simultaneously connected to your breath, energy and motion that is in every part of your body.

From hands to feet, elbows to ankles, all parts of the body flow together as one, while retaining their identity as separate individual units. Without any sense of fragmentation, your awareness is able to move fluidly from experiencing your body as separate, individual parts, to experiencing your body as one whole, indivisible unit, to experiencing your body as both, simultaneously.

As your breath empties out completely, and you return to your original starting position, feel the full completion of the movement. Do not rush or try to get finished with it. Allow the movement to complete itself.

Just as the last of your oxygen is being discharged and you are standing with knees slightly bent and arms held out in front of you as though you were holding onto a large beach ball, place your attention into your core; Is the earth calling to you again? If you intuitively sense that it is, allow the momentum of your upward motion to seamlessly transition into downward motion as you open your core, heart and lungs to fresh, new, vital Energy in MOTION.

Getting into the Flow

With each slow, fluid repetition of the movement, surrender to the flow of the motion. The basics of Breath of Relief are very simple; keep your back straight and aligned as you draw in, circulate and exhale the vital energy of your breath in flowing harmony with your movements.

As you master the mechanics of the movement allow your attention to sink into your core center again and again. Continually align your attention and your intention to sense the release and transformation of energy residue. Each time that you can align body and breath with energy and motion, you are transforming compassion fatigue into the energy and engagement of flow.


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