from Chapter 6
From Combat to Harmony
Most of us have a relationship to the outside world based on conflict, the power struggle. It is quite tiring. One must always be on the alert. Could there be another way of doing things? That is exactly what we are going to learn in this chapter.
To Move Toward . . .
or Distance Yourself From
Because of our characters and personal histories, each of us has a tendency either to move toward people, things, novelty or to move away from them.
None of us are all one or the other; we are one or the other depending on the context. For example, I am shy and have a tendency to distance myself from people by refusing to make contact; on the other hand, when I love an activity I go toward it without any doubt or hesitation. We can watch ourselves and determine if we are more “moving toward” or “going away from” kinds of people. Once the pattern has been recognized, we can begin to craft a method of working on ourselves to break our habitual patterns.
Physically speaking, a person who “goes toward” will have the tendency to favor skiing on the balls of his feet, whereas someone who “moves away from” will have a tendency to rely more on his heels. The first stage is the realization of this fact, the second is to recognize it in yourself and accept it in the action, and the third is to begin to reorient your body. This practice consists of experiencing the two extreme positions and provoking and feeling the state of mind associated with each. It is not a question of one being a “good” attitude and the other being “bad”; they are two attitudes that inspire physical and psychological tensions.
To get out of this chain of interlinked tensions, we start by discovering how to establish a sense of being rooted in the Earth. This rooted sensation consists of resting on your feet in a standing position and feeling the ground and the contact of the soles of your feet with the ground. If the mass of your body is projected over the middle of your feet, your body can naturally relax and be freely available for whatever is required of it. This stance permits you to detach yourself from achieving the goal (“moving toward”) or fleeing (“moving away from”) through orienting your energy toward the center of the body and, more specifically, in that part of the body that connects the body to the Earth: the soles of the feet. This orientation helps us to break free of the automatic response of either moving toward or distancing ourselves from an objective.
But be warned. This impulse will come back at a gallop. When the impulse arises to psychologically extend yourself toward a particular objective, the old habits will reemerge and restore the chains of tensions to their original place. What can you do to avoid this? Once you have planted your “root” it needs to be fed--in other words, this bond to the Earth needs to be recalled and practiced on a regular basis. Snow-gliding sports are in no way an obstacle to this, for, in contrast to walking, the gliding motion is dependent upon a quasi-permanent contact between the middle of the feet and the Earth.
Between “going toward” and “moving away from” there is another state of being; it is a relaxed presence that is ever ready to act. This strong connection to the Earth places us in a new dynamic. Physically relaxed, the mind can open itself to any situation with discernment. There is no room for doubt, which is intimately connected with the projection into what lies ahead, behind, or somewhere else. Projection is the source of doubt; this stimulus arising from the depths of the being lifts the diaphragm and the lungs. The sensation of being rooted makes it possible to place the body spheres correctly and, primarily, to release tensions. Establishing a sense of being rooted to the Earth is essential to centering in the moment.
In each one of us there is a space, a strong point for each of our thoughts and actions, an “empty source.” The connection to this source is found in silence and through a movement within. I forget the outside so that I may finally be better present to experience it. The more I “inhabit” my body, the more lucid I am in the world. The energy used by the brain is located within the body. If my mind acts like a tyrant over my body, the body becomes taut in order to reach its goal, and no longer provides either a good supply of energy or the perceptual acuity required for the activity.
Getting Carried Away by a Situation
The skier desires what is outside of him. Projected toward the goal, he creates a state of general tension in his body: the feet are buttressed, the legs taut, the belly lifts and retracts, the shoulders hunch, the center of gravity is “nailed down.” The body is no longer freely available. When the skier is outside of himself, he is investing everything in the goal instead of in his body and senses, which will lead to the goal. The body is relegated to the function of satellite, revolving outside the center of the action. Psychologically carried away by the goal, the skier loses all lucid grasp of the present moment and its requirements.
Being at the Heart of the Action
Accepting the world for what it is, the skier can create a dynamic equilibrium between his body and the laws governing the world around him. For the first step, I center myself and place myself psychologically at the heart of my sensations, at the center of my body. For the next step, I open myself to the information the outside world is sending me while maintaining my anchoring within my body.