Summary of Research: 8th May 2015
My focus for this research series so far has been on the dynamic of breathing. This investigation has been sparked by an article by David Abram (1990), “The perceptual Implications of Gaia ” found in Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in
Buddhism and Ecology, edited by Allan Hunt Badiner, and published by Parallax Press.
In this article, Abram discusses the Gaia hypothesis, as formulated by James Lovelock, which states: “The entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales to viruses, and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity, capable of manipulating the Earth's atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts.” This hypothesis engages with the notion that all living matter on earth is interconnected.
Breathing entails a reciprocal exchange between our environment and our bodies, and it is a reminder that our relationship to the world is part of a dynamic ecosystem. Breathing is the constant, ongoing communication between the organism that we are, and the living world that we are in. I have been experimenting with different ways in
which a performer can engage with their breathing while moving on their own, in pairs and as a group.
Tasks that I have been using are:
1. Noticing and being present with your breathing without judgment or trying to
control it. Then moving while being present with your breathing.
2. Watching another breathing at close range and from afar.
3. Moving with another while being present with your own breathing and the other
person’s breathing. Allowing yourself to move if your body wishes to do so.
4. Controlling your breathing patterns. Moving how ever you wish to do so.
5. Controlling your breathing with another while being conscious of your own
breathing and theirs.
6. Choosing to either control or let your breathing be while on your own, with others,
or in a group.
7. Overt, performative breathing while moving to pop songs.
8. Seeing the difference between breathing and moving, not breathing and moving,
pretending to breath but not actually breathing and moving.
9. Moving to a pre-made breathing sound score.
NB Through out this practice, breathing was first and movement was second. I was thinking about the body following its own story and taking care of itself as I/others concentrated on breathing.
Some thoughts and reflections:
Because the above mentioned tasks were undertaken on one’s own, in pairs and as a group, I was able to observe and experience different energies and ways of approaching the tasks. This allowed me to gain different perspectives.
When I was controlling my breath with one other person it felt performative and external while retain a conscious presence with the self and other. There was difficulty in being with your own breath and being with another’s breath because of the dynamics that occur within a relationship. If one moves then you may want to react to this movement in response and allow that shift to occur. This requires more practice as it can take a lot of concentration just to be with your own breathing and with another’s, let alone moving with another in this state.
When I was observing the group situation, the way in which they approached controlling the breathing was subtle and only occasionally ‘showed’ the breath. The group was able to maintain a strong connection whether they were close or far from each other. They began to utilize other senses besides the breath, in order to stay
connected when they could not see or hear the other performers breathing. Being able to choose when you control your breathing and when you were let your breathing be, enabled more dynamics within the improvisation.
I am interested in combining the somatic breathing state with the controlled breathing state further. Next week I am curious to create some new tasks, which are more specific and allow for both non-controlled and controlled ways of breathing to occur while moving.
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