michael j. morris


Physical Practice/Creative Activity
29 December, 2008, 7:50 pm
Filed under: cosmology, creative process, Dance, yoga | Tags: , ,

I was reminded today of a beautiful concept from Yogic philosophy, the “turiya state of consciousness.” It is the fourth level of consciousness, the first three being waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. This fourth level of consciousness, as I understand it, is the observer, that part of self that permeates all the other states as a witness to the life you are living. This witness-consciousness contains no judgement, no criticism, just observance and acceptance. Some might call this love. Other’s might call it God. But it is this beautiful idea that woven throughout one’s entire existence, every passing moment, every choice, every action, and perhaps even common amongst us all, is this passive, accepting, loving observer. And when we can shift our consciousness into this state, Yogis consider this bliss. Living full of loving, accepting, observance. It makes me think of Feldenkrais’ “Awareness Through Movement,” or Nita Little’s evolving concept of “Mind in Motion,” this idea of being in action, making choices, doing things, and maintaining a constant state of awareness or observance or mindfulness IN those actions. I can see this playing a significant role in my unfolding development as a dance artist.

From this reminder of “turiya,” I was considering teaching, how I might teach, how I might teach something like technique that is so incredibly process oriented, while cultivating this concept of consciousness, of loving awareness in training the body. I thought through all the ways one might consider what one was practicing (and yes, even by ranging into the realm of consideration, I feel like I am shifting from simple observance to a kind of judgement, but this was the path of my thoughts as I walked today). And I began to think of training as a creative activity. Which is probably not a profound revelation for others, but for me it felt profound today. I think I have always been aware of the intrinsic creativity in teaching (preparing class, articulating concepts, etc.), but it struck me in a new way today.
What if we think of our bodies as our art? That seems so familiar as dance artists participating in an essentially embodied art form, but it seems as if we more frequently think of dance (as an art) as the employment of the body, the occupation of the body, the arrangement and design of the body. But in considering training and practice literally as a creative act, moving from an immaterial intention into a physical manifestation of that intention . . . this was a new concept for me, and offered fresh sustenance for maintaining my own dancing life. I think perhaps that sometimes there will not be choreography. Perhaps sometimes there will not performance even. Without those things I think it is easy to ask myself, “In what ways am I being creative?” I tend to separate out the “physical practice” and the “creative activity” (even though they so clearly overlap in that clever Venn diagram), and yet today I somehow reframed both to potentially be inseparable from one another. The act of creating is one which (it seems, even on the conceptual or quantum level) is intrinsically physical. And the physical practice might in fact be essentially creative, beginning with an intention (even as loosely defined as “I want to move!”), and bringing that intention into embodiment.
This was a little shift in my thinking today.
I thought I would share it.
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