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Elizabeth Reninger

Twists & Turns

By February 4, 2013

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When I was a graduate student, the bulk of my courses were in the sociology and philosophy departments -- since those were my officially-declared "major" and "minor" areas of study. Not infrequently, however, I'd feel a strong draw to supplement these courses with others. Typically, these supplemental courses would fall into one of two categories: (1) super-intuitive, right-brain kinds of things like poetry-writing or dance improvisation; and (2) super-analytic, left-brain endeavors such as philosophical logic.

Each provided what seemed to be very distinct forms of comfort and satisfaction: in poetry and dance, an exploratory freedom, an invitation to push the envelop of imaginative possibility; while in logic courses, a honing of precision and deductive reasoning, based upon clearly-articulated "rules of the game" -- which yielded, with little to no wiggle-room, answers which were clearly "right" or "wrong."

I loved them both! And often thought how odd it was, that this was the case, and wondered: what's that about? The allure of poetry and dance -- their sweet playfulness -- was fairly easy to understand, as a balance to the heavily academic vibe of my required courses. But what about the mathematical logic?

The comfort I derived from those courses seemed, at times, to be rooted in a mostly-neurotic need for control -- for knowing, for sure and for certain, what the "right answer" was. Yet there was also a way that I experienced their equations and arguments as an art-form -- with its own strange sort of beauty.

(Tangentially: during a very strange period in my life -- the months following my first meditation retreat -- I had the frequent dream-time experience of "seeing," on the screen of my inner eye, page after page of mathematical formulas, as though I were reading very quickly through a textbook of sorts. They were unidentifiable to me, in terms of their specific content, but clearly were a product -- albeit a rather unusual one -- of my "intuitive mind." But this is a topic for a future post ....)

What I learned as I went more deeply into poetry and dance, was that there are "right choices" in these venues also -- though it's a rightness which can never be defined ahead of time, according to this or that set of rules; but rather arises organically out of the circumstances of the moment (bearing a certain similarity to the spontaneously "right action" of wuwei).

Anyway .... all of this by way of saying that there's a relationship between structure and freedom, alignment and creative power. And so it is that, for instance, the physical alignment of our bones and muscles affects the degree of ease and clarity with which our qi can flow, which in turn affects our mental ease and clarity.

And since for a number of weeks now I've been waxing philosophical, mythological, and poetic -- seemed like a good idea to bring in back around to some basic guidance re: physical alignment.

In these essays, I introduce a couple of simple twists, as structural support for facilitating the flow of energy/intelligence between the dantians. The first one helps to open and align the lumbar and lower thoracic spine; and the second one helps to open and align the upper thoracic and cervical spine. Enjoy!

Qigong Windshield-Wiper Twist
Qigong Seated Swivel-Twist

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