Anything Can Happen

9/11 Memorial - South Pool

This spring, I’m working on a new choral piece with the Back Bay Chorale, called Anything Can Happen.  The five-movement work is by the young Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz, and is based around three poems by Seamus Heaney, and two sections of the Arabic Injeel, the equivalent to the New Testament.  The result is a dark, brooding, chilling and spare work that keeps pulling me into its mysteries further each time we rehearse it.  As usual, rehearsing with Scott Jarrett is phenomenal, but I’m always especially interested in what happens when he, who so much more often works in early music like Bach, takes on something more contemporary.

The finale – and title poem – of the work is Heaney’s off-putting take on Horace, “Anything Can Happen.”  Part translation of Horace’s Ode 1.34, part response to the 9/11 attacks, the poem never fails to fill me with dread, and at the same time a sense of the preciousness of the moment.  Don’t forget, it seems to say.  Everything you have is right now.  And only right now.

It’s a strange kind of gratitude to be imbued with, but its essence is gratitude all the same.

Anything Can Happen

Anything can happen.  You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
and the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
the winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle lid.
Capstones shift. Nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

-Seamus Heaney
from District and Circle, Faber and Faber Ltd., 2006

(See the Chorale perform this as well as Mozart’s Requiem on Sunday, March 17 at 3pm at Sanders Theatre.)

$20 Intro Session Deal is coming to an end!

turtle

This tiny turtle wants you to act now!

Everyone, if you’re in my area and want to try Rubenfeld Synergy Method, you have only a few days left to receive your first session for only $20.

I’ve been running this deal for some time, but it’s getting to be time to retire it.  Contact me before February 1, however, and I’ll set you up a session for just twenty smackeroos.

I do want to share this work with as many people as I can, so please – go ahead and sign up!

I hope to see you.

"Open your eyes, and be surprised that you have eyes to open."

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

 

“Open your eyes, and be surprised that you have eyes to open.”

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

 

How do we do listening touch with someone who can't hear?

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

How do we do listening touch with someone who can’t hear?

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Slight hiatus

Hi everyone!  Catching up on things this week after the holidays, a houseguest, and a big upcoming weekend for me.  I’ll be back in full force next Wednesday with bloggy goodness.  In the meantime, give me some sense of what you’d like to hear about, what you saw this week that excited you, and what’s touching you these days.  Comment here!

"Sometimes we save each other"

Since it seems to be Radiolab week or something at this here blog, and since I’m running about a bit with a wonderful houseguest, today I give you yet another link from those good folks: the story of the spider on the frog on the turtle.  (There’s pictures, too.)

(In fact, even if you don’t feel like clicking through, you should really have the picture.)

“Sometimes we save each other”

Since it seems to be Radiolab week or something at this here blog, and since I’m running about a bit with a wonderful houseguest, today I give you yet another link from those good folks: the story of the spider on the frog on the turtle.  (There’s pictures, too.)

(In fact, even if you don’t feel like clicking through, you should really have the picture.)

Touch at a distance

Jumping off of Radiolab for the second time this week (as I’ve been listening to it rather obsessively), I’m meditating today on the concepts of sound and touch – both of which are essential to Rubenfeld Synergy Method – and learning that they are more powerfully related than one might think.

Ilana Rubenfeld, the founder of this work, was a musician and symphonic conductor; sound was, for a time, arguably more important to her than anything. After decades of study and therapeutic work, after developing her own method of healing synthesizing elements of Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Gestalt Therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis, she finally put out a book describing her methods and called it The Listening Hand.

But what if, as this Radiolab segment, called “Sound as Touch,” proposes, there is also such a thing as “The Touching Sound”?

In a cross-cultural study of parents and babies, psychologist Anne Fernald noticed that the tendency to talk to babies in a certain way is universal – which anyone who has been around babies at all could tell you.  But more than that: she discovered that there are a few universal “melodies” of speech – whatever language you are speaking – that indicate comfort, approval, and reproach.  Parents and caregivers were especially likely to begin using this type of melodic, “goochie goochie” talk when they were out of physical contact with the infant – instinctively using sound when they cannot communicate with touch.

Further study of the way the ear and the brain process sounds reveals that sound, as Fernald explains, is “like touch at a distance”; we are literally touched by the vibrations, which explains, beyond the metaphor, why we can be so emotionally touched by music.

This further illustrates to me the importance, in our work, of using talk and touch together – and of tone, which we studied extensively in the training.  Even beyond the age of infancy, when words cannot be understood, tone of voice tends to be more important to communication than the words you use.  This is because sound literally enters the ears as a kind of touch – a touch that can be as comforting, as moving, as invasive, or as damaging as a physical contact.

When a Synergist reverses this idea and thinks of touching as a kind of listening, then what we can “hear” through the tone of a person’s body can become as crucial as what the client is saying to us.  Sometimes they are saying the same thing; sometimes they are in conflict, and that incongruity is where healing can begin.  It is in cultivating both kinds of hearing – and both kinds of touching – that we develop our skills, and can be of real help to people.

Listen to more of the segment, including a hilarious account of the first two performances of Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” – here.