the observer



I was running, pounding my feet to the rhythm of my indignance. It had been a petty argument, best forgotten, but I was holding on to it firmly using it to bolster my pain like arranging and rearranging pillows of brick. Then I remembered to stop thinking. Immediately I heard the butterscotch trees erupt with the sweet twitter of tits’ song and saw the golden poplars bow.

Silly me.

In the yoga class we were being asked to swing our arms in cartwheels. First, in front of us, and then behind. Then we were to swing one in front and one behind. This gave us the giggles because it was a left brain thing. When I finally squirmed free of my desire to get it right and stopped overloading my poor arms with information, I was reminded that beautiful natural movement is best achieved with a quiet mind, and that our constant thoughts and judgements only disturb flow and block energy.

Later, in the lesson, still in Bach’s E flat prelude, I repeated the exercise with my student. Then I applied it to the first and second notes (we’re making progress!) - the leap between the bottom and the top E flats. The arm curves round the cello like a boomerang, leaps like a springbok, lands light as a feather and comes to rest. I watched as my student started to perfect the gesture, and then as, just before landing on the top string, her mind moved in and locked her wrist so it could lay claim, saying “’I’ landed here” rather than “Oh look! it just landed here”.

I have been trying to cultivate a non-violent observer in my own practice; one not attached to interpreting, to pleasing or healing, neither to doing myself, or the composer, justice. Just listening. Miraculously, in the fleeting moments when this observer is present, perfect movement, humour, depth and logic result. The pulse becomes as strong as the bowing poplar, the melody as natural as birdsong and the organic harmonic progressions, simply revealed, make the music glow like butterscotch.


Oh yes, the effortlessly focused and unattached involvement! Oh to reach that.

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