Part 2 of taped interviews between myself and Tamar which took place in January 2010.
T & G – 2
T: Sometimes we go into similar states in the work – Gregg and I – and sometimes we just get nasueas, exhausted; whatever he gets, I get. And today we got exhausted and I think it was from – we tried to find the place between the shin and the calf – the midpoint and we tried to access, today, energies from inside of things. Inside of the middle of the rib cage. I think that the whole point of everything is that because I don’t make distinctions between body systems, but I just see it all as one big piece of information…like, there’s no telling what I’ll use and how I’ll go and what I’ll do, which is nice for me because it’s mysterious and it’s revelatory.
G: You’re taking an investigative approach.
T: Yeah and it reveals a lot –
G: the body itself…
T: yeah and it’s really exciting because there’s no lack of ideas and we’ve probably met a 100 something times and every time It’s like wow – this is really interesting. This is really special and how one time connects with another – I don’t remember what we did the last time when I come in to do this time. But, the body remembers. So, my basic premise is that the body is really smart.
G: Which is why you would say my heels have stayed down – once they hit the ground back in January, for the most part, they’ve stayed down. The body learned that was possible, when as before my body was unable to do that because the mind was sending a very specific message for the muscle to misfire or tighten constantly. And through work, we slowly changed that message. Only through – because we didn’t do stretching – because we changed the alignment through suggesting, breathing, shaking and some very light, hands on, which is also just another form of suggesting an idea or an attention to the body, what happened? The muscles lengthened? What exactly happened?
T: Well, for something like that – your heels went down and I was satisfied, but then now I see that they went down at the expense of the alignment of the lower part of the leg.
G: Hold on, but answer the question –what happened?
T: Okay, I think the short muscles – muscles always work in groups and if one is too short, the other is too long and there’s a way that they then find their rightful length. That’s it. They find their rightful length. And when they do, the joints fit; the things fit in the joint. If muscles are different lengths, they can pull the joint out, right – but what was so interesting to us in the beginning is we figured that the misfiring from the brain went a certain route. They went into this tight hip, knees pulled in, foot dragging, whatever – we thought that if we change the map, the misfirings will get lost and they won’t find their original route and will then triumph over them.
G: Or they’ll be replaced by a stronger message?
T: We’ll triumph over them because (1) we’ll confuse them, they won’t find their prior route – they’ll be information coming on a cellular level everywhere, like almost on the local scene. It’s like constitutional rights like the states and the you know, government. All the different states had input. The feet had a lot of input, the knees – everything had a history and a possibility for a future. And so, we went right to the people, you know, we didn’t go to the head, the government. That’s kind of it, you know. It’s democracy.
G: Exactly. The body is extremely democratic. No, that’s interesting.
T: I mean, a little toe has as big a vote as anything. And if the little toe’s been up for 30 years and the little toe goes down, every single piece and cell and particle in the body is going to go shouting to a new place.
G: Right, so which will have ramifications throughout the rest of the entire body.
T: Right. It’s constantly that.
G: So – but, even if you weren’t dealing with somebody with such a specific alignment with someone like me who has cerebral palsy, the same effects would apply to someone who is quote unquote normal.
T: Right. I found that I didn’t need to think about you as a special case that if I just said, ‘alignment do it’, I would need to say that there was anything you couldn’t do because of your disability. The only time that I accessed it, well let’s see when would I have accessed it?
G: Well, to find out how to correct it, I would imagine, right?
T: Well, when I put it into my own body I realized how crazy and difficult your former alignment was. How totally obtuse – like, you’d never design anything like that, on purpose kind-of-thing. Because it was sort of geared to wear out the joints, to bring you down – gravity was turning you in and bringing you – it just didn’t…
G: Poorly designed compensation, right?
T: Yeah, we had to just liberate your mind and the fear. I think the fear factors. Then there was this whole chapter of ‘well, if you were Gregg in your old body, who are you in your new body?’
G: Right, but I think what’s interesting is I guess – sort of a more simplistic way to talk about this is this sort of mechanical approach. Right and that there was a bad design going on or and that you knew the structure was poorly designed –
T: Well designed and not working-
G: Which was functional and you knew that there was a more efficient possibility.
T: It’s almost like someone getting – who wears a size 7 shoe, having to walking around in a size 2 shoe – if they walked around in a size 2 shoe, the whole body would get this message to just shrivel up. So, that’s how one has to think about it…that there wasn’t room enough and things had to –
G: Shift out –
T: well, they turned in on themselves.
G: But, I mean I think that’s the sort of thing you take –
T: It’s mechanical. It’s not spiritual, it’s not emotional. It’s really, I mean if you’re looking at me and you’re saying, ‘well, she doesn’t really have an academic background,’ but on the other hand, I’m very scientific about it because sometimes I’ll just step back, use my eyes. I find it rather a concrete approach in some ways.
G: I understand. I understand that, but I think that’s what’s clear. That’s what happens when you make these very practical, almost common sense structural or design adjustments to the body, there is always going to be a psycho-emotional, physical response, right? Because of what people would call muscle memory, or something like that?
T: Well, I think that things are stored in the body and the body is created around a feeling and we used to say that you are how you hold yourself. So, I think some of that is memories of really difficult things in your body. There’s definitely that there, but it’s never something we deal with directly. We sort of respect that the body has this. I mean sometimes I just feel like crying because I’m so impressed with the body. It just feel like that’s beautiful. Like today, when you got this minute movement from the ankle to the knee to the hip and there was just this tiny little plie. And plie means fold and that’s what was happening. The front of your ankle was folding, where it’s usually so stiff and the back of your knee was folding and your hip joint was folding and it was just this oscillation – it’s the most beautiful movement that I ever saw.
G: Now, did you know, looking at me, seeing my original alignment, that any of that change was possible? That I would be able to find space or flexibility, or range of movement – did you know that was possible?
T: I’ve even asked myself the question and I just assume –
G: That it was possible-
T: I have an assumption that the body self-corrects when given the chance, that if something went one way, it can go the other way. I assume – I’m abnormally optimistic and I think with concentration and time and positive energy, there’s almost nothing you can’t do.
G: Right. That seems like a totally different approach and way of thinking as to someone who was supposedly a studied expert in anatomy or physiogamy or physical therapy or what? From my point of view, they seem to have an understanding and knowledge of the body’s limitations and don’t go beyond that. So, they’re already working within a limited construct.
T: I don’t take insurance, which is very helpful…Like physical therapists said to us from the audience in our talk-backs, that they’re not free to do what they want. They can’t, they have to go by a certain thing and do a certain thing – I mean, I’ve met physical therapists that were dancers before and somehow they have more, but I just, I don’t close down any possibility. And also, I think that a relationship is interesting between us and because we’re both learning together – it’s a meditation in the way that you set aside all your worries in your brain, you just have to be in the moment, so alive, because you can’t miss a thing.
G: Can you talk a little more about that because you mentioned at times that you sometimes go to a ‘different place’ or a ‘place without ego’ when you approach this work. Can you talk a little bit about that – if you can.
T: Well, I’m not trying to prove what I know, which is great because it’s like someone pays you $75, they want a private class – you are responsible within that one hour to give something important – that they recognize as important. And I don’t have to deal with any of that, so I’m kind of relaxed and also our timeline is long. So, I can do just a little piece of work. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. That’s why I kind of melt away into just a sensing system and I look at you and I just sense. The senses I use are my eyes (a lot), somewhat my hands and I don’t name. it’s like a Buddhist thing a little bit – although, I don’t think of it as Buddhist. But, I don’t put a label, I just look at flow and energy and joints and all this stuff and it’s revealed to me what to do next.
G: From my body or from –
T: I don’t know from. From a little piece of information that I take from you to me (visual or otherwise) and then it’s like someone just looked it up for me and then just gave me the definition. I don’t know, maybe that’s my inner encyclopedia. It just opens to the page that says ‘oh shins’ – and I go back to a memory – like oh I remember when my shins were really tight, I took a tennis ball and rolled it up and down my shins, which release the back of my ankle. Okay, that’s a piece of knowledge I have, so somehow I put the back of my hand on your ankle and your shin. That’s experiential on my part and that’s cataloging my experiences, which I have a lot of.
G: Right. And I guess that’s what’s interesting for me to is to experience my own body telling me what is correct and telling me this is where I’m supposed to be, in alignment – this is where you’re body is supposed to be in alignment. As opposed to I’m stuck in, I’m frozen in this way, which is allowing me to compensate, which I just am stuck in this mode of moving, walking, living, which my brain operated in from day 1.
T: And the thing about the – sometimes within something, you will get stuck. Then comes the courage to keep you in it.
G: So, explain that.
T: So, let’s say you are hanging over – you’re feet are on the floor, you’re standing up, your fingers are dangling somewhat near the floor and suddenly you feel like your back is screaming and your hamstrings are going to whatever…and I could go jump out of that and do something else, but I don’t because I have a knowledge in that moment that says ‘go through this to the other side.’ But, help him out – hold the back of his thighs, show him how to drop the tail bone and the head so he begins to understand the circle of the body.
G: Because you have a sense that – what’s happening in that moment? It’s a shock to the body system because it’s moving through something else – because it’s moving into something else or what’s happening.
T: Because fear is gripping you because you’re going into a place you’ve never been because you’ve never gone that deep – you’ve never been down that far and your body is like saying, ‘no, stop-stop-stop.’
G: So, the body has a natural inclination to protect what it perceives as ‘I’m in physical pain.’
T: Or, I’m in danger of snapping something. But, if I look with my eyes and I see the line of your body and I see that there’s a circularness and I can tuck your tail bone into my hand and the back of your head into my hand – I can find that whole circle of the spine. I know that if we could go further, we could release. I don’t know, I mean, that’s experience too. And I know that I’ve got to keep you in motion. I’ll say, ‘take tiny steps backwards’ or –
G: And that can be a difficult thing for people to see or for people to understand that what we have is a trust that I know you are not going to put me in an intentionally harmful situation or scenario. And that as painful as that might be, I understand through previous experience and working with you, that I also understand that that is a sort of neurological response to a physical sensation. Or a protective measure and that it will move into something else. The pain isn’t like someone’s breaking my arm, it’s a sort of physical energy coming up against a block that can be gotten through.
T: Right, I’ve seen change happen within one session – change for life. One, intensive, slow-wrought change over this pace of an hour and a half of sticking with something, can make a change that stays with you.
G: And where does it stay?
T: I think you actually elongate. I think, physically a change happens and then other changes happen around it to keep it. Whereas, if you go too soon out of it, things will snap back and get tighter, if you go through it, but you really have to have a sense of what you’re doing. There are certain shapes in the body that you know are safe.
G: Such as?
T: Circles. Like, fetal positions. Even twists of certain places – sacrum going one way, sternum – things that I know where there’s space and they can be there.
G: Can you talk a little bit on this idea about – human beings have been around for a long time and have been investigating their bodies since they could like at their own hands. So, has everything about the body been figured out? Like is there really anything new or that groundbreaking about what we’re doing?
T: Well, I don’t need to think of it as groundbreaking, but I do think that people specialize in bodies and I think in some ways that divides the body too much.
G: What do you mean by that?
T: Like someone becomes a specialist in the hand or someone becomes a specialist in the nervous system and then the integration can sometimes suffer. So, as we get smarter and smarter, sometimes we get further away from the whole picture.
G: And what’s the whole picture in your mind?
T: Maybe it’s good to divide things up to understand them, but then you need to put them together to show how they’re all neighbors.
G: They’re connected.
G: Do you think the word ‘holistic’ has a sort of a negative connotation now?
T: I don’t think so.
G: Because people would describe this as a holistic approach.
T: I just feel like I’m in a position to receive messages about the body for the next 40million years. There’s just so much and the way things are from my point of view, somehow I leave the door open to more possibilities because I don’t try to tell you that there’s an organization that you need to find. I believe there’s an organization that reveals itself. So, in other words, sometimes when you’re doing experiential anatomy class let’s say – the teacher knows all the systems of the body and the teacher says, ‘go into this system and try this, then you’ll experience this system.’ For me, because I don’t know it that way, I just say, ‘go there and be a tourist and see what the sights are, see what the smells are – just go around and see.’ So then there becomes a conversation within your body that within yourself that experiential sense of things connect, so you have a larger and larger experience of connecting. For me, I can’t read something and then read something else and connect it up without going through my body, if it’s about the body. It doesn’t make deep sense to me. The only thing that makes deep sense to me are things that I’m able to experience little bit by little bit. So, it’s maybe a limitation. But, I think that if you spent time behind your sternum, if you spent time in the hip joints, you spent time, we visited – we’ve done big to small movements. We’ve done shaking, we’ve done imagery, we’ve done breathing – you’re the repository of certain knowledges about these places and then when you have enough of it, you start to connect and that’s when you say to me, ‘don’t talk to me, don’t touch me – I’m working.’ What’s happening is this inner conversation between things that have been laid down before that didn’t forget what they did three weeks ago. I forgot what we did three weeks ago, but your body didn’t.
G: Three weeks ago – or areas will be tapped that have never, in my experience, never been opened or allowed to “speak,” but through the body’s inherent design, it knows what to do through the inherent design in years and years of human evolution. The body knows how it’s supposed to operate within the larger system of itself.
T: Well, it’s like if you take a plastic bag and you turn it and turn it and twist it and you let it go, it’s going to untwist. A lot of it is just mechanical common sense.
G: That’s what I think is so interesting about the work for me, is that in comparison to the years of standard PT and going to doctors and what not, this sort of mechanical, common sense approach was never given to me as an option or applied to my own body.
T: Yet, that’s what they say they’re doing – like you’re supposed to stretch five times this way and then you take the green band and the red band…
G: And maybe if I would have done it enough, that would have happened, but I think what’s interesting is that I could get stretched and get released, but nothing was sort of dealing with the messaging system from my brain that would cause my body to reset into a sort of tight, constricted way of holding itself. And somehow, this has released that.
T: Say that again – are you saying that –
G: So, someone could come in and stretch me for an hour and a half and I would feel looser, I would walk differently because that muscle had been stretched. It had gone from short to long through stretching and manipulation, and my gait would change. But, 15-20 minutes later, all that work would disappear because my brain was sending – nothing was done to interrupt the bully message. And I’m just curious – did we confuse it enough? We gave it another option? We showed it new pathways? And do pathways, if they’re not used, kind of shrivel and die – for lack of a better word.
T: Here’s a question: do you think that the bully, which is what we call the lesion on your brain – do you think it has less control over you now?
G: I think so because I’ve gained awareness of just how much – it’s like any bully…a bully only has power over someone, if you let the bully have power over you. But, that was the construct I was living in; that my brain had complete sway and dominion over my body and there was nothing I could do. And so as I began to actually feel and experience sensation and gather information from my own body, I realized oh – there’s something different, there’s an alternative, there’s another option to this one way.
T: Do you think that when the bully was sort of at its height and was controlling you, and you just had this one route – you did the same route over and over and over again – so do you think that now you’re more aware of other things and the bully’s still doing as much or do you think that the bully has been counteracted and diffused or re-routed?
G: I think it’s still there. I think that message system is still happening because I think that will always happen, but what we’ve done is flooded my brain with so much more information and options and pathways that it’s confused, distracted. It’s too busy to focus on that one way. Before, there was only one artery that everything could flow through, but now it feels like there are so many more options; there’s just more traffic.
T: Do you have a sense now that you didn’t have before of when the bully takes hold? Do you have a preemptive opportunity to re-route it?
G: Yes. Well, I think, for example, just the simple act of if I’m laying on my side or if I’m laying in bed – putting a pillow between my legs. Laying with a pillow between my legs, doesn’t allow my knees to fall in, doesn’t allow my knees to grip because that was a vice grip before.
T: So, chicken and egg thing. When your knees were together you were in the grip. The grip would bring your legs together. So when you sabotage that by putting the pillow between your legs, it looses its route. Does it go somewhere else?
G: Well, I make it go somewhere else. Sitting down right now, my knees want to go in. I know my knees want to go in, just sitting here, I can feel there’s a natural tendency and inclination that my knees want to fall in.
T: Muscularly? Or nervous system?
G: My nervous system is telling my muscles to turn in. That’s what it feels like.
T: So, it’s registering in your muscles?
G: Yes. So I can tell it to do something differently. So I can say, ‘no – keep your feet flat on the ground, turn out and keep your knees out.’
T: And then what happens?
G: I’m consciously telling it, but I have to stay vigilant with that consciousness. It’s a difference between this and that.
T: Your turn-out muscles.
G: If I just sit not thinking, my legs will fall in slightly. But, I can think spiral out – actually open your knees, actually put your feet on the ground – try and feel energy flowing through. If I drop something on the ground and I go to pick something up, I would bend down and at a certain point, my knees would come in. As I bend down, I have to think: keep your feet parallel, as you bend down. Drop your tail bone, raise your pubic bone. Don’t revert. And I don’t have to revert. I think that what we’re going for is that after a while, if you give it that other option long enough, the body will take the other option. But, I think with CP because there’s the damage, there’s the brain damage there, it’s just going to keep cycling that message.
T: Do you think it’s going to change routes because it’s spoiled in the knees? In the calves?
G: I don’t know, I mean, I want to keep going. But, my sense is that it will always be sending that message.
T: This is the part that I need to understand. Is a message sent 14 times a day or constantly?
G: Constantly. It’s like a distress beacon – it’s just going boop boop boop. It’s just sending that out all the time, 24 hours a day.
T: But, because you’ve become so conscious in this work, have you become more conscious of perhaps what you were less conscious of before? Are you more conscious of that constant, negative messaging because you’re more conscious?
G: Yes. My body has been all negative reinforcement. My whole relationship with my body has been one of negative reinforcement. Reinforcing a negative message, a negative perception, a negative idea of how my body works and what we’ve done is to change that into positive reinforcement. Given it possibility. And as that’s changed and as I feel – because my body did not feel good; it does not feel good to be that tense and it does not feel good to know that there’s absolutely nothing I can do about that tension even in a REM state. You’re just living in this idea of I’m always going to be tense, incredibly tense.
T: So, now the little bing-bing messages that are constant, are they lower? Are you just interpreting them as being not as negative?
G: Well I think I’m allowing something louder, clearer, and stronger to come through.
T: After you recognize that they’re happening or just because it’s always happening, you just do it? You just do the substitution.
G: Yes, again – if you do something long enough, it will become second nature. There are certain things that we might have put in, in the beginning that I just do now because I’ve been doing them for a long time. And as we hit on a new area, or whatnot, that takes time until it integrates and until – I need to make that link-up. I need to make the mental and the physical link-up in my mind. This makes sense. Sometimes you’ll give me a direction and it will take me 3 months before I’m like oh – I’ve finally got it. Because I haven’t quite felt it or I haven’t quite intellectualized it: it’s a sort of a two-pronged approach for me.
T: And that’s hard for me because I’m sort of going on the idea that sometimes you feel what I feel.
G: Right, but I’m okay with that – it’s better to leave me some room or assume that I get it and that I can work on it.
T: What was that we had in your hips. Your femur in your hips.
G: Yeah, my femur in my hips. And it turns out that I have this impression that my feet ended or the heels of my feet would have started around where my trocantors are and you actually said, ‘no your foot is in your sacrum and the toe goes all the way through your hip flexor.’ And that changed. Now, thinking that initial way was more than what I was thinking before –it helped a little and it gave me a new image and a new idea to implant in my body. And it made a difference, but then once we clarified what you actual meant, then I could go even further with that image and that made an even bigger change. And I think through our process, I’ve gotten better at saying, ‘well I don’t understand that.’ ‘Explain that better.’ Or I need to feel that – like actually suggest to my foot that it needs to be down on the ground. Let me actually feel it. I’ve gotten better at letting you know exactly what I need to get the correct information, faster I think. So our communication has gotten better.
T: Right, and when I look at you, I have to be able to see what it is you’re thinking in your body. I can see when a thought comes into your body and it changes something. And then I can correct the thought.
G: And even this idea, you mentioned it early, of when I’ll say ‘back off’ or ‘step away’ or ‘don’t touch me’ because if you intervene at that moment – I’m receiving a lot of information at that point and if you intervene, it will confuse the information that I’m trying to get from my body at that moment.
T: I wouldn’t want anybody to interrupt me.
G: Right and we understand that and that’s a language and that’s a negotiation that we’ve developed over our time working together, which is great.
T: In that moment in the studio, when what you sense this is more important in our process, the fact that you’re responsible for your own connections and that you’re giving yourself your own instigations and feedback is more important than what it is that I have to say, even if what I just thought is pretty ‘Eureka’ for me.
G: Right, exactly and I think that’s the difference in the relationship with someone else with a doctor or a therapist or whatnot, is that I never felt like I could say anything about my own body or had the ability to do that or was taught that language. And that’s what you’ve given to me.
T: But, you didn’t have that amount of feeling.
G: Right. But, what is it that you did differently that gave me that feeling?
T: I will come back to the timeline because in your lifetime you don’t get this chance of doing something so fully with anybody.
G: But, I had therapists come to my house 2-3 days a week and work on me for an hour and a half.
T: They’re trying to fit you into some idea that they had as a model and they were not looking at your ‘Gregg-ness.’ I have to say that although we have to go with the idea that it is a very concrete process; very much architectural, body principles, but we do have a lot of room in the space for our fairies.
G: Let’s be very clear and concrete, but then let’s talk about fairies. Way to go Tamar – all credibility out the window.
T: What I was trying to say is that there is a spaciousness that has a spiritual resonance. It just does. Space is spiritual, for me. Slowing down time – taking away pressure.
G: Well, you realize time is an illusion, in a sense. It’s like okay we have a year, and we knew we had a year, but when we went into that studio it felt like we had infinite time to figure out exactly what we needed for that day.
T: Well, we both had to slow down because we’re both very fast people. I can’t say it comes naturally to either of us, to slow down this much.
G: Or not do a million things at once.
T: Yeah, me too. I mean this is, for me, is kind of like a long, long nights sleep (being an ex-insomniac) – I don’t do this that well, but somehow the two of us coming from such a fast mind…we’re like monkey minds – we decided it. We made a pact.
G: Yes and what we did was we went back to the sense of the beginners mind. Of – what is this? What are we doing? Let’s look at it as an experiment with open eyes and without agenda or preconceptions.
T: And certainly not trying to fix you.
G: Yeah exactly. We never said: this can’t be done or this isn’t possible.
T: Part of it was we were training you to be a dancer and that diverted us from the physical therapy agenda and again, made that agenda possible. That was very crafty of us – we fooled ourselves.
G: But, what would you do with someone else who wasn’t going to create a play or a dance piece?
T: What would I do? I don’t know that I’d do it – I don’t know if I’ll ever do this again because it’s so time-intensive.
G: Right, but what would you say to someone? In three sentences – what would you say, like if you’re going to work with this person…?
T: I think the point about listening in to your own body and knowing that there are many voices that come from different places, that you’re not brain-oriented let’s say, if you have cerebral palsy, that you could be foot-oriented; you could speak through your feet. I would try for that kind of pleasure and pride in knowing that your body is so fascinating and has so much to tell you and to start a conversation within yourself that doesn’t have the labels that society puts on either your illness, your recovery process, your prognosis, your diagnosis, your treatment – just to let go of all that and to enjoy what it is that your body has to offer you. I’d say that’s one big step because we always feel quite elevated when we’re finished.
G: Right, because it is work and it’s strenuous and it is focused and it’s intense, but I never feel exhausted.
T: Just nauseous.
G: Right, exactly. But, I mean – one thing you said is everyone is an expert in their own body. I think that takes time to realize. Through this work, you have allowed me to realize that. You’ve said, oh I’ve taught you what you know, but you’ve taught me what I know, which is I know that my body is capable of a lot and that I understand my body better than anyone else because I am an expert in my own body. And how that’s changed is that now I’m an expert in foot, ankle, knee, thigh, and how it works as a unified system and whole. Whereas before, I was an expert in how to get my body to just muscle through things and just work with its compensations. Does that make sense? And that’s the coolest thing, is that you’ve allowed me to look inward, on myself.
T: Yeah and without predicting what you’ll find or putting a limit on it because you have a disability or putting a label on it because it doesn’t even conform to that.
G: Right, and I think that’s the biggest thing. I only put limits on myself because I was told that there were limits on myself.
T: But, somewhere you knew that there – because if introduce this idea to you and you took to it so fast, somewhere you had that sense in you that there could be change and you knew that. It may not have been telling you, but that there could be some change.
G: Right, I knew that I was capable of more than what I was capable of.
Check your local listings for where you might find Enter The Faun on The World Channel as part of America Reframed on March 28th!