Monday, November 21, 2011

Heart to Heart

One of the things I find challenging in teaching students who are "intellectually astute," is leading them to grasp there there is more than one way to "know" something. We have such an over-emphasis on the material, on logic, rationality, and analysis that we can come to believe that's all there is.
It isn't.
I quite often advise my students that feeling is more important than thinking. While most of the time I'm referring to tactile sensations, there's more to that.
Much more.

 There are countless ways that swordsmanship and horsemanship overlap or "cross over" to each other. Here's an excerpt from a lovely article by horseman Michael Bevilacqua in which he touches on one of them.


From "The Human Masquerade"
by Michael Bevilacqua
November 2011

At workshops, in my book, on the DVDs, I mention intuition. That comes from being in the moment. That is why most children will have such magic moments with horses. Horses may do more for a child who is not trying to get anything done than for an educated adult with an agenda. Intuition is not something that is easily worked on or developed. However, it can be allowed to come forth depending on our attitude or state of mind about how we feel in our own life. It is by letting go and living the moment.

Everyone has experienced it at some time even when, on the surface, things seem to be really good or as we want them to be. Yet, there is a funny feeling in our gut, fluttering in the chest or sweaty palms or just some fleeting, hidden thought within us that we choose to ignore.

It was always believed that the heart responded to the information sent to it by the brain. Going back to Hippocrates there were those who believed that the heart served a much greater function. Certainly, that stress and different kinds of emotion affect the rest of the body in various ways. Dr. J. Andrew Armour of the University of Montreal discovered in 1991 that the heart has somewhat of a brain of its own. A network of about forty thousand neurons has been discovered within the heart muscle. It has its own memory and can act independently from the central nervous system. These send signals to the brain and can alter the state of the brain in its wave activity. It does this in four ways: neurologically (transmission of nerve impulses), biochemical (hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).

What is also intriguing is the continued work at the Institute of HeartMath located in Boulder Creek, California. The body has its own voltage and sends out info in a radius from the chest toward the skin and further that can be measured  (EKG pads that are placed on the torso, for example) The heart can pick up information from the external environment as well and send us signals that can commonly be described as intuition. A situation may appear to our eyes and brain as normal or good, yet, for some reason, there is a funny feeling inside of us that is telling us otherwise.

There were so many times, with horses, that I made a decision or understood something regarding the horse, without being able to explain it. It is important to note that intuition is best described as a sudden, unexplainable awareness rather than a feeling. It is not an emotion that suddenly floods us. If you have a feeling of fear, for example, that is not intuition. Rising emotions in us are linked to our thoughts. If intuition signals danger, that signal, of itself, is just something that suddenly occurs to us. It is then that fear can quickly follow due to our thoughts presenting conjecture based on that danger signal. With intuition, questions come after the answer.
Electromagnetic field from the heart extending about 2-3 feet
What is interesting is that the heart and the brain can tune into each other. Furthermore, the heart creates a magnetic field five thousand times greater than that of the brain that radiates out ‘sensing’ the environment and, likewise, can affect the rhythm and signals of someone else. Alternatively, someone can learn to tune in to someone else where the perception and communication can become much clearer. In other words, the heart rate of one person can have an influence on the brainwaves of another by bringing them into sync with each other. This communication is influenced by emotion and is most prominent when a person has feelings of caring, love and appreciation.

Electroencephalograph (EEG) and Electrocardiogram (ECG) will tend to match each other in rhythm patterns either within one person or between two people if they are in close proximity but more so when they touch. This tuning of rhythm between heart and head also results in improved cognitive performance. This exchange of energy into other living tissue also produces a strong theory about the practice of healing.

Intuition is not a training method, either. However, if you can be observant without any kind of preconceived notions about what your horse may or may not be doing, it could permit you to get a clear message. Or easily allow a solution to how to get one across to the horse in a different manner. Focusing on something that may normally come naturally can sometimes get a person quite confused.
Lao-Tzu, in the Tao Te Ching:
The centipede was happy, quite,
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg goes after which?”
This worked his mind to such a pitch,
He lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hear No Evil, Cyrano Evil...

If I had to pick ONE scene to be my favorite, I think this might have to be it.
For me, Jose Ferrer is the definitive Cyrano.
The fight is brilliant.
And it has utterly NOTHING to do with the rapiers actually in use at that time. It is NOT historically correct.
Who cares?
I find it completely "believable," a requirement of fiction not shared by reality.
And it includes some exquisite fencing, indeed. Cyrano's unshakable poise is as inspirational as his unstoppable point.

Note the pauses and changes in rhythm and tempo.

Definitely one of the all-time great scenes.