I spent two weeks in Montreal where I did a lab with composers, artists, and performers. The music and the development of creative processes was extraordinary! I learned so much, however I want to emphasize the discoveries I found with my body.
I travelled by plane and arrived to an apartment that I shared with people that I didn’t know. Soon I realize that I’m not used to being in a big city anymore—I am from Mexico City, but I haven’t lived there for several years now. It was challenging to adapt to the times and forms of Montreal; I didn’t think about all the external things, besides music making, that can cause stress and tension. Actually, the music and the experimentation with sound helped me to find my body!
Within the first days I started noticing that I was uncomfortable and my body was asking for time to do constructive rest, and as the days passed this request start happening more often. Perhaps to external eyes I looked funny lying down at every opportunity that I had, but I really needed it! 🙂
Lack of good sleep was the immediate cause for my body being tired. But I also I started investigating what was happening, like checking different parts of my body. I started noticing that I was carrying this big backpack every day and my body started making compensations, the curvatures of the spine started returning to old patterns and the head and other parts of my body followed. I forgot about the balance in the arms, there was not enough room to be balanced in public transportation…or was I not allowing myself to be balanced in those spaces?
I had to do something besides constructive rest; I had to actively focus on my body and its relation to the music I was playing.
I started by carrying a lighter backpack and started wearing it in the front of my body.
I paid attention in how I was going up and down the stairs.
I tried to be inclusively aware in all the spaces I was in, including the subway and the bus.
At times I wore the foams under my arms (amazing tool discovered by Jennifer Johnson) and I would stretch my arms up before rehearsals.
I also checked all the distances of the instruments I was playing, making sure to allow humeroscapular rhythm.
I thought about how to use the pedal for the vibes.
I also added some movements in the pieces that helped me to remember key points for feeling balanced.
These are examples of the things I did to include my body in my playing; at the same time, all these helped me to feel rested and with more energy.
This is how you can include Body Mapping in your daily life. I enjoy having the tools for noticing that I wasn’t feeling at ease and for being able to make changes and recover my balance.
Body awareness is essential and it is a constant daily practice, wherever I go (and more if I am out of my comfort zone). When I/we face challenges for the mind, emotions, or in the body, I/we will tend to go back to old patterns. Being aware of the self is hard work, it is a continuous search, and to find answers I/we need to listen to myself/ourselves. Just like it is in music!