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Present Moment - Rock And Roll

reflections on improv and life

I’m grateful for friends who share deeply with me. This brief reflection was inspired by the struggle of a dear friend and my attempts to reflect on how aspects of his experience might be shared by many…including me.

Stuck in our story

Perhaps you’ve spent years stuck in your head. Maybe you call it “my story”. What this means is that you literally create a story about your life (who you are, how you were mistreated as a child, etc.) and then mold your experience to fit this story. Trouble is, if you throw off the mold, your experience is transformed into something else — usually something 200% better (100% better because you are now free to interact “naked” with your present experience and 100% more because you’re no longer putting these constraints on your world and those around you). This is being in the moment. Literally, by being present to more of what is actually happening (in your body, environment, interactions, etc.) now, you can enjoy the beauty and opportunity of this moment. This is not about blocking your history or former realities. It’s just about being present to what really is right now.

Present Moment - Rock And Roll

Present moment

When you are experimenting with this sort of thing, it’s really important to have relatively “safe” places to do this work. And it’s important to move beyond the one-on-one that can be a different kind of safety for many of us. InterPlay, improv and dance classes; spiritual communities; and other accepting groups can be places that provide this sort of safety. You’ll know when you’ve found a community that will work for you. As the dance teacher and InterPlay instructor Anita Bondi once said: “Our invitation in the dance is not to try to stop any of these things from arising. it is just to ground our feet on the dance floor and continue to move our bodies or hold stillness as that is a powerful movement as well. Scanning our body, feeling our feet, spreading our toes wide and having the connection to the ground while these other things are happening can bring a feeling of safety and easy focus.”

That is the essence of being present to now.

Improv can inform

Mark Nepo (The Book of Awareness) says “…the voice of embodiment calling us to live our lives like sheet music played…often speaks to us briefly in moments of deep crisis…” Based on what he goes on to say, he might agree that sometimes we must push the sheet music aside and improvise. No one has written the music that we will play our lives through. As experienced improvisers know, improv is not about flailing in any direction we want to. It also has “rules” or guidelines (e.g., going-with, accentuating metaphor or blue notes, etc.) that can help us to “do our own thing” spontaneously and within parameters that help to keep us grounded or centered yet fully in-the-moment.