Express Yourself!

As I write this post, the sun is gently setting on an uncharacteristically blue Pacific. Just inland, the vibrant greens of the world-famous Torrey Pines golf course have developed an amber glow. It's been a while since I've felt this peaceful.

I'd like to say that the calm I feel is due to the lush surroundings wherein the 2011 Inner IDEA Conference is being held. That's partly it. However, as a first-time attendee, I readily admit that the dominant factor leading to my current state is the message I picked up from all the learning I experienced today.

When I was in college I remember that, despite the vast array of courses on my schedule, there always seemed to be a central theme among them. While the Inner IDEA Conference contains a bit more obvious unity than, say, calculus and anthropology, there are two unifying factors that led to my calm: Be aware of the subtleties and express yourself.

This morning I stepped into the "Somatic Experiencing and Integrative Wellness Study" session. At one point, presenter Steve Hoskinson, MA, MAT, asked the group to "simply let your eyes go where they want to go." He said that we've been so conditioned to sit up straight, watch the teacher, take notes. We are so obedient that we lose sight of ourselves and our surroundings. So as my eyes scanned the unpleasant carpet design, slightly disheveled bun of the woman in front of me or the swirled designs on the backs of the chairs, I felt an ease drift over me. Hoskinson said that the development of awareness is a significant component of stress relief. The simple act of taking a moment to take in what surrounds us will undoubtedly increase our level of comfort.

Later, I dropped into Sue Hitzmann's "40 Is Not the New 30" session which showcased her MELT techniques. I tried to be an observer, but one of her assistants insisted I take a foam roller and soft small ball and be a participant. I'm glad I did. We were gently escorted through a series of tension releases and breathing techniques. While lying supine, Sue would say things like, "notice where your toes are pointing" or "feel what part of your back is pressed against the floor." But she insisted we do this without looking. "Don't look!" She would say. "Notice." Essentially, be aware of the nuances and understand who you are and what you need without seeing.

Finally I stopped into Kimberly Spreen's Find Y.O.G.A.--Your Own Gorgeous Asana. I'm not a yogi. I even hesitated dropping in because I didn't feel confident accurately describing what I was to see. But, I didn't need to be an expert. Again, two take homes: understand and be aware of your body, and be yourself! "Let go of expectations and the desire for [your pose] to look right or be right. Move as it feels right for your body." As she said this she guided them through a series of poses. Once learned, Kimberly instructed them to move through it, at their own pace, the way they feel is right. And just as the sequence started--I was thoroughly astounded by the flawless timing--she increased the volume of the music and out poured, "Express Yourself" by The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. "It's not what you look like, when you're doing what you're doing, it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing. Express yourself," the band and Kimberly sang in unison. Thus ensued a choreographed, yet somewhat freestyle--I chuckled as some of the participants threw in some booty shakes along the way--yoga flow session.

As the sun descends into the big blue sea, I relish the peace I've found. Today I was given permission to slow it down for a bit, learn more about me and my body and to express myself how I see fit.

This has been a good day.