July Word of the Month: Engage
When we introduce a theme (or as we call it our “Dailey Dedication”) into our physical practice it can allow us to go deeper on so many levels. A dedication insinuates itself physically (into deeper muscle layers, tissue layers, even the cells of our body) and mentally (into our minds, hearts, thoughts and feelings) until it becomes a part of who we are. With practice the themes we choose can become our way of being.
In June, we focused on the word of the month #1) ALIGN. In July, we’ll continue our inside-out practice by focusing on how we #2) ENGAGE. In August, we’ll pull our Primary Alignment Principles together and #3) MOVE!
With our June theme ALIGN – we worked physically by setting our optimal skeletal framework and mentally by beginning with intention, and being mindful. It’s important to keep that base ALIGNMENT of our bones and intentions as we build on it and ENGAGE for the month of July. Another way to think of engagement is to think of support.
It’s a fact that we don’t always support ourselves or our bodies optimally; but through practice we can learn how to do to this better! Once we’ve established the framework of alignment (our intentionally positioned bones) we support and keep that alignment with our muscles. Muscle energy is what hugs our bodies evenly on all sides working to create feelings of balance, connection and self-support. Muscular energy pulls our arms, legs and neck into the midline of our body (helping us feel integrated, connected, centered) and muscular energy draws our extremities to a chosen focal point (empowering us to be focused and conscious about how we use our energy – we truly can choose how we engage).
At first, it might feel hard or uncomfortable to engage muscle energy. And let’s be honest, we WANT our TDM practice to challenge us, because that’s what changes us! But remember, to engage is to support ourselves not punish, not hurt, and not to feel bad. If engagement ever feels bad or wrong it probably is. I often joke in class that if it’s “easy” you’re doing it wrong. But on the opposite side of the spectrum if it doesn’t feel right, if it is truly uncomfortable or hurts in a way that isn’t just muscles talking to you it’s also wrong. It is an advanced practice to feel when you need to start again and prioritize #1) ALIGN, and re-set yourself. You re-set by going back to Arriving – be present/aware; Noticing – feel your body, notice your thoughts; and Beginning with intention – be mindful, soften and breathe.
When you are ready to ENGAGE, do it with self-compassion and love. Think of the muscles of your body energizing in one giant self-hug! Remember the intention of strengthening in order to support yourself better. Keep prioritizing alignment, keep breathing, and use your muscle energy to create support and get deeper into position. Practice being strong on the inside, while keeping your outer-body relaxed and at ease – try to soften your face, jaw, skin.
Will it still feel challenging to ENGAGE? YES! Should it still feel good? YES! With time and practice, self-support becomes more ingrained and much more natural. It becomes what we do, body and mind. To ENGAGE is to practice and develop true inner-strength. As we practice supporting ourselves through challenges in class, we are practicing for the larger arena of life. Yes, it’s true – thigh work and seat work will make you a better parent, partner and person! Because you are practicing self-awareness, self-support and self-care. : )
I hope as you all ENGAGE in your challenging (and loving!) practice this month and that you feel me giving you a big Dailey Method hug!!!
Support yourself and each other. Happy engaging!
With love and gratitude,
— Jill and Lorna