Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kinesthesia in the Garden

“. . . I am trying to invent a new way of moving under my dress: the room squares off against this: watch the water glitter with excitement: when we cut below the silver skin of the surface the center retains its fluidity; do I still remind you of a locust clinging to a branch: I give you an idea of the damages; you would let edges be edges: believe me . . .”
C. D. Wright, “Crescent”

Kinesthesia is the sense of touch, of movement of one’s body. To me it is the secret to moving from a state of concentration to one of awareness, and that’s what my garden does for me.

Concentration contracts, narrows perceptions, clenches muscles, shuts out all other input. Awareness opens, widens perceptions, exhales cool refreshing sensations. By paying attention to the senses awakened when I move in the garden, sensory messages go directly from my muscles to my brain, without the interruptions and filters of words.

In my back yard, my capacity for awareness expands. I can stand between the earth and the sky and feel my connections, and my movements; I can let go of concentration and become aware - what Buddhists call mindfulness. For me, the goal of a garden isn’t the flowers that please the eye, or the fat tomatoes that please the palate. I soon grow tired of the colors, and the showing off – like these lazy mums sunning themselves on the rocks in the late November afternoon.

For me, the goal of walking around in the back yard, is kinesthesia – I feel what it’s like to be inside my skin, beginning with an awareness of my feet connecting with the ground. When I begin to feel what my toes feel, I can begin to see what my eyes see – just the colors and the light and shadow of each tint, without the names, or flowery descriptions, or metaphors.

It’s like re-discovering a way of moving, a fluidity I understood as a child, but forgot as I gradually learned how to master concentration at the expense of awareness.

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