30 Sep 2005, 6:04pm

Speaking and Relating in Rhythm

We know that communicating is a dance between speakers. To be optimal, both must want the communication. No one wants to drag or be dragged onto the floor. To interact one has to be moving in the same direction, not at cross-purposes. To gracefully, sweetly communciate, conversational partners can’t constantly struggle over who leads, or they step on each others toes. One has to be willing to give and take and find the sway of rhythm and settle to a common speed or somehow establish a mutually acceptable pattern of different relative roles, even if that is one person pirouetting in midstage as the other waits and claps until the person spins back into an embrace.

You’re familiar with the skills/habits of good communicators and good salesmen? How do they do this? They are able to read gaze and make tiny constant adjustments to keep the other person at ease. They don’t push too hard. They don’t tug at you cloyingly or imploringly. They have a dignity and understatedness. They make themselves available and make everything easy for you.

People with that particular talent for sales or charisma fall into rhythm with people they speak with, speaking the same speed and style, reflecting the body language, and can persuade from following the other’s body language to taking the lead and causing a persuasion effect as the other begins to mimic them back. These skilled people are adept at reacting to non-verbal cues, by birth or by training.

That habit of reflecting of each other is not trickery (unless used for embezzlement I suppose). It is innate and faciliates communication. The very mirroring unconsciously done, uncosnciously communicates, I trust you, my guard is your guard, you can trust me. We understand each other. It creates a basis for moving past the grounding of small stuff into more detailed matters.

Did you realize that all listeners automatically do this to some degree? When we listen, we hear the rhythm of the other and react in tempo to their speech. We make gestures of head, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers that echo the speaker’s grammar with a 42 millisecond delay? That is, when a listener’s body moves, the body language matches the pattern of rhythm of pauses of statements, phrases and words of the speaker. One doesn’t shift suddenly during mid-word or out of the beat of phrases unless to disagree (or due to some medical condition that causes a coughing fit or need to otherwise move. Perhaps it is also the basis of why long-winded speakers are harder to hear? With no break between thoughts, there isn’t a chance for the listener to adjust posture or make larger movements without seeming rude on an unconscious level. )

If you want to disagree, distinguish or separate yourself, you keep your body language dissonant and interrupt with your body language indicating you are not listening and not observing the gaps for breath. Poor listeners are poor in part due to this lack of mirroring.

When one is really in synch the echo of body language and tone comes instantly. In dancing and speaking when people are unsure or unsteady, it is easy to be tense and forced. Without being in synch with each other and the music between the two, it is wooden posing in almost the same position as each other while waiting to get off the floor and head to someone or somewhere else. As much as you want to be at ease, the more you try to do it consciously, the more awkward it looks. It’s like thinking about walking.

Sometimes it seems hard yet if the ability to mirror at all and the consistency of that 42 millisecond echo isn’t startling enough, infants already do this within 20 minutes of birth. It’s guessed that the rhythm of speech may already be undergoing acquisition in the womb. In the last trimester infants already kick and move to music. They can not only hear it in there, but respond. These pieces of news are from William Benzon’s Beethoven’s Anvil. It is ostensibly about music but is a roundup on the young field of neuroscience. What he reports includes stunningly curious findings such as William Condon’s research from 1986 on Communication’s Rhythm and Structure

Condon found dyslexic children whose right side of their bodies would mirror the music of speech with the standard 42 millisecond delay in gesture, but the left side of their bodies followed in 100 to 266 milliseconds. With the autistic children he measured, the sides of the bodies were reversed (i,.e. autistic children’s right sides were the one with the large asynchronous delay), but the proportions of delay the same (p.26-27). Benzon also relates the observations of Oliver Sacks in Awakenings. In these cases people with Parkinson’s when a song came to mind or when hearing legato music, their bodies resumed normal fluidity. Walking with someone else in some cases allowed a patient to feed off of the rhythms of the “normal” system and bring back fluidity. It seems rather like how the limbic system is entrained by resonance with another, to keep basic functions ticking regulated by contact, as reported in A General Theory of Love. One can hook into another’s body chemistry and alter it by presence or touch at least in infants and in rats as that book showed. I would gather that the process of synching can also happen on a level of energy and it can be tapped, tweaked or torqued. It can be reset.

And it can be all set aside like so much laundry to darn in a work bee on a rainy day.

To be continued, as always.

Featured Quote: “But let’s talk of music and wine; leaving probing of the Universe:
That is a riddle reason will never untie”
~ Hafiz of Shiraz, as translated by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs

Soundtrack/Light Link: Spoken Word Sung with Guitar Poetry anyone? How about Heather Haley’s Mp3 of Dogs in New York City who was at the Dusty Owl not so long ago.

Featured Links: GoogleMyWay search tips such as “find pages that are related to the specified page. This is a good way to find categories of pages; a google search for related:www.siteofyourchoice.com or Google Blogoscoped mentions you can find synonyms of words. E.g. when you search for [house] but you want to find “home” too, search for [~house]. Or use Google’s define-operator and look up word definitions. For example, [define:css] yields “Short for Cascading Style Sheets” and many more explanations.

30 Sep 2005, 5:16pm
Life Anecdotes Music

Energy and Seasonal Movements

I woke up smiling.

Wearing a coat, pulling gloves in and out of pockets, it’s easy enough to lose a one of those. Why would it not be possible to lose less concrete things as well as glove? Somewhere along the day, serenity seems to have gotten misplaced. Where’d it go? Did I mislay with courage, energy and focus interred with stacked papers, pens and what-to-with-tiny metal-tow-truck-toy, lost within the normal minutae, or with the new hassles of needing

  • to rearrange schedules, to wash hair at night not in the 5 degree cold of morning,
  • to locate coat, gloves,
  • to readjust the backpack’s straps to accomodate coat and sweater thickness?
  • Did I set it down in one large package somwhere along my travels and not notice,
  • or did I lose it pinch by pinch like bread crumbs that the fluffed-up sparrows would have since eaten?

This morning I wussed on about my wrist hurting me, asking about air pressure changes and was being a baby about how the cold makes my hand and foot bones huddle together and scrape each other (although I said it in other words). I felt my distractability and absorption in task fluctuating.

During break a healer at my workplace asked me if I am interested in the human healing energy she does. I silently wondered if it is related to Chi Gong or Chakras. A lot of philosophies of energy healing exist. She explained a doctor half-opened for her 7 holes of energy and so she can share her energy and feel other’s energy in a way normal people can’t.

With my permission, she laid her hands on me for 5 minutes. She asked me if there was another pain. I told her my shoulder. She said yes, she could feel the energy there in the shoulder was more sharp, greater, more pointed than the wrist.

My shoulder and wrist haven’t hurt since her treatment. Perhaps I should have said more of me is in discomfort than those; this morning all my energies seem off, before and since the treatment. Energies still seem to alternate between roiling and flat. Why?

“Cuz” might be as close as I can get but I’ll look about anyway seeing if I can brainstorm anything explanatory anyway.

On first blush, there is no reason why I should be out of sorts.

I’m not due it menstually or mentally. I have done well. Consistently over the last few days, I have slept well, eaten properly, cycled and stretched, meditated, fallen into exchanges of positive meaningful conversation with people of various degrees of closeness to me. I’ve been organized and efficient at work, accomplished tasks, written poems even, felt clarity, felt ease, balanced work and fun, read compelling things, have touched and been touched, have had sex, have been inspired, have sung and have been consulted for my knowledge. I’ve had a routine that adds the constancy of ritual to day. I’m a little low on music, and could be topped up with laughter but I don’t know that these things are so far out of order that they qualify as needing fixing.

Yet at the back of my mind, for hours, there has been a cycling of disproportional effort, as if there is a white noise I’m talking and thinking over top of. I feel a malaise and shortness of capri-cut temper, a chapping cold about the ankles, a clutteredness of thought and my pain threshold is low. (Where I cycled easily yesterday, I feel fatigued today. Where I would usually acknowledge or overlook a press of edge of door propped open by my thigh, of late, it feels to bruise. I got winded easily on my usual route. )

Rhythms are key to feeling “in sorts”.

When one is offbeat, it can be amusing in the way a snare drum or cymbal clash add color to a piece but an orchestra of all off beats is just a primary school band practice. We need regularity, synchrony. Or is that just me? (i.e. like A little difference of opinion is good for you. All conflict is a lousy diet. But I’ve had no conflict. Am I being like Captain Kirk here battering around in a gilded cage needing conflict for identity?)

What could be wrong? The stores are starting to decorate for Christmas(!) That feels wrong. It’s only almost Thanksgiving in Canada (October 10). It’s the cusp of a week of seasonal change, towards sombre reflection. Navaratri, Rosh Hashanah and the start of Ramadan. (All start Oct 4th this year).

That we are that far along in the year seems a shock. The seasons don’t seem to run smoothly as much as lurch like a deer on the road in front of you.

Time is passing from hot and humid to dry and cold. My joints never like cold. My slipped disc is more likely to flare when I brace against the cold. The 30 degree nights and days I loved are now 3 degree nights and 15 degree days.

There is a lot to do. I look ahead and my weekend is booked. There will be no break to look forward to. A change yes, a break no.

I feel tactilely too much. Change in lighting, change in sound level around me cause a headache pain for so long as they last. When I talked, I felt I lingered and loitered too long between sentences, trying to find words and coming up with nothing, falling behind in conversation, thinking too long on what one person said, missing the next couple exhanges. I’m running slow.

Perhaps my body is fighting something viral to explain why I feel so cold in hands and feet even in an Andean llama wool thick sweater. My timing feels off. Would the regularity of music help recalibrate me?

Soundtrack: “I ain’t askin’ nobody for nothin’,
If I can’t get it on my own.
You don’t like the way I’m livin’,
You just leave this long-haired country boy alone.”
~ Long-Haired Country Boy

Practice Time: Mind Awareness

Practice may not make you perfect but it does make a difference.

Every tensing is practicing being tense. Every deep breath is lets your body practice how to function on more oxygen. Every worried thought entrains your body to loosen and ready the release spigots (so to speak) of stress hormones, just as surely as every step you climb practices making your body more ready to climb more. Hour to hour not much substantive change is visible but little things add up.

sand ripples, restless,
shallow, immaterial,
but whole dunes move west

The dunes look constant as a mountain but one is being remade daily, hourly, just as each of us is, each second with decisions that rattle away a white noise in the head, faster than one can register as a thought or recall ever thinking. One is made by millions of thoughts, perceptions, internal and external, by interpretations of eye contacts, by reciprocated facial gestures from familiars and strangers, by unconscious recoils or tensions, by memories triggered, half-cocked and recalled, by attention given or overlooked with preverbal decisions such as “yes. perfect,”, “I don’t need this.”, “it isn’t me”, “today is good”, “I’m tired” or “i’m ok”. These are the micronutrients one feeds oneself — of tiny thoughts, noticing and dwelling in what worked, what’s beautiful or what’s vexingly useless or utterly neutral but interesting.

Every insubstantial riffles on the surface of the dune is part of the process that makes the desert shift inches or feet each year but every little thing can’t be policed. It would be mad as chasing down each single grain of sand, tagging, logging each, and setting each up on the sand dune on one’s choice to reshape the landscape.

We cannot terraform ourselves overnight. Our mental landscape arose, arid, fertile, lush and lashing in each of the microclimates of different areas of selves through a long process. We are not a god that can just order with a word a new creation of self. Many processes of mind, chemistry, social, body, habit, neurology can reshape, and profoundly in an instant, but not without a radical transformative act.

The good news is that we, unlike a dune, are capable of such volition, of decision, of acting on the winds that act on us, not confined to passively being changed. We can seek out the self we will become. We can influence, make insignificant or tragic, to a degree, some of the sandy shifts within ourselves. We can move with or against the wind and move to a new climate, seal ourselves from the fastest effects of wind or sail through it and ourselves. We don’t need to confine ourselves to one strategy or position. We are self-propelling and can dwell in whatever thought-space we wish. We can and do change constantly but like the dune give the illusion of huge immovable constancy.

In an article by the BBC Health, talks about thought diaries’ impact on changing one’s way of thinking. They made a chart to aid in assessing feelings and perceptions. As in Creating Passionate Users’ article on the Worst Way to Calm Someone Down also discussed recently how re-thinking reactions can lead to new behaviors. They looked in particular at taking the principles of the horse whisperer to interacting with people. Some very basic processes are going on and once you tap the udnerlying understandings, you have the key for changing the unwanted behaviors, or eliciting better ones, such as in horses, or in women, as in Neil Strauss’ new book, recently reviewed in Macleans, called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which is the same ground as David D’s Double Your Dating. All of these things have in common that they break down mysterious “unchangeable” natures of beings you can do nothing about, into models where behavior is just made of reactions that can shift. They all also have the underlying premise that it is not understanding or theory that makes change, but change that makes change. It is action, it is practice, it is skill combined with a few key understandings that make the difference between

More and more I think that a person is a modern product, made like any machine in a dozen countries, by dozens of systems, roles and thousands of unseen hands and the decision to choose. More and more I set aside the idea of life as predestined, as prewritten, as a person as being born confined to one way of behavior as he or she is confined to the movements the skeleton permits.

We look like individuals but we are collections of systems of beliefs, throughts feelings and actions all impacting each other. Interacting does not mean feelings override thoughts or logic must dominate feelings, or that action be an informant of true belief. The aspects mingle, moderate each other, interact like a crowd discussing. How one feels physically is impacted by mood and visa versa. Both affect how perceptive one is, or receptive, or active.

It is only “common sense” that we see subjectively from time rushing like spring melt or dripping in Chinese torture. If you break your toe, the politician speaks worse, or if you sleep well, there are more birds to notice in the tree under a god that seems particularly kind today.

Focal Quotes: Most come from the Quotations Book mailout today.

“He who limps is still walking.” ~ Stanislaw J.Lec

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.” ~ Napoleon Hill

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” ~ Mike Murdock

A further thought comes from the reading of a monk from Thailand, via a Dhamma text,

“If one only has knowledge of books and scriptures, sermons and sutras, that is only knowledge of the map or plans for the journey. Even in hundreds of lives, one will never know purity, radiance and peacefulness of mind. Instead one will only waste time and never get to the real benefits of practice. […]

Another way to look at it is to compare practice to a bottle of medicine a doctor leaves for his patient. On the bottle is written detailed instructions on how to take the medicine, but no matter how many hundreds of times the patient reads the directions, he is bound to die if that is all he does. He will gain no benefit from the medicine. And before he dies he may complain bitterly that the doctor wasn’t any good, that the medicine didn’t cure him!” ~ Bodhinyana: Teachings of Venerable Ajahn Chah, 1982

Practice of the Day: After attending to my own breath, being aware only of that, only after pausing to renew in that, after that one can take the luxury of extending attention to the 5 hkandhas of body, emotions, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. Unless the unlikely event of a house falling on my head or tiger attack or similar crisis take precedence. All else can wash over me and not need to rouse me to match poke for poke. It isn’t dreaminess, it isn’t abstract, it isn’t disengaging. It is pleasant neutrality as being aware that I don’t need to be on top of every little thing. Life doesn’t need my supervision not to mention my throwing myself into some fray. I don’t need a vacation to renew only a second in the breath-frame of mind. Like any exercise, I must start a few seconds and build gradually.

Word Chain: report the news, focus on news of import, export, support the newsmakers, the view takers and breakers of dew, trompling over grass unnoticed, shoes and feet, and bones cold and irrelevant, a grasshopper sprongs a boing.

Questions of the Day: from Mom Poet
Would you rather be a butterfly butler or butter a butler’s fly? Would you rather knot or not? nitpick or nutpick? Would you rather sprout wings or brussels?

Glad Game: The frosty bone scraping morning gives way to 20 degree sunny afternoon where I can bask like a cat. The wind makes a papery found ruslting through leaves, the humidity migrating away with the flocks of geese.

Menu: Gu Jian’s Szechwan Chicken and Mushroom dish looks like something worth trying. [I seem to be on a protein kick.] The Gastronomica Restaurant Blog has novel twists in Grilled Cheese Heaven such as “Rustic sourdough bread brushed with rosemary olive oil with sliced pears and blue cheese”, or “Indian Paratha filled with tangy mango chutney and emmental cheese.”

In other unsual food combos to shock the palate awake – orange geranium, basil-lime or cardamom in artisan chocolates from Rococo. Their campaign for real chocolate is a delight.

So much for cooking food and reading and writing about food. What kind of food am I?

You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.
26 Sep 2005, 4:50pm
Poem Drafts

Editing Poems


my body strikes a stretch,
unconsciously unclenching
straightened spine crackles up
like fire. I press my stiff fist
to jaw and the old log pops.

beside me the cat stirs,
half lifts her head, in 3/4 twist
rolls to her back, extends one leg
lolls into the toe slumping sleep
of a limpid pool, drooling.

as of yet untitled

preverbal pre-cortical swat,
the little footed massage
stopped, I drop freefall into
sleep limbs loose, flew inside

overcast, cast iron frying pan
of a day, slow heat, doesn’t dissipate
splattering bacon eventually
but how was that dream going…

the soft fall of blue cloth
on a floor, the glow of skin
lowered eyelids, and safety
numbered in humming fingers…

cat lick, lick, lick, lick,
that’s the tick of a clockless
Saturday house… Saturday
or no, animals know

they must be fed
I must get up
before the cat whiskers me
from bed, claws flexing vexes…

Poetry Link: Simply Haiku

Word Chain: hill – hillocks, bull – bullocks, butt – buttocks? humm – hummocks? ham – hammocks?

So many places to submit to, so little balls to.

25 Sep 2005, 5:42pm
On the Peace Path

Inspiration Clipped Out

There are many sources of inspiration. It takes a few things to find them
1) Taking the time and quiet in the right place
2) let them find you and receive them as they come
3) Slow down and let yourself be refilled and refreshed by the freedom of movement the lack of pressure and exploration enables.
oh yes and 4) Luck

Featured Sites: Say Leadership Coaching from Hawaii has solid inspirational writing for learning, community, and business in the cultural perspective of positive affirming others as we are one people and 37 Days which similarly focuses on simple core values, living positively for thriving. The writer at 37 Days talks the range from entering joyful moments to avoiding hangups.

Here is a teaser of the first site,

First of all, if you want to start learning, you´ve got to begin from a point you would love to know better. That is one of the keys of any successful learning action. Never, again, never, start reading or trying something you feel indifferent about. It doesn´t matter if you don´t see the direct connection with your work or the tasks you usually do at work. Always start from the exciting, from the attractive. Choose something you really feel knowledge hungry about. ~ Guest Author Felix Gerenaof BrandSoul at Leadership Coaching blog exploring concepts of the book Managing with Aloha by Rosa Say

Here is a teaser of the second,

It is Stuff that keeps us from participating fully, our mobility and sense of fun and playfulness and ability to be directly engaged muted by our concern for objects, our holding onto. Like that day I took Tess to the big, big park carrying a digital camera so I could capture her swinging. The camera was the first level of disengagement, as if swinging were secondary to capturing the action on film, further complicated by the camera being carried in a bag that I had to watch all the time, further disengaging me from the reason I had brought the camera in the first place, Tess enjoying the park with me, not with my pocketbook or camera. ~ Let go of your Legal Pad

Menu: raw salad of broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, raisins, dried cranberries and garam masala with mayo

Featured Link: How to Go from Introvert to Extravert by Steve Pavlina found via Pratie Place

Glad Game:* Today, Hub and I went for a walk and talked, bought veggies at the farmer’s market, communed with the cat and spent an easy day relaxing.

My shoulder, knee, hips and back have been good to me.

We went to the park’s lovely ambiance yesterday, with a child and parents playing frisbee, a group of 4 playing informal football, a drum circle, small clots of people reading, talking or lying and smoking, everyone soaking in a bit of summery sun. We lay for a bit, Hub doing his homework on the laptop balanced on my chest, my head on his lap and my reading a book held above his screen. Then we just vegged for a bit.

*[Happiness of the Day was a bit long to type so I’m swapping for Metahara’s term]

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