Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Once you find your centre you're sure to win wise words from a wise film (Mulan if you’re not familiar, the cartoon of course.) Finding my centre is like that assault course she has to do, especially climbing that big pole but every day and metaphorically of course. You won’t see me climbing any 20 feet poles unless it has been a particularly good night or I’m signalling to a local gang with a pair of Nikes. Anyway, words of wisdom indeed to a dyspraxic like me.
The thing that uncentres me or knocks me off balance is the fear of being caught. In many ways I don't care about the status quo and express myself in colourful clothes that would blind a bat. I have no problem dancing to my heart's content after one lemonade, but being caught out as “incapable of doing basic things” is where my fear comes from. People fall over, get lost but not daily. It doesn't necessarily drive their lives. Basic motor skills, spatial awareness, and depth perception are all things I am vividly aware of every day. I am very vigilant when I see a shoe untied on others because I know the disaster that comes, they cockily tuck in their shoelaces. I shake my head if only I had the confidence to do that. I'd be happy wearing shoes with Velcro, like the good old days to save my embarrassment.
Finding your centre is something that is repeated in inspirational quotes, yoga videos without a real sense of what it means to an individual. In yoga, you find it within. It’s about focusing your mind grounding & stability. If you lose your balance it's probably because your weight is too far forward or too far back, you’re unstable physically. Being aware of your centre, your core is the first step, but that doesn't do much unless you feel grounded. That feeling of even if a gust of wind came blowing you would still feel upright. I can ground myself but can easily lose it and end up tripping over my own feet a skill that I developed in childhood and I'm not afraid to take people down with me, sorry grandma.
I have built up strength but it still gets me, that light breeze can be a word, phrase, a sound, a smell that knocks me to the floor. The physical side is entrenched in the emotional. I had a brilliant movement teacher who taught me this. He didn't anything about personal life but he could see there was something unstable about me. The way that I walked, the way I held myself was like I was teetering off a cliff, trying not to look down. I became acutely aware of it at drama school although it wasn’t new to me as my unbalance would show itself in everyday life.
I worked as a barista and when I was taught to make coffee, I would stand as far away from the coffee machine as possible outstretched not looking, terrified of the milk steamer. I would always turn it the wrong way – and end up almost burning myself to the point where the barista in charge took it away from me, he said you have to get closer to the machine trust it and trust yourself. Haha, I don't know if you would if you were in my body.
So back to movement class. Can I have a volunteer? I started to do this confident thing where I put myself forward when people ask this, a lot of time I would watch, but now I always put my hand up first even if I'm not fully prepared, take the risk, feel the fear and do it anyway. I was chosen. He asked me to close my eyes. I felt like I would fall over. Even now, while I write this, I feel a little unstable. A bit off-kilter, (as they say). I’m leaning into my laptop. My throat feels tight. I feel as though I may fall over just sitting still. What he did felt like magic. He just gently led a body part asked me to name my parents & said
“You deserve to be here"
I was broken, however hopeful as it felt like this could be a way of putting me back together. Afterwards, I told one of the other teachers about that feeling of letting go and how amazing it felt.
I wanted to recreate it. Find that release again. I found it's not something you can do on-call. It's learnt. Not without a long arduous emotional journey. I feel a song coming on… no just an extract from my movement journal talking about my experience:
There is a lot to do this term. I am ready to be open. I know it will be hard and painful sometimes, but I won’t keep things hidden this time. Emotional baggage is held in our bodies, you have to embrace it. The only time I felt relaxed was when my movement teacher used the alexander technique on me and ask me to say the names of my parents. I tried to hold back, but then I couldn't anymore leading me to cry in front of everyone in my class, it was euphoric, all of the tension had gone from my body and voice. I felt light.
After that, I was desperate to find that sensation again, if I can learn to let go I think I’ll find it this term. This time I can do it.
Sounds simple but I need to not worry about falling. I know why I resist and put my foot down. Falling is failing. Although I can tell myself that it’s okay to fail, there is a physical barrier that has been chipped away but they are still stones that won't shift. I am getting there.
When I wrote this, I didn’t know much about my dyspraxia. I thought my lack of balance was tied to my dyslexia. I started to understand the condition better when I did a short play about what it’s like to grow up with dyspraxia (taken from real-life experiences of the writer). I realised that although the doctor who diagnosed me with dyslexia said I had dyspraxic tendencies, those tendencies are more pronounced. I didn’t have the proper test for it which consists of catching a ruler, a dangerous thing to attempt.
All in all, Mulan fans you’ll be happy to know that I think I have found my centre. Yes, through my movement training, yoga journey and emotional release. I do still fall over, but its part of my charm.