The beginning point of all practice is having the calm and psychophysiological state to be able to begin in the first place. This cannot be stressed enough. Actually, I may venture to say that nurture ought to be 80% or more of our physical movement practice, and sometimes it blends in with actual performance movement. At every second of the day, we should remember to keep our instrument (our body) in nurture. How is your breathing? Is there tension anywhere in the body? Address that on the spot.
Without nurture/warmup, real profundity in movement is more difficult to attain. If we are to face the dragon, we are to have the blessings of the mother. We also want to dance in a way that is sustainable, so that we can dance to a very old age like Kazuo Ohno. Nurture creates a safe environment to enter into deep resonance. There are various nurturing practices. Nurture brings relaxation and ease. No ease means dis-ease. Several of the practices can also be done with partners.
Invoke your inner mother. Enter into becoming-mother or becoming-mother-baby.
There are innumerable amount of breathing techniques. Here are a few breathing techniques that may be used.
This is breathing directed to a particular area of the body, e.g. perineum or kidneys.
2. Silk Breath
Imagine there is a silk ribbon gently travelling in and out of your nasal passage. This is very gentle breath and is smooth. Silk breath can be short, long, or natural.
3. Breath of Fire
This is very subtle and fast breath going in and out. The focus can reside under the nose. Think millimeter inhalation and expiration. The body will feel heat and also vibrate.
Experiment utilizing breath with movement. For instance, when moving toward the vertical axis, inspire, and when moving away, expire. Or when expanding the body, inspire, and when the body is dropped, release the breath.
5. Yawn or No Breath
The space between inspiration and expiration is a magical space. You can feel the effects with a yawn, especially sustaining a yawn.
Expel breath completely and suddenly, especially stale breath that is no longer needed.
The awareness of feeling in the first place is not only the starting place for movement, but the beginning of nurture itself. For the detailed list of Felt Sense, see here.
Shakes & Quakes
For goodness shakes! Whole body shakes are one of the most fundamental methods of releasing tension. Can also be done by knocking the heel while standing in which case it will be like a bodyquake.
A recommended practice to get into the body which is both extremely nurturing and great for butoh is the floppy body. The floppy body is a body being shaken by something else while one is passive or floppy (one can even think dead or asleep). Executing the floppy body with the entire body is great, but one can also isolate different parts such as the hands, essentially bringing for the floppy hands.
The same idea is done but with a partner, and Noguchi Taiso makes use of it. The following comes from a Noguchi Taiso article written by Paola Esposito and Toshiharu Kasai:¹
1. Lie down on the floor on our back. Stretch your knees.
2. Your partner catches both your ankles, and holding them together shakes your legs to the left and right briskly, making your entire body wave.
3. Check if the head is swaying to some extent as a result of this waving. Your partner changes the shaking speed and the amplitude so as to make an irregular movement in the body.
Reach up with a limb with inhalation then expel the breath while dropping the limb. Feel the tension especially leave from your joints when they drop. Examples:
1. Reach up with arm. Cut.
2. Stand on one leg upon something small so that the other leg dangles in mid air. Lift up slightly. Cut.
3. Sitting down, put your feet together. Turn one leg in. Cut.
While sitting, sway in space. To start, you can move on the directions of a clock. All directions, however, work. Also, you can lay in a supine position (on your back) and pull and push your heels back and forth. You can develop a nurturing vibration through this subtle rocking.
If you are sitting or standing in any space (even outside of the butoh world), it is recommended to always have at least a subtle sway. The sway can act as an excellent transition point between qualias. The sway can also be thought of as the palate cleanser to the wine tastings of qualias.
Sway is closely related to the concept of filler & scribble.
Walking in Space
Just plain conscious walking all throughout the space can be nurturing. Like swaying, it is also a great transition point between qualias or palate cleanser for the wine tastings of qualias.
Laying of Hands
Simple hand to skin contact alone is nurturing. Specific places to try:
1. One hand heart, another forehead
2. One hand heart, another stomach
3. One hand base of skull, another solar plexus
4. One hand heart, another on spine (especially while in fetal position)
5. Head container – one hand front, one back; one hand side, another side.
Patting, rubbing, vibrating, and rocking can also work or hovering over the skin where the heat of the hands can be sensed.
Hugging yourself is always nurturing and can also be done in a number of ways. The arms need not be the only things. Try with legs too. (For more on hugs, see below “A Universe of Hugs.”)
Acupressure & Trigger Point
If you want to experiment with various acupressure or trigger points, you can do so. The information is widely accessible. Experiment with various ball densities (e.g. tennis ball, softball).
Experiment giving various pressure against the wall with your entire body. The wall can be incredibly nurturing.
Wring a wet towel, swing ropes, bear hug a pillow, etc.
All stretches should target the fascia or provide strength at point of maximum extension. Do not stretch a cold body part.
Visualize a time that made you smile authentically. Take this smile inside your body. You can smile to wherever needs the attention. Smile to all the organs and systems. Study your anatomy and have a smile frenzy.
A Universe of Hugs
Enter into a world that consists of endless hugs. To begin, perhaps one makes the gesture with ones arms and can even hug others. We don’t stay here though. We begin getting deeper. We shift to ferment/distill the idea. We can incorporate objects around the room and to the space in between them. Experiment with the length of the hugs. We can also change the size or any quality (e.g. any form of reduction or regeneration).
Eventually we lump the entire universe into a solid entity which is hugged. This is an exercise in bhakti, Divine Love or 100% Life Resonance.
Shadowbody Six Nurturing Steps
1. Rub hands till they are hot then lay them on the effected area by holding, rubbing, patting, squeezing, and vibrating.
2. Scoop and then quickly eject the imagined knot or density behind you while ejecting the breath.
3. Sway or dance 3d scribbles to the same area.
4. Simultaneously tense and freeze the area while holding the breath.
5. Release breath while shaking or convulsing the area.
In case of an emotional/psychological emergency, keep these in mind. Just one may work just fine. I have utilized all three of these before when faced with dark shamanic journeying.
1. Stop and breathe.
Utilize the silk breath (see above) in a comfortable posture (such as half lotus) and become a third person observer.
2. Give up.
Surrender to the ground. Whatever comes at you will not effect you because that would be like beating a dead horse. You can even jokingly ask (like I have), what are you going to do, kill me? I’m already dead!
3. Repeat “love.”
Repeat “love” to yourself like an endless mantra. Nothing more.
Important: If the episode passes, yet you feel shaky or trembly, resonate with this by taking them into more pronounced shakes or convulsions. This is a natural response in nature to release trauma. Despite, it does not hurt to shake or convulse just in case. See section Statue & Freeze.