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Using My Mind to Improve My Movement: Exploring Mind Body Training

My Mind Is

my mind is

a big hunk of irrevocable nothing which touch and

taste and smell and hearing and sight keep hitting and

chipping with sharp fatal tools

in an agony of sensual chisels i perform squirms of

chrome and execute strides of cobalt

nevertheless i

feel that i cleverly am being altered that i slightly am

becoming something a little different, in fact


Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet


EE Cummings

To me, EE Cummings’ poem describes the way that his mind is changing and becoming more himself and this change is difficult. It is as beautiful as chrome, cobalt, lilac and scarlet but communicated as shrieks and bellowings while he finds his way. This speaks to me at the moment as I approach my movement in a much more mindful way. I am changing my mindset, my thoughts and my understanding of how I move - and it isn’t easy.

In my cloud swing practice the thoughts: “achieve this trick,” “don’t get it wrong” and “the audience won’t know if my technique is off” have dominated my self talk for almost twenty years. I am no longer a professional aerialist but I have a weekly class for my mental health and for my happiness but very often I am down on myself for my slow progress. I compare myself to the gorgeous twenty year olds who also train in the space and I baulk at new tricks because I am “an old dog.” I am learning how to change this approach to my movement with a mental toolbox of tricks taught in my Franklin Method Educator Training.

Now, before class when getting changed I remind myself “swinging brings me joy” “I am here to challenge my body and my spirit.” After my warm up I visualise everything that I will do in my session, I walk back and forward as if in the swing rehearsing my tricks. I take special care with tricks that I don’t quite understand and try to get a feel for the movements by rolling about on the floor or on a low piece of aerial equipment (in circus we call this ground training or floor-ials).

Then to wake up my proprioceptors I tap my entire body from top to toe, I rub myself down and then have a good shake. I give my brain a very clear map of where every part of my body is before I start whizzing about in the air.

Then when I’m in the air I swing. I try to notice my body, not the people in the space with me but tune in to me. I aim to be present in my body. I feel my position in the swing, is my body leading or trailing in the swing? Am I breathing? Where am I breathing from? Where am I holding tension - can I release it? How is the quality of my movement?

Then I start a warm up sequence with movements at the front and back of the swing, rotations around the rope in both directions and a back balance. When swinging a body needs the right amount of tension, not too much, not to little. I use the mental image of a sapling blowing in the wind or seaweed flowing with the waves. I visualise my alignment as being one with the swing, my body in line with the rope I am standing on.