I started wondering why the expression going round in circles is seen as a negative, a frustrating state of being, rather than being seen as wonderful art form, a metaphor for life in a positive way?
Art history tells us the story of the Italian painter Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) being asked by a messenger to send an example of his work to Pope Bonniface V111 for a commission for St Peters. Giotto quickly formed a perfect circle in red paint to send to the pope, much to the messengers shock. The pope recognised the genius of the perfect circle and awarded Giotto the commission.
In Japanese brush painting one is taught to practise the Zen Circle – repeating the flow of brush on paper. True presence in the moment shown by the whiteness of the paper and the blackness of the ink – they both become truer by your intention, your ‘warmed heart’.
Riding circles on a horse, truthfully and in balance is a high art form. It takes awareness, thought, physical balance, practise, for both horse and rider.
A ‘still’ point of togetherness is sought. At its best the practise becomes invisible. I think circles and Angus, my horse, moves in the thought. So many images for paintings yet unpainted when I ride.
On Easter Sunday as I cracked open my boiled egg with friends, old and new, I asked for transformation. I got it. I rode Angus for the first time in months and my back cracked up. Ouch, but good, it needed to! Transformation can be uncomfortable! We can’t change and stay the same.
Despite hurting for a few hours, the release and contraction my body experiences is an invitation for me to perfect my own circle. My circle is not a good circle at the moment. I am tired from an intense period of painting in the cold. My circle has become small, my muscle spirals tight over the winter. Time to expand.
So where to start? I start by finding the dot, the still point, the centre of the circle and practice spiralling out from there. In my thought, then my movement.
I lie in semi supine, constructive rest, then flow forward into the movement that is life. Let myself move in spirals and circles, not in straight lines. Too much linear thinking and movement is not a good thing!
About a year ago I was teaching Alexander Technique to another rider, who had done exactly the same thing to her lower back riding her horse. We released her back quickly. My back has released quickly. I was reminded of my pupil as I had said to her a year ago – ‘This is a portal, drop in through the pain and you will come out in another place.’
So my questions?
Can I/you draw a perfect circle?
Can I/you walk a perfect circle?
Can I/you think a perfect circle?
It is high art!
This week I fell through a crack in my physicality – tension contracting the whole. Now I must let myself fall onto the ground, perfect planet earth, to re seek the dot, the starting point for all creation, out of which the whole is born.
The dot, my infinite ‘still’ point, the balance of my head atop my spine.
Thank you back for cracking up and inviting me to stop and find the radius of a new circle, a wider field of depth and attention for my new intention and my new creativity.
I am looking forward to the continuing going round in circles in life and thinking up to keep re finding the centre of it all.
It’s difficult and it is so simple too. A dot and a circle. That is all!
Inspired by Giotto!
Forward and Up!
(More information and a recorded talk through on letting go of back pain, click here
More information on Alexander Technique and horse riding click here)