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What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Guide to Courageous Living

1 rating: 3.0
A 2005 book by Lavinia Plonka.

According to the author, a seasoned workshop leader in movement therapies, "fear is often the process of taking a past negative experience and posing it as a potential future negative experience." Children who are raised by overprotective parents, … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Lavinia Plonka
Publisher: Tarcher
1 review about What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Guide...

Calm your mind by calming your body

  • Jan 5, 2011
Rating:
+3
The sub-title of Lavinia Plonka's 2005 book WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? is A BODY/MIND GUIDE TO COURAGEOUS LIVING. The author postulates that for any given situation the motivation to act, after you peel away the layers, is either love or fear. Human babies begin life with only one innate fear: falling. For all other fears the child's parents are the best teachers. Admittedly oversimplifying, Ms Plonka further assumes that our initial fear reaction to any sudden frightening stimulus (if we are standing), is "shock": to recoil, to arch our back away from the threat, close our eyes, scrunch up our face, grit our teeth, lift shoulders toward ears, stop breathing and also throw our arms up, with hands next to our ears (Illustration 1.1).

We next (if we don't run) protect our viscera. We bend forward, cover our face with our hands, crouch (Illustration 1.2). An abnormally frightened person may go through life habitually looking either shocked or cowed or combinations of both. Fear is revealed in posture.

A fearful attitude that has become habitual can cripple. A fearful person may find it hard to look into a personnel officer's eyes when applying for a job. Spinal tension can impact ease in walking. Simply rising from a chair can hurt.

Lavinia Plonka's many years of coaching in movement practices have made her confident that fears can be mastered, little by little, especially (but not exclusively, chi kung, ball room dancing and other movements can also help) by the Feldenkrais method in which you pay close attention to how your body (especially your spine) reacts during a series of very small moves. You "stay within your comfort level." Pain is not gain! You learn to relax, to stop using more muscles than you need to, for instance, when lifting your head off a mat during a Feldenkrais class.

Bottom line: as you slowly but consciously achieve normal, fearless body postures (called "actures" by Moshe Feldenkrais), you apply what you have learned to confront fear. You learn that a panic attack cannot last forever. After 20 minutes adrenalin automatically stops flowing. You calm your fears through "Bell Hands" (Illustration 6.1). Bring thumb and fingertips of your right hand gently together. "Then gently let them open apart." You are telling your brain that all is well. "You can't do this kind of movement while running for your life: terror does not allow you to pulse your hand; however, pulsing your hand can keep terror at bay" (Ch 6, "Phobias").

Dancer, choreographer, former artist in residence at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Lavinia Plonka (http://www.laviniaplonka.com/) in early 2011 is Director of the Asheville Movement Center in Asheville, North Carolina. The book is well written, clearly presented and helpfully illustrated. It does not take us very far into learning to reinterpret our current life in terms of inappropriate habits formed long ago of limiting our options in the face of fears, angst and related emotions. There is only so far that mere reading of WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? can take us. If nothing else, however, it makes readers want to know and consult author Lavina Plonka face to face. -OOO-
Calm your mind by calming your body Calm your mind by calming your body Calm your mind by calming your body

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