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Jewish Journal

Let Yourself Go

by Emily Stern

April 6, 2012 | 7:03 am

SHANK

Let Yourself Go


Some Passover Notes and Suggestions for
Inner Child Passover Seder for Adults
Where "Order" is the perfect playground!

First we come to the glass of wine
and stare into the cup.
Any feeling that arises
let that be given to you from the cup.
This technique is used in clowning classes for creating a Clown. The way that one feels about the nose is the way your clown feels about the whole world. The nose is the whole world, and then the emotional reaction that arises to the nose in that moment is the clown’s demeanor. Let the image of the wine impact you, and allow it to become the whole world.  It is all that exists.
Take your time and drink the glass. Remember this is based on a clowning exercise so feel free to let yourself be this type of clown, let it grow from this emotion.

and feel. interact. be.

The bowl of water at the center of the room is the antidote to this.

and immediately upon washing (without a blessing)
feel the emotion change into the exact opposite emotion. So, if you were feeling grumpy, you may want to explore gawking and take the world in as a remarkably charming place.

SETTING:
Now make your way in our interactive seder plate. Instead of the seder plate being in the center, each place in the room is another part of the plate. Why should there be a table? Why not be in the midst of it all? Why not be the table? or at least inside it? Designate each part of the room to represent a section of the seder plate, so that you are surrounded.
Section decorated in dedication of
Shankbone: (stuffed animal section with mattress for reclining and eating)
The Egg
The bitter Herbs
The Charoset
The Vegetable

 

All blankets and scarves and pillows as fort-like as you can be, can be strewn. Recline! Spread mattresses or pillows.
Commit to the understanding that we are feasting in the wilderness. This is what the Israelites were wanting in leaving Egypt, and this is it!

 

As you go back into the first clown by feeling and gathering all your emotions, the experience is most likely much more deeply felt now having gone the opposite direction.  Be aware of your thoughts.  As we wash our hands, move your hands very deliberately. Move your wrists around. Move them in different positions; move your fingers. Feel each finger move. Play with your hands and how they relate to your inner world. When you change the outside, what are your feelings? “The wrists can lift or circle. They can move left or right, in staccato or in gentle movements. They can pull away from each other with tension or with ease. They can move up and down in a constant rhythm. They can push away from the body or slide in toward it. THe hands and fingers can claw, punch, twist, or caress. They can close as if to grab suddenly, or grasp finger by finger. They can undulate: wrist, palm, first knuckle, second, third. They can push, pull, lift, tickle, or poke.” (Stephen Wangh, The Acrobat of The Heart) Also consider doing this with the eyes. “The eyelids can open and close. They can open partway. One eye can open. One eye can wink, Both eyes can blink. The eyelids can flutter. They can be heavy and keep trying to close. They can snap open.”

 

FOCUS:
The way this seder is set up in structure is to excavate our inner child play and essential self by exploration and healing the 4 children in the Passover story. Through their ways and the teachings that are given to them, we can use these teachings as ointments to the places we can witness the energy of the 4 children as we relate. 

 

STRUCTURE:
There is usually one designated reader for the hagaddah while others are free to listen and move around the room. It is a very healing thing to do these exercises of physicality while hearing the text being read. The text can affect us so deeply that tremendous knowing can arise from our deep understanding in the body, in play. There is something profound in hearing and listening while moving without force of response so the subconscious can use the movements and hearing to shake off some mortar. 

 

As we begin to approach the breaking of the middle matzah, we also begin to be introduced to the first of the four overarching children characters—the wise child. Continue to read the hagaddah. Dedicate the breaking of the matzah to the children.

The Wise Child wants to know the laws. The law we learn through the wise child is about how the afikomen, sweet dessert matzah is the final thing eaten in the meal, and for the rest of the night. 
The wise Child knows so much. and the reminder/healing for these children is to know that the afikomen is the sweetest part of the prayer. It is experiental going inside. Please allow a few moments of connection with another person at the seder. Make sure you see the afikomen in them. Make sure you see their sweetness. Look, really look for the thing that they would not need anything forevermore because you have this.

 


“Meetchelah” “At first . . .”

Be on your back. hold your feet in a "happy baby" pose. FIND SAFE PLACE, where you are comfortable on your back. Recently, A friend lay in my lap, and a third friend and I looked down at her. She immediately said it was quite healing for her to imagine us as her parents. The widening of their perspectives in the safety of being a child can be quite beautiful.
We are evoking the midwives, Puah and Shifra, who in the Passover story who secretly let children live who were deemed to be killed by Pharoah as if they were a protective, loving parent or parents. Here we can begin be with the Midwives of Egypt who saved the lives of many children that were ordered to be killed. Any part that feels dead remind yourself that we have whoever is looking at you, or Puah and Shifra to thank for the support of children. The Puah and Shifrah who are looking down at you can be physical people, or you can find a place for them in the room with your imagination. Place them in your mind in the floor boards, on the ceiling. Or, lie in a friend’s lap looking up and see them as loving parents, as midwives. Connect to the promise of safety in knowing that these two onlookers want every aspect of you to thrive, to embrace life, to live.

 

cover the matzah,
and raise your glass.

The Evil child needs to know their safety. “what is this service to you?” they ask. “to you, but not to me.” There is no question that this fragmentation of the whole is a symptom of the need to protect oneself, to split off as a means of survival. The child must hear. Yes, YOU are the only one.” in a process of learning to trust and care for the child self, the child must feel seen. We are an integrated whole, there is no "what does it mean to you and not to me." or "This is not my story."

We must understand hurt and separateness, and listen to the dreams of the part that has been unseen or disgarded.

“The Magical Child sees the potential for sacred beauty in all things, and embodies qualities of wisdom and courage in the face of difficult circumstances. One example is Anne Frank, who wrote in her diary that in spite of all the horror surrounding her family while hiding from Nazis in an attic, she still believed that humanity was basically good. This archetype is also gifted with the power of imagination and the belief that everything is possible.
The shadow energy of the Magical Child manifests as the absence of the possibility of miracles and of the transformation of evil to good. Attitudes of pessimism and depression, particularly when exploring dreams, often emerge from an injured Magical Child whose dreams were “once upon a time” thought foolish by cynical adults. The shadow may also manifest as a belief that energy and action are not required, allowing one to retreat into fantasy.” (Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts)

prayer, wish: 


The third child, The simple one, the teaching/healing given in the text includes reminding him of the strong hand of Gd. This is also about trusting the will of Gd. As if to say, “don’t worry, God CARES.” 

Please read the hagaddah beginning at “vayarayoo otanu hametzreem” (the Egyptians ill treated us.)

These are physical ideas for releasing tension and opening to trust and faith. It is quoted directly from Alexander Lowen’s book, “Depression and The Body”

“Take a position with the feet parallel and about six inches apart and bend the knees so that the weight of the body is balanced between the heels and the balls of the feet. The rest of the body should be straight with the arms hanging loosely at the sides. The best results will be obtained if one stands barefoot or without shoes. if possible, hold this position for about two minutes. The mouth should be slightly open so that the breathing can develop easily and fully. Let the belly out but don’t force it. Holding the belly in restricts breathing and is unnecessary work. You don’t have to hold yourself up by your guts if you will allow your legs and back to serve this function, as they were intended to do. The breathing movements should extend into the belly. The back should be straight but not rigid, the buttocks and pelvis should be allowed to hang loose and free.  The purpose of this exercise is to bring you into touch with your legs and feet, and this will happen as sensation develops in them. Put your attention into your feet and try to maintain your balance between the heels and the balls of the feet. As you do this, you may find some involuntary tremors occurring in the legs or body, your legs may begin to vibrate or to shake. These involuntary movements are an expression of the flow of feeling in your body. Allow them to develop to the extent that you are comfortable with them. Sense your body and see if you can feel its aliveness. When the position becomes painful or you think your legs will collapse, change . . . (exercises)

 

 

“..stand on one leg and bend the knee as far as it will go without raising any part of the foot off the ground. The other leg is extended backward off the ground. The arms are extended and the hands rest lightly on two chairs placed alongside the person. The chairs are used for balance, not for support. On the floor six inches from the patient’s foot is a folded blanket. The patient is asked to hold this position as long as he can, breathing easily and deeply, and to feel the weight of his body on his foot. When he can no longer maintain it, he is directed to let himself fall on his knee into the blanket. There is no danger of injury through this exercise, yet most people are afraid to let themselves fall. Some will struggle to maintain the position indefinitely, while others will fall prematurely as an act of will rather than surrender. Many lower themselves to the floor gradually. This exercise is repeated twice on each leg. On the fourth time I ask the patient to say, ‘I give up,’ as he falls.”

 

As for the one who does not know how to ask, we must ask "why? What is going on for this child that there is no question, no idea how to even approach that idea." In “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron, she explains such an interesting phenomenon. She identifies what we call "shy" as an external view, out of sync.  The highly sensitive person can be labeled shy because others are not feeling connected to their profound inner experience. It is used to describe someone who is so highly engaged with life that it can be overwhelming to both the "shy" child and onlooker. The One who does not know how to ask a question's teaching is about cultivating a sense of awe. Their message is “Gd did things for me when I left Egypt.” Through this child, we are connected to the miraculous. There is no question here. The idea of questioning is so unlike the hugeness of the awareness this child brings.
What is overwhelmingly fantastic in this moment?

 

PLAGUES:

The section of the Hagaddah addressing the PLAGUES has such strong imagery that I would love to apply a game that enables the bodily or soul memory of such events, or even the visceral effects of hearing such descriptions each year, or as they are spoken now. This is not an acting out of the plagues or even reactions to the plagues themselves. I invite you to almost forget that you are responding to the plagues or the words themselves, and just make sound. It is coming from a more subconscious place that way.

This is an exercise that Stephen Wangh calls “The Sounds of Your Own Voice”

1. Walk, Move
2. At each step of the exercise search for the image to which you are speaking.”
in our case, being spoken to you. As you hear it, “Let your voice be a response to the words.
“3. Search for the sound of crying. Let yourself play with sound in falsetto. Try whining, pleading, and calling as a child calls to a parent. Try reaching up with your arms as you do so…”


cover matzah raise wine
The #2 cup of wine:
For this next cup of wine and the two following there is an option to expand on the first cup of wine’s exercise, and try this one of Wangh’s, inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotwski “I feel.”
it is aligned completely with the first cup of wine and the clown exercise where we experienced the cup of wine as the whole world, and seeing what feeling arose. This time we sit with a partner and say the feeling aloud.

“1. Sit in a chair, opposite a partner. both of you take a moment to relax. make sure that you are sitting up and not holding yourself stiffly….
2. Make eye contact with your partner. If at any point you want to smile or laugh, that’s fine, don’t stop yourself.
3. Now one of you says “i feel_________,” and completes the sentence. Just name whatever you are feeling. It may be something deep or something very minor, but whatever it is, you give it a name. If you can’t find the right word, or don’t want to say it, you can use gibberish.
4. As the first person speaks, the second person listens.”

They switch off.

“The important thing is that after you speak, let go and really listen to the other person. And then, just name the first thing that arises within you.
6. if you say something and your partner does not respond, but you notice you are feeling another feeling, you do not need to wait. Just name it, and then go on and listen again.”

 

#3 cup of wine:

The Gratitude Cup

Technically, we have released all the horror and terror of the sea of blood. and are left only with the awe of gratitude.
Try singing the text of Dianu immediately after with your partner insterested in the graciousness. 


CHECK IN

Where are you sitting, what place in the seder plate are you gravitating towards?

Imagine you are one of the children, choose one of the four. Wise/Essential, Evil/Magical, Simple/Trusting, or the one who does not know how to ask a question/Awe-inspired.They each have a dream.
Before eating the Matzah, 

In the section of the passover lamb, I reccommend having stuffed animals and soft things represtending the animal self, play, prayer.
that we do a visualization meditation of the world in which we long for.  Imagine it breaking free from anything that isn’t completely bright and breathing.
Have as many kiddush cups as you’d like. Not just for Eliahu Hanavi, but all “imaginary friends.”

remember Moses (as a child) was sent came through the river to be kept safe. Imagine a miracle that can happen.

Eating:
-The most important part of eating is resting, so rest while you eat.  Feed others. Recline even in the head in lap position from earlier. Feel free to give something to another if it seems like a person would like it. Take turns, but most of all rest. Sleep. Relax. Remember to feast in the wilderness.

 

(Bentching coming soon.)

 


For Hallel there is a yoga position that opens the heart very gently. taught to me by my friend, Alice. She says to
1. put the hands clasped behind the back. straight back. elbows straight. wrists together and facing in.
2. now pull the wrists apart as hard as you can while keeping the hands clasped. pulling the shoulders back and the arms down. Open the heart.


Another open chest ex. can be found in Acrobat of the Heart.
“1. lean back gently. relax the chest, and reach up and forward with the arms . . . open your eyes and look up into the distance.
2. allow the arms to open and lift forward a few inches. Keep the wrists and elbows relaxed. Let the arms reach, slowly and gently, as if opening to the sky, as if feeling the sunlight or rain coming to you. as if you were receiving a gift. Allow your gaze to be directed out and slightly upward. Relax across the face. Let your eyes relax so that they have peripheral vision. Breathe. feel your chest open. Let your chest and your heart relax and open. Let yourself feel what you are feeling. Just feel it.
3. Let your arms reach out, but gently, without extra effort. Gently explore slightly varied angles for the elbows, the wrists, the hands.”

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