[中][Eng]從人體動作到自身學問 From Human Movement to Self-Knowledge
中文校訂Chinese Editing：劉詠芝 Iris Lau
（原文刊於2008年《舞蹈手札》第十冊第三期 Originally published on dance journal/hk 10-3 in 2008）
The Study of Human Movement
每當我告訴朋友我對人「動」的現象 (phenomenon of human movement)甚感興趣，並且熱中於對它的研究時，他們總是報以困惑的目光，好像不明白我在說些什麼。為何人「動」的現象可以令人著迷？而研究人的動作又是怎麼樣一回事？
Whenever I tell my friends that I am quite fascinated with the phenomenon of human movement and am very enthusiastic about the study of it, they tend to look at me perplexed as if they do not understand what I am saying. Why is the phenomenon of human movement fascinating? And what is the study of human movement about?
For a normal and healthy adult with no problem doing any daily activity, one tends to overlook how one moves. It will even be harder to imagine the same person becoming interested in the phenomenon of human movement. Yet. I would like to remind those who can move freely with no limitations to really treasure this innate ability. If our ability to move freely is diminished, we will then not take our ability to move for granted. For example, a person with low back pain will become very conscious of how he moves in order not to trigger the pain. Losing our ability to move completely is one of the greatest misfortunes in life.
Structure and Function
身體的結構當然對於我們如何活動有決定性的影響。活動能力上的障礙，往往與結構上的問題相關。例如一個患有嚴重拇襄炎的人行走時會有困難。矯形手術或許是解決結構問題的方法，但假若我們要把這問題澈底根治，便必須找出問題的原因。在各種不同因素下，我們有需要從「功能」的角度——人走路的模式——來看這間題，亦即是要觀察這人慣性走路的方法。觀察一個人活動的模式，就是觀察他如何運用自己身體。因此動作研究是可以提供自身學問 (self-knowledge) 的途徑，特別在我們如何去運用身體。
The anatomical structure of the human body definitely plays an important role in how we are able to move. The diminishing of our ability to move often relates to some forms of abnormality in our anatomical structure. For example, a person with severe problem of bunion will have difficulty walking. Surgical operations in general will be employed as a remedy for structural problems. Yet for an ultimate remedy for the structural problem we need to find out the cause. Amongst the many factors, it is necessary to look at the problem from a functional viewpoint, which is the way the person walks. The habitual pattern of walking often sheds light on the cause of the problem. To look at how one moves is to look at the way one uses one's facility to act. The study of human movement offers insight go self-knowledge in particular with the way we use our body to move.
Habitual Use of the Self
F. Matthias Alexander practicing his own developed Alexander Technique with a lady.
有些時候，身體功能上的障礙不一定有相對結構上的問題。在這，我想引用一位身體運作研究的先驅者亞歷山大 (F. Matthias Alexander) 的一次親身體驗來支持這個論點。亞歷山大是十九世紀來的一個莎劇演員，但當他演出時，說話聲音總是變得嘶啞難聽。雖然做過了很多詳細的檢查，醫生們也找不出問題所在。在別無他法下，亞歷山大決定要自己找出原因。他透過一個三面的組合鏡子非常用心的自我觀察，終於發現到問題所在。他觀察到自己每當發聲時，便會急促地仰頭吸氣，把頭壓到頸和脊椎上。顯而易見，亞歷山大的問題並非是結構上之毛病，而是錯誤地運用身體。要糾正問題，便是糾正他運用身體的慣性模式。
Sometimes functional problems do not always have a tangible physical counterpart. This can be best illustrated by the example of the Shakespearean actor F. Matthias Alexander who first developed his bodywork technique in the last decades of the nineteenth century. He suffered from chronic hoarseness when performing. The medical experts were unable to provide him satisfactory solution to his problem since no physical defect with his vocal organs were detected. Eventually Alexander decided to solve the problem himself. Through painstaking self-observation with a three-way mirror, he discovered that his hoarseness was a result of misuse of his body. He noticed that whenever he attempted to project his voice, he gasped for air by pressing his head down onto the back of his neck and spine. It became clear that the way to solve his vocal problem was to correct his habitual use of his body with a more refined movement pattern.
Basic Nature of Human Movement
(2) 人與動物不同，我們一套套的動作模式並非與生俱來，而是從學習和不斷重複中培育出來。這些學習在我們出生初期尤其重要，嬰兒每天的主要活動，莫過於學習如何去活動他們的身體，和建立一套基本動作模式 (Movement Pattern) 。透過動作，嬰兒同時體驗自身和認知外在的世界。
Simple as it might seem to be, Alexander's discovery offers many important insights into the basic nature of human movement:
(1) Usually we are unconscious of how we move. What we are conscious of in our act is our intent rather than the process of moving. For example, we walk without knowing how we walk. Yet we are quite conscious of where we want to go.
(2) Unlike animals, we are not born with a repertory of ready-made motor skills. All patterns of movement in human beings need to be nurtured and learnt especially during our early stage of life. Babies’ daily activities are mainly in learning and building repertory of a fundamental movement patterns. Through movement they come to perceive the self as well as the world.
(3) What is learnt is stored in our system. Like a computer, we are programmed to behave habitually with a set of specific responses without our conscious awareness. The set-up simplifies life so that every time we act we don't have to re-learn and consciously work out the countless neuromuscular responses involved.
(4) Since circumstances under which we grow up are different, we each possess our own signature of habitual patterns of moving. These patterns of moving that have been built over years may or may not be efficient, coordinated, and free of unnecessary tension. To re-pattern what has already been programmed is no simple matter. And everyone's remedial need is different.
Self-Knowledge and Physical Fitness
運動是身體健康的基本。這是我們常常聽到的忠告。不過是否所有運動也有益處呢 ? 尤其是今天市場上出現形形色色的健身運動，我們應該如何選擇？又會不會選擇錯了，反而令身體受損多於受益？似乎，做運動可否帶來健康是基於下面兩個假設:
Exercise is essential for good health. This is a common advice that we often hear. Yet are all exercises good? With so many different kinds and forms of exercise in the market, how do we know what to choose? Is it possible that with an inappropriate choice, exercise can do more harm to us than good? Whether exercise can make us healthy seems to be based on two assumptions:
(I) I have good self-knowledge and an understanding of my individual needs;
(2) I have basic understanding of the nature of the exercise.
Often whether an exercise will benefit us or not depends not only on what exercise you do but also on how the exercise is performed. For example, the exercise of jogging is known for its cardiovascular benefit. Although we all run, our way to run is unique. A person who habitually runs with shoulders back and chest pushing up and forward places a great deal of stress on his low back. How a person coordinates his body to run affects the outcome of the exercise. We may claim that we are too busy to have time for self-knowledge and understanding of our habitual use of our body. We can delegate the responsibility to a private trainer. Yet like all disciplines, finding an experienced and knowledgeable teacher is not easy. The physical fitness industry is like a kaleidoscope with a wide variety of products and teachers. How to select a trainer and a discipline of fitness to suit your need still demands self-knowledge and good understanding of human movement. The modern age is stressful, everyone feels the pressures of time. Still, this cannot be an excuse for us not to spare time for self-knowledge if we really want to stay healthy.
The Mind of Movement
行為是一個身體與精神之共同現象 ，精神的功能與身體的功能相互關聯。我們動作的運用反映我們的慣性思維、情緒和信念。假若你在繁忙時間的地鐵站內細看走過的人，你可以發現，現代的急速步伐令所有人處於焦慮之中。 雖然很多人也同意身體與精神是相關的，但要經歷和這方面的個人體驗，才明白其中意義。筆者就有這樣一個深刻體驗。就讀大學初期 ，我曾一度陷於情緒低潮，思想被各種各樣沒有答案的生命命題所糾纏。後來一位朋友提議我參加瑜伽課程。當中，導師以不同的延伸及深呼吸之練習，加上細心的引導，令身體內積壓的壓力短暫地釋放， 使我在每堂課終結時，身體都感覺非常舒暢。奇妙的是，透過培育一個舒展和諧的身體 ，我的精神變得安靜和鬆弛。
The discussion in the above centers on the physical aspect of human movement. For every action, there is a mental component as well as the physical counterpart.
Human behavior is a body-mind phenomenon where the functioning of the mind and the functioning of the body are interrelated. Our way of moving reflects our habitual thinking, feeling, and belief attitudes. If you take a look at how people walk in the metro during rush hours, you will see the anxiety caused by the fast pace of the modern era. Although everyone seems to agree that mind and body are interconnected, this statement has no particular meaning unless it is supported by personal experience. I do recall a body-mind experience, which had a strong impression on me. I was at college at the time and was going through an adolescent crisis. I was depressed and my mind full of many unresolved philosophical issues. With suggestion of a friend, I took a Yoga course. With careful guidance, I learnt how to breathe deeply. Through gentle stretching from different angles and dimensions, tensional blockages and stresses were temporarily released. At the end of every class, I felt refreshed. I was delighted to learn that my mind could become calm and relaxed through the cultivation of a free, easy, and open body. It is not to say that all the issues in my head had resolved.
It is only that I felt so centered that I was able for the time to accept those issues with ease. Perhaps the ultimate transformation has to come from the enlightenment of the mind.
Process vs. End-Gaining
動作並非實物。它是一個身心的過程，可以作為認識自身的媒介。專注「動」的過程，會加強自身的體驗。要達至自身學問，我們需要把行動的焦點，投放於「動」的過程而非最終成果，更要持開放和態度去體驗當中的過程，不去追求立時的成效。或許今天的教育是以成果為本，和我們慣性地把知識視為在客觀世界中可以擁有的東西，而忽略了主觀自身的重要。我還記得一次教授一群快將畢業的大學生的經驗。在這個名為「動的藝術」之工作坊中，學生隨著導引去活動、探索和嘗試。他們受到鼓勵去相信自己，主動投入動與感覺的對話中。在每個階段的探索， 學生也會隨著提示，檢視身體內各種變化。在課堂終結時， 學生都會為他們的發現而感到興奮，就好像那是他們首次發現有關自身的東西。一方面，我為學生們的啟悟而高興；另一方面 ，我懷疑在他們過往所受的教育中，有多少時間把重點放在有關自我的學習上。
Human movement is not a tangible thing. It is a psychophysical process, which can be a means for self-knowledge. By attending to the process of the moving, we come to experience the self-better. To arrive at self-knowledge, our focus is not so much on the goal of an action but the process, which is the movement. We need to be open to go through the process rather than straining for immediate results. Perhaps our schooling today is of end-gaining nature. We are conditioned to see knowledge mainly as something out there in the world to possess, and often neglect the significance of the subjective self. I still remember an experience of conducting a workshop on the art of movement to a group of college students who were about to graduate. Throughout the class, students were guided to move and explore. They were encouraged to trust themselves and actively engaged in dialogue between sensing and moving. For each stage of exploration, they followed the guided checklists to take note of all internal process of changes. At the end of the class, the students got really excited with their discovery. It was almost like this was the first time they discovered something about their bodies. On one hand I felt happy for them with their self-discovery; and on the other hand I wondered when and where their education focussed on learning about the self.
Learning about the world perhaps is as important as learning about the self. It seems that our schooling might have over emphasized imparting conceptual and factual knowledge through language and picture. Wouldn't it be more meaningful if what is taught can be embodied subjectively. For instance, can the understanding of the nature of the spine come directly from movement exploration rather than just reading pictures and factual data? The beauty of experiential learning is that the classroom can become a laboratory where information is transformed into an active moving experience. With careful guidance of the inside process of moving, one comes to learn about the self as well as embody objective concepts into subjective knowledge*. In summary, the major themes that I would like to point out are as follows:
(1) Our movement patterns tell us the way we use the self. Our habitual use/response also reflects our habitual thinking, feeling, and belief attitudes. Movement is a useful means to arrive at self-knowledge.
(2) Whether a physical engagement will lead to self-knowledge depends on how the activity is conducted. For example, the learning of physical skills like dance technique, for which we are instructed to busily imitate the instructor's demonstration, will unlikely attain self-knowledge. Students often strain themselves at all costs just to possess the end product. To arrive at self-knowledge through movement demands us to reconsider our teaching methods and perhaps to focus more on the process of the activity than the goal.
(3) Learning through physical engagement integrates objective knowledge with subjective experience. Perhaps with better understanding of the basic nature of human movement, a teacher can be more equipped and open to facilitate learning in students with more options.
I would like those who once took human movement for granted to look again at what the study of human movement can offer and not to under-estimate its potentials.
* 這教學概念正是 Somatic 研究的基本主旨。
This is the basic theme of Somatic study.
Text: Aaron Wan