Explode routine. Liberate mojo. Transform a rut into a groove. For those who want to burst out of the tried and true to live and work more daringly, creatively and deeply, Snap Out of It offers 101 snappy ways readers can get their creative groove back.
Artist Ilene Segalove shows how simply exploring the realm of our senses can unleash undreamed of creative powers from the chains of habit and routine. Snap Out of It "snaps" us back into paying attention to our lives by using our senses to get at a deeper, more exciting reality.
In addition to longer, more involved sensory activities, Segalove offers "Quick Snaps" that anyone can do on the fly to shake things up a little, including: Pound your fists on your chest and do an ear-popping Tarzan call of the wild. Or, lightly click your teeth together for one full minute.
There are also other, longer "snaps" that help readers go deeper.
- Eavesdropping - "Listen to the sounds of your house. Wander through your home and slow down your pace. Move in circles rather than straight lines. This will heighten and enhance your ability to gather sound and sharpen your listening."
- Kissing - "Kiss the Air. Pucker up and make a kissing sound out loud. ... Now kiss yourself. ... Try your forearm."
- Blinking - "Blink your eyes really fast. Open, close, open, close. Create the effect of watching an old time movie. Now squeeze your eyes tightly shut and then do another round of quick blinking."
Snap Out of It engages the five senses to unravel the knots of habit and routine to reawaken a spirit of play and help anyone burst through the daily grind into vitality, creativity, and ease.
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Read an Excerpt
Snap out of it!101 ways to get out of your rut & into your groove
By Ilene Segalove
Conari PressCopyright © 2004 Ilene Segalove
All right reserved.
1-Make a Face
Wrinkle up your face. You know, nose crunched up, eyes squished, mouth puckered. Make all those hideous and fantastic expressions you haven't indulged in for years. Open your jaws real wide, stick out your tongue, and bug out your eyes. Be grotesque, funny, and extreme. Engage your face in a raging romp and try on expressions of disgust, surprise, laughter, horror, and total delight.
My grandmother was really fastidious. She always folded her clothes with newspapers in between the arms and torso to keep them in perfect alignment. She removed all lint with a Magic Wand roller and hand ironed all of her collars and cuffs. One of my favorite memories is of watching her put on makeup.
I would sit on the cushy black rug on the bathroom floor and gaze up as she "put on her face." First she'd pucker up her lips and pull back her mouth ten times like some exotic fish. With some natural glow pulsing through her porcelain skin, she'd know exactly where to pat the loose powder which waited for her in a lovely golden box. Next she'd frown and smile really fast, and then it was time to pencil in her eyebrows. That's when I'd get up and choose the color of her rouge and lipstick. She'd congratulate me on my choices and then grab my hands. We'd spin our eyes in circles, wrinkle up our noses, and hold our breath together.
After that we'd let out one long sigh, in unison. She'd curl her eyelashes, whisk on mascara, and outline and paint in her lips. Rouge was last and best. It highlighted her high cheekbones and made her look like a just-picked perfect apple. One final glance in the mirror and she'd say, "How do I look?" I'd say, "Beautiful," and then we'd kick up the rug and waltz across the pink tile floor.
At night my grandmother would rub Vaseline all over her face. She'd cover her eyes with a black silk mask and set the alarm for four in the morning. Every dawn she'd get up in the dark and sip lemon juice with hot water. I guess she knew what she was doing, because when my grandmother died, she didn't have a single wrinkle, and she looked really happy.
The human face has the most complex and highly-developed set of facial muscles in the entire animal world. Most of us use only a tiny fraction of our potential expressiveness, dipping into a few habitual "faces" to fit all of life's dramas. The simple, safe smile. The critical scowl. The raised eyebrow smirk. Our faces tend to lock into habitual expressions as if we're afraid to try something new-like the way we have five hundred CDs but play the same four crowd pleasers over and over, for every occasion.
Many human expressions are barely perceptible, because they come and go in less than a second, but you can train yourself to sense them and tune into what they tell you. As you do so, you will find a rich world of meaning you never knew existed.
Sometimes faces become masks, handy cover-ups that hide instead of reveal true feelings. Our faces suffer as they are locked into habit. The many muscles that are never worked lose their tone, and the ones that are overused freeze or wrinkle up.
Each day, extend the range of your facial expressions. Work your facial muscles. Working muscles creates good blood flow and tones the skin. It massages your senses organs: nose, eyes, tongue, mouth, ears. And it feels good too.
2-Shake It Out
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms hanging loosely at your sides. Now gently bounce. Don't pick up your feet-wiggle or roll around on your heels and toes. You are a rag doll. Get loose. Let your arms dangle, your neck bop, your shoulders float up and down. You are a marionette. Increase the speed and intensity. After a few minutes, slow down and find your balance again.
When we focus on a task for more than a few minutes, we often forget to move our bodies. They cramp up, numb out, or even seem to disappear. We end up feeling like some giant head floating in space with no body at all, like some skin-encapsulated ego with lots of ideas but no arms or legs. This reaction mirrors the way fear grips our bodies. When we are afraid or overwhelmed, we freeze.
When we aren't moving, our muscles and emotions become rigid. Like petrified wood, where the malleable softwood actually turns to stone, we stiffen and feel a little dead, disembodied, and disconnected from ourselves and the world around us.
Whether you are scared or just stuck in a pattern, shaking it out helps you reconnect and get grounded. A few minutes of dedicated shaking invigorates your heart, breath, and emotions-it gets your juices flowing. At the same time, you'll shake out that rigidity before it sinks into your bones. You will end up feeling both calm and rejuvenated at the same time.
If you want to learn how to shake really well, watch ducks. They are master shakers. After a fight or some momentary conflict, they shake their feathers from head to toe, get the stiffness quickly out of their systems, and quack on.
Stand up and just start kicking. Put some gusto into it! Kick the air, pretend to kick someone you are angry at, kick an invisible sand bag. Let one leg snap out and back over and over again, then switch to your other leg. Kicking loosens up your knees and releases pent-up energy. Stomp your feet when you are done.
Float tanks are strange but wonderful stress-relief devices and were all the rage in the late seventies. They are lightproof, soundproof, fiberglass tubs, half filled with a saline solution. You climb in, lower the lid, and float with no distractions.
I decided to try one out. I put on a headset, slid into the tank, closed my eyes, and tried to get comfortable. It was a little scary and claustrophobic at first, but someone pumped music through my headset and after about ten minutes, I began to relax. As I hovered in a slightly altered state for at least an hour, my body slowly unwound. All of the tension of standing and sitting and walking and grappling with gravity seemed to unpeel itself. As I tripped in and out of daydreams, I could feel the muscles in my neck unravel and my hands loosen their grip.
Most of the time I felt as though I was buoyantly hovering in an empty black night sky. Every now and then I'd see what looked like a shooting star flicker across my vision. I realized it was the image my optic nerve concocted every time some part of me gave in. Shoulders dropped. Shooting star. Jaw unclenched. Shooting star. It was so beautiful to give in to the warmth and security of this pseudo-sea and literally watch myself melt.
I scanned my body and realized every inch of my being had happily dissolved into the water except for my quadriceps. My thighs, the muscles that always work, and never hurt, just couldn't, just wouldn't give in. But why? My noodle brain wrapped around this riddle for a moment and then the night sky revealed a big brown ball rolling toward me. I was on my grammar school playground standing in the center of the kickball ring. I got the sense that something was missing. And then I realized that somewhere along the way I forgot how to kick. I squirmed inside the tank. How long had it really been? How long had I been holding all that energy back? Without thinking further, I began kicking in the water. Kicking hard. So hard the lid popped open and crashed onto the floor. So hard that water splashed all over the room and the manager of the facility rushed in to see what all the racket was.
I climbed out and stood there grinning. Saline was dripping off my body. "I got such a kick out of the tank. Sorry," I apologized. The manager looked annoyed. "It happens a lot," he told me. "Go home and find yourself a ball."
Sometimes an unsettling phone call or long line at the bank gets us unnerved and angry, but instead of moving to unwind we freeze and fume. Our necks get tight and our lower backs lock. We hold all this pumped-up energy in our bodies.
Our minds are wired to fight or flight. Our bodies are still built to respond to saber-tooth tigers. We get a nasty e-mail and respond like the tiger is coming after us ... but ... there is no tiger. Still we are ready to go. It's time to kick and stomp.
Kicking is a form of running without having to run. No need to put on your shoes and headband-just get up and fire away. You'll move. You'll breathe. You'll recover. By loosening your knees and letting your body know it's in action, you'll find the instinct to run diminishes and within a few minutes you'll feel a sense of relief and calm wash over you.
SNAP TO YOUR IMAGINATION
Pretend you are a tree. Your feet are rooted into the ground, being fed by the nutrients deep within the earth. Imagine your arms are branches growing out of your body, pulling you into the sky. You are sturdy. You connect earth and heaven and stand proud, a vertical pose of beauty and fearlessness. Stand and sway like a favorite tree. You are balance.
Life is movement. Movement is life. It is expression in form. As we move, we are constantly reshaping our vision,, picking up sounds and scents, and interacting with our rich sensory environments.
Movements are very personal expressions of who we are. They are a natural way to keep in touch with other people and the world. Our sedentary lives contribute to our bodies becoming storehouses of tension instead of expressions of vitality.
We are meant to process life, not keep it frozen. Twist and shout and revitalize and restore.
Stand up and march in place. Now alternately touch your right hand to your left knee and your left hand to your right knee, crossing over the midline of your body. Get a nice momentum going. If you want, walk around the room like this. Or sit down and continue the crosswalk.
When you do any movement that crosses the midline of the body you are activating both of your brain hemispheres simultaneously. Movements of coordination stimulate our auditory, visual, and kinesthetic aptitudes and improve our ability to listen, read, and retain information.
Stand up, bend your knees, and lean forward. Look at a place about one yard in front of your feet. Dangle your arms and swing them loosely. Let them be heavy. Now rotate your knees and hips, allowing your arms to follow on either side of your body.
Imagine a windmill. Inhale and circle your arms backwards for seven counts. Then exhale and circle your arms forward for three counts. The balance of the breath and the direction of the arms are important. It might take a little while to coordinate. Try a few sets. You'll discover the momentum will carry you into the movement. It's fun. As you slow down, end on the exhale, circling forward.
The energizing windmill loosens your muscles and ligaments and opens up your joints, moving your energy up and around. Don't worry if your fingers tingle a bit-you're just a little more alive than a few minutes ago. The body is a spiral shape, not a stick figure.
This move recreates the spiral of your structure and allows you to feel a connection with the ground and your center. It also affects the pH balance in your bloodstream (pH is the ratio between the acid and alkaline content of our bodies). When we are too acidic we feel sad or depressed. Too much alkaline makes us feel exhilarated but a tad manic. Doing the Spinning Windmill will rebalance your acid/alkaline ratio, leading you to a feeling of clarity and wellbeing.
Sit down and cradle yourself in your own arms. Wrap your arms around your shoulders or hug your waist-whatever feels right. Begin rocking forward and backward, moving from the middle of your body up. Be soft and gentle. Find yourself moving in small circles, clockwise and then counterclockwise.
This movement is so natural. You'll recognize it as something you've done before, maybe when you were a child. If it helps soothe a screaming baby, it should quiet your adult body too. It's an almost automatic way we respond to grieving or suffering. It helps us to rediscover our center. You may discover rocking actually encourages tears, or a big sigh of relief. Even if you aren't upset, doing Rockaby Baby gives you a sense of comfort and release.
9-On All Fours
Crawl on the floor on all fours. You did it years ago-and probably rather well. Crawling will come back to you pretty quickly and feels good. Give it a shot.
It was Thanksgiving. I had promised my famous sweet potato whip, a yummy blend of orange potatoes, apple juice, and cinnamon. I poured the concoction into a large glass bowl, dabbed a few slices of butter on top, and popped it into the oven to turn a delicious golden brown. This holiday dinner party was tiny-just me, my best friend, her brother, and his best friend, who was a rescue parachute jumper from the Air Force. All I knew about him was that he had black hair and pointy ears, and resembled Spock from Star Trek. I was instantly attracted to him.
The duck was roasting and smelled really good. I had my head in the oven when this terribly handsome man walked into the kitchen and said, "Hello, Isadora." My name is Ilene, but I loved how his voice sounded as he called me something so exotic. I spun around, we locked eyes, and I pulled the bubbling sweet potato whip out of the oven. I set it on top of the oven as he inhaled deeply and smiled. "Yum."
We all took our places and clicked our goblets in a toast. I lifted the bubbly, eager to take a sip, but the moment it wet my lips, there was this horrible, loud sound from the kitchen. The sweet potato whip had literally exploded. There was golden yellow mush everywhere, sprinkled with tiny pieces of shredded glass. (Apparendy, the dish I used only looked like oven-friendly Pyrex-as the sweet potato whip cooled off, the glass cracked.)
Instead of impressing Spock with my domestic talents, I found myself crawling on all fours, cleaning potato and glass from the walls and floor. He crawled on hands and knees, too, not minding creasing his corduroys as he followed close by, laughing softly-and sweetly-at my mistake.
When we crawl, the spine is suspended like a hammock, supported by four springy "legs." Crawling does more than trigger both sides of the physical body so that they can work harmoniously.
Excerpted from Snap out of it! by Ilene Segalove Copyright © 2004 by Ilene Segalove. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsAcknowledgments..................................................ix
How to Use This Book.............................................14
Chapter 1. Twist and Shout.......................................19
Chapter 2. All Ears..............................................43
Chapter 3. The Eyes Have It......................................75
Chapter 4. Heartfelt Gestures....................................103
Chapter 5. Daily Grind...........................................127
Chapter 6. Make Your Mark........................................141
Chapter 7. Jump on Your Bed......................................161
Chapter 8. The Last Eleven-Mix and Match 'Em.....................175
Snap Activity Index..............................................179