4th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 1/8
A couple of weeks ago I moved out of my flat in the center of Berlin to a school. This came with a change not only of my address but of my lifestyle, my habits and my neighbors: instead of looking out to other people’s windows now I wake up to tall trees and silence.
The school I moved into does not have a name. Its purpose is very clear though: to be a space for people to stay, to be, to do nothing and dive deeper into physical and cognitive practices. It was conceived by Joseph Bartz and his team, with whom I have been learning for one year and a half now.
Living there means that I spend big part of my day training and researching “movement“ (tricky word-alarm). A lot of this learning is about developing diversity of movement and gaining therefore more freedom. The practice has a purpose in itself. But if there would be one goal to name, I would say it is simply to allow one to stay healthy and therefore to feel more joy and alive.
This is why this practice, specially the physical one, is not only for young people or acrobats or dancers or or or. It is for everyone. And it only makes sense if it stays open like this.
The school is thus a house for everyone curious and open for this kind of practice and as such it invites one to come and stay. Not only for a day or two, but also for a longer period, a month or more. And this seems to be rare in these times where we tend to hop from place to place and class to class always looking for something new, some new answer, some new truth.
What made me move to the school and undertake such a change was the need for staying and focus on learning. And also a gut feeling. Guess somethings in life just feel right.
5th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 2/8
Since I started training with the group of Joseph, I have been learning more and more that this whole practice we have, that goes from building a handstand to building a bookshelf, has a lot to do with sharing. Sharing knowledge and information, of course, but also sharing space, time, silence, experiences.
This is why one of the most beautiful aspects of the school is that it allows a lot of room to be together. Not in a subway style - where people have to squeeze like potatoes and due to fear and mistrust avoid each others eyes. The room I am talking about has the nature of what community is. Exchanging, supporting, learning about and from each other, communicating openly.
To live here means having constant learning input. And one of the main learning topic has nothing to do with mastering a handstand. It is about learning to share.
There is no way around it: you have to share the same living room, you have to share time in the sessions, you have to share the fridge, the bathroom, the pans. And you also have to share responsibilities and very hands-on tasks that keep things going, like bringing the trash outside, the organic rests to the compost, cleaning the mats in the training room, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming etc etc etc.
During my first week in the school I shared the house with Kevin, a very fun guy from the south of Germany. We shared a lot of time together, either cooking and eating by the window, either meditating and going through crazy training sessions. Every morning we would dedicate some time sharing our dreams from the previous night while having breakfast. In the afternoon we would often travel together to the training sessions in the city and share stories, songs, the silence of the road.
Now there is another bunch of people who came for a new intensive this week. One of them is Maxi, from Austria. He brought a big bag full with walnuts from his grandma’s garden and shared them with me today. I was so grateful for it. I guess it is just good to live in a space where the main assumption is to share, rather than to keep it for yourself. It feels very human.
6th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 3/8
I remember I had a bike when I was younger. I don’t remember learning anything about it in case something would break. But that was somehow okay since I knew that if needed, someone else would fix it (someone else meaning very likely a man, but this is another post). By buying myself a bike when I moved to Germany, I had to deal with it more regularly. Nevertheless when things got tricky I would still every time stop by a bike shop. For the last 2 years I have been riding a a pretty nice used bike. But something was always wrong: breaks, tires, light, you name it. Often I went to the shop and the same scene would repeat: I would ask how much this and that would cost, and getting scared with the prices I would leave the shop frustrated and postpone fixing it.
The feeling of frustration is a tricky one. When you know nothing about something - like me about fixing bikes - and you don’t have, let’s say, a previous passion about it, this feeling can paralyze you. It scares you off. I can see this pattern in different areas of my life. Of course it is good that there are different people out there offering different services (and in a city like Berlin you can even get such services for a very nice price or even for free). But it can be very beautiful and empowering to learn something like fixing a bike by yourself.
Today after going for an ice bathing session (this topic will also come up here!), we came back to the school to do some work. Right now we are a small group of 3 people living here. Whereas Maxi and Jiri were working on building a table (after having crafted their own hammers), I took my bike as a project. My front tire was flat, breaks were shitty, some screws were too loose. Christian, who is teaching here as well, helped me out. He did not fix the bike for me but guided me by asking questions throughout the process. After 2 hours, the new pipe was in, tire was full, breaks were stable, the annoying metal noise from the loose screw was gone. I had a huge smile on my face and dirt all over.
Education means experiencing things. That is how you acquire knowledge. Google won‘t get its hands dirty for you, friend.
7th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 4/8
Yesterday I gave a class to a group of children aged between 3 and 5. In one of the games we were playing they had to stand like a tree. For them the similarities were clear: legs equal trunk, arms equal branch. Easy.
Different from our arms though, a tree branch is rather hard and not so mobile (or at least it is mobile in a different scale). But by being disconnected and unaware of the energy potential of our arms, we end up getting branch arms — they might even be strong but lack on mobility, energy, joy. Lately we have been working a lot on arm swings. A lot of this practice is about finding relaxation and developing freedom on the shoulder joints by understanding the movement chain that starts on the feet pressing against the floor, travels through the knees, hips and explodes in the arms.
There are so many variations of arm swings. Exploring it is for sure a very fun and creative practice. Now getting back to the trees: even though they can be very inspiring on different levels for a practice, I’d rather compare the arm swings with the image of a curtain going wild with the wind. Strong wind. The curtain just moves bloom blah bleee dlum wlaan zruum in all directions. So here is an idea: if you have curtains, open your windows on a windy day and observe how it looks. Then open your arms and feel it.
8th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 5/8
I have been living in the school for a month now. My routine is different every day and mostly filled with at least one physical session plus some cognitive work, meditation, writing, tidying up etc. But I have never had so much space for calmness and reflection. I have been learning about trees, started making my own wooden hammer and sewing a t-shirt with bare hands. Mostly though I have been learning about myself, and what a tough and at the same time exciting trip this is. I value this so much. It is for me a sign of real education.
It is mostly quiet here. In the mornings I am not using an alarm clock anymore. My body tells me when it is time to get up. The birds do a good job too. The next attraction around here is a bakery. The closest supermarket is a nice 20 min walk. Sometimes it can take a bit longer because you might have to wait for trains to pass by before you cross the road. On Fridays there is a local market. I was there last week and spent some time talking to a beekeeper who was selling his own honey. He was so passionated about the subject! I will go tomorrow to the market just to get another jar and hear some stories from him again.
The city of Berlin feels distant, even though it is just a 30 min ride from here to the next busy area.
It feels good to be here.
9th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 6/8
Since the end of November many of my Saturdays have been starting in a very similar way: by jumping into a freezing cold lake. The video up there is from last Saturday. When I left the school it was -3 degrees, and I guess it got a bit warmer by the time we entered the water. Freaking weird? I can tell you: it sounds insane before you do it yourself and realise how amazing it can be. The experience of ice bathing is collective: we meet usually at 10 AM on the same spot and go through it together as a group — some people from the regular training group of Berlin, those who are staying at the school and whoever else is up to it. Before going into the lake we do some breathing exercises (check out the Wim Hof method if you are interested!). They allow one to stay more focused and prepare the body for the cold exposure, activating the heat specially in the central region of the body where the vital organs are situated. The breathing we have been practicing has also many other positive effects on the body, and if you want more info on it I recommend a podcast called Science on the Rocks, they have gathered some really good info on the topic. Going ice bathing on a regular basis changed my way of perceiving the cold and dealing with it — also outside of the water. Instead of engaging with it through fear and frustration (coming from Brazil these were my somehow obvious mental patterns), I now feel way more at ease when outside in the winter. Everytime I go into the water I also keep being surprised by how much the cold allows me to step into some deeper layers of myself. Plus it works very well as a reminder for what really matters in life anyway: what is there now.
11th of March 2019
Mariana's diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 7/8
The physical work makes a big part of the life at the school. Usually there is one session in the morning and one in the evening. This means we spend a great amount of time researching and exploring this (very, very broad) topic. 3 to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more. For some people it sounds like a lot, like waaay too much, like you have to be a professional athlete in order to handle it or a superhero or or or. But here is the truth: it is just a habit. Just like the morning writings and the ice bathing. It does not mean that training for one hour is not good enough. But for sure you can go a lot deeper into a topic when you have more time. Long talk short meaning: a physical practice that lasts 3 hours is a matter of habit but also of understanding that time is necessary if you want to develop DEPTH.
A deep practice is for me more interesting. Because it can become sustainable practice, lasting beyond the training sessions, impacting life in a broader sense. It is not something you do to just get away of the craziness of life. The physical practice is also life.
The physical training is a huge universe. Handstand, stretching, strength, moving on the floor, working on the spine, climbing trees, jumping, dancing, shaking — the list goes on ad infinitum, and topics are not so clearly separated from each other. The practice is a process and has its end in the journey. Of course you can learn very concrete things like how do a handstand, and parkour jumps, and pull ups and this can make you happy. But it goes way beyond just acquiring one ability. A physical practice is one sort of learning practice, one more layer of the big onion our life is (bad joke: it can also be pretty stinky). It teaches you patience and resilience.
It is a good mirror for how you deal with yourself, with your fears, with the pressure. It can be tough, and exhausting, and frustrating and also exciting and playful and fun as hell. For me, it is one of the most exciting thing there is to do on the world. I find it just beautiful and meaningful to spend time focusing on something that makes me feel more alive.
12th of March 2019
Mariana's school diary from 2 months of staying at the school - Part 8/8
The school is a house. It hosts training sessions but mostly, it hosts people. Some stay for a week, a month, a weekend, like Kevin and Maxi and Anders did. Some come almost everyday, like Annika and Ephraim and Joseph and Christian. Since January the school has been my house. I have been the one staying.
Staying is something that I have learned to enjoy. I noticed that this opens a whole new world of questions and interests and perspectives. Have you ever wondered what happens when you decide to stay in a place, in a subject, with a group of people, with one idea? What other things can arise when you decide to plant yourself for a while?
During my doctorate I researched the relation between translation and dance through the poetry of Manoel de Barros. One poem I translated turned into a performance where I would tie myself up to a growing plant in the middle of the city. I did this once at Hermannplatz, a very busy place/ subway station in Berlin. The memory of staying planted on the ground while every one was walking passed me came back many times during these two months I was here at the school. In the beginning it feels funny, even lonely. But then I sank into the experience and suddenly.. slurp: something happens and it felt like a lot of space opened in myself.
Staying in the school was a little bit like that experience of planting myself. In different ways, I feel it allowed a lot of new places to open up. It also gave me room and time to melt more into life.
I am leaving tomorrow, after almost two months. Gonna plant myself back in Brazil for a little while. I am so thankful for this ground that hosted me and allowed me to grow, and for the people, and for the learning. What stays with me now is a lot of joy.