I was so fearful I had developed focal dystonia I delayed seeking help for almost a year. When I finally gained enough courage to see a specialist I had an infuriating appointment with a performance injury specialist at a musicians’ clinic who, after hearing my story and watching me play, diagnosed me with “having lost my creativity”.

I was stupefied. How was it possible to diagnose someone with losing creativity (let alone in a 15 minute appointment)? Was that even a real diagnosis? How did he know I had it to lose in the first place?

But the statement stayed with me. Even if he was trying to be funny, was there an element of truth behind the idea?

Now, 16 years later and looking back, I can see in myself what he may have seen in me. I certainly had lost an ability to move fluidly. My movement was jerky and stuck; there were so many places of muscular holding and chronic tension. I had lost a spontaneity and freedom in my movement which must have seemed automaton-like. I needed to regain an effortless, poetic idea of movement and began that process by retraining my movement using metaphors.

Thinking about movement using metaphors (my arm moving through resistant water, a gesture the texture of peanut butter, my fingers floating on the flute like a feather) allowed me to, first, observe my own movement habits, and then redefine them. These small changes led to bigger ones as I was then able to notice and imitate effortless movement I observed in others. (see A Healing Community)

 

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