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Work the space, but keep your center |


Work the space, but keep your center

Across the dark Intramuros ruins, the director’s voice boomed to the actors running around the stage... "Work the space, but keep your center!" A dynamic revolutionary scene was being played out on the theater’s stage. Some actors were bumping into each other – total traffic. Others seemed to gracefully maneuver the chaotic scene, looking steady and refined in the turmoil. These were the actors so totally into the role, so aware and conscious of their movements.

As I sat in the dark watching rehearsals of the theater play A Walk Back in Time, many thoughts were running through my mind. We Filipinos have definitely been working our space: the international global arena that many of us leave for to seek greener pastures. But have we kept our center? This pride in our race has sadly been lacking and must be constantly fueled by a culture and history often forgotten. Our center is the essence of who we are as a race, and the need to constantly come back to the center is the greatest challenge we face as a people riding the wave of globalization.

But I have heard it many times, in many ways...this "working of the space while keeping the center." It’s all about expansion and contraction...the play of opposing forces that allows the full experience of outward movement and inner centering. It’s also been called yin-yang where "yang" represents the male, aggressive, outward thrusting energy, and "yin" as the female, passive, inward recoiling energy. Both cannot exist without the other.

Thus life is about movement where we must interact with our outside world, yet keep an inner stillness in our core. Sometimes, the outside world becomes a bit much. Like the crazy carousel that spins faster and faster creating a blur of images, our world outside builds up everyday activities that include the stress of keeping relationships, financial pressures, social concerns and even aging. We can see it, too, as a people and a race, often forgetting our roots as we strive to excel in the global world of technology, a world of speed, consumerism and demand of economic growth. We, individually or a race, can choose to push, push, push outward and interact so totally with our outside world. But if we expand outward too much, we lose our power and balance. To maintain these, we need to focus on contracting, on pulling in, on connecting with the gravity which is our core.

On the other hand, if we contract too much and hang on too tightly, we lose expansion and tend to collapse in on ourselves – and again lose our balance. Instead, we must shift our concentration back and forth between expansion and contraction, working to stay present with each of these opposing forces and to bring them into perfect balance.

So the lesson is not just for the individual. If as individuals we move into our inner stillness in activities that allow us to know ourselves better, then, too, as a people we must balance.

With open arms, let’s take in all the new and exciting things bombarded by international media, foreign cultures and the global technology. But let’s put the same effort in experiencing what’s visiting our local destination sites, supporting our artists, understanding our history, reveling in the beauty of our land and applauding the talents of our race. If the commercial mall is the usual fare, let’s balance this by taking in an art exhibit, theater play or go mountain-climbing amidst nature. If we’ve been overworking ourselves into stress, let’s balance this off with a massage.

Let’s work the space of our life, our ego-personality and all its responsibilities and associations, but keep centered in the core of our collective soul and individual spirits. As we begin to live our life with more awareness, we will realize that in everything we do, it’s important to stay grounded and balanced, flexible but stable.
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Strike that balance by going to A Walk Back in Time: The Intramuros Theater-in-the-Round, a project of the Department of Tourism. It is a multi-event experience staged in Intramuros’ Plaza San Ignacio ruins, Fridays and Saturdays, 6 to 12 p.m., running until Dec. 23. Cuisine festival, chorals, contemporary bands, films, music and dance are all open free to the general public. You may also check their weblog:

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