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Pattern Recognition
Pattern Recognition

by Lavinia Plonka

I have a bad habit of trying to find meaning in everything. I see three blue Teslas in one day and feel it is a sign to call my old friend who owns a blue Tesla.

 I pass a piece of graffiti that says “Smile!” and I assume it’s a direct message to me. I once read a book called The View From The Center of the Universe which posited that since the universe extends outward in every direction from where I stand, I am the center. At least of my personal universe.


Chaos Theory aside (remember the butterfly effect?) it can sometimes seem that the universe has its own peculiar way of ordering things. When I was a child, I had a habit of trying impossible things, that often led to either injury, ridicule or punishment: trying to swing on a rope swing by lying in the loop on my stomach and launching myself from the top of a hill and landing face down in a swamp, or trying to squeeze myself into a lion’s cage at the zoo, (they caught me in time). When I was eight, my father saw me trying to do a headstand in the middle of the living room. “Who do you think you are?” he laughed, “Ben-Gurion?”

I had no idea who that was or what he meant. Almost four decades later, in my Feldenkrais training, we were told that Moshe Feldenkrais taught David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of Israel, how to stand on his head. Random? You can’t make this stuff up.

A few months ago, an out of town client went to visit a frog pond by her home. It was egg laying season, and she was inspired by the churning activity, the endless swirling in the pond.

Another woman approached the pond, camera in hand. My client watched as the photographer bent, squatted, knelt and took other inventive postures to photograph the frogs and the patterns in the pond. The woman shared the images and my client commented on not just her photographs but her agility. “Oh, yes, well it’s thanks to Feldenkrais,” the other woman said.

In a town of thousands of people, fifty miles away from my studio, two of my students had found each other by a frog pond.

I lie on the floor, noticing the weight and ache on the right side of my pelvis. My attention travels diagonally to the left shoulder blade. This causes me to attend to the opposite diagonal. I start to draw lines down my legs, my arms. The spine moves through the center, like an arrow. I suddenly see lines of perpetual motion, up, down, back and forth, the way we sometimes trace the enneagram, or the tree of life, or a lightning bolt. My hip is part of the pattern, my personal universe, connected to every part of me. Hello, welcome to my frog pond, nice to meet you. Everything slowly moves back into place as I recognize this churning pattern.

While there are as many ways to draw lines as there are parts of you, here’s a lesson to help connect a few of them!

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Body language expert Lavinia Plonka has helped people improve their movement, behavior, relationships and careers for over 40 years. Her unique expertise connects the dots among posture/movement, emotions and the mind. Lavinia’s training and professional career have included theater, dance, yoga and the martial arts. She has taught The Feldenkrais Method® for 30 years and is also an Assistant Trainer. Lavinia is a level CL4 teacher of the Alba Method and an Emotional Body Instructor.

She was an artist in residence for the Guggenheim Museum and movement consultant for theater and television companies around the world, from the Irish National Folk Theater to Nickelodeon. A faculty member of the Shift Network, Lavinia’s popular workshops explore the intersection between movement, emotions and the mind. She is currently the director of Asheville Movement Center in Asheville, NC. Lavinia’s writing includes several books and audio programs.

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