Ethan Nichtern is joined by teacher, writer and speaker Dan Cayer for a conversation about what is possible when we bring the body and mind into balance.
After developing a chronic pain condition, Dan Cayer used to dial a phone with his nose. His return from illness and pain, and his journey of openness and kindness is the subject of his forthcoming book, Don’t Get Better. Trained as a meditation and Alexander Technique teacher, Dan regularly leads workshops, retreats, and private consultations in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Learn more about Dan and his offerings here: dancayerfluidmovement.com
Reconnecting Body and Mind
Dan shares his journey of bouncing back from a chronic condition that left him disabled and suffering. He describes how the combination of meditation and a process known as the Alexander Technique allowed his body to heal and be brought back into tune with his mind.
“The Alexander Technique became this thread of my recovery, one of the few things that were really helping with my pain and disability. It was one of the few things that brought relief to my nervous system. The Alexander Tequnique is not like physical therapy. It is not doing three sets of ten that you can be watching the news while you are doing. There is this real sense of a mind-body connection.” – Dan Cayer
Back Into The Body (11:25)
Is there a tendency for meditation practitioners in the West to become dis-embodied or too in our heads? Ethan and Dan discuss the cultural factors that cause us to become out of touch with our own bodies and how that carries over into practice.
Explore the Buddha’s lessons on cultivating mindfulness of body on Ep. 61 of the Insight Hour Podcast
Don’t Get Better (16:45)
How can our desire to make our lives better become counterproductive? Dan shares the experiences during his own recovery that taught him how to be present with how things really were in his life – instead of looking back at what should have been or forward to how he would like things to be.
“There was this big rift between where I was in my life and where I wanted to be. The way I filled in the gap between the two was with endless self-aggression and constant strategizing about what I needed to do next. In the book, I talk about it as the treadmill of self-improvement. We are always fixated on improving ourselves. In the medium and long-term, there is nothing wrong with taking charge of your health and all these things that we need to do in our lives. The problem is when we never relate with now.”
Why This? Why Me? (32:50)
What does your suffering say about you? Dan looks at the negative bias our culture holds towards those who are experiencing pain or are disabled. He and Ethan discuss the tendency towards self-blame and a loss of agency that come when our bodies fail us.