During a recent workshop I danced barefoot and blindfolded in a dried out river bed. I’d been walking there on the days before, and I noticed a curious change under my feet. As I was blindly feeling my way along the ground, I was surprised by the unexpected softness I felt – like someone had smoothed the stones over night and for a moment that really puzzled me. Where I had carefully picked my way before I could now quite easily flow through them.
The blindfold stopped the visual distraction and dropped my whole body into listening & softening. And it struck me, how different my experience was, once my visual focus and analysis of the surface were gone… and how my body now met the ground in a receptive, instead of “estimating & controlling” sort of way. As I softened, I allowed the ground to inform me and my body responded with much more ease.
I’d come across the same principle before when mountain biking, but it was the surprising change of sensation of smoothness under my bare feet that brought my attention back to this realisation – How different life can feel when when we ease off and soften our response. When we take our focus away from where we are locked into struggle with details and tune back into our body to breathe and feel what we feel and then respond to it…
I know how the observation of too many details can hinder me finding flow and trust. Dancing blindly, I immensely enjoyed the strong presence of the stones and their amazing qualities. Small pebbles felt really playful as they bounced off my skin, the bigger ones had a comfortable weight, inviting a deeper breath into my body and creating a grounding foundation around myself as I stacked them all around me to feel into their solidity – being with the stones dropped me into a physical sense of what eternity must feel like for them. Solid trust.
(Later someone shared that) while we were dancing a fox came by to watch and peacefully groom himself, but then was chased away by a dog who’s owner came running and screaming after the dog… all the while I was with the stones, completely grounded and unfazed about what was going on at the edges of my experience.
As practitioner I have a solid presence when I give Shiatsu treatments and at times I am the rock for my client and the futon is the riverbed of stones on which we breathe ourselves alive and find presence in our body. It allows us to get up with a new sense of solidity.
In TCM (Chinese Medicine) stones and autumn belong to the Metal element which also governs the lungs and skin, clear communication, judgement, boundaries and structure.
In Shiatsu, when ‘Metal’ becomes a focus, I often think of breath and boundaries and where they can help us to take in or let go, and when clear communication is needed in uncompromising moments – where we have to negotiate our position carefully and draw clear boundaries. Because the Metal element can be quite confronting and unforgiving, but it can just as easily provide stability and a solid boundary.
Navigating around stones needs careful negotiation with clarity and softness – when you move with stones you know quickly if you are in a space that welcomes your shape or not. The Metal element in Chinese Medicine forms connections through “clear communication” – no hints and guesses. But when it is quite out of balance, for instance in times of intense grief, we are often meet with a stony ‘silence’.
As a practitioner I use guided breath work and body weight that can help my clients to connect with themselves again and find a clear sense of boundary along which we gently allow sensations to resurface again, sometimes with a sudden release of long penned up tears and anger – just like the river brings fresh life force back to the Glen when returning to the riverbed after a long period of dryness.
We can learn much from nature and the elements around us. My therapeutic focus lies on helping clients re-connect with Self and to find new ways of healing and expanding our capacity for sensations. In my Shiatsu sessions it starts with the solid support of my futon…
Sat Nam and Blessings