I arrived at the Dojo today, surprisingly a little early and with ease in joining the meditation session to get the evening going. I must admit, this is a precious little gift… to spend ten serious minutes starring mindlessly at the custard cream paint of the Dojo walls.
Thank goodness they don’t burn vanilla incense or otherwise I might be tempted to start licking the walls as if they were indeed made of real custard... But seriously, if we all spent this precious ten minutes of time out to unwind after work, school or whatever, it would have an amazing effect on our collective psyche. After the stress of the work day, I noticed my mind begin to settle and calm and a deep sense of relaxation take hold of me… But then a seemingly overwhelming tiredness… No, it would not look good, my falling asleep in lotus position, head propped up face first against the wall for support… and Sensei is so sharp he would be on me in a flash reminding me to stay present. The beautiful note of the Dojo bell chimes one… two… three in slow succession and its virginal tone transcends through my complete beingness…. I am back, and I am revived.
We form a neat line center of the Dojo floor. We chant, give a prayer of thanks and offer the benefit of our practice to all ‘sentient beings’. Sensei commences: “Linda (pseudonym) is going to join us today for our class and perhaps to continue on with our practice”. Linda? Linda my friend, the friend who I invited to the open-house last month? A quick glance to my right confirmed indeed it was her. Excellent! I felt a wave of joy come over me… I really like my friend Linda and I know that she would be a perfect fit with the class.
We continued with our exercises and stretching and as we continued I could not help but think about how much I was enjoying this whole process… it’s great to activate and ‘wake up’ the body. We paired up for our practical and Sensei placed Linda and myself together so I had a chance to show her what I have been learning to date… working the Liver meridian on the back, I did palming and thumbing up and down each side of the spine. All went well, however I did find my lower back giving into some pain at one point… but that’s just a matter of getting used to holding the positions. Sensei then had us switch and he showed Linda in more detail the basic routine and I must admit, she did very well for her first efforts. We split and partnered up again, this time with me and David. I was glad to get a chance to work on David again after my first dismal attempt at thumbing.
This time around I really put my heart and soul into the treatment, and I could feel the connection. I love that about Shiatsu – it makes it so special. I did have momentary awkwardness again with the thumbing routine, this time not so much applying weight over pressure, but remembering the sequence of movements, (this I must admit is pretty important and I am sure not to forget them again). Regardless, I was much more satisfied with my efforts, and then it was David's turn to have an opportunity to work on me.
Right after his palming technique on my back, (something I always find immensely relaxing if done right), I noticed David’s thumbing routine and it reminded me of the importance of not just working on others, but having others work on you too. David, a staffer at the Dojo, is its resident acupuncturist and herbologist. This is a profession which takes a great amount of dedication and skill to administer successfully, which from all accounts, David does magnificently. Right away I noticed two things in his treatment on me – the first was that he seemed to know or sense just how much pressure to exert in contacting the meridian and then to provide release. And second, at each and every touch he hit the meridian point right on. It felt great and it was a real point of difference over work I have had from the other students thus far, and at our rudimentary level, understandably so. But what a difference…. It was as if he had meridian magnets in this thumbs! I recalled my friend Casein’s treatments and my feeling the same way at how relaxing and effective his treatment was… and a huge part of that was in knowing what you are doing. Very cool.
We concluded with some partner stretching… this too Casein had introduced me to months earlier – albeit with some impatience over my ineptitude at remembering the order of routines. However I really really love the partner assisted stretches – so deep, relaxing and beneficial. It’s hard to imagine this is actually “class-work” it’s so good! I pared up with Jordan (pseudonym) and we worked really well together. We seem pretty comfortable with each other and we are planning on taking an extra Saturday sometime to come in and work on our Shiatsu techniques more , as practice really does make perfect.
We took a break and regrouped after half an hour to continue our Five Element Theory with Sue. This too is one of my favorites areas of study – it just seems to make so much sense, especially once you have committed yourself to memorizing the organs and how they relate to the elements.
It was quite an amazing class… after coming in somewhat warn-down in energy, I felt alive and recharged… my body having been exerted, but also energized and feeling light. But what did Linda get out of all of this? Will she continue on and join us for the next ten months of life and study? A decision awaits….