Covid-19 is forcing us to invent new ways to greet one another that do not involve the skin to skin contact that could so easily spread a deadly contagion.
Namaste! Is a venerable and noble gesture originating from ancient India. When the two hands open apart and then come together in the midline palm to palm it symbolises: from the highest and best in me to the highest and best in you. Quite an aspiration; for the highest in me to reach out and to connect, commune or to co-regulate with you. It displays a powerful spiritual dimension: at its highest you could say that in loving-kindness two presences become one.
But how to contact the highest and best in me when I am now cut adrift without an anchor. In the past my reaching out to you has been through the medium of touch. The immediacy and mutuality has been my rock of steadfastness and safety. It is no longer available to me.
This is how I see it: with one key dimension missing I now have to confront whatever prevents my heart from being open to the highest in me and so to access the love and courage to reach out and connect while staying true to myself and even more particularly staying true to the special and undoubtedly higher energy that people have brought along with them over many years to lessons. I have to say in these weird and straightened circumstances that this energy is turning out to be the most valuable resource. Incessantly I find myself recalling things that people have said. All of these quotes have arisen in the context of a refined touch.
In Co-video 19 VIDEO No 2 we explored how to release and open shoulders. We looked into how opening the shoulders simply enabled the released weight of the arm to hang. It feels so much better when we can achieve this – simply by letting it happen. However there are fascinating deeper aspects. Consider how opening of the shoulders plays in human gestures and how indeed it perhaps communicates something higher within us: how it says I am open and receptive to you. You are safe in my hands. You can trust my integrity.
You can see how well that opening of the shoulders plays out in the Namaste gesture. What I dubbed the half namaste gesture also conveys as well, a sense of a deep human gratitude.
Helping and guiding an individual to the process of opening shoulders is a truly labyrinthine task. Over years of teaching I have discovered effective ways to guide an individual through the maze.
Here is a little story: I am about to relate to you an account of what once happened in a first lesson – one went exceptionally well. We have successfully opened the left shoulder. As I move around in order to address the right shoulder I ask Sue casually:
“Tell me how does your left shoulder feel right now compared to the right one”?
There is a deeply intimate silence and then Sue said:
“Well now… my left shoulder feels like it’s where it wants to be… The right one is different. Yeah. It feels like I am putting it somewhere. I just don’t know how to stop putting it there!”.
Words – directly from a Beginners Mind!
There is an important distillation to come out of this and it is a great one to set out on an exploration, an adventure in stillness and non-doing:
We would be where we want to be if only we could just stop putting ourselves somewhere else!
How well Sue’s aphorism sits alongside Winifride Ward’s: If there is nothing to do, then you have all the time in the world not to do it in!
Followers of Zen are fond of saying cryptically that; “The Right Thing Will Do Itself”. Well here we are setting out on an exploration of how to set up the right conditions that will allow the right thing to come about!