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I just returned from Va Beach, where I attended Drupon Thinley Ningpo for Chod teachings and practice. There will be a post coming soon with additional pictures from this enjoyable weekend.
I am writing this post because I had some interesting conversations with my generous host. We spoke about Tibetan Buddhism, Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy, Zapchen Somatics, Spiritual Astrology, about his non-profit and my recent comings and goings. In the midst of these conversations, I happened to explain, in a simplified version, about how I believe process-oriented bodywork is able to function. It went something like this.
There are many, many ways in which we in the West are “stuck in our heads.” What I mean by this is that whether academic pursuits, personal philosophical explorations, reading up on an interest, etc, there are so many ways in which we conceptualize our learning experience. For the majority of people in the West, we take in information with our eyes and ears only – whether through reading, broadcast media or attending professors / teachers. In the above conversation, I went on to say that a lot of Buddhist practitioners spend much of their time in their heads – whether meditating, contemplating, studying or attending teachings (and I might say they spend too much time in their heads). Therefore I could speculate that as we purify our karma (in whatever way this comes about – I would recommend meditation as a tried and true method for purifying the mind stream) we are pushing out a ton of mental detritus. And this process is primarily in the conceptual realm (think head-oriented, more cerebral domains), although there are some teachers who check in with the body. As the mind becomes more and more clear, the body may become more and more left behind. So how does the body catch up with the pace of the mind? Or the mind slow down to the body’s pace?
[I want to insert a note here, that Tibetan Lamas in general do just fine through merely purifying their mind stream. There is a definite and reliable method of transcending the body during spiritual accumulation. I am just offering another possibility. That is of consciously and mindfully purifying our conceptual stuff while simultaneously bringing the body and its cellular memory into the equation – unwinding, re-organizing and shifting into new, healthier patterns.]
One direct counter to this overly-conceptual tendency is to receive process-oriented bodywork from a qualified practitioner. As we purify our mind stream, a gap or a growing difference in what the body has processed and what the mind has processed and released, can arise. Therefore, if we have purified enough stuff (mentally) and afterward we attend a qualified bodyworker (see the next paragraph to help determine what makes a practitioner qualified and appropriate), if all of these causes and conditions come together, and if one maintains a sincere meditation practice and approaches bodywork without many expectations or enormous resistance, then the sky is literally the limit in terms of what you can process and release – in a manner that is lasting – it sticks with you for the rest of your life.
How do we determine who is a qualified practitioner? What I mean by a qualified and appropriate practitioner is pretty complex. However, the short version is as follows: first and foremost they practice quality self care (you may not want to go to a ‘healing facilitator’ who smokes or drinks excessively, or who is noticeably depressed or anxious – if they take good care of themselves, there is a good chance they can be of service to you), second – attend someone who seems humble – too much pride and cockiness in a practitioner will make the sensitive, vulnerable wounded places in the body shy away from their contact and they will not accomplish much in the way of lasting results, third – in conjunction with the humility piece above, while you want your practitioner to be skillful and well-trained, it is also good if they are okay with saying, “you know, I don’t know exactly what your body needs but I am willing to provide a safe, contained space with presence to listen to your system and see what it wants to share” (every once in a while, there might be a rare case that has not been covered in our training – to claim to know everything about a subject is just plain erroneous), fourth – go to someone who maintains good boundaries and negotiates contact (if someone is physically or energetically invading your space, this will also make parts of the body / mind system shy away from their invasive presence), fifth – trust someone who is willing to go slow and is patient with the process (they realize that the body’s inherent health will unfold and reveal itself when all the causes and conditions are right, which might take a few sessions). This is a good start in relation to a qualified practitioner (and good high standards for any of you out there who call yourselves healing facilitators).
Look for a coming-soon post to detail some of the experiences I have observed both as a practitioner and as a recipient of quality bodywork.
So, allow your body to catch up with your mind today – go out and ask around, (do some research) and make an appointment with a qualified practitioner. Then relax deeply and allow the mysterious healing process to unravel and reveal itself on its terms. This could be in a variety of modalities – some I would recommend, provided the practitioner is skilled and kind-hearted, are Biodynamic Cranio Sacral therapy, network chiropractic, massage, Reiki energetic healing, Zero Balancing, Bodytalk, acupuncture, Continuum movement, Zapchen Somatics practitioner, biodynamic psychotherapy, and more.
Finally, I want to state for the record, that the healing process is gradual. There are many, many layers to the onion as it were. Personally, I have been receiving bodywork sessions since 2002 and today, I am seeing the results of maintaining the work. After seven years, deeper changes and increasingly potent insights arise. Through the practice of gentle kindness and dedication to meditation, I am moving, albeit very slowly, toward lasting happiness.
On a separate note, on editing this months later (Jan 26, 2011), I wonder if we can also over-emphasize treating the body and leaving the mind behind? Eh? For instance, having a conceptual pattern which needs to be released to move toward our highest potential, if we simply receive bodywork, does that get to the root of the issue? Curious…