I want to write a post about how lucky I am to be one of my bodywork teacher’s senior students. Her name is Janet Evergreen. She is in her 60’s now, and she just, in a recent class, made a comment about starting to slow down how often she teaches her classes. This and her husband has been retired for a few years now, and they are ready to have some fun and travel. So I am yearning to take as many of her classes as possible to keep learning little tricks of the body-intelligent-mandala-oriented-heart-extension bodywork that she practices (those are my descriptions).
Just one example might be enough to explain how lucky I am to have met her and to be able to work with her for the past 12 years:
Some somatic experiences cannot be written about properly (but I will certainly try, ironic eh?). At least you will get a sense of how many layers we are tracking in her advanced classes.
I am on the massage table, about to get a treatment from one of Janet’s students, who has taken at least 3 classes with her (and I assisting).
She uses leg-arcing, a technique where you lift the legs and see where they want to go, follow the legs as they float. Then using the legs as a dowsing rod (basically), you look to see where in the torso they are pointing. We have tested this technique against acupuncturists measuring people’s organ pulses and gotten the same results.
So she wasn’t sure if the legs were indicating left lung or heart. I thought that sounded right.
I am going to fast forward (else this will be a ten thousand word diatribe about a 30 minute bodywork session). Suffice it to say that by this point, she had moved to sit at the head of the table with her arms over my chest, “listening” as it were to my lungs, mediastinum and heart and doing some movement to track both the motility and mobility of those organs. When she realized there was at least one sluggish point on my left lung where the tissue was kind of stuck, she got Janet’s attention to ask about it.
Janet came over and of course seemed to know what was needed before coming close to laying on of hands. She said, “Kirby, can you bring some micro movements into your body to bring some movement into your chest?” I was happy to oblige!
I started moving my arms and just making tiny movements of my belly and ribs. I wanted to double check – I asked, “the thumbs have the lung meridian on them right?” And yes, sure enough, they did.
Janet suggested, “Let your thumbs lead the movements.” By now my arms were gracefully weaving a pattern above my body, and then I started focusing on my thumbs. They started leading the little graceful dance above and off the sides of my torso, sometimes doing the same thing, and other times being dissonant.
Then Janet mentioned, “Let me hold those meridian points.” I should pause for a second and note that for at least ten years, Janet wove baskets when she and her family lived in West Virginia. And not just any baskets – she used oak, which means that her grip, even years after her basketweaving days, her grip is like having a clamp applied, or like vice grips. I noted this saying, “Wow. That is quite a hold you’ve got of my thumbs! What, did you used to weave baskets or something?” It was funny. And it kind of hurt – in a it hurts so good kind of manner.
I slowed down my movement, but the whole body movement from my thumbs continued. Sometimes my torso would lift off the table a bit, other times it was just my hands and arms moving. With Janet’s fingers attached to my thumbs, two little vice grips squeezing my lung meridians for dear life (or so it felt).
But something started to shift in my chest. As I moved from my thumbs, with the meridians being so stimulated, I could suddenly track the course of the meridian down my thumbs, running up the inside of my forearm, and then up the inside of my upper arms and close to my pectoral muscles into my chest. It was wild – warm lines were being drawn on me from the inside. Janet commented, “the right has settled down, but the left still has warmth coming off of it.” (Referring to my thumbs.) And she was right. My right lung was feeling open and calm and happy, while my left lung was still be bit tight or sluggish or sticky.
It just took a few more minutes of gracefully feeling through those meridians and dancing over my body with my arms. And I felt my left lung release, and so did Janet (through my lung meridians on my thumbs). And we both commented on it, she saying, “There it goes,” first.
She had been squeezing pretty good. So when she let go, I was left feeling the meridian lines for several minutes. She went on to squeeze my pinkies – the heart meridian in this case. And it was similar results. The practitioner still had her hands on my chest and was feeling and listening to my inner organs (through the ribs, through the fascia, etc).
Long story short. I had never felt my meridians come alive quite like that. It was another level of deepening of my learning.
I have experienced things in those bodywork classes (or retreats or meditation sessions) at her Sanctuary space that most people can’t even dream of, let alone talk about. I am so very fortunate. Maybe I have been Janet’s teacher in a past life, but I know she has been mine before.
Whatever the case may be, I thank my lucky stars that I have teachers and mentors in my life like her. Heart teachers who go above and beyond, who charge less than they could, who give back to their communities in so many different ways.
I intend to repay her kindness by teaching worthy students. They say that is the greatest way to repay a spiritual teacher (and by practicing what they have taught you). So I must practice self care. I must know that my heart has received valuable and precious transmissions which most people only wish for but never experience. And I must kindly hold my heart in the highest regard, not only because I (we all) have buddhanature coursing through me, but because I have been shown how to work with babies, children and adults in ways that most scientific health practitioners would scoff at (saying, “those results aren’t possible”). And then I intend to teach this material as well.
Advanced somatic therapies. That is a possible title, or like Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen, one of our heart teachers says, “Call it Process Buddhism” when asked how to describe what Janet does. That pretty much sums it up. 🙂
Yet again, thank you for reading,