Friday, March 11, 2011

first adjustment

my first adjustment from sharath goes something like this--  after coming up from my third drop-back backbend he is there.  i don't know where he was in the room before, he just materializes.  his hands come to my sacrum and he supports me as i drop back three more times, only with these drop backs my hands don't go to the floor.  the fourth time, as i am bent back i pause, take my hands over my head, and let them dangle towards the floor.  while continuing to support my sacrum with one hand he takes my right wrist with his other hand and pulls it down to my right ankle.  "don't touch," he says.  he means don't touch the floor.  as in, "don't let go of your ankle and support yourself with your hand which is down there close to the floor."  these two words, by the way, account for perhaps the seventh and eight syllables that he has uttered to me directly in the week and half i've been here.  he doesn't talk much.  so, taking the cue not to touch the floor, i instead shift my weight into my right foot and straighten my right leg some.  my grip on my ankle remains strong.  sharath repeats the process with my left hand, only without any more verbal instruction.  i am now standing on my feet, bent over backwards, holding both ankles with each hand.  sharath then reaches down and cinches each hand up a little higher, so i am grabbing my calves.  after five breaths (not necessarily my deepest breaths, i can assure you) i pop back up.  then i sit and sharath pushes my back down as i fold forward to neutralize my spine.

sharath has goldilocks hands.  the amount of strength he uses to move my body is perfect-- not too strong, not too weak.  i think of a passage from chuang tzu:

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.
“However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

i'm not sure if sharath would appreciate me comparing him to the dexterous butcher, but to me it fits.  one can feel the experience in his hands, his perfect efficiency.

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