Back to earth

“I’d like to hold your heart; is that OK with you?” My new life-in-yoga constantly suprises me and this was certainly a question I’d not been asked before. It kind of freaked me out and I said so. “It’s OK, take your time; you can tell me when you’re ready”. So no escaping the heart-holding scenario, a gentle insistence on it, but a reassurance that nothing would happen before I’m ready.

I’m lying on the bench under my Rolfer’s hands. She moves over me with fingers that feel intelligent and curious and full of gentle care. Much like her way of being overall. This question from her made me burst into tears quite suddenly, overwhelmed by her patience and tenderness. At the start of the session I’d told her I was feeling really defensive, mistrustful, and in some pain. An assist gone wrong the previous week left me feeling really vulnerable and let down — and with a small injury. The muscles will heal, are already healing indeed, but I still feel very shaken. I was literally swept off my feet and I can’t reground myself; I am full of anxiety, not sleeping well. I feel misunderstood, treated with a lack of respect, hurried through an experience that was already immense enough for me and where I needed time to adjust to my new self.

My Rolfer explored the injury point delicately and I did my best to allow this, to begin to trust again that putting myself in someone else’s hands can be wonderfully liberating, healing, exciting, exploratory, full of connection and expansiveness beyond the confines of my carefully constructed armouring. I must begin to trust again that this won’t always result in me feeling inadequate, pressured to deliver something beyond what I can offer, or to end in physical pain.

So I let the tears slide hotly down my face as my heart was held by this fellow human being. This too a painful experience, in it’s own way, as I allowed feelings of emotional hurt and past abuse rise to the surface. I touched in with them briefly and felt them dissipate a little, bringing myself more into the present moment which was full of careful attention, just for me. And I become aware how greatly this is needed, however difficult I find it to be here, this time to allow myself to be just me as I am.

More than an hour later I’m released from the Rolfer’s table. She’s finished her quiet work, the results of which I will feel playing out in the coming days and months, possibly years. She’s worked on my psoas giving me a sense of long, long, long legs and a feeling of much more fluid movement in the hips than I ever dreamed possible. And subtly in between the physical work she’s also given me a gentle lecture on recognising avoidance disguised as useful activity, the cultivation of a genuinely nourishing spiritual practice, the need to talk honestly with my yoga teacher about his ill-judged assist and practical advice how to get my arm back to its full potential — as well as a delightful little discussion of how neti-neti pervades all aspects of yoga (“If I don’t see neti neti in everything, I know I’ve stopped enquiring properly”, I contributed).

As I ease myself off the bench and find my feet on the floor again and take an exploratory walk around on my new long legs, I feel more stable and balanced than I have done for a while. I have much to chew over, much to allow to settle in my thoughts and in my body. But I feel more here, more me than I have done since I was upended. I’m back on my feet and ready to move on.

2 thoughts on “Back to earth

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  1. Oh! I have also experienced an assist that caused an injury… and the hands that effected it were completely well-intentioned. It has made me resist giving any “hefty” assists in my own classes. At any rate, I think that it’s more important for each practitioner to take responsibility for adjustments themselves. Only that person really knows what is going on within their body at any given moment… I will provide suggestions…


    1. I’m remembering to balance this one terrible experience against the very large number of really helpful assists from this teacher where he taught me so much about how to move, breathe or just allow myself to be…
      Minor injury fortunately, but the emotional toll feels much greater… So many trust things going on… it’s always complicated, isn’t it?


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