Continuing my intermittent posts with renewed intention….. The text I posted in the Spring of this year will now serve as my “MANIFESTO FOR THE TIME BEING…”
During the last two to three years since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, with less opportunities to share the work through live, presential encounters, I considered the posssibilities of on-line substitutes. Of necessity, many people involved in the body-life therapies and wellbeing movements, accustomed to offer clinical treatments and classes in exercise and self help methods have looked for ways to support their clients and students and so extended their work on-line. I have been less inclined to join this trend. Admittedly, I am of an older generation, less skilled in managing the technical aspects and intense demands of the electronic information age, but I also believe that changing times offer constant opportunities to review our priorities, decisions and actions. At this stage of our long journey together, how and what are we learning as individuals and as a community while the Covid pandemic and other pre-existing and newer crises continue to press us on all sides?
After the early lock-down was lifted, I wrote a couple of short articles for these “blog” pages to suggest, firstly, that anyone can practice simple healing touch at home, even if we have little or no formal training, and secondly, that those of us who are trained could take our classes and our bodywork therapies outdoors. The rush to keep everything going virtually – the Zoom boom – had many benefits originally, but it has served to entrench an already worrying trend. As times move on, let’s keep these remote classes and “on-line therapy sessions” to a minimum, and meanwhile encourage ourselves and everyone else to disconnect from the screen, re-commit to the live encounter and offer our work in refreshing and novel ways. We can meet for country walks or bike-rides, and share some Qigong along the route, meditate in the fresh air, reflecting on our inner lives and on nature. We can re-establish Qigong in the park and teach people self-shiatsu and other Japanese Do-In exercises, so they can look after themselves and share the benefits with others.
We can imagine completely novel scenarios, such as inviting people to receive treatments (or private classes) in the garden, theirs or ours. Neither Shiatsu, Qigong nor Seiki require any specific outfit on either side. Every moment we promote on the internet is time taken out from our local environment, and our local community. I still stand by these two articles – please check my posts for 2020 .
Professional Shiatsu therapists might question the long established clinical model where “clients” are dependent therapy consumers and we are the experts. Why go back to this old pattern? Typical one-to-one treatment sessions in Shiatsu can and should be detached from the medical (diagnostic) model whenever possible and re-envisioned as enabling steps towards emancipation, self-knowledge and empowerment….. through touch….. we have simpler ways of communicating
LESS IS MORE. Less time on our phones and computers; more time in the garden or the park, with friends or family. Less rushing about. Less phone scrolling, text messaging, email scanning; more home cooked meals, reading real books, sharing intimate conversation, and sleeping. I am not against social media, but I see that its sheer volume encroaches overwhelmingly and limits our capacity for deep and considered communication. Even more concerning is the way the little screen draws us away from our embodied lives as we project ourselves into an ever more complex virtual existence. This “exteriorising process” runs counter to the exploration and appreciation of the authentic inner life, including the conscious experience of our bodies. The human organism is already a most powerful biological matrix for informed participation in Nature’s vast design, and utterly equipped for intelligent empathic relationship with our fellow beings. We must edit our time, ween ourselves off the flotsam of superficial information and easy opinions, find new naratives and establish stronger frameworks for taking care of ourselves and living harmoniously on Earth.
THE SEI-KI WAY
The intricate patterns of harmony and healing – ecology inside and out – are revealed through the subtle experiential realm of the senses. Enhanced perception develops when we attend thoroughly to our entire being, here and now. Seiki offers a set of subtle, experiential practices for precicely this. Seiki for me shows the simplest and most open way to self-appreciation and trust.
“Basic trust”, as expounded by the Tibetan master, Chogyam Trungpa, arises and continues with the recognition of life’s “basic goodness” at each moment. Taking our cue from the light philosophical guidelines of Taoist Zen , we can enter “Ki Culture”, understood in Japan as the widest participatory field for the expression of “Life as art”. Ki is vitality, felt and appreciated in each breathing moment. Wellbeing is perhaps a measure of our creative capacity to explore the mysteries: we enjoy life when we are in the flow; we appreciate and celebrate it; beauty and ugliness are not opposed.
And so to Poetry
Since my childhood, I have always loved poetry. At some point in my late adolescence, I began to experiment with writing poems myself, and I have continued on and off since then, variously finding it a source of solace, a way of reflection, or an affirmation – a celebratory act.
In the early months of last year I felt moved to try an exercise in this reflective vein as a counterpoint to my own normal writing style . I began a poetry-writing project devoted to specific aspects of Seiki practice and related themes expressed in the simplest possible terms. In the spirit of the Eastern tradition, I started with the Japanese Haiku form, and then let it flow into derivations and experiments in prose-poetry, an American style which I enjoy.
After four months or so, I ended with a satisfying collection which I have begun to share with family and friends, in my workshops (which, thankfully have again become possible), and here, with you, dear friend, where from now on I shall be delving into questions of healing through the occasional poem, as I fully intend to continue the practise.
What is “healing touch”?
Sensitive and timely
Hand, breath, our meeting here.
TRAINING for health and wellbeing:
What’s wrong with us?
Healing is our life-situation.
Our cells, and all the integrated
systems grown from them,
renew themselves, unbidden.
Birth and death, uninvited, came anyway.
Our breath comes and goes by itself.
Living body intelligence
includes our conscious curiosity.
As it is Nature that heals,
and harmony exists already,
why should we train?
We must listen and learn.
Training relates to the breath, the body and the mind.
Three things; all one.
Grounded, breathing and aware,
a good way to start.
At home with yourself.
The Project Continues:
My themes are already well established – in the short or medium length articles on Shiatsu, Daoyin Qigong and Seiki that comprise the history of this blog, expanding on specific aspects in each area or linking them in various ways. It is all in keeping with my banner headline – “In touch”. My intention henceforward is to reproduce here only shorter pieces on the evolving work; summaries associated with recent and current courses or intensive workshops – examples only of what I believe is possible for others to continue…. and who knows, a venture into on-line experiments, live video encounters or practical demonstrations may well emerge in due time.
Over the last twenty years or more, it has become increasingly evident and clear to me that Seiki, and all the themes and practices that it suggests, are where my commitment truly lies and my inspiration renewed. Everything that has gone before, all my personal practice, teaching, sharing and writing on all these themes, is now distilled into one jar. So I will go on from here, emptying and renewing its contents as life allows; continuing in gratitude under the fluttering banner of Seiki, unfurled more than forty years ago by Akinobu Kishi, my life-long teacher. Though the banner, paled by sun and rain, worn thin and threadbare by the winds of change, lose all substance and meaning, the practices will not be worn out, but refined and understood through use. Please, keep “in touch”.
The Way is found, lost, and found again. PL.