My days in Boulder are abundant, early rise, walk….learn, walk….ponder, walk and home. I’m living just northeast of the city, in a quiet suburban outcrop called Gunbarrel. Some of us students at the Rolf Institute live close enough to walk to class. It’s been a long time since I’ve walked to class as a student side by side with others…adorning book bags invested with packed lunches. We talk in fervor of upcoming quizzes, intriguing instructors- it's nostalgic to feel kiddy again.
At school, our days often end with several hours of touch exchange. During skillful touch class, we practice what we learn on each other. Each session, the instructor asks for a model, and most of the time six people raise their hands at once. Everyone wants to jump up on the table and receive quality touch from a learned practitioner. However, when you are the model person, you don’t get to see what is happening. Then, when it’s your turn to practice on another classmate, there is less reference for how to work.
I hadn’t thought of the difficulty on my own; I haven’t been fast enough to be the demo model yet. As a student, I am thorough and perceptive - I always watch closely to what is happening. In this school, sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t. I notice, I've still been relying a lot on the notes taken on the board to guide me,
Pectoralis Major sweep with fingers, interossesous trampoline feeling, big soft paws
The notes themselves serve as an outline of hints to remembering where to travel on a body - they help to lay out the terrain. But sometimes, the notes stand only as cryptic afterthoughts, appearing as a secret recipe, difficult to follow. The difficulty of following and modeling occurred to me only after my walking home friend said,
“Being the demo guy was hard because I had no clue how to work when I picked up my partners leg, and the board didn’t make sense.”
“What did you do?” I asked him.
Its been challenge enough to navigate the touch having seen the full demonstration.“Well, I just asked my partner’s leg what it wanted.”
In an instant I noticed something happen. I realized another possible way to work.I’m relying still so much on my eyes.
He continued,“I think that bodies can tell us what they want if we listen.”
Small moments like this can shift perceptions.“I think this is the essence of the work,” I said.
I said, knowing fully that I am in beginners mind. We kept walking, savoring the discovery.
Here in school, there is the piece of work that relates to others, and there is the personal garden to tend. Being present to the spectrum of self to other is at the heart of this. A large piece of my present work is to show up with kindness and patience towards myself, and to cultivate the humbleness to accept feedback and sound advice. The strength to be willing to melt into being taught and molded is a potent edge. I stand seeking the expansive grace to harbor paradox; to know I have so much to learn AND know that so much can be understood by simply asking a leg,What do you need?
The paradox of acquired learning, and spacious being – how to hold both hands?A body, like any living creature loves to be nurtured towards vitality. When leg is asked what it needs, it’s asking a plant. Water? Sunlight? Shade? If I water a plant too much it dies, if the pot for planting is too small, the roots don’t support and the leaves don’t flourish. A leg that seeks space is different from a leg that needs to make sense. The dance becomes a play of dynamic perception, what’s happening with me, what’s happening with you, what’s happening with us. My eyes are starting to soften, perceptions blooming broad. I sense, I walk, I perceive....seeing legs seeking space, seeing legs seeking sense.
Allison for The Poplar Grove Muse