We continued to honor the original people of the land where we were and to demonstrate our techniques. Day four involved finding points. After the locals did their introductions and welcomes, we asked for dreams. Several shared. We pointed out that dreams can be for others in the group or for the whole group and not just the dreamer. Also, the meaning of the dream may come in time and may not be immediately available. It's important not to jump to interpretations prematurely. Equally important, we said, may be to avoid commercial interpretations, as Jungian or Freudian systems in which the meanings of images are pre-determined by experts. Rather, one can ask the spirits for guidance and advice and wait for the answer.
After the sharing of dreams, we smudged the room and the participants with sage, sang songs, and invited the spirits to come, including all the spirits -- those of the land, those of the people present in the room, those with whom we usually worked, and any other interested spirits who might happened to be passing by. We offered some tobacco to those spirits before proceeding.
During the previous day, I had demonstrated work with the back, the shoulders, and the hips. Shoulders are joints in which the bones are held together only by muscles. They are unlike hips in which a ball sits in a socket or the knee which is more like a hinge. For both the hips and the shoulders, we go through a range of motion of the joint, shaking occasionally to dislodge tension and habitual holding patterns, and rubbing sometimes to release tension in a focal area of muscle or tendon that is holding tension in the joint. We can shake, rock, rattle, and roll also. We can pull with traction on the arm or the leg, move it around all over the place, and generally loosen it up. Massage of points allows for focal relaxation and, of course, these points are associated with energy blockages elsewhere, for the entire body is connected. Release of energy at one place is associated with change at multiple other sites. Traction can also be placed on the sacrum and the lower back can be addressed through rolling the pelvis through its range of motion.
I had also set the stage for where I learned this work. Imagine people, who work at home, I had said. If they're willing to consider working on someone, they would leave their shades up. If they didn't want to be disturbed, they would pull their shades down. There weren't any appointments. You just showed up. If the shades were up, you would knock on the door and they would invite you into the kitchen. Inevitably there was the sharing of coffee, cigarettes, and sometimes food. Hearty conversation ensued. Then, when they were ready, they would take you into a small bedroom where they worked. They would lay you down onto a single bed, smudge the room with sage and/or cedar, and then go to work with all these techniques. Since they hadn't ever existed in a Cartesian world, they didn't know that people who touch don't talk and people who talk don't touch, and since they knew everybody's business anyway, and there was no privacy in small towns, they would proceed to talk to you about your troubles while they worked on you. Many problems were solved on their "table". I rarely heard them give advice. Instead they would tell a story about someone they knew who had the same problem and tell how that person had solved it. Or, they would tell a traditional story that held some wisdom for the solution of this problem. They rarely told people what to do except in the extremes (as when someone was contemplating an act that could be criminal or irresponsible, they would say, "don't do that"). I also invited people to imagine grandchildren running in and out, the television blaring in the living room, and teenagers cooking in the kitchen while the adults visited.
I finished the second day of Cherokee bodywork with the neck, demonstrated various ways of working with necks, including taking the head through its range of motion, sometimes gently shaking to dislodge tension, sometimes not. Also, I demonstrated the variety of points that can be found in and around the neck and how rubbing them or putting pressure on them changes the energy. I showed how one can apply some traction to the neck by putting one's fingers below the occipital ridge and sometimes also gently shaking. During this demonstration, I was also talking with the person about her neck and her life. I wondered about times of "sticking her neck out", which had certainly occurred for her. We talked about how metaphor is the language of the body, that metaphors arise from out embodied experience of living in a social world of other people. Cultures all around the world use similar metaphors for anger -- hot, bubbling, volcanic, pressurized, etc. They use similar metaphors for sadness -- damp, grey, cold, wet, rainy, etc. We speak about our social woes in the language of our body as when we say that someone broke our heart, or someone stabbed us in the back, or won't get off our back, or makes us sick to our stomach, or makes us want to vomit, or is a pain in the ass. Our descriptors of the emotional distress of social relationships tend to refer to body parts, as in someone's being a pain in the neck, or sticking our necks out. These ways of speaking give clues to the social correlates of our painful body states.
I reviewed what we had learned -- the deep pressure massage of the paraspinous muscles, up and down the back, the shaking and rocking of the sacrum, traction, massaging trigger points or areas associated with blocked energy; shaking, rocking, and rolling like Elvis would have done it, taking joints through their range of motion, but never pushing past resistance, since that is how you cause injuries, but rather, going right up to the place of the resistance and distracting the person by shaking, talking, singing, rocking, rolling, or any other method so that the muscle releases, giving us the opportunity to loosen things even more.
The next day, we would work on recognizing energy patterns, findings individual points to work, and working with energy in non-manual ways.
For more information on our activities, see http://www.mehl-madrona.com and http://www.coyoteinstitute.us. We'll be doing an afternoon "healing camp" in Hartford, Connecticut on Sunday, March 24th, and a weekend workshop in New York City with the New York Shamanic Circle, April 13 to 15. We're at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the week starting April 26th for a weekend workshop on pain followed by five days of Cherokee Bodywork. (See http://www.kripalu.org and search on Mehl-Madrona for details).