Head Trip = Body Trip • 1 October 2013

Equinox on Broome Street

Are you a network of trigger points; are you a mess of trauma tracers, are you an animate anatomy text? Meridians, nadis, craniosacral rhythms, Rolfian fascia slings.

I don’t know. I mean, that’s my theory: I don’t know.

It’s still a framework, but it is the least I can say.

Every story we tell registers in the body. Where else? Head trips are body trips.

For this reason, I will not say that August wrecked me. I will not make a thing of moving residences or about what it is to teach Mysore in a body this size. But that’s all it would have take to harden that month’s shifts in my physique right in to knots. Stories of a certain kind coaselsce sensation into pain, and put the body into the position of having to back up our claims.

It’s the same with any theory of the supposed “nature” of “reality.” The Editor came home from coffee with the professors last week and gave a shudder. “My God! If I don’t have to stake a claim about the transcendent nature of truth or reality to get through the day, why would I go to the trouble?” Then he dropped to the floor for a tender headbutt exchange with Zelda Spoonbender. That’s the cat.

Until I began teaching, I had the luxury of never having to discuss my practice or relationships with teachers. I picked up that discipline by intuition—to protect new experiences from the ravages of my own hyperanalytical mind. And – important both in LA and in Mysore – to guard against the garbage of others’ prying and commisserating. We actually don’t owe each other explanations for the ups and downs in our practice.

Not having to explain was a luxury. (Reason #137 not to teach until you’ve practiced like a decade.) The learning process was efficient and I grew quickly. But now my experience isn’t just mine – it belongs largely to students. Teaching extended the field of my practice to include other bodyminds. So, I will dish.

Here’s what’s going on: today the I-don’t-know in my body is buckling and churning under the three plates of the pingala: the jawbone, the shoulderblade, the flare of the ilium. All on the right side. It’s not energy, not fascia, not muscle, not habit patters, not karma, not emotion. I will not reduce my experience to one dimension. I will not make a thing of it.

This pattern is consciousness. Whatever that is. Frozen on the surface, but moving VERY randomly and quickly the clearer my perception becomes.

Bracketing concepts is quasi impossible. It is trying to live a koan.

But Zelda can do it. What does her animal intelligence do with weird sensation? Slow down, work around, breathe, wait, shake it out. Don’t make a thing of it. Stay open… move through… let it go.

This is my life from the perspective of I don’t know. But the other day I did a stupid experiment. I moved into the don’t-know sensations, while trying other minds on for size. Like sitting in the eye doctor’s chair, flipping through the lenses. What if I were a muscle reductionist, a nadi reductionist, an emotion reductionist, a trigger point reductionist, a fascia reductionist?

What happened next was one of the freakiest experiences I’ve had. Friends say my perception is already weird enough that psychedelics are sadly unnecessary. Maybe and maybe not, but there was a dark side of the moon quality to what happened here. It destabilized my already very flexible definition of reality, leaving me in a newly altered state for days.

This experiment was stupid because it opened me up to embodied beliefs I actually don’t want to carry. I sense that an unusually high number of readers here may be empaths/ HSPs/ contemplatives/ sensitives/ whatever-you-call-it. If that’s you, it is just plain Russian roulette to practice with other bodies in mind. Boundaries, friend.

Moreover, in my view, daily practice is emphatically not a laboratory for working out teaching insights. In this practice, a person teaches the stuff that has long since become mundane, that doesn’t charge you up or fascinate you or freak you out. You teach the stuff you consider no… big… deal. Marichyasana D, pass the salt. Ekapadabakasana, yawn. Catching ankles; picking your nose. Reverently, though. Reverently picking your nose.

Finally, as an apprentice, I was taught that the teacher’s own body remains somewhat private so students can focus on their own experience. We don’t need guides to participate in our own vrittis about the learning process: we need them to hold space regardless of conditions.

But the experiment junked all of these mental-emotional-energetic boundaries. Mental hygiene principles are as close as I come to a creed, so it was interesting to suspend them. No wonder this experiment felt dramatic. That, and the whole-body hallucination thing. That too.

So I took a Saturday, went into a light trance, and did surya namaskara for what seemed like a long time. Just trying other minds on for size. Within that container, I had to remain compassionate, curious, and open to theories I usually keep at a distance.

I wish there were decent words to put around what happened. It was some sort of direct-experiencing of different layers of myself, bunching up and rising to the surface of consciousness. Reification in action.

As a Rolfer, my IT-band blanched and turned to spiderman-ropes. All movement was ham-strung. As a trigger point therapist, I was frustrated and mystified, ponderous, problem-solvey, moving with an agenda and the furrowed brow of a repairwoman. As a karmic diviner, I mainlined into generations of pingala problems (over-reliance on the masculine way), seeing Earth’s secret history as a violent mess and that was my body’s cross to bear. Turns out to be possible to go through the suryas as if you’re staked to a board. (Not recommended.) As a Yogaworks style “smart yoga” practitioner, I was all about problem solving, ergo problem-defining; and thus the thing was a pesky psoas-infraspinatus-SCM, which came down to an original “cause”: a wonky sacrum. Perfect external form, to the rescue! Then, the chakra diagostics spit out something about there being too much will and not enough surrender in the muladhara, and prescribed not trying so hard to be grounded all the time. And that made me move like a slack-jointed vata cat, whose playfulness made all the pain go poof for a moment, but horrifed everyone else at the party.

So holy God, THE FRAME CHANGED HOW I MOVED AND WHAT I FELT . So dramatically. And this, in turn, CHANGED HOW I EXPERIENCED EXPERIENCE. Or vice versa. Something like that. One way or another, mind does manifest in movement, in tissue, in the way we deploy our being in space.

Back to the Editor, the guy who works without a metaphysical net. He published his first philosophy paper at age 22, and edits a major theory journal. What colleagues call brilliance in him is more like honesty: there is just very little that he knows that he knows that he knows. Strangely, he got deep into academe with don’t-know-mind intact.

Maybe having a strong model makes us feel secure. Like, I know theoretically that the adductor does this, or that the lung meridian goes here, or that energy moves like this, or that such and such kind of pressure moves fascia or releases trigger points. Knowing models –lots and lots of models—is great. But it’s so easy to be clingy and narrow in the application, and thus to hinge the body on theory. There is a difference between “smart” and wise ways of being. The latter has nothing to prove.

Our minds want so badly to know. Explanations, causes, solutions. This is a kind of insecurity that has so many layers; I fall out of don’t-know-mind and crash in to that neediness all the time.

A person has to be so confident to work without a net. But it can be that way. Put the real, grimy ground under foot. That will do nicely.