‘Hands like silk’ is the image and focus for the first week of ‘Going Deeper’. A soft hand is sometimes the key to a soft, poised, responsive body. If your hand is soft it is actually quite hard to maintain a lot of tension anywhere else.
So, one thing we will do this week is to warm up our hands. To stroke them, one at a time, turning one hand ‘off’ and leaving the other ‘on’. The ‘on’ hand strokes the ‘off’ hand and then vice versa.
You might then think of turning the hand up just a little, say to tension level of 2, where 0 is asleep and 10 is a clenched fist level of tension, and with a soft but awake hand, wash your face. Then with just two soft fingers, try taping your lower jaw and up over the skull. Explore the back of the skull, where it meets the spine. Stroke soft hands around your throat and neck and shoulders. Pause, breathe, notice how you feel.
Another exercise is simply to touch each finger tip in turn, moving it gently from the tip outwards. Then gently interlace your fingers and let one hand rotate the other hand and then swap.
Having woken up our hand we might then go for a ‘sensing’ walk. We put our awareness into our feet and let our feet take us to some point or object in the room that interests us, then we take our awareness into our hands and explore an object or surface with ‘exploratory’ hands or ‘mouse’ hands – delicate, curious. Then we pause and move on. I am indebted to one of my teachers, Bruce Fertman,for this exercise and for ‘mouse hands’ 🙂
For teachers, one important point in working in groups is to allow enough time after each exercise to reflect on our learning, to let our learning ‘sink into’ our minds and bodies. Don’t do too much, too quickly.
Another exercise we might do this week is just to look at hands in pictures – noticing how tense or soft or beautiful they are. Learning to observe in others, in this way, increases our powers of observation in ourselves, too.
Finally, we might think of letting an object open our hand rather than our hand opening to grasp an object. Try this on your leg,. Sit down and let your hand, in an off position, slightly curled, relaxed, rest on your leg., with the back of the hand touching the leg. Then turn the hand over and slowly pull your elbow back, letting your hand slide back over your leg so that your hand molds itself to the shape of your leg.
Try it with a large ball or other object. Rest the back of your hand on the object – it could be a mug or something else with soft contours – then turn your hand and let it slide itself around the object. Notice the difference between this way of making contact with an object and the usual ‘grip’ ‘grab’ ‘grasp’ approach most of us adopt most of the time.
To reinforce your learning, watch a video of a Japanese Tea Ceremonyand pay attention to how quietly and precisely the practitioner uses their hands – and notice how quiet the hand that is NOT moving is. Often, even when not active, our ‘off’ hand can be very tense.