After the Shintaido International 2012 event, I have a couple themes running in my mind: connecting (or unifying) with nature, and developing my own meaningful practices to do this. And, following the event, we had an nice informal keiko (practice) led by Clélie Dudon focusing on listening to our partners.
There’s a jumping exercise we do in Shintaido (tachi jump), palm to palm with partner, focusing on both leading and listening to your partner. There’s a lot you can learn by listening to his/her movement: are they energetic? Tired? Constricted in the shoulders? We can listen to the movement and sometimes help them change.
That afternoon I found myself in the extraordinary Muir Woods north of San Francisco, a refuge for thousands of old growth coast redwoods, the tallest trees on the planet. The thought crossed my mind: what if I tried listening the same way to one of the giant trees? Would I feel anything? Why not give it a try? Maybe a little foolish, but not many people around, and I was intrigued.
So I put my hands on one of the trees and closed my eyes. Could I feel energetic movement? Nope, not with that rooted giant. But, after a while an image came to mind: leaves stretching up into sunlight, and roots reaching down for water. The compulsion to stretch in two directions at the same time, up and down, reaching for sustenance and growth. I could feel that and relate to it.
I listened for about 4-5 minutes. I have to say, it was relaxing. I’ll probably try it again sometime when no one is looking. Feel free to give it a try.