IN TIMES of trouble, I go to the sea. When I fractured my shoulder, and was fuddled with pain, my brain dark with depressive thoughts, there was only one real solution: to get to the coast and listen to the seagulls cry, feel the rhythmic swell of the tide, walk on the shingle, feel the salt wind in my face. And it worked. (Read more here). Celebration is an ocean, too – seaside jaunts with family and friends, sandcastles and picnics, rock pools and sunburnt knees. There is a sea inside us all, and we long to return to it, one way or another.
Sea of Chi
All you have to do is hold a seashell to your ear, and you can hear it: the tidal flow of blood, swooshing behind our ears, the endless rhythmic, fluid pulse of our bodies. Around sixty per cent of the human body is liquid. Seventy per cent of the earth’s surface is covered in sea. No wonder it holds such a potent attraction for humanity. There is a mysterious alchemy at work here: symbiosis and seduction, all at once. In acupuncture, too, the meridians, or channels of energy pass through the main organs and run, like rivers, through the whole body, keeping us active and moving, from cradle to grave – and have their own particular rhythmic flow. If there is a block in the flow, like a river run stagnant, then disease can follow. Acupuncture needles work to release these hidden blocks. Deep in the belly is acupuncture’s T’an Tien, or true centre, a couple of inches below the belly button, storing up energy like a human powerhouse. The name of this centre? The Sea of Chi. Everywhere we are water. Everywhere the sea.
Pushing the Wave
In T’ai Chi and Chi Kung, too (for more info see here), come myriad images of sea and sky. ‘Pushing the Wave’ has you moving rhythmically, forwards and back, arms gently rolling, like water breaking on the beach, advancing and retreating, to the ancient rhythms of time: balancing the body, slowing down the mind. ‘Scoop the Sea, Greet the Sky’ swoops you low over one leg, plunging deep beneath your own surface, only to rise, arms extended, head lifted, like a bird flying high. There is physiological wisdom in these moves, but there is philosophy too. A harmonising of the self with the wider natural world. And at the very beating heart of all nature: is the sea.
Rhythms of Reiki
Thirty years of exploration in acupuncture and T’ai Chi have led me slowly, inexorably to an affinity with, and passion for, the hands-on practise of Reiki (For background see here. )Every day now, I lay my hands on my own heart, my solar plexus, my belly. And ever more strongly I can feel the rhythm and flow of the energy passing through. In my practise, at Reiki in Leeds, people sit beside me, or lie on the table, eyes closed, silent and waiting. And I wait too. Wait and listen – with my hands, with all my senses. And the body always responds. Responds in the way it knows so well – like waves passing over the shore, advance and retreat, sometimes wild, sometimes soft. But always with a certain primitive wisdom, that is the wisdom of the tidal flow. River to sea. Person to person. Soul to soul. And a balance is found, mind and body: a coming to quietness and to a new path of health. Reiki is an elegant practise. Simple. Unpretentious. It is all a matter of attention and respect. Then the body does the rest.
At the water’s edge
The last time I was at the sea, in Robin Hood’s Bay (pictured above), North Yorkshire, I got into the habit of walking early along the beach, to catch the rising sun over the southern edge of the bay. There was rarely anyone else about, except for the odd dog walker, and a solitary gull. But one day, as I walked, I noticed a young man standing, stock still, by the water’s edge, mesmerised by the scene in front of him. He hardly noticed me go by, such was his revery, his far away dream. But at the last minute he caught my eye. There was on his face, a look of amazement. I got the feeling this place was new to him, that he was a visitor, maybe from the city, or somewhere else inland. As he greeted me, there was a catch in his voice. “Isn’t this just the most beautiful thing?” he said. And then he turned away and stared again at the distant horizon and the glow of the orange sun. When I had got to the end of my walk, and had turned around and walked all the way back, he was still there, in the same position, staring, staring, staring, at the waves as they broke on the shore. Not star-struck, for it was morning. But all alone and happy: completely and utterly sea-struck. And I’ve never forgotten him. For I am sea-struck too.
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