On Sunday afternoon from 4 to 6, I’ve been attending Jeff Nash’s Awakening Process workshops at the Love Dome down in Venice. I had been going to the Friday evening sessions that included dance expression in the second hour, but as I’m down in Santa Monica on Sunday nights for the LA Full-Contact Improv Jam, I decided to save myself the stress of a second trip.
The Sunday afternoon sessions are intimate, with typically three or four participants. We normally begin with a brief discussion of theory, focusing on a particular life issue raised by one of the attendees. The foundations of the process are simple: we’re here to learn to relate to one another. Pain is best thought of as a signal that guides healing energy. When we relax into the flow of that energy, our bodies do a far better job of healing themselves than any conscious process can emulate.
Releasing the stress of the week, we typically begin to collapse to the floor after a half an hour, lying on mats and pillows. Jeff comes by with essential oils, asking what I’m feeling. He doesn’t guide, simply asking for clarification, and when the feeling is clearly defined, whether there is a memory attached to the feeling. When I express stress, Jeff reminds me to focus on my exhale, which allows me to release.
The evolution of the experience has been deeply beneficial. It began with some tension, as Jeff was raised 7th Day Adventist, and his assessment of Christianity reflected the dogmatism of that sect. Once we got that out of the way, he is really in tune with what I have going on inside of me, concluding his visits with the observation that I should be looking for a trigger for my emotions and sensations from a time “early in this life,” followed after a brief pause with, “or in a past life.”
The efficacy of his guidance became palpable two weeks ago. I have been struggling with tightness in my left obliques, and when I focused more deeply on the problem, traced it to something that seemed to be attached to the inside of my rib cage on the left side. Advised to let healing flow into the area, a distinct warmth came, and the tension dissolved.
Later in that same session, I became aware that my fingers were curled into my palms. I’ve had this pointed out to me before, and as I focused on letting them open and extend, recognized that it came with a social predisposition to guard myself from casual intimacy. As I stood at staff meeting the next morning with my fingers spread and feeling myself rooted into the floor, one of my antagonists stared at me, sitting up to confront my presence before slumping in defeat.
That sense of rootedness carried over to my yoga practice. I realized that I was still bearing most of my weight on the right foot, and began methodically to balance weight identically on each foot. This has relieved me of the burden of fighting subtle weight imbalance, allowing me to relax into postures that once I strained to maintain.
Last Sunday this focus on balance carried on down to the mat. I opened my palms and forced the left side of my glutes to bear equal weight. I felt my arms lengthen, and my knuckles anchor deeply into the wood floor. I was filled with a great openness, and then a sudden urge to curl up into a ball. After relating to Jeff that “I need to fight that”, he offered that “You could let yourself curl up.” Instead, I relaxed more deeply, and felt myself expanding. For I moment I panicked, admitting that “There’s danger there,” but also a welcoming presence sending the thought “You’re not alone.” Jeff asked what I was feeling, and I could only offer “I’m in the world now.” Not quite satisfied, he asked “And what does that feel like?” Lacking meaningful words, I offered “Like a great circle closing.”
Later that night, I slid up next to him. Rubbing his back tenderly, I leaned into his shoulder and whispered, “I remember you.”
He had praised my virtue when others would not.