Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 13:55 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an action (most probably of a habitual action... which is why you "find yourself in the middle of it") hit by the question: "Why on Earth am I doing this?"

Yesterday, I was helping at the Uruguayan AT Teacher Training School. The wonderful Georgia Dias (who is visiting Uruguay for a week) had just finished working on the pupils, and finding herself with some spare minutes before break offered to give me a short turn. Needless to say I jumped at the offer, always glad to be worked on. 

No problems with this part. I don't need to think out too much why I like receiving hands-on work: I just love the process of self-discovery, the coming back into my back, the releasing of the neck, the renewed contact with my feet, my sitting bones, the challenge to my habits of thought and action, the chance to inhibit something old and be surprised at the unexpected new result.

The problem arose with the switching of roles. Once Georgia had finished giving me a turn I automatically offered to give her one in return. I happily put my hands on her, went through a series of habitual hand placement sequences and suddenly it hit me: "What am I doing anyway? Why am I doing this? What is my purpose in this situation? What is hers? I haven't even asked her what she wants! And she's so much more experienced than I am. What on Earth do I mean to teach her?" I was immediately transported to other occasions in which I'd found myself in the exact same situation: putting hands on more experienced visiting AT teachers, and being paralysed by the lack of meaning in the situation.

I won't go into the self-doubt part of the experience (Am I any good? What will she think? Am I doing this right?), because what struck me as more interesting than that was the fact that I hadn't been clear as to my purpose, and, not being clear myself, I hadn't taken the time to come into contact with this person under my hands and inquired as to her need or wish for this exchange

Talking with a fellow AT teacher later in the day, I put the question to her: "What is your purpose when you put hands on a more experienced teacher?". She gave me the best answer  ever: "Well, the same as when you put hands on anybody else Vicky, coming into contact with the person and finding out as much about them as I am able and allowed to". 

She floored me! Of course, I was having this skewed notion that more experienced teachers were not like everybody else: humans with needs and stories, as open to contact as anybody else. And I was also forgetting one of the most important aspects of the Technique: this is a process of discovery, not a finished product.

We're all learning (and we're all teaching) all the time. The best part of the lesson Georgia gave me was not when she was playing the role of teacher, but when she was playing the role of pupil! 

So thank you all my teachers (that is all of you) for the daily lessons you give me.

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