Art of Learning Quiet – 2

I gave a lesson yesterday to a lovely student who, like me, lives in countries other than his original birthplace. For her, being Spanish by birth, arriving on time––a thing she had to cultivate living in her adopted home of Switzerland––wasn’t natural. She had to adapt to rushing to arrive on time. Both of us will be turning 70 this year. We are lucky to be healthy and fit, but there are things. In our session, she wanted to work on lowering her blood pressure and stress while still enjoying the pleasure of the buzz of rushing somewhere. I think of my own growing up in New York City, with my participatory listening (which for many in the world is rude interrupting), my enthusiastic hunger and curiosity for life (which for many in the world is pushy and annoying), and that delight when there was a buzz of activity. Being mindfully quiet wasn’t as fun or pleasurable as the more habitual swirl of rushing. Maybe even frightening. 

This was only the second lesson I’d given this person. She wanted another session with me (as we found each other by chance while visiting Corfu at the same time this spring). At the beginning of learning the AT work, the focus seems to be more on undoing. This person had a great reaction after our last lesson; her digestion had improved, and so had her sleep. The lesson yesterday went well, and as I worked on her, I could feel her breath opening and her blood flowing with more ease––which lowers blood pressure. If there is more flow, the system doesn’t have to work as hard to get the blood flowing. She felt very good after the session but confessed that if the intention was to always make her so relaxed, she would miss the edge and buzz and pleasurable surge of activity. I laughed at the recognition of that part of myself who reacted the same when first learning this work. I assured her that the improved health aspects of the AT work weren’t to make her a zombie who only moved in slow motion. Eventually, we learn to be mindful and attentive to giving more space yet fully participate in the jazz and buzz of the activity. If anything, over time, I had even more pleasure in my various activities, such as walking, dancing, singing, and even sitting and writing. Allowing more space for breath, flow, and quiet in the sense of expansion was a practice that, with time, could help her have lower blood pressure and less stress while still enjoying the exciting buzz of being alive.