Shifting Gears

This week has afforded me a rapid-fire opportunity to see three different cultures close-up.  On Friday I completed a section of a training in Maine, where the intensity of the core work we were doing with ourselves and our clients was mellowed by the easy-going nature of this class of Canadians, Americans, and a couple of Danes.  These folks are smooth with sharing their feelings and keep up an easy banter and a supportive atmosphere even in the tougher times that inevitably come up in such a long training.  I even allowed one student to practice doing the nose work on me, which left me with post-nasal drip and a cough as I boarded the plane for New York that night.

The next morning, I encountered my noisy and intense pack of all-in-black New Yorkers, full of questions and confrontation as we finished a long season of training and they faced going back to their similarly demanding and abrasive clients.  This weekend we were set in Alex Grey’s Cosmosis gallery, where his large paintings of spiritual and anatomical complexity – including a new one of Barack – stared down on us with such psychedelic intensity that we were all exhausted by 4 o’clock.

After graduation, the cheerful but rapid-fire cacophony of New York was quickly replaced with the contrasting reticence of the Brits.  Straight from New York to Birmingham overnight, into one of those black grickling cabs for an hour-long cab ride with a black-turbaned Punjabi sikh to the Cotswold stone of Ramsden Village Hall, the ‘Best-Kept Village on Oxfordshire’ for 1987 – and right into another class.

While I cannot get the New Yorkers to shut up or leave me alone, I cannot get these Brits – as far along as the Maine group in their KMI training – to speak, share, emote, or even ask a question or call me over.  I have to insert myself.  (In Maine or New York, my working on someone is considered a welcome privilege.  In England, they hate to see me coming and sometimes refuse the work I offer as too intense.)  Outside of class, they are as supportive and interactive as anyone else, but in front of me and James and the entire group, English politeness prevails.  A year’s worth of bodywork training, and they still say “Sorry!” each time they touch each other inadvertently.

The material is the same, the audiences are different, and finding the way in to make a change is my art of the moment, certainly different with each culture, and then additionally so different with each and every valuable and salvageable person.


One Response to “Shifting Gears”

  1. Alex Says:

    “English politeness prevails. A year’s worth of bodywork training, and they still say “Sorry!” each time they touch each other inadvertently.”

    Interesting… in England you say, “Sorry” when you bump into someone, but in North Carolina, people say, “Excuse me” when passing 3 or 4 feet from each other in the shops and “Bless you!” when they wish you in hell. And you think the English are too polite??

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