Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Were the Most Remarkable Bodywork Treatments You Received? – An Interview with Choyin Dorje

GAGORI:  Today, we are going to turn the tables on Choyin.  We are going to ask him some questions.  Usually it’s the other way around; as the writer he’s asking the questions.  Choyin, in your view and experience, what is good bodywork?
CHOYIN DORJE:  When a massage therapist knows what he or she is doing, and is with the process, and focused on the client, as he or she is doing it, that could be called ‘good bodywork’.  When a yoga instructor has plenty of experience and practiced many times over what he or she is sharing with others, and then shares it in awareness, the result is also good bodywork.  When a Tai Chi teacher has mastered the form and gone beyond it, without changing anything, he or she is definitely imparting the knowledge of good bodywork, for self and others.

GAGORI: So, good bodywork is anything that enhances our being in the body, delivered with perfect timing and technique – and imbued with spirit?
CHOYIN DORJE: We are alive, right?  The body is totally alive!  We may choose to be numb to how alive the body is, but it really is.  In this aliveness there is no separation between ‘body’ and ‘mind’, ‘body’ and ‘spirit’, ‘body’ and ‘awareness’.  There is only this awareness and a sense or a feeling of the parts and the sum of the parts being distinctly separate and yet, at the same time, indivisibly one.  Good bodywork brings you into experiencing that kind of a flow.  It can evoke an awareness of indivisibility of the presence of the different parts of the body and, simultaneously, the feeling of oneness, no matter if you are being massaged, climbing a mountain, or doing your exercises on the beach, or in your bedroom.

GAGORI: Well here, we are mostly interested in what you would call ‘massages’.  Do you remember some of the treatments that you received?  Four, five, which stand out from the rest?  I mean, knowing you, I assume that you must have received many.
CHOYIN DORJE:  Sure, I have received many massages over the years.  And for sure, I can also remember some memorable treatments, even if they happened more than twenty years ago.

GAGORI: Really?
CHOYIN DORJE:  Yeah, as if they happened yesterday, in fact as if they were happening now, in the present moment, provided attention is focused, zooms in like a laser beam.

GAGORI:  Can you be more specific?
CHOYIN DORJE:  Actually, you yourself gave one of these treatments.  Remember that one session of siddha marma?  Must have been seven, eight years ago, I believe during your second 300-hr Taosomatics bodymind therapy intensive in the role of an assistant.  Remember how the marma points opened up like flowers, because you were so 100% focused, yet so relaxed yourself, while giving the treatment?  That was a prime example of excellent bodywork.  It was so good that my body still can remember it: the texture of it, the flow and the feeling of it.  And this is not a poetic exaggeration.  As much as the body can act as a storehouse for trauma memories, the body can also act as a storehouse for bliss – or for feeling better than words can express.  Actually, you always give very good siddha marma sessions.  But this particular one stands out because you were so precise and professionally astute, yet in the natural progression of your pressing the points and doing your strokes, at the same time beyond all thoughts and concepts.

GAGORI:  More examples?
CHOYIN DORJE:  A Trager session given to me by a personal student of Dr. Milton Trager’s.  I don’ remember the therapist’s name and I don’t remember the date but it must have been when I was attending a Buddhist meditation course at the Nyingma Institute in Berkely, California, in April 1987.  I remember the room. I remember the quality of the light in the room.  I remember that the session lasted for almost three hours, and neither the therapist nor I as the client were the least bit exhausted from the effort.  There was a light breeze and you could hear the chimes on the porch, and sometimes the hum of the electric prayer wheels.  I mean: this session was just out of this world, but still totally in it.  Total body aliveness.  Really shaking loose and shaking off some old dross.  Amazing bodywork.  Milton Trager must have been a hell of a guy in order to teach such magic of the hands, and of the entire body.

GAGORI:  Describe one more of these wonderful positive imprints, just because for me, it is so good and so helpful to hear these things.  And may be for some of our readers and future therapists, too.
CHOYIN DORJE:  Definitely another highlight are the many Esalen sessions I received from Katharina Lutz, in Munich.  At that time, it also must have been in the mid-1980s, Katharina studied Tibetan yoga and Buddhism with me in our small sangha, and Esalen Massage with Deane Juhan of the Esalen Institute, a really great bodyworker and amazing teacher (for Deane’s take on bodywork also see:  Deane came to Germany regularly then, to give courses, and Katharina was what, here in India, you would call the typical ‘topper’, a really dedicated student; keen on learning all aspects of the work, from the technical, through the psychological to the spiritual.

GAGORI:  Going by the examples that you have given, the quality of the teacher is an important factor for the development of the therapist and the quality of his or her work.
CHOYIN DORJE:  Absolutely.  Bodywork, like the different forms of movement therapies, or really anatomically sound and logical forms of massage, cannot be taught mechanically as a technique only.  The teacher has to teach and lead by example.  He or she not only has to explain movements or strokes, as well as the underlying anatomical and energetic logic, he or she has to have the ability for the direct transmission of his or her own level of awareness.  It’s like a small awakening, a small enlightenment experience.  You have to have gone through something like that before you can share it with others.  And that’s the kind of teacher you need, if you want to become a really good bodyworker.  You need a teacher who through his or her awareness can inspire you to awaken to your own, and then come into your own.  This direct transmission of awareness is nothing like a ‘mystical experience’ at all.  It is NOT fuzzy, but clear.  It is very down-to-earth and straightforward.  I am sure, you have experienced it at various different moments in your own training, and now you are settled in it, in your own way.

GAGORI:  True, and there is no end to the development in sight, yet.  I keep learning.  Once you stop learning, you start dying.
CHOYIN DORJE:  Each new treatment, each new client, and each new student teaches you more, right?

CHOYIN DORJE: I am happy to hear that someone is alive and thriving.  And I am looking forward to having one of these siddha marma treatments again.  It has been a while.

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