I was lying on a massage bed, in my underwear. A lady my age was kneading my belly like it was a big ball of dough.
"Here", she said sticking her fingers deep into my guts, "what is this?".
She had found a sort of knot, or ball. A bit like the ones you get on your back muscles. She could push it like if it was a button, and it would hurt.
That was my first session ever of the Grinberg method (I am going back next week!). I heard Leah Thau of the Strangers podcast praising this methodology, so I decided to try. I was curious.
Last week I told you about how I had gotten very sick before the opening of my new work+shop. After a "pain management meditation" my gut ache got so bad I had to find an emergency doctor. I got drugs that stopped the pain but, later on, the Grinberg practitioner found that ball somewhere in me, chilling. The doctor hadn't noticed it. And sure, it did hurt when she poked it, but mostly I felt curiosity. What was that ball doing in there, and why?
In mindfulness you are encouraged to keep a "beginner's mind". This means to be open to experiment and learn, to leave assumptions at the door before your practice. It's a call to curiosity.
It sounds easy. It is not.
For the last few years we have been bombarded with prompts to become experts (I've mentioned before Grace Bonney's opinion on this, here's that link again). But maybe expertise is just a form of control, a safety net, or even a power issue. In Charlie Kaufman's words:
“I think we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise.”
The incredible professor that supervised my MA thesis is a major Art nerd lady. In her classes she would give us lengthy reading lists and ask us: "have you read these before?". When faced with our negative answers, she would burst into joy "Oh my, I envy you so much. Being able to discover all these great texts for the first time... What a privilege".
Discovery is a privilege.
I realize there is something in my painting practice that calls for humility. I feel so puzzled by every new piece, that I just have to jump in, and trust the process better than my own judgement. Lately the stuff I am painting looks alien to me. My practice is a few steps ahead of me, and I love it. I am learning from it. My painting teaches me, not the other way around.
So here's the proactive take away.
What happens if instead of experts we become on of these:
We are fortunate enough to be seekers. Keeping a sense open of awe is one of the hardest, most inspiring things I've ever tried. It's a privilege.
And those belly balls? Well, I don't know. My Grinberg mate and me will continue to probe and discover together.