Sawatdee ka from Thailand.

I’ve been at “school” for two days now, but I think I have already learned enough for a new lifetime.  I thought I came here prepared with my beginner’s mind, but I see now that I came with my ego.

Our teacher has a unique approach that involves nothing like our familiar version of lessons.  There are a few key phrases that he keeps returning to while he talks.  One of these is talking about “helicopters,” meaning (I think) we tend to focus on the mess of anxiety and anticipation that exists outside ourselves and this present moment.  He asked us many times today: “Helicopters.  Helping or not helping?”

Not helping.

I have never done Thai massage before, so my initial plan was to observe and receive this first week. Just be a sponge and store everything I could in my head.  I had the opportunity today to try out a few basic things.  I guess I thought my knowledge and experience doing Western massage would help me to get the hang of it fairly easily.

Helicopters. Not helping.

Our teacher came over to my mat.  He said, “Terrible.  Terrible.  What are you doing?” He proceeded to show me where I could feel a block in my practice partner’s body.  He tried to tell me what to do, but I just wasn’t getting it.  What I was getting was frustrated.  Ego.  “Just show me,” I said.  He proceeded to move my body into the correct position to work on my partner’s body.  I managed to get a little of the feel of that one movement, but I had no idea what to do next.  So, he took over.  And talked a lot about how I needed to stop thinking and just feel.

None of this was news to me.  Nor should it be news to anyone who has known me for thirty seconds or longer.  But to me the realization that I am that much of a beginner was difficult.  I suppose I brought my “advanced beginner” mind by mistake.

Learning something so new is uncomfortable and frustrating in the early stages.  It has been some time since I’ve been this much of a beginner, so I guess I forgot.  But tomorrow I’ll be at class bright and early, trying again to be a clean slate and a calm mind.

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