The Laying on of Hands
Placing your hands on another person is a big deal in AT. You have to be aware of your own habits, to inhibit them and to give yourself constructive directions and at the same time you have to be aware of what’s going on with the person you are placing your hands on as you also direct them. It is quite a juggling trick and one not to be attempted while you are still trying to master attending to yourself. As a result, in the training one does not practice placing hands on someone else for a while.
The way the program is set up is quite interesting. It is basically a one-room school, with people of all levels in the lesson at the same time. (I’m the only first term person, or “1” as I’m referred to.) When we have our moments to practice, we get paired up by the teachers and given particular instructions as to what to do according to our level. So far, almost every day, the room has been given their assignments and then the many different teachers turn to me and say something along the lines of: “Except you, Witold. You won’t be placing hands on anybody.” I’ve been told this once or twice a day for the past two weeks. It’s a little demoralizing, but also rather comical.
The great excitement of the day was that I was allowed to place hands… on a table! It’s sounds like nothing, but really, it was quite a big deal. The teacher had us all standing around one of those fold-out office tables. We came into “monkey,” a half-squat that allows the hips to be free and the back to be long and wide. The spine is straight and the head is forward of the shoulders because of the incline, allowing your to free the neck and head. Alexander called it a “position of mechanical advantage.” From monkey we lifted the hands to place them palms up on the table one at a time. Then from there we turned them palm down and leaned into the table, giving a little weight to the upper body. In this position we did a “whispered ah,” a simple breathing exercise that gives a little resistance to the diaphragm and allows the breathing apparatus to be supported and release. When I did my whispered ah the first time, it felt like I was trying to inflate a heavy balloon. It was exhausting!