Deep breath. No, not good enough; take another one. Better? Yeah, that’s better. Now shake off that anxiety and pent-up energy. Shake out your wrists – (Ooh, there was a small pop in there!) Focus, girl. Release. Not quite feeling it yet? Heck, shake out your legs, too. Wind your legs around each other. Wrap your forearms together. (This is a yoga pose, isn’t it?) Quiet, monkey mind. Quiet. Are you still breathing deeply? Unwind. Close your eyes. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Exhale. Lean toward the door, listen and knock…
Without this funny-looking grounding technique or some variation of it before my massage sessions I’m anxious, scattered and overly receptive of whatever my client is exuding. The session lacks focus, and I feel I can never fully relax, which means the client is probably feeling similarly.
I have a “grounding” ritual to get my day going, too: my Buddhist prayers, the practice of gongyo and daimoku. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo centers me, makes me feel more positive and alert, and seems to snap me into the rhythm of the universe. I feel connected, joyful, confident and more complete.
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m just now starting to return to a stronger version of myself after a couple years of practicing this Buddhism at a lower intensity. It’s a relief to know that strength and wisdom are still in there, still accessible. But some days are better than others. Some days still knock the wind out of me.
I’m not just talking about massage here. The other day I was at an event, feeling pretty good, secure. But a woman, a stranger to me, seemed to change all of that. When we were introduced, something…happened. Her words flattered me, but meanwhile her eyes scanned mine, searching for and then confirming something. She’s lonely, I thought. She’s stalling, trying to keep the conversation going. I felt something being taken away from me and left the encounter feeling thoroughly depleted.
That feeling followed me home. All afternoon and deep into the night, I felt anxious, exhausted, and something else. I eventually identified it as a sense of dread.
The term energy vampire comes to mind, and also the lesser known term esho-funi, or the Buddhist concept of the oneness of one’s life and the environment. Put simply, whatever we’re experiencing is a reflection of our own life-state. The notion of energy vampires, while intriguing, makes me feel like a mere victim, but esho-funi is an empowering (albeit far less easy or passive) concept. If we don’t like what we see in our environment, we make causes to change (better) ourselves. Through that process, we change our environment.
The concept of esho-funi is strongly tied to our life condition. When my life condition isn’t high – that is, when I’m not grounded through my daily Buddhist practice – I find myself easily taken for a ride by people whose life forces are stronger than mine. Someone I practice Buddhism with playfully turns esho-funi into a verb. “Don’t let them esho-funi you,” she says. “Your life condition has to be high enough to esho-funi them.”
To clarify, this isn’t about mind control or using force to make others be or act a certain way. Rather, when I’m feeling grounded in my Buddhist practice, I exude joy, compassion, wisdom and courage, or the qualities of the Buddha. And when that happens, others around me can’t help but feel those same wonderful qualities. We’re all lifted up, and nobody feels taken advantage of or depleted.
This is what I strive to give my clients during each of my massage sessions. I want them to walk out of the treatment room feeling happy and secure, serene (and physically better, of course!). Do I succeed? Often I do. Sometimes I don’t.
As for that woman…the next time we meet, the outcome will be a joy for both of us, rather than a drain to one of us.
I’ve got work to do….