What Hands Are For

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Yesterday morning I did a meditation lesson that was unusual.  

We were lying down on the mat with the yoga block positioned behind our back, between the shoulder blades so the chest and the heart chakra is opened. We had to repeat the Mantra connected to this Chakra (IAM) continuously and concentrate the mind on the heart. For those who have never done meditation, this probably leaves you perplexed, some of you will even laugh. But when you are there, lying down with the eyes closed, following the warm and reassuring Master’s voice, letting yourself be cuddled from this continuous IIIIIAAAAMMMMM repeated from 10 different voices, letting the vibration pass from your lips to the throat and down to the center of your chest, this is the moment when you finally relax your body and “lose it” on your mat, then your mind is emptied and you really feel the emotions released, the heart opened, the lightness entering. And you smile. Smile all day to anyone you meet in the street. Because suddenly you realize that “let go” really works, and more you smile, the more you feel alive.

Yesterday night I gave a massage to a woman with breast cancer.

All afternoon I was agitated. What to do, what not to do, what to touch, try not to activate the lymphatic system, how much to go into the physical and emotional depths, press the muscles and hurt her (again) or be light and relaxed. But at the end, can you really be relaxed in this situation?

I decide to bring a neutral oil, with no strong scents which in these cases can annoy or trigger memories. Smell is an incredible trigger for memories, just like music can be.

A fifty-year old woman opens the door, with short and gray hair, curly, frizzy, growing. Typical hair after chemotherapy. She has her shoulders curved in protection. Protection of the breast, of the heart, of the emotions.

She has beautiful bright brown eyes, a radiant grin and speaks English with a strong French accent that is tender. She is definitely more nervous than me. She must show the naked body to a stranger. She tells me embarrassed she cannot lie down on her belly, it hurts her. I put a towel under her belly so there is no pressure on the breasts.

I begin gently spreading oil on her shoulders. Meanwhile she tells me she lives in Normandy and is here in Hong Kong for a trip with her two sisters. A trip to “celebrate life”. Cancer is gone, chemotherapy is over.

I close my eyes and let my hands decide what to do. I leave them free to go deep where they want, to read, to change the rhythm, I let them do whatever they want, I trust my hands. I lose a sense of time, the massage lasts far longer than it should. She is now on her back, I’m massaging her legs and in the darkness of the room I see it and it strikes me like a slap in my face: the scar on her knee. A “nice” cut left there after an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

It could be me. Fuck. It could be all of us. The tragedy of breaking the ligament, the tragedy of not being able to play basketball anymore. All bullshit compared to cancer.

Celebrate life. We should do it always, without waiting to fight between life and death.

Now I’m massaging her neck and sweetly pushing her shoulders down to relax them. Suddenly, with a sigh of relief she lowers her shoulders, her chest opens and she smiles. The Chakra of the heart. She smiles again, sighs again and says, a bit between herself and a bit to me:

“It feels so good.”

And I feel happy. This is what my hands are for. Make people feel good.

It can be also because my heart’s Chakra is open, but I feel so good too.

I’m a piece of her “journey to celebrate life.”

It feels so good.


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