Tucked away in a gully well away from town is a tree, a very big tree. It’s location is not well-known and finding the Spotted Gum is difficult. The first branches on the trunk are at least 30 metres up from the ground and the canopy extends into the heavens. The tree sits in a heavily covered temperate rainforest and other shrubs grow up around its base, so that one can get no distance from the tree to photograph its magnificent proportion. Therefore no picture would really do the tree justice, so with the passing of clouds in the sky – and as far as linear time goes, this tree was already some 245 years old when Captain Cook discovered Australia in 1770, and has been witness to innumerable passing clouds – my shadow cast on the trunk seemed an apt way to document our fleeting engagement.
A week or two ago a friend and I were walking along a semi-remote part of the local coastline when we happened across this juvenile Seal. The Seal bore two circular gashes on the back. The wounds looked as if they had occurred recently; most likely as a result of an encounter with a Shark, or possibly having tangled with a mature male Seal. (Lately we have had many Seals visiting our waters, which may in turn explain the increase in Sharks also)
The Seal was resting up amongst the boulders in the warmth, the Sun drying out the wounds.
Each winter tens of thousands of Whales migrate up the coast to warmer waters north in Queensland, passing through these waters on the way. This small Humpback didn’t complete the journey.
The Whale bore the gashes of Shark attack. Whether the whale died as a result of predation, or was food for shark post death, is unknown.
The Whale was beached at the water’s edge, larger waves were washing over the creature, the oil and scent drifting out with the current. Suddenly, with no warning of telltale fin slicing the surface, a large Tiger Shark (approx 8-10 feet long) attempted to swim over the shallow sandbar to get to the carcass. The Shark beached itself momentarily, thrashing furiously to release itself, before disappearing without a sight into the deeper water. A Fur Seal arrived a short time later.
Yesterday a friend from down the coast shared with me a cave from their ‘backyard.’
The limestone cave was multi-chambered, and one could crawl through small passages into dark spaces.
Stalactites and bats hung from various parts of the roof.
Sitting quietly and allowing the cave to permeate, past initiations and ‘shamanic’ use drifted into being.
Darkness, reduced oxygen, sitting in the bowels of the mountain for long periods in a fasted state, the cave indeed was a sacred being, sharing visions and connections.
We paid our respects, also to the bats and the people who have come before us, and made our way back out towards daylight.
One of the work hats I wear is as masseur, massaging holidaymakers at a local guest house. During the Christmas/New Year break it is busy and the body takes a beating. Especially so, when you consider that there seems to be an increasing number of heavyset people, perhaps a sign of the times. Using the legs rather than bending the back is important, but even with sound technique, deep tissue massage is demanding.
So what does a masseur do to work out the kinks and strains in their own back?
A rock massage!
I find beach pebbles and larger rocks ideal. I strip down to the waist and to increase blood circulating into the area, gently roll from side to side, then top to bottom by sliding up and down. I continue to do this in sections, first the lower back, then middle and finally upper section. The beauty of rocks is they have angular edges and some stand up higher than others, and so one can utilise these to get deep into the knotty areas of the back. By simply adjusting ones position one can accurately work into a particular muscle by increasing pressure and moving more vigorously as needed. It works exceptionally well.
I work with beach rocks in other ways too.
Rolling on cold or cold, wet beach rocks has an invigorating effect on the body, similar to cold water immersion, whereas sun heated rocks are great for focussing increased heat into an area for muscular relaxation. Paradoxically both hot or cold can achieve similar results depending on how they are used, thanks to the body’s homeostatic mechanisms.
On other occasions I will also go free-form, rolling along the beach pebbles so the front of body also receives the pressure and friction of the rocks. This is good for various glands in the body as well as beneficial for metabolic processes, the nervous system and overall circulation.
This morning I awoke with a headache.
I ambled off for the Headland, and in particular Lighthouse Cove, where most mornings I can be found moving – or sitting – amongst rock, cave or ocean.
The movements I make – or not – depend mostly on circumstance: tide, wind, temperature, energy levels, or as was the case today, pain.
Over the years I have developed a way to make many pains go away.
Heres what I do:
I prefer to be barefoot, to feel the rock, or sand, or water directly, to maximise the connection to the surrounds.
I ensure my breathing is deep and thus circular though no more attention is given to this other than as a starter.
Then, I shift awareness to the area of the pain, not necessarily focussing precisely in on it exactly, but the general vicinity.
That’s pretty much the end of the directed aspect, from then on thinking falls into the background.
I begin to move. The particular area of the pain directs the movement.
It can be very trance-like, so the movements I make can be difficult to recall exactly afterwards, but in this case I believe head rolling, face distorting, twitching, blinking and snorting occurred.
Sometimes parts of the landform are incorporated.
There is no set time duration, the process lasts as long as it lasts.
The results are excellent.
I guess the general idea behind the method is that the pain is moved along by energy ‘tied up’ in the area of the body.
I believe that qigong practitioners do something similar although, I understand they tend to focus on particular acu-points in the body and have a more ordered manner in comparison to my loose free-form approach.
This morning I had just finished when a fisherman appeared close by. He must have observed at least some of my haphazard gyrations and twitchings as he approached.
He passed-by very quickly, not looking up, head set down looking at his feet.
With a smile I walked out from the cove the way he had come in.
The headache was gone.
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