LISTENING TO THE SILENCES

 

CHAPTER 8 PAGE 1

Enough, if something
from
our hands
have power to live,
and act,
and serve the future hour.
Wordsworth

 

Horatio : ...but this is wondrous strange.
Hamlet :
There are more things in heaven
and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy.

It was John who always quoted these words of Hamlet to me as his life and the lives of others began to mesh with mine. But not just yet: they were all in the future, and nothing that followed would have happened if I had not taken the road over the Scottish Border in that sunny late May in 1982, to determine whether there was in reality '...something in my hands which would have the power to live and act and serve the future'.

The auguries had been consulted and it was indeed deemed auspicious that I should begin my apprenticeship with Bruce Macmanaway at his centre at Strathmiglo, and there I arrived near midday one Sunday to a kind welcome. I was placed in a flat in the village that I shared for a short while with a young student, Nicky, who, it turned out, originated from a place not fifteen miles from my own South Welsh home. We did not share for very long for she departed, ostensibly to stay with a sick friend.

I spent the Sunday evening taking stock of my surroundings and musing upon what might happen, though I was not in any way certain exactly what I would be doing, for I wasn't to get my 'induction' until the following morning. In a sense, though, I had company, for since my visit to my Uncle Gwyn it had been put into my mind that I was to have transferred to me his two 'guides' - 'Great Heart and Xiang'. I cannot remember how I reacted to this intimation, and had not speculated much upon what, if anything, it might mean, nor what might follow. I was still very wary of any form of intrusion or overt spiritual association, as I am right up to this present day, for I have never been without them, good and bad, as I shall write in detail later. In addition to the alleged African, Ibn Ubar, who, I assumed was still active and party to the developments, I had my new duo, and thus equipped, but not thinking specifically about any of 'them', I slept well and rose early to meet the day.

It was such a beautiful sunny morning, as indeed it was all week, and I walked the short distance to 'Westbank' - a sturdy former farm house with its buildings converted to a variety of other uses, though there were still horses. At the entrance and vying with the sun was a rosebush in full bloom, a rose that I have grown myself ever since. It is the first of any to show in spring, and although its flowers are single and just a couple of inches across, the whole bush presents such a joyous picture, truly living up to its name of Canary Bird.

How very much I regret that I can do no more than give you the merest inkling of the impact that this week, and particularly this first day, were to have on my life and development thereafter. At one level, there is a whole crowd of superlatives jostling to be used: at another, and so very potent, are the images that so easily return to my mind's eye. In every one of these images there was the sunshine that was all pervasive, especially in the part of the treatment area in which I was to work closely with Bruce. The sunlight poured in through a large area of glass, which itself gave onto a beautiful and imaginative garden, the product of Patricia's mind and hands. It illuminated a long room divided by curtains into several consulting and treating areas, and shone onto Bruce and two young women, friends, who had arrived together, each needing help.

Both were professional violinists and, as with many of their calling, had upper back problems. Bruce used to declare that he could muster at least one full orchestra from among his clients! Permission for my being there having been sought and willingly given, I sat to one side, watched, and listened. A decision having been made as to which would go first, Bruce sat and chatted to her, pendulum in hand. I already knew what he would be seeking in his mind, but it soon became apparent that he could work simultaneously on two levels. A pendulum is used in these circumstances simply to indicate a definite "Yes" or "No", giving answers to the mental questions - "Can I help this person?" "Are there any problems in the spine?" And so on, following a sequence that had been established over years of practice, and through which an easy conversation could still proceed.

It was determined that this young woman's problems lay in the muscles controlling the shoulder blades, and these in turn were subjected to some subtle and skilful manipulation. She was next sat upon a high stool, I stood behind and responded to my instruction to "Put your hands there, Roy" - 'there' being parallel with her spine and between her shoulder blades. So simple, but such a seminal moment, especially as the response was almost immediate. "Phoooaaah!" was the ecstatic sound, followed by attempts to put the inner sensations produced into context, the nearest analogy being, I think, that they were the equivalent of being in a microwave oven. It was the response that I needed, for I had had no inkling of what to expect, as through my hands I felt nothing, no tingling, no excessive heat, nothing exceptional. And there I stayed, applying 'hot hands', as my mentors used to phrase it, while the second violinist received the equivalent from Bruce. I know that this was commonplace to the workers at Westbank, but to me that ecstatic sound had told me all that I needed to know, just as I knew that my life would never be quite the same again.

If I needed further demonstration and confirmation, it came with the next client of the morning, a Russian Orthodox priest who had arrived with his interpreter. A diminutive man, bent and hobbling with a stick, he looked very un-Russian, and more like an ancient Chinese intellectual. He was riddled with arthritis in knees, hips and shoulders, and kneeling for prayer or his beloved gardening was impossible. The conversation, travelling as it did via the woman interpreter, who also had an input, was fascinating, but all the while the pendulum was reacting. Following a series of manipulations, Bruce sat with his hands in place on hip and knee, while I was placed to stand so that I could have my hands at the back and front of a shoulder. The animated conversation continued, while I felt the crabbed little rounded shoulder between my hands. But what was this? My hands were slowly coming together, and between them it felt as if the intervening shoulder was melting. From time to time a hand came up and stroked the one of mine that was at the front, and again, occasionally, the head turned and bright bird-like eyes shone up at me from above a beatific smile, which itself emerged from a wispy oriental beard. I have no real idea how long we stayed thus, but magic moments always end too soon, and there he was, being escorted out by Bruce, while his interpreter sat holding herself with laughter. What amused her so was that the little priest no longer hobbled and had gone off without his stick, totally oblivious to the extent of his now upright stature, while it was being slowly explained to him that Bruce never took payment from the ministers of any religion.

 

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