Withdrawing of the Senses
by Terri Damiani
“The ability to withdraw our senses and so control the noisy mind may sound like a kill-joy, but in reality it restores the pristine flavours, textures, and discoveries that we associate with the innocence and freshness of childhood.”
I decided to take away the sense of sight from my students as a learning tool. Continually we are inundated by visual stimulation to the determent of our other senses.
First an open mind is required to be bandaged for 1.5 hours. Trust is also a requirement, in me the teacher, but also of the inner teacher. It was a learning experience for all parties involved.
Without sight the tendencies are more obvious, we often use our eyes to correct our alignment, not allowing the development of inner awareness. In various ways the students experienced how their perception can be completely distorted from reality. One student was positive their feet were parallel in prasarita padottanasana and didn’t believe my correction; it took peeking at the mat for them to be convinced. Another was struck by how much more they could perceive the imbalance in the sagittal plane of the body. Consensus was they felt more connected to their body and time passed rapidly!
As the teacher I could certainly tell if my cues were landing! No demonstrations made for better instructions. I also observed that there was no competition or judgment–looking how far others could bend or how high the neighbour’s straight leg was–the practice appeared more authentic without the distraction of neighbours.
In my personal experience of this practice I was surprised how my relationship to space changed. Without the eyes to see them, the limits of the walls do not exist.
An enjoyable experiment, now back to the laboratory.