Man. We get a ton of questions about the arm positions and am I doing them right and what about this and hey, inconsistencies!
I’m publishing this one because it’s from Claire and also because it’s the nicest. The nicest and at the top of my pile.
And I’ll try to answer some of the others in the But but but! section at the end. :)
Havi, I have a basic, easy question! On the DVD, when he’s doing vertical position two, it looks like Andrey’s wrists are bent. But he explained earlier that the arm should be straight from elbow to fingertips.
Hmmm, do I do what he says or what he does? Or does it not matter? I’m too new to figure that out yet.
So many ways to answer this!
There is the short answer. And the longer answer.
And a bunch of complicated things in between.
Let me see.
The short answer.
It really doesn’t matter.
Nope. Doesn’t matter.
The slightly longer answer.
The important thing here is making connections in space.
What we care about is every possible way for these four points to be connected with each other. Then these eight points. Then these sixteen points.
It’s math with your body.
We’re training the brain to make all possible connections between all points. We’re internalizing systems of connections and possibilities.
So whether you bend the wrist or not? What exact angle the arm is? Not important.
What’s not important.
Whether or not you can keep the wrist straight.
That’s a question of anatomy (hmm, does your body do that?).
And, occasionally, also a question of practice (mine didn’t when I started, now it does).
Apply the people vary rule, as needed.
What’s VERY important:
Challenging your patterns.
Including the pattern of wanting to get things right.
Including the pattern of needing external confirmation.
Including the pattern of needing everything to be a certain way.
(I’m not even slightly trying to point fingers or to imply that these are *Claire’s* patterns. These are patterns that tend to come up for many people — maybe relevant, maybe not.)
We are always trying to shake up our patterns.
When I have students who like to get things exactly right, I challenge them to challenge themselves and make the practice intentionally loose and even sloppy.
When I have students who aren’t detail-oriented and just want to flail, I challenge them to challenge themselves and pay more attention to where their hands are (fingers together! palms flat!).
The longer and slightly more passionate answer.
We get so many questions from so many people who want to know why I don’t do Shiva Nata exactly the way the worksheet shows the positions.
Why I don’t do Shiva Nata exactly the way Andrey does it.
Why Andrey doesn’t do it exactly the way he explains it.
My darlings. None of this is important.
Shiva Nata is not like Tai Chi or Karate. It’s not like dance. It’s not like gymnastics.
It’s not about exactness. It is about challenging your patterns.
I get why apparent inconsistencies could be confusing or frustrating.
And, if part of your pattern involves a need to get things exactly right, this may be exactly why you have come to Shiva Nata. So you can stop doing that and learn what it feels like to be another way.
Ow. It hurts. I know. Because you’re expanding your consciousness.
Yes, the points and positions do have symbolic meaning.
Which is really interesting. But in practice, not all that important.
What is important?
CHALLENGING OUR PATTERNS.
(But but but #1)
“But Andrey does Vertical 2 in towards the center of the chest and you do it so the fingertips come to the upper abdomen instead!”
Yes, and that’s because:
a) Andrey is a man. He doesn’t have to worry about smacking himself in the boobs. If he were a woman and even slightly busty, he would also be doing it the way I do it.
b) It still doesn’t matter because we’re making connections in space and challenging our patterns. Challenge the pattern that need everything to line up just so, and use this practice to untangle that.
(But but but #2)
“But you show Vertical 2 with palms parallel to the body whereas Andrey shows them quite clearly vertical degree 90 towards the body!”
Actually, I don’t show them that way. It’s just extremely difficult to portray in a drawing. Which is why the Starter Kit comes with a DVD.
However, the more important point is this:
Most of my students are not physically capable of doing V2 with arms straight, and elbow coming out in front of the body.
If they try to do V2 in that way, they end up moving their shoulders forward and twisting. This makes it much more likely that they are going to hurt themselves.
And since one of my favorite things about Shiva Nata is that it’s practically impossible to hurt yourself doing it, I’m perfectly content to let people do V2 with bent wrists or without full elbow position.
And the really important point is this:
It doesn’t matter.
Because what we’re trying to do is challenge our patterns and make connections in space. That’s what’s important.
Luckily, if inconsistencies tend to really bother you, this practice will help. It will shine some light on what patterns are at play, and give you spaciousness there.
(But but but #3)
“But you write that for V3 the palms should be parallel to the next wall. Quite apart from the fact that its physiologically impossible, Andrey shows his palms consistently parallel to the sky i.e. looking upwards. How does this descrepancy come about?”
Actually, it is not physiologically impossible. I’m doing it right now.
It does require greater flexibility than many of my students have, which is why I would never require it. But it’s absolutely possible. It’s what I often do in my own practice.
When teaching, I do what Andrey does: palms facing up.
The reason for this is that V1 and V3 look very similar to each other, and when practicing at any reasonable speed, most students can’t easily differentiate between V1 and V3.
So I always recommend that for teaching it’s better to make V3 look markedly different from V1.
However … yes, again … it really does not matter. Because (all together now), the most important thing is how we use the mathematical genius of the practice to take apart our patterns and build different ones. Yay.
Bottom line? Really, truly. This is it.
It’s all patterns.
Some people love the horizontals and hate the verticals. Pattern.
Some people love the verticals and can’t figure out the horizontals. Pattern.
Some people can’t even see that there is a pattern. Pattern.
Some people are so involved in how the pattern works that they don’t let themselves have fun with it. Pattern.
The question is, what do we do with this information?
Wherever we are, Shiva Nata can help us deconstruct these patterns and build better ones.
Perfectionism is a pattern. Needing to be right is a pattern. Not being able to proceed until someone sorts things out for once and for all and decides who is right is a pattern.
Similarly, not paying attention to detail is a pattern. Not caring at all is a pattern. Not investigating is a pattern.
None of these patterns are “bad” in and of themselves.
Patterns aren’t good or bad. Patterns contain information. And then it’s up to us — with the help of the practice — to figure out how we’re going to use this information.
And to discover what comes next.
Hope that helps.
Lots of love.