Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Freeing the Body in Water: Watsu 2 Course

Two week after Watsu® 1, we continued with our training in this special aquatic bodywork in the Watsu® 2 course held last December 10 to 15, 2007 at Quality Life Discoveries. The Watsu® 1 focused on the Basic Transition Flow and with the 2 weeks given before Watsu® 2, there was enough time to master the technicalities demanded of Watsu® 1. Watsu® 2 focused on the Expanded Flow, introducing more complex movements and maneuvers interspersed between the sequences of the Transition Flow. It is highly suggested that any student interested in taking Watsu® 2 remember by heart the sequences and has practiced with different types of body types as well. All 6 students who took the first course were once again together with Karen and Tom Neff, certified instructors for the second course.

In addition to the concepts learned in the first course (which included topics such as resonance/coherence, undisturbed states, etc.), we were able to discuss more about special considerations and adaptations of certain movements required in both Transition and Expanded flow, and the extensive experience and knowledge of Karen and Tom definitely provided a fulfilling learning opportunity. Since we were able to learn the sequences of Watsu® 2 quite well, we were given a special demonstration of Waterdance®, another aquatic bodywork very similar to Watsu with the difference of being submerged.

The Watsu® 2 course included a special session with children, both well and with disabilities. I had the opportunity of working with a child with cerebral palsy. My other classmates worked with kids with conditions such as autism and ADHD. One could just imagine a pool filled with kids, and it was a fun yet memorable experience. I realized the immense potential of Watsu® for kids with cerebral palsy, because of the possibilities for a variety of positions and maneuvers that could help in relaxation and stretching. There was an observed calming effect for the children with autism even if it was their first time in the pool. It was of course too soon to conclude with just this session but just imagine how a regular program with Watsu® could bring about additional benefits to the quality of life of these children. Therapists in other countries have integrated Watsu® in their aquatic programs, and even parents have advocated its use as an adjunct to existing therapies.

During this course, we were given our own special Watsu® sessions by our instructors. Karen gave me Watsu® and it was indeed a special one. I wasn't able to sleep as the other participants, but besides being fully relaxed by the warm and flowing water, I was able to focus on some of my thoughts with clarity I have never felt before. It was as if the silence of the water, while being held by another person's arms brought me home with a renewed confidence in myself. The session with me proved that size is not a major issue.

Evaluation required being observed by our instructors while giving Watsu® to someone who hasn't receive Watsu® before. Anyone can definitely feel the tension in the air when we were being evaluated, and it had been a long time since I was given an exam and a practical exam at that! And for a Watsu® session to be successful, the giver should be relaxed, otherwise the tension would be felt by the receiver, thus it would be counterproductive to the session. I invited my dad to be my receiver for that session. At first, I was hesitant to have him as my receiver for personal reasons, but eventually I mustered enough will to give him Watsu®. It was after all a gift to be given one and I wanted my dad to personally experience this. The session with my dad was very special, for I wasn't able to follow the sequence. I had to adapt to what the body of my dad was telling me, for at first he was very tight and tense. Soon, my dad felt lighter in my arms and he was not relaxed in the water. It's a subtle but satisfying feeling of joy, when as a giver, you know that the receiver in your arms have already surrendered to the water. My dad said with arms spread apart after our session: "I felt like I was in outer space!" He patted me on my back. Somehow, I knew he wanted to hug me for such a wonderful experience, but the pat was enough. Besides I was hugging him like a child all throughout our session.

Before we parted ways, Karen and Tom showed us an audio-visual presentation – a visual memento. It was a very emotional experience as each one of us reviewed the time we spent together learning. We are now part of the worldwide Water Family.

In behalf of the participants, we also gave Karen and Tom a signed print of the special blue rendition of "Poetic Synergy". It was truly dedicated to them, since the artwork wouldn't have been created if it wasn't inspired by Watsu®.