I am happy to present a lovely perspective on the Extraordinary Vessels, written by one of the first Wellmother teachers, Sally Ibbotson.
Sally works with the Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong as well as with Shiatsu and massage.
Working with the Extraordinary Vessels is a core part of my work and I am always happy to know that my students carry on working with them and developing their own understanding of their power at all the different stages of our lives.
Sally has always impressed me with her dedication to her work and she and another Wellmother graduate, Tricia Teahan, who are both Qi Gong teachers, present a lovely residential workshop Qi Gong retreat in, Dorset, each year in March/April. Contact Sally for more information. Sadly I am teaching that weekend myself, or I would be there.Qi Gong is a lovely mindful movement practice and the retreat is open to anyone. They include work with Qi Gong and the Extraordinary Vessels.
The Extraordinary Vessels and Continuum
Sally: “In 2004 I was privileged to be one of the first people to qualify from Suzanne Yates’ Well Mother Teacher Diploma course.
It was the first Post Graduate study I undertook after having qualified as a Shiatsu Therapist and it served me well for many years of pregnancy Practice and teaching.
I no longer do much pregnancy shiatsu or massage, my Practice having organically moved with me in age! For example, when I was menopausal I treated many menopausal women. Now I am in the third part of my life and approaching retirement, I am honoured, as part of my working life, to offer Shiatsu in a South London Hospice.
One passion has followed me; the Extraordinary Vessels (EVs). Like the broad rivers of Qi that they are said to be, they have flowed sometimes assertively through the landscape of my Practice and have sometimes run underground, not so visible yet always there.
Like a Meditation: Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong, and Shiatsu
When I am working with the Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong or with shiatsu, I always feel as if I am in deep meditation – a sense that I don’t get so acutely with the 12 meridians. It seems that as soon as I have the intention to utilise the EV pathways for the benefit of a client, the space around us changes. Even before I use my hands, the atmosphere shifts. There is more stillness, sacredness and simplicity.
When I start to work the EVs, it feels as if I am touching the Earth deeply – that I and my client are parts of the Earth, inseparable and connected. As in meditation, I am very aware of small changes, I have the consciousness of a Human, but I am using something close to the instinctive intelligence of animals as well.
The difference and space between myself and my client becomes less. We are not necessarily physically closer – the only way that I can describe this is that there is less ‘Me and You’ and more sameness.
Spiritual Deepening.- treating myself: integrating Extraordinary Vessels with Qi Gong
As a Qigong practitioner, I have always felt that I am activating the Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong at certain points in my daily practice. There are some ‘moves’ that directly open those routes through my body and I have the same profound feeling as when I treat the EVs on others. I have expanded this intuition to personalise my Qigong practice and often visualise or ‘track’ the Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong with intention related to their qualities.
Last November, I spent 4 challenging and wonderful weeks in the Findhorn Foundation (Scotland) https://www.findhorn.org/participating in a Spiritual Deepening (SD) Programme.
I had not been working very much with EVs – I had changed jobs and started a practice in an ‘end of life’ setting and was getting to grips with the 12 meridian work with this new cohort of clients.
The SD programme required much exploration of our ‘shadow’ sides. Looking at past and present unhelpful patterns, letting them be, letting them go, letting in light to take their place – all good stuff, but not always easy.
As part of the programme we were given much support and also self-care techniques comprising self-treatments from a discipline known as TARA Jin Shin. Although not entirely following the EV pathways as we know them, the hands-on protocols we learnt, followed similar routes. The space, simplicity and, most importantly, deep healing power of these self-treatments was certainly resonant with my experience of the EVs.
I treated myself daily to good effect – I found that I was able to go deeply into past trauma without being overwhelmed and to start to release patterns that no longer served me more easily than I had previously been able.
On return to home and practice, I wanted to continue with self-treatment and I also wanted to re-connect with the EV. I started to treat myself. Sometimes I diagnose through bodily sensations and symptoms, more often I treat myself based on what is going on in my life. For example, this week I have been self-treating Yang Wei – partly because I have shoulder symptoms and partly because I recognise that I am stuck in a familiar pattern of avoiding conflict by blaming another and hence not able to move forwards in a situation.
I am finding my self-treatments informative and centring, a wonderful expression of self-love and of the acceptance that I am many things – I am myself in this ‘Earthsuit’ and also a sum of the memories in my Tissues – of Ancestors, of larger Planetary events and of Universal events.
End of Life
My work as Shiatsu practitioner in a Hospice setting includes treating patients and also their Carers.
I would always exercise caution in working with the EVs, they are often ‘take’ people into a different and deeper emotional space where they may not feel the need to go at the present time. This is particularly true of Carers who are required to be organised and ‘on-duty’ almost constantly. Here, work on the 12 meridians is more often indicated – often for fatigue.
For Patients however, perhaps because the facing of the end of life is already presenting larger issues and reflection, EV work is proving an effective way of complementing this stage of life.
In a practical sense the broad and non-specific (relatively) pathways of the EVs can be profoundly touching when Chemotherapy or Cancer demands an almost ‘off the body’ approach. They are easily ‘tapped into’ along their routes even when avoiding intravenous devises etc.
Most importantly, they provide a deep rest, an acceptance of the moment and Peace.
The Extraordinary Vessels and Qi Gong and Shiatsu are an important part of my life and work.