Extending and Receiving

artwork by Anthony Cianciolo; text by sistertongue ©2010

These are the hands of flesh and bone.  Reaching out into the unknown of individual lives, hopes and dreams, sorrows and regrets.  These palms hold the fragments  of our personal narrative, the hieroglyphs of individual histories that live and play out their relationships with self and others in the particular tribe they chose to embrace in a particular time and space on a small planet in a large universe.

In them we see the lifelines of an individual etched in palms extending out into darkness.  Yearning and wanting arise in the hands.  They pull in, they push out, just as the tidal flow in our lungs washes inward and recedes outward.  Receiving occurs on the inward breath, giving occurs on the outward breath.  In order to move well within the dance of the rhythmic ebb and flow of life, we must be able to to allow our intimate connections to others, to nature and to our rightful place in the universe to find their way into our gaze, our extended arms and our hearts.  We must give away the fear of what may come into our hands and build a trust that, whatever it may be, we have the means, integrity and courage to embrace it with a discerning and balanced mind.

In chinese philosophy, the nodal point that controls the ability of the arms and hands to move and reach out into the world and function fully is found in the 5th thoracic vertebra.  This is located between the shoulder blades in the spine and, as many a person and bodyworker alike can attest, this is a place that is often “stuck” and in need of adjustment and freeing so that the spiritual and physical action of reaching, embracing, receiving and giving can freely move.  It is also known in yoga as “the backdoor to the heart” and, when it is immobile, so also are our human feelings, compassion and connections with others.  As a society that requires self-containment, isolation from others (mis-named as “independence”)  and an over-reliance on base, logical brain functions in order to fulfill the needs of a for-profit culture, this area of the human body is often afflicted with blockage.  In so blocking the flow of this chakra/marma/energetic point, we unfortunately stop the flow of energy that needs to move from the lower chakras through the heart, into the throat and upwards into the crown in order to attain higher mind.  Until western cultures begin to focus on releasing the constrictions in this area in our chests, we will remain destined to function closer to our animalistic nature than to our higher spiritual one.  Our energetic will remain focussed on and expressed from our lower chakric, primal selves.  Though these areas do contain organs, these organs do not possess intelligence and were never intended to be the executives of human actions.

In the image presented, we find the concretization of being formed by the structure of bone, individualized in flesh. In the flesh, we find the creases and sinews of life written in the hands. The pages and chapters and circuitous journeys read like hieroglyphs in an open palm. These lines and symbols evolve over time as we accumulate our experiences and let go of and take in changes and gains and losses.  They are our personal akashic record of the time  we have to live and it would behoove us to hold them, cupped to our ears like a seashell and listen to the whispers and stories they have to tell of ourselves.  As much of a person’s being can be found in the curvatures of their hand as can be read in lines of their face.

We also find fingerprints, which define each person and personality from the other, one and each unique amongst the whole.  We find here the signature of individuality – a single star amidst the constellations of the heavens.  That imprint shall remain constant and unchanging throughout the life of the singular person, even into our dying.   It begs the wondering of whether the hints of those prints might be contained even within the coded DNA of the bones that support them.  How many places in a day or a month or over many years have we left these traces of our individual being?  How many doorknobs or stones or leaves or children’s faces still carry the energetic aureoles of our passing fingertips?  If we could invent a halograph to record the traces of our fingerprints through a lifetime, how far and wide would would those seeking us have to travel to follow our trail?  What music would the rhythms and notes of our journey of touch sound like to an unfamiliar ear?  Here, in these hands extending themselves outward, we find bones and flesh and stars expanding continuously into an unknown void.

In these hands, we also find the metaphor for divine balance. The yang is the structure, the bones. The yin is the outward flesh. Neither one can come to fruition without the other. The yang/material/bone world gives the structure for the yin/creative/spiritual realm to materialize on the physical plane.  Without the clasping of these two forces in equal measure, there would be nothing of our world, just the cosmic void.  Our being, our very planet, is derived solely and entirely from the marriage of the sacred feminine descending from the cosmos and given her throne to sit upon by the strong hands of the masculine that constructed it.

Though the marriage of the feminine and masculine is articulated most often in eastern philosophy, we find it also discussed in western spirituality in the symbolism of the cross, which we find in this piece of artwork. The vertical axis of the cross always signifies the descent of the divine from heaven to earth.  The horizontal line represents the manifestation of that divine onto the physical plane.  At the center point of the cross we find the circle that symbolizes the perfect union of these energetic forces. This place is where humanity as a whole stands – as the embodiment of the balanced masculine/feminine principle. It is also the place where each individual among humanity is meant to stand.  We are the physical representation of the midpoint between heaven and earth, channeling those divine forces through the fluid spine and out into the world through the arms and hands.

Our hands were given to us to hold and ensure the protection of that divine energetic on the planet.  We are entrusted with its care in the same way that Queens and Kings are given sovereignty over the land and all its inhabitants, to ensure their health and well-being and those of their progeny for generations.

It would behoove us all to realize the bones and the flesh and the enlivened spirit that dwells within them.  It would behoove us all to extend our hands in gentle manner and find each other, perhaps for the very first time.

The One gives birth to the Two
And the Two give birth to the ten thousand things
Tao Te Ching
©2010 Amelia A. Free

  1. #1 by Aglo on July 31, 2010 - 9:15 PM

    Love love,this article,extending and recieving,and the connection made with the fith thoracic vertebrae in ones spine,”the back door to the heart”.
    this could also manifest in heart rithmyas.Our desire for safety for “self protection” closing the heart for fear of getting hurt or being found out that we feel vulnerable.ostioarthities of the spine is reaching epidemic proportions.The undesputed connection between the emotional body and the health of the body mind connection.
    Thank you sistertongue!!

    • #2 by sistertongue on August 1, 2010 - 12:22 PM

      Thank you Aglo.
      As both the Western and middle eastern brains fall ever more into fragmentation and increasingly limited forms of primitive communications (violence and aggression), I find a need to revive the wholistic understanding of intelligence found in the tao, transmitted to me as great gifts from generous and knowledgeable teachers. Mind comes from the integration of the kinesthetic (body), the crystalline (brain) and the spirit (contained in the heart – shen). As people, we have deep wounds in each of these centers that need to be healed in order to fulfill our true potential.
      I am glad you find this work (and my community of artist friends who contribute to this site) useful. Everything I write comes from the source of wisdom of ancestors who have come before me. It is my hope that the particular way I put it all together from my own subjective perspective honors, preserves and extends their original intentions.

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