Use a neti pot task from Somatic Experience Workshops (2013)
A neti pot is a small, tea pot like device used to irrigate sinuses. Warm, salty water is put inside the neti pot which is then poured through one nostril, irrigates the sinuses and comes out the other nostril. Its purpose is to flush our mucus and debris and kill bacteria in the sinuses that may cause infection. The neti pot originates from Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medicine of India. Use your neti pot. Notice how the water moves up through your sinuses and out again. You might be able to feel the water in your head and ears. It may come out of your mouth. Adjust your head until you can find the right angle for the water to come out of your other nostril. Think about the fluid that has just passed through your body. Notice if you have expelled any mucus. Monitor how your sinuses fee l after using it. Try doing this with someone else if you like.
Receiving my own neti pot was incredibly exciting. I regularly have sinus issues and a blocked nose so I was hoping this would revolutionise my whole life. I boiled some water, added the salt, mixed it in and waited expectantly for the neti pot to cool enough for use. I carefully read the instructions and when the water was no longer scolding hot I took it to the bathroom to test out. It took a while to get the angles right but then I felt the water go in. Immediately I was taken back to childhood, I grew up on the coast and it felt something like being dunked under at the beach. It was a similar sensation you would get when dumped or churned out by a wave. So that was unpleasant but I pushed on and waited for the water to come out the other side. It didn’t. I tried the other nostril. Less successful than the first. I tried the first nostril again. Didn’t go any better. At one stage I felt the water dripping down my throat, which from reading the instructions I knew was not supposed to happen and I had a moments terror that I would drown while using a neti pot. I called it quits after a few more attempts in both nostrils. It was a bit disappointing but I will try again. I suspect the water didn’t get through as my nose may have been too blocked. Earlier that day I’d flown back from Sydney so I was very sniffily from travel.
The image is of the neti pot cooling down on my dresser before use.
At first, I felt like I was drowning. I cannot swim and have mostly uncomfortable memories of the beach. I felt quite alarmed at the sensation, which was a compound of being unable to breathe and choking on saltwater. I thought I was adhering to the correct technique but some of the water came out of my mouth, which was a kind of unexpected and unpleasant. The feeling subsequent to this was a revelation! I felt much greater clarity in my breathing and an odd awareness of the sinus passages in my forehead and ears. After initially being weirded out by the concept, my mum observed and wanted to try it too. There was a lot of laughter.
The first time I used a neti pot I made sure an experienced friend supervised me through the process. I felt like I was going to drown! And it was coming out in all the wrong places. I thought my sinuses were not normal. Then gradually over time I kept using it, and got the hang of tilting my head and relaxing, and breathing all while letting the warm salty water pass through my head. It was so satisfying to see murky contents leaving my body and horrifying to know that it had once occupied my delicate nasal passages. I have used it a lot over the years and it has changed my relationship with my sinuses. No more hay fever and no more sinus infections.
One time at a house party, a friend of mine was getting people to line up in the bathroom and try the neti pot. People would use it and yell, “I’m cured! I’m cured!”
Somatic Experience Workshops (2013) promoted discussion about bodies by experimenting with each participant’s attentiveness to their individual bodily experience and the experiences of others. The workshops ran for a six week period with weekly group meetings. Participants received a take home task to complete in their own time. Each participant was given the opportunity to share and reflect on their experience of the task during the meetings. Tasks included using a netipot, focused attentiveness, bodily enjoyment and observing bodily experiences of others. Participants were asked to document or respond to their experience in the form of a still image and/or written response. These responses can be read here.
The workshops were held during Leena’s residency at LEVEL ARI’s Residency Program, at Metro Arts from July-September 2013. The outcomes of the workshops were exhibited at the end of the residency at the exhibition More Human in October 2013.
Thank you to all of the participants who completed the workshops, LEVEL ARI and Metro Arts.