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The girl with macaw eyes and tiger stripes

You swim like lions through the crest ... and bathe yourself in zebra flesh

Heyoka squeals softly now to let me know when she doesn't like something, like when I'm inside her cage in the dark and I've got my hand extended over and behind her head. I'm only petting her, but it's not a gesture she trusts. Convincing her to be this intimate with me took some time. I stroke her tail feathers, feet, and wings. She touches me gently. No more pinching. That's a good bird. I wrap both of my arms around her and she wriggles out of my grasp voicing her concern with more intensity. 

"Some day. Some day," she whispers, "I'll do everything you ask. I'll even step on your wrist, but not tonight."

 I scratch her ears and smooth the tiny feathers around her eyes in response.

A day or two ago I put my hand into the African Grey's cage. Wuji was startled. 

Suddenly, I found the skin of my arm in his mouth. He squeezed me pretty hard because he was falling and trying to catch his balance. That got him thinking, 

"Do you deserve a little something for making me lose my cool?"

He considered the prospects and volunteered to play the heavy. As his resolve hardened, the pressure increased. He was committing himself to the action. 

I could, of course, move my arm the opposite direction to escape; if he held on it would make him fall. He would get hurt instead of me. I didn't want that. 

His strategy shifted around my response. 

"Or is your arm in my mouth because you helped me find my balance?" The vice loosened.

Well, in that light we both could see that I was still standing there steady as a rock. I noticed my state of mind. I was a little bewildered at the process, calm, and totally at ease. 

At that point we simultaneously looked into each others' eyes and asked one another, "Why am/are I/you biting her/me?" 

Exerting no pressure now, he held me there a little longer to let me know we both agreed on the future in which I was helping him. THAT is the practice! Spirit to spirit.