Touch is one of the core foundations of my work. Through gentle touch, talk, movement and imagery I assist my clients in entering into an intimate relationships with their bodies. The forming of this relationship involves tuning in and listening to the body’s sensations and feelings with curiosity, kindness and respect. Touch is essential for fostering this relationship.
Why touch? Touch heightens our awareness of sensation and feeling. With awareness we can describe our sensory experience. This process gives us a picture, or more accurately a map, of our body’s landscape. The map informs us about the conditions of our ground, the depressions and peaks, the places of flow and where we have been dammed. It provides the route for finding our way home to our true selves.
Through touch we can sense and understand how the environment has impacted us. If our environment has been unsafe, or stressful our bodies may likely be constricted, hard or numb. Like an icy cold wind freezing a pond we can identify the cause of the freeze instead of blaming ourselves. With touch we can melt the frozen places.
The exploration of our physical terrain through touch provides a gateway to our innermost landscape of emotions, beliefs and connection to the soul. It helps us to recognize, access and shore up internal resources. Listening to our bodies can help us identify and heal wounds caused by the harsher elements in our environment. Like a soothing balm compassionate touch can comfort these injuries and aid in the restoration of our wholeness.
In the listening process our bodies tell the stories of our lives. I call these stories, “Bodyographies”. These stories help us to make sense of who we are. By writing bodyographies I hope to convey the profound truth that lives in our bodies, how we can access this truth and how we can heal by knowing it.
Bodyography: A New Kind of Hip
From my second story window I watched my new client limp as she approached my door. After welcoming her we sat and discussed why she had come to see me. She talked about the pain in her hip. After further discussion I invited her to lay down on my padded table. I gave her time to settle and sense her body making contact with it.
My first touch was at her feet. I gently invited a side-to-side motion to see how much movement there was in her hips. There was little movement. I sensed how tightly held her hips were. I moved towards the painful one. I slid one hand under her buttock, supported her hip and placed my other hand on top gently sandwiching it.
I was amazed how my contact evoked such an immediate response. I noticed that the color in her face had changed and sensed emotion rising to the surface. She said she was wanted to disconnect from me and avoid the feeling she was having. By articulating her experience she was able to stay connected. “It feels like love.” She began sobbing and continued saying, “I haven’t felt this before.” Her grief was palpable.
When her tears subsided she talked about her mother. Although she didn’t say it, I sensed the lack of love she felt was connected to her. She shared that her mother cannot walk. Then added, “I’m afraid I’m like my mother.”
This phrase echoed inside of me. In her tone I heard that not only had she feared losing her ability to walk, but that she also feared being like her mother in other ways. Ways she did not like.
I realized she needed to differentiate from her mother. With my hands still on her hip, I directed her to say, “I’m not my mother”. I had her repeat this three times as I slid my hands down her leg and out through her foot. Her hip easily opened to the point that her calf freely hung over the edge of the table. Relieved she said, “I’ve been living with this fear for 60 years.”
She marveled as she came to standing and said, “I feel like I have a new hip. I FEEL NEW.”
Walking around the table she reflected upon what she had experienced. Her hip brought her to a new undertanding about her relationship with her mother. With clarity she said, "I feel a connection with my mother when I am sad, but I can't be happy and feel loved."
Our primary relationships shape how we relate to ourselves and others. Through touch the dynamics of my client's relationship with her mother became clear. Through touch the pairing of love and connection had begun. Through touch my client became aware of the cost she has to pay to for this relationship. Through touch my client awakened to the possibility of being happy.
What place in your body needs love, attention and care? Gently place your hand there. Describe what you sense and feel. Imagine that this place could speak. What would it say to you? With intention visualize sending this place love. Notice what changes.