Healing Is a Collaboration

 

I recently read the most marvelous quote: “When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘We,’ even ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness.’” (It’s been attributed to different speakers, most often Malcolm X.)

It made me think of my own profession immediately. People sometimes ask if I think of myself as a “healer.” I don’t. 

I believe that our bodies know how to heal themselves. But sometimes they need a little help because we have more stressors in our modern world than our bodies can handle. And also because we’ve lost touch a little bit with our intuitiveness and somatic sense.

So professionals like me can help. I’m not a healer, but a facilitator. I hope to be part of the “we” in “wellness”!

As I like to tell people: “Your body is trying to tell you something; I’ll help you listen.”

In his book, “In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness,” Dr. Peter A. Levine describes how our typical western medical model of seeing a doctor for “treatment” just doesn’t work in the case of healing from trauma. 

Of course, there are times when it makes sense for a doctor to stand as the authority figure, holding all the knowledge and “treating” the patient.

But in the case of stress, (trauma, PTSD), this power differential and sterile separation between doctor and patient tend to disempower and marginalize the sufferer, adding to their sense of despair. “Missing,” Levine writes, “will be the crucial collaboration in containing, processing and integrating the patient’s horrible sensations, images, and emotions. The sufferer will remain starkly alone, holding the very horrors that have overwhelmed him and broken down his capacity to self-regulate and grow.”

I like to think that massage therapy and reflexology both involve a lot of collaboration. There’s definitely trust. And there’s definitely communication that happens, both spoken and unspoken. People ask me, “How did you know that that was a problem area for me?” “Your body tells me,” I answer. I can feel tension and “knots” and heat in tissues, and “congestion” in the hands and feet that indicate an area is stressed.

I’m not suggesting that I can help people resolve horrible sensations, images, and emotions. That is way out of my scope of practice. But, the healing power of touch is a fantastic way to get back in touch with our bodies, replace tissue memories of hurtful events with supportive touch, and begin to heal mind, body, and spirit. It can help us self-regulate, as we calm stressed-out systems and restore balance (homeostasis).

Levine writes, “Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. It is possible to learn from mythology, from clinical observations, from neuroscience, from embracing the ‘living’ experiential body, and from the behavior of animals; and then, rather than brace against our instincts, embrace them.”

Hm, healing involving neuroscience AND instincts—sounds amazing! Bodyworkers like me endeavor to effect change in the “living, experiential body,” and hold space for clients dealing with challenges, without judgment. I learned in meditation to be unconditionally present with whatever comes up, and I try to bring this to each therapeutic session.

If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources for you:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/2231/in-an-unspoken-voice-the-changing-face-of-trauma-peter-levine/

https://theconnection.tv/the-proven-healing-power-of-touch/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug02/massage

https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/amrit-blog/vibrant-health/wired-touch-connecting-others/

http://pediatrics.med.miami.edu/touch-research

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth Posted on March 6, 2019

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