Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2015

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F r e e S O A P n o t e s w i t h M a s s a g e B o o k f o r A B M P m e m b e r s : a b m p . u s / M a s s a g e b o o k 89 The inner wisdom can present in any way imaginable: as an identified character, part of the body, helpful entity, color, or sensation with no words. The concept is more important than the name or manifestation. I ask open-ended questions (e.g., "Tell me more," "What do you find interesting about that?," "… and then what?") rather than questions with yes/no answers, which would limit the possible responses to ones I've already considered. To avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding, I do my best not to assign meaning to what my client says. Dialog proceeds as long as it's useful, with the practitioner paying close attention to the CSR/SD. Dialog is meant to support the client's process wherever the inner wisdom leads, not to tell a coherent story, satisfy the practitioner's curiosity, or lead to a proscribed end. It's not uncommon for clients to stop talking mid- sentence; as long as their process is continuing, no further talk is necessary. My primary focus is on what's happening under my hands. CASE STUDY The following is a case study of an SER with emotional content. It shows what's possible with an advanced practitioner and a client who's comfortable with process work. On assessment, my awareness was drawn to areas of shortening and tightness in my client's right hand and forearm. As I lifted the arm just enough to take gravity off, it folded up across his face, palm out, covering his eyes. I was aware of a sudden stop in the craniosacral rhythm: the significance detector. We remained here for several seconds, and the tension in his body increased. I asked, "What are you aware of right now?" "Yellow," he said. I repeated, "Yellow." "My eyes …" I maintained my position and the tissues in his arm and shoulder began to engage forcefully. "Hunh." He grimaced, and squinted his eyes so they were nearly shut. They filled with tears. "Wow. So bright …" Several moments passed as the arm and shoulder warmed and trembled. I tracked tension in both his legs, and an audible rumbling in his belly. "What else?" I asked. "I forgot my sunglasses, and it was so bright." His arm maintained position with my neutral support, but all the tissues were softening and lengthening. The right hand, which had been rigid and splayed, relaxed and curled. "I miss him so much." Tears released and he took a few deep, ragged breaths. His CSR returned, then slowed to a still point. His legs relaxed, and his belly softened. I helped his body release residual tension through the palm, and we moved on. Later, as we were scheduling our next session, he told me, "The anniversary of my dad's death is next week. My shoulder's bugged me since we buried him. I couldn't think of a reason why—I hadn't hurt it—but now I guess I know." I didn't need the story to work effectively, and I didn't need to say much. It was intellectually satisfying to get some context afterward, but it wasn't necessary for the work; staying connected to the tissue and what was happening with the craniosacral rhythm was. My job was to stay grounded and neutral, as a steady and supportive witness, without attachment to any outcome. I know I'm going to spend the rest of my career honing these skills. CONCLUSION When it comes to using speech in bodywork, there's one guideline: don't speak when talking serves your own needs, and not those of your client. Everything else resides in a gray zone. What might be perfect for one moment with one client is utterly inappropriate for another. A list of rules won't help. We must develop the verbal skills to be able to relate authentically and appropriately with each client, and the clinical discernment to recognize how well our speech is serving them in the moment. Touch is the primary medium in bodywork. Speech is an adjunct. We track the success of our work through our hands (and elbows and forearms)— through palpable change in the tissues. Robyn Scherr is diplomate-certified in craniosacral therapy, the highest level of certification in the field. She's a certified mentor and frequent teaching assistant for all levels of the Upledger Institute curriculum. Find out more at www.livinginthebody.net. MINDFUL SPEECH

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