Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2011

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TOUCHING THE MIND I regard touch as a language—a language that speaks to our innermost sense of who we are, how we are, and what deeper relations are possible between us. Touch is a language that is older, and forever beyond words, and the responses to that touch can open a dialogue that can interpenetrate these personal worlds in ways that words can never achieve. We have been educated to think of language as spoken and written words, and that no creatures but humans can properly be said to acquire and use language. But organisms have been communicating among themselves and with their environment from the very beginnings of life, or life could never have succeeded and evolved. Energy fields, vibrations, chemical exchanges, physical contacts, gestures, projected needs, and intentions have organized individual cells and ever-more complex organizations of life, orchestrating their mutual existence and interdependence. These wordless exchanges have developed their own vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and meanings over many millions of years, connecting the entire fabric of life and the world that sustains it. For us, as human beings, this more ancient language continues to be of primary importance, laden with deeper and more abiding messages than all of our words and symbols can provide. Much more than our words, it is feelings that guide our development and unite us. Feeling is experience, and by this experience we grow. In Absolom, Absolom!, William Faulkner elaborates on the power of that experience: Because there is something in the touch of flesh with flesh which abrogates, cuts sharp and straight across the devious intricate channels of decorous ordering, which enemies as well as lovers know because it makes them both: touch and touch of that which is the citadel of the central I-Am's private own ... But let flesh touch with flesh, and watch the fall of all the eggshell shibboleth of caste and color too. With these thoughts in mind, I want to suggest some of the dimensions of the languages our bodies speak. In a recent class, I quoted one of my teachers, Milton Trager: "My work is directed toward reaching the mind of the client. Every contact, every move, every thought communicates how the tissue should feel when everything is right. The mind is the whole thing. That is all I am interested in." The next day, a participant raised her hand and asked, "What do you mean by reaching the mind?" The following is a summary of my attempt to answer her question. THE LANGUAGE OF WATER Without water, life is not possible. Water makes up 70–85 percent of our physical being. Its molecules are bipolar: negatively charged on one end of their delta-winged configuration and positively charged on the other. They are continually tumbling about together randomly, agitating one another, bonding and breaking, configuring and reconfiguring. It is this restless activity that directs the Brownian movement of all other substances suspended within their medium.1 It is water's organized currents of circulation that irrigate all of our cells, distribute the substances that nourish them, and carry away all their toxic waste products. The ongoing task of life is the continual replenishment, circulation, and cleansing that is the watery womb of our creation and constant re-creation. Within us, and in every nook and cranny of our planet, all water is connected, a single sea without boundaries: vapor, rain, rivers, lakes, and oceans within us and around us are all literally one continuum, sustaining the growth and flow of all life. In all aquatic environments (which we are and in which we exist), stagnation always breeds pestilence. Containers of water, such as ourselves, are exquisitely sensitive to all vibrations and rhythms around them. Virtually every sort of contact from outside the container reverberates among everything inside the container. Every vibration, no matter how subtle, echoes within. All pressures, no matter how slight, are distributed throughout the container and its walls, which then rhythmically pulsate and transmit 60 massage & bodywork january/february 2011

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