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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 59 FELT SENSE AND THERAPEUTIC PRESENCE The most useful practice we have found to enhance our awareness and increase our therapeutic presence is Suzanne Scurlock-Durana's Healing From the Core curriculum. In its essence, it helps us assess ourselves (take a baseline) by noticing how much of our bodies we are able to access through our felt sense, and then gently bring awareness and presence to places that may feel stuck or absent. This is a constant exploration, different every time we practice, and we find it vital for our ability to palpate accurately. It requires getting really comfortable with curiosity and that place of "not knowing." It helps keep us in check when we're tempted to think we have a solution to a client's problem. By staying grounded and aware in our own bodies, we are better facilitators and empower our clients' own self-discovery. NONINVASIVE PALPATION We think the best way to develop noninvasive bodywork skills is to practice with peers who are also interested in honing their own felt sense. Set up a trade where the purpose is more about discovery than treatment. You may wish to review the various touch receptors as preparation. It can be useful to remind yourself of the different inputs our skin can register (light and steady, light and fleeting, deep and steady, deep and fleeting, direction, temperature, etc.). But remember that nothing in the body acts in isolation. Our felt sense is always a blend of every input that's coming from our insides, our sense organs, and our skin. A relaxed, steady hand that uses only its natural weight will help you avoid giving distracting input to yourself and your partner. Often "light touch" therapists stiffen their hands, arms, and shoulders to achieve that sense of lightness, a not-quite touching. And "deep touch" therapists stiffen or compress their joints to press. We propose learning what it feels like to simply place your relaxed hands on your partner, and then becoming more aware of yourself. To start, place your hands somewhere on your partner's body (abdomens are a great place to start exploring), notice what happens in your body for some time, then notice your partner. How deep into the body is your awareness? Without changing your hands at all, can you feel more into the depths of the body? More to the surface? Can you identify soft tissue, bone, fluid, movement? This exploration alone will increase the accuracy of your assessments. You can then take this curiosity into treatment. During sessions, periodically take a moment to explore what's in your current awareness. Notice where in the body you're most engaged. Ask yourself, "What is happening as I employ this technique—in my own body, in my client's body, directly under my hands, and throughout my client's body?" We have found that when clients are touched with relaxed, alert, curious respect, they relax more easily on the table, are more receptive to techniques when they're needed, and have more capacity for change. This process is educational to the client and helps them come back into a healthy communication with their bodies and with touch. They are able to take more ownership of their health and well-being, and be better advocates for themselves. It's also much easier on our bodies, as we can remain relaxed and at ease, even at great depths. Robyn Scherr and Kate Mackinnon are both diplomate-certified in craniosacral therapy. Find out more at and Amplify Your Bodywork Skills Join like-minded colleagues at Esalen in Big Sur, California (January 12–14, 2018), as educators Robyn Scherr and Kate Mackinnon help you attune your palpation to clients' needs. "Noninvasive Palpation: Amplify Your Bodywork Skills" will teach you how to palpate the tissues, fluids, and frequencies of the body—in its various densities—with ease and specificity. Imagine how effective your will work be when you can track and respond to inflammation, strain, and metabolic processes accurately, and without force. Noninvasive palpation makes any bodywork modality more effective, enjoyable, and more comfortable for clients. There's no more precise and sensitive instrument than well-trained hands. Lecture, gentle proprioceptive movement, and sensory exploration will be balanced with plenty of practice time at the table. For more information visit

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