Not Just Any Kind of Touch

I am obsessed with the benefits of embodiment. I believe the body is the place where emotion goes to hide. Tucked away safely in the tissues of our physical form, the mind is relieved of the burdensome fluctuations of feeling. The body is a fantastic receptacle for unprocessed experience, but there is a limit to its capacity to store. Physical sensation can be a tool for immediate acknowledgement of feeling, and for embodiment. Sensation that you feel safe to explore melds the different facets of our being, allowing communication between body and mind through observation. 

I have spent hundreds of hours in anatomy labs distracting from the burden of my thoughts and emotions, but also seeking to understand that my body holds the transcripts of what I am trying to avoid. My experience in human dissection goes well beyond the physical observation of anatomy as structure, and I have found that my work with living bodies is an extension of this study—I am getting closer to understanding the agreement my body and brain have settled upon in regard to processing emotion, and I want to encourage you to contemplate this too. When I massage, I am using my hands as tools for you to borrow—if I get it right, you are embarking upon your own dissection through the pressure of my touch.

In massage, it’s a precarious balance that holds the potential for absolute mind-body awareness. A touch that is too light can come across as tentative, lacking confidence. Barely impacting the skin, as a recipient I struggle with this type of touch. If the pace is too slow, it feels more intimate than what I am willing to receive. Too quick and I cannot relax. When the pressure is deep I’m more likely to hold my breath in an effort to cut off from sensation. In both scenarios, embodiment is nearly impossible because my mind is unable to settle.

When I offer touch, I am drawn into a meditation on the body. My thumbs press into the edge of muscle and trace the fibres to places where the tissue is dense with stress, holding my awareness as I interpret how much pressure to apply. My intention is to bring you with me to the intersection of tension and release. The rhythm of your breath tells me exactly how much depth I can get away with. I am tuned into the pace of my movement, directing your mind into the muscle. My goal is to hold you on the edge of consciousness where pleasure might at any moment give way to pain. In this way I am directed from muscle to muscle, relieving physical knots that are reflexively loosening the tensions of your mind.

This type of touch, done effectively, leaves no space for interpretation. It holds you captive in an experience of your body, narrated by your mind—exactly as it is—right now. Afterwards, maybe you’ll return to the rumination that’s been blocking your inner wisdom. Maybe you won’t—for a time at least. Experiencing this brain-body integration is magical. I believe it’s the answer to most of our problems, and there are many ways to experience it. What’s yours?


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