As Massage Therapists, we see clients walk in the door month after month with the same stress levels and the same pattern of holding that stress in their body. Everyone holds their tension in different places but usually the shoulders will be edging their way towards the ears, the thoracics are often contracted causing restricted breathing, and the lower back will often be tight from a over-sedentary way of life.Month in, month out.
Each time we work with care and skill, easing the tension from their bodies and doing our best to ease it from their minds. However, unless our clients are actually attempting to do something about their life/work balance, releasing the stress through constructive means, or going through counselling to access the source of the emotional tension and deal with it, they will be back on our couch the following month, the body showing exactly the same patterning as before. If they miss a few months, they return worse than ever and the frustration is to see an apparently perfectly healthy person slowly deteriorating despite our best efforts because they rely on us to put them right and cannot – will not – hear what their body is telling them.
This is, undeniably, great for business! It provides us with a constant supply of people requiring our services on a regular basis. If that is all we want from our job then there is no need to change what we do. However, most of us want more than that. We became therapists for a reason; to help people. Simply being the tactile equivalent of a Valium tablet is not really good enough. Satisfying as it is to transform a bundle of tight muscles into a vegged-out, relaxed creature that needs to be scraped off the couch at the end of the session, when we do this repeatedly with no apparent sign of any long-lasting benefit or effect, it becomes, deep down, a frustrating exercise.
As therapists, we are always going to have the clients who will not change. There is no point getting upset about it and, in the end, we are simply the catalysts, not fairies waving magic wands. We cannot take responsibility for others’ journeys through life. All we can do is try to help them as their paths coincide with ours. However, many people do want to change, they just do not know how. As our own skills develop, those clients who know and trust us will allow different elements of our new knowledge to be incorporated into their treatments; when this happens and the client starts to respond, how satisfying it is to see the slow transition, the increasing awareness and awakening. If this means that we are not needed quite as often this is a good sign; the client is starting to take responsibility for him/ herself and there are always others who come to fill the space left on the couch.
The dedicated therapist is always self-developing, investigating, and exploring the many options. One option that may appeal to the determinedly hands-on therapist, who wants to help clients on a more permanent basis, is that of Body Realignment. This powerful therapy, as taught by the Body in Harmony Training School, weaves the skill of deep, communicative massage with that of Bio-Mobility. The latter technique was developed by Maureen Arnold from Arthur Pauls’ Ortho-Bionomy and utilises the body’s ability to release trauma in the position in which it was physically traumatised. It is an entirely natural way of treating structural pain in the body. In the case of pain caused by emotional trauma where a position of damage is not evident, the body is supported as it ‘shows’ the practitioner the position needed to facilitate the release. The therapist assists that release through appropriate support and movement of the body, and work on key points during the process.
The client with poor posture and a misaligned body struggles to find balance; physical, mental and emotional. When the body has compensated over the years around an injury, or succumbed to emotional stress, it becomes distorted, twisted and congested. Even minor disruptions cause the circulation and energy flow to become restricted, causing cellular deterioration, fatigue and a feeling of disconnection within the body. In severe and long-term cases the result is, inevitably, pain, distress, reduced mobility and even illness. This subtle and proven method of physical realignment dissolves muscle ‘knotting’, re-educates the body, eliminates layers of emotional and physical armouring and restores normal mobility. As the layers are gently stripped away, so a mental clarity and increased body awareness develop. Body Realignment allows the client to start afresh, with structural harmony, regaining much of their former mobility.
The Body in Harmony school takes the student to a deep understanding of postural distortion and proficient practice of Bio-Mobility within the Diploma in Body Realignment course. For those who wish to take the training further, the Diploma in Advanced Body Release brings in additional techniques to facilitate deep emotional and physical healing, and takes the student to a more subtle level of work. During both diploma courses, students are taught to self-care and are introduced to the Free your Body system of self-realignment. This teaches the practitioner to track and release muscle-holding patterns within his/her own body, a self-awareness which allows the practitioner to comprehend the release process at a deeper level.