After many years as a physical therapist, I have developed my own unique practice of bodywork that I call “Listening Bodywork.” I have seen thousands of clients doing traditional and integrative PT and OT. I have taken over a hundred different continuing education classes over the years, honing my therapy skills to deliver the best therapy practice I can. At the same time, I’ve been playing with getting underneath the hands-on aspect of my practice, distilling the essence of touch to, for me, its most pure denomination.
Something untaught has shown up for me over the years of doing more conventional bodywork and physical therapy. It has arisen over time as I have deepened my own amalgam of meditation and touch. I have come to practice the simple but powerful stance of just being there to listen to the pure attraction of my hands to a body. This stance hasn’t been easy for me. There has been unlearning to do, coupled with a deepening trust in the experience. This bodywork is so unchoreographed and raw, it has a primitive quality to it. I had to get used to being wide open to what my hands are drawn to, without assumption. In this open, present state we, together, have an opportunity to connect to another truth of a connected body experience. That’s what makes this practice an adventure for both of us. And because of my many years of working with injuries and conditions (and my grounded manner), there is a palpable sense of safety inside this adventure.
We start in our beginning place together, letting the communication unfold, never anticipating or interfering. There is a sacred spontaneity, unformulaic and without pre-conception. There is no routine. I wait for an attraction to arise for an area of the body and go to it without question, even if it surprises me in some way. I completely trust this information, unwilling to censor it. My hands have a wealth of touch experience and I trust their ability to feel and connect deeply to the body, always listening, loving, and respecting.
There is a puppet like feeling while doing Listening Bodywork. It feels like I don’t make the choices, rather I follow the guidance of a listening alchemy choreographing the touch for me. I don’t want to put any more story on it. We wait for the information and go.
Listening Bodywork is unusual in that we will never be able to anticipate what I’m going to do. It requires a surrendering to the moment. You wait and listen just like I do. Many of my touches are quiet and lingering for many minutes, although you never know if a vigorous rubbing, a tap, a hold of a point, a clap above the body, or a vocalization may happen (among many other possibilities). None of the touches are uncomfortable; in fact they are deeply comfortable and often energy based. I am very careful to stay present to any possible discomfort and adjust.
You can talk or not talk. Cry or not cry. Move or be still. Though if it appears that you are in your head too much, I may suggest a technique for bringing you back to your body. The normal chatter of the mind is rarely useful. A more powerful experience comes from being in touch with your body and sensations felt. This practice brings you to a deep state of attention. You may begin to feel your body energy flowing. Places light up and feel alive, often in a way never felt before. A deep pleasure, sense of beauty, mystery, and curiosity may happen. Some feel transported, like they have been on a journey to a peaceful unknown. Others sometimes sense their body boundaries softening, as if the solidity of their Self gets called into question. Sensations like this may deepen the connection we have with our spirit, and make “no separation” ideas perhaps felt rather than thought.
Doing this bodywork, letting it happen, trusting in being there moment by moment is an important mirror for us. In the course of life, we may feel contracted, more in need for control, more separate from self or others, less able to listen, less trusting. Practicing Listening Bodywork is a unique meditation, two people together, deep in the magic of touch, presence, and connection. Though an experience may feel healing or transformational, there can be no goal as such. In fact, “no goal” is precisely what keeps it ALIVE. Over time, the work appears to have a life of its own. And most importantly, we can enjoy this together.