Healing Journey Monday: Helping the Body Work Progress

Years ago when I was living in the Bay Area, I’d been practicing yoga for six or seven years but it still didn’t occur to me to do some yoga before I went to a massage appointment. Early in my years out there someone I knew introduced me to Kabuki Springs, the Japanese baths, and I became a regular for the rest of my time in the area.

One week I happened to have a massage appointment for a time slot shortly after my regular time to go soak and steam, etc. at Kabuki.  So I arrived at the appointment having spent an hour in the sauna, steam room, and hot tub and the massage therapist exclaimed over how much easier it was to get into my muscles. When I told her I went regularly to the Kabuki we arranged my massage schedule from then on to follow my sessions in Japantown. You’d think I’d have figured out more but somehow it didn’t sink in.

After I moved to Kentucky I couldn’t afford as much bodywork as I’d previously been getting so I made quite an effort to be practicing yoga and doing the Robert Masters work in between appointments to try to keep the releases they achieved. But it wasn’t until some years after that that I was down to an every other week appointment for Bodypatterning and, determined to get every advantage from those appointments, I not only created the work I’m doing now that combines yoga with the Robert Masters movements but I started making sure that I did stretches, movements and energy work right before every appointment (with a soak in a hot bath in between). For the first time ever not only did the releases from one appointment often hold until the next but sometimes I arrived having released even more than where we were when I left.

In more of those chats with body workers I’ve been gathering that I’m unusual for the amount of effort I put in, especially as to making sure that I’m as stretched out and balanced as I can be before I start an appointment. Without doing the work, usually in those appointments the first half to three-quarters of the session is spent on just getting out the kinks that have appeared or reappeared in between appointments. So only a small amount of time can be spent on moving further in the process.  When I get to an appointment they can usually move very quickly to the point of taking up where they left off instead of taking so much time just do undo what has gone off.  If you participate in the work to keep your body open and balanced, you can speed the healing journey tremendously.

For me, the combination has been the thing that finally broke through the muscle patterns that no one had been able to release. Now, Kreig’s Bodypatterning is brilliant so I have to give a big nod to his work. But I also know (and we’ve discussed this) that without the effort I have made we probably wouldn’t be nearly as far along. I wonder if the ultimate releases at the core level that I’m experiencing now would ever have been reached without all that added effort on my part.

I mention all this because I knew a lot about how the body works and yet I didn’t put it together that I could seriously help the process. I’ve been regular at practicing yoga for the entire 26+ years I’ve been doing it but I never made a point of doing a practice right before an appointment. So I thought I’d make a big point of mentioning this—in addition to the last post about participating. If you’re getting therapeutic bodywork, practice something like yoga or Feldenkreis and make sure you take some time before an appointment to stretch and re-balance and, if possible, get a soak in a hot bath before you go. The more you’ve worked out the kinks before you arrive, the more the practitioner can get done in your appointment. If you seriously want to release painful holding patterns, help the body work along by keeping your body in tune.

Added note: I did some of the Masters work as an adjunct to massage, etc. but also didn’t use that work right before appointments. The triggers work from Masters and Feldenkrais is powerful stuff and it has been particularly useful at getting deeper into holding patterns and creating new, healthier patterns. If there’s someone in your area who teaches Feldenkrais, Somatics or Masters’ Psychophysical Method, I highly recommend that you look into it. I’ll have a text-only manual up on Kindle soon if you want some instructions for practicing on your own.