For many years I felt that the importance of Verbal Skills for bodyworkers has been under-utilized and under-explored. Ever since Descartes and the mind-body split, we have divided things into body or mind. This is a subtle but active form of conditioning that can be seen in our speech and attitudes. Many bodywork trainings support this conditioning by omission: they only work with the body. In fact even the term ‘Body Workers’ (or ‘bodyworkers’) is an expression of this conditioning; it’s a bit divisive. To cut a long story short, the experiences in the body are connected to the imagination and to the mind. In fact they are connected to our whole being. If we work just on the body then we limit ourselves and the client.
Words affect neurology. We experience this in poetry when words uplift, inspire and motivate us. We listen to a love song or chant nationalistic jingo and our hearts open. In fact we are moved. So the question is: ‘How can we use this for healing?’ The answer is: ‘In many ways’. For example, I start talking about slicing up a lemon with a sharp knife. As I cut through the skin a mist of lemon juice sprays into the air. I get juice dripping down my fingers and I lick them. I squeeze the juice into a glass with all the bits and pieces floating in it. I know the taste, the bitterness and I throw back my head and drink. The taste gets into all of my mouth. My eyes water and my taste buds explode as I begin to salivate. This lemon juice experience has stimulated my neurology. Imagination has created a physical response.
Imagine that I can do the same in a session but in the service of healing. Actually, bodyworkers are already using their voices but unlike their hands they have not refined and tuned this implement of healing. Usually a bodyworker does not remain silent in a session. They use their voice but maybe they say something like: ‘Would you like to get up on the table now?’ A good request, but how much more useful could you make it? What if, after your initial talk, you could say something like: ‘As you get up on the table now, let your whole being remember the purpose of this session and find ways to heal at each level’.
We all use mindfulness and attention. Modern neuroscience tells us that when we use our ‘attention’, a non-physical attribute, then we actually build, strengthen and grow new neural networks. The result of this fires off more neuron response to create a physical difference in our brain and body. This is such a doorway to healing! Although we already use that with such requests as ‘Bring your awareness to where I am touching’ or ‘ Feel this’, it is merely the beginning. Imagine bringing your clients’ attention away from disease (and the building of that disease by unhealthy attention) to how many ways they can bring their attention to the experience of health.
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Another of the many points to consider is: At a basic level bodywork is a trance induction. It focuses the awareness inside. It frees creative thinking. It is this state and this dream thinking that allows the client to think outside of the limitations of sickness or disease. If this internal experience is unleashed and loosely guided it will support the client in finding their own solutions and healing. In this way we use the conscious mind to give directions: ‘What I would like from this session is to feel relaxed in business meetings’ – and then hand over the solution, or the exploration, of this to the unfettered unconscious intelligence.
A small example of this is if a person comes to a session and as a bodyworker you just tell them to get on the table. Then you do your work and they get off. But what you have not done here is let the client’s whole being know that there is a purpose to the session. If however, you verbally stimulate this purpose then you activate incredibly powerful unconscious healing mechanisms. It can be as simple as saying: ‘Make as much use as possible from this session for…’
Verbal skills are useful. At the start of a session the practitioner asks the client what they want. They may ask: ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘What do you want to get from this session?’ or ‘How do you believe rebalancing can help you?’ or ‘How would you like to make use of this session?’ or ‘What’s the problem?’ In terms of where the power lies, the responsibility and the effect on the session, each one of these questions will frame the experience in a different way. Mostly this influence or frame will go past the client’s conscious awareness; they won’t notice the difference. But the difference is there and it will begin to affect the client’s healing. By bringing attention to what we say we can make our sessions more effective. Our voice becomes as effective as another set of hands.
Article by Anekant
Anekant is going to lead a workshop in Lesvos, Greece (14-23 Nov 2015) on talk therapy and bodywork for people who already have some bodywork training: anekantsquick.com