Bernhard Schlage – Körperpsychotherapie, schriftstellereivortrag auf dem second international congress of wholistic bodywork & bodymind therapy in villerexel/frankreich im juni 1994 / manuskript über wissenschaftliche grundlagen der wirksamkeit von körperpsychotherapie
Touch is one of the most forgotten languages dt.: veränderung durch berührung “massage is something that you can start learning, but you never finish. it goes on and on, and the experience becomes continuously deeper and deeper, and higher and higher. massage is one of the most subtle arts. and it is not only a question of expertise; it is more a question of love.
First learn the technique, then forget it. then just feel, and move by feeling when you learn deeply, ninety percent of the work is done by love, ten percent by the technique. just through the very touch, a loving touch, something relaxes in the body.
If you love and feel compassion for the other person and you feel the ultimate value of him, if you don’t treat him as if he is a mechanism to be put right but an energy of tremendous value, if you are grateful that he trusts you and allows you to play with his energy, then by and by you will feel as if you are playing on an organ. the whole body becomes the key of the organ and you can feel that a harmony is created inside the body. not only will the person be helped, but you also.
Massage is needed in the world because love has disappeared. once, the very touch of lovers was enough. a mother touched the child, played with his body, and it was massage. the husband played with the body of his woman and it was massage; it was enough, more than enough. it was deep relaxation and part of love. But that has disappeared from the world. by and by, we have forgotten where to touch, how to touch, how deep to touch. in fact, touch is one of most forgotten languages. we have become almost awkward in touching, because the very world has been corrupted by so-called religious people. they have given it a sexual colour. The word has become sexual and people have become afraid. everybody is on guard not to be touched unless he allows it.
Now in the West, the other extreme has come. touch and massage have become sexual. now massage is just a cover, a blanket, for sexuality. in fact, neither touch nor massages are sexual; they are functions of love. when love falls from its height it becomes sex, and then it becomes ugly.
So be prayerful. when you touch the body of a person be prayerful – as if god himself is there, and you are just serving him. flow with total energy. and whenever you see the body flowing and the energy creating a new pattern of harmony, you feel a delight that you have never felt before. you will fall into deep meditation.
- so that he is getting a goose-skin
- the masseur massages his client with strong grasping grips
- the timid spreads out his little finger while timorously touching his friend’s nipple
- the mother creaming the baby with caring hands.
- the visitor of the beer garden strongly grasps the waitress’s ass.
- the doctor palpates her patient’s body with examining fingers.
- the mannequin is oiling her skin with patiently circling movements of her hands.
- the weight-lifter grasps the muscles of his arms to measure their power.
- the nurse softly massages a cream on to the hurting part of a patient.
- the father gently rubs the child’s belly while feeling it.
- the baby reaches for her mother’s breast while being fed from it.
- the loving couple tickle each other wherever they can reach
- the torturer beats the tortured with a whip.
- in a silent embrace the lovers` hands are lying on each others backs.
- the timid is yanking every time he is being touched.
- the butcher grasps the piece of meat to cut it
- the drowning desperately clings to the flesh of his rescuer.
- the mother is holding her child’s hand while tearing a splinter from it’s finger with her fingernails.
- the dentist reaches into the mouth to examine the position of a crown.
- the father slaps the child on the face.these examples express possibilities of touch between people. without having to say what is being touched and how i categorise these examples into brutal, tender, caring or conscientious, considering that these valuations might differ between me and others.
Thirdly I want to describe the way in which clients experience touch: for one person tickling is painful; another person will laugh when she is tickled, one person will not notice the pressure of her sitting bones on the chair and the other person for this reason will sit on a more comfortable chair; for one person being caressed is an nice feeling for somebody else it is an annoyance. one person loves the touch of her lover’s lips but distastes the touch of her father’s lips. the other person let herself be kneaded by a masseur but feels it is chauvinistic when her lover pinches her ass. one will find a tension in his body to be a support for himself for the other it is a limitation. one person will feel her power and energy express her capacity for freedom, for somebody else this power is a burden bringing her out of balance emotionally. one will feel a grip in the neck like being throttled, the other feels how by this gesture he can let go of responsibility. so i can see that touch and touch are not alike. therefore in this chapter i want to take a deeper look and deal with the following questions:
- which structures are influenced (most) by touch between people?
- what are the physical and structural bases of these touches and how do they relate to each other?
- which physiological characteristics of the connecting tissue determine durance and speed of changes brought about by bodypsychotherapy?
- does the mental and emotional condition have an effect on touch and how does it effect touch?
- what would be an adequate mental attitude for the body psychotherapist and the client during the work?
Phenomenology of touch
As I have described in another article, our existence originates from a very intimate, a cellular touch: semen and ovular cell touch each other and as a consequence of this touch three functional systems form: ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm in this chronological order. from these three different biological basic structures, those organ systems which later on form the human being develop. and from a subdivision of the mesoderm, the mesenchym, those elements that form the three dimensional reality of the human being in space also develops: skin, fascia, tendons, ligaments, muscles, periosteum, and bones.
- I tried the attitude of: i-know-better-and-do-what-i-think-is-right; a way i found with many doctors or masseurs or healers. people who collect information from my speech, body, general impression and register them on a – imagined or actual – diagnose pad in order to get to therapeutically proceedings;
- I trained myself in going through a series of therapeutically steps with the client that had been derived from a previously fixed aim thus leading from the present state to the aim; “so well, you do not want to be this shy any longer. therefore we should first of all examine your resources and then go through some exercises for creative self- expression.”
- With the help of general models of psychological and physiological human development i concluded his biographic experiences from a given physiological state. then i let the client go through this experience and experience its emotional meaning in order to get to an integrated physiological state. “yes, shout, simply cry out your rage. hate your mama, hate her and simply let these feelings that have always blocked your relationship to women come out.”
- I trained associative, analogous, incoherent thinking optionally combining various information’s (theories, use of language, emotional process) to find out the spot around which the personality is moving. “what does it tell me, or what kinds of projections is activated within myself if a client is wearing only black clothes. her hair being greasy and minor injuries being detectable on her hands and around the right eyebrow?”
- I visualized inner images about my client and trained in developing emotions connected with these images. with this i learned to differentiate where the main disturbance of the client lies and which psychological or physiological structures are compensations. “ i see him as a knight before my eye and his weakest part is at his spine, like in the old saga of siegfried … consequently the tense muscles of the belly are just the result of this weak back and maybe they will loosen up if we succeed in strengthening his back or his inner suppert.”
- I trained (with nlp techniques) to feel and think like my clients feel and think. i imitated their language, pitch of the tone, their respiration movements. the body posture as a whole and noticed their involuntary movements. with these information’s i tried to get an impression in which way he or she organized his or her experiences and where possible solutions could to be found.
- I had a check list about what can be analyzed and after this overall analysis i thought over every detail until i could form my opinion.
- I found out that each of these mental attitudes can effect a certain level of touch. and i experienced that the beginner in bodywork permanently tends to get confused between these different levels of touch. today i can deduct from this experience that first of all for the body psychotherapist it is important to train himself or herself into a stable anchoring of his attention within him or herself. this enables him/her to get to know the depth of touch layer for layer. and only after a series of experiences in the different layers will the body psychotherapist get to know the level of sub nuclear resonance within him/herself and understand that here the most extensive integration of other levels is possible. according to my own experience in this process he/she will live through times of intensive confusion. i also met some colleagues going through periods of depression before their attention opened up to the physical level of touch.
- Summarizing we can say that an adequate attitude for a good body psychotherapist can be found in a strongly anchored attention within his/her own body. out of this anchoring in the course of his/her experience develops a perception of different levels of touch and he/she learn to flexibly adapt his/her attitude to the particular client. earlier maybe i would have called this prayer or healing. today i would be able to inform a body psychotherapist differentiated about the levels of touch, kind of intention, kind of technique to proceed with, for the integration of their clients. Thus it has become possible to so-to-say map those powers having an effect on the healing process in a way simplifying their use by the new body oriented forms of treatment the map of healing of traditional medicine has been extended. without anchoring the attention of the body psychotherapist in his/her own body the source of these powers will remain unseen.
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