The use of BodyMind Clearing Techniques for awareness, wellness,
alleviation of chronic pain, and sports injury rehabilitation
The following is a reprint of an article by J.F. Ritchie from a recent issue of Tantra magazine
The appreciation of the relationship between the body and mind is rapidly growing, and is now acknowledged within traditional medicine, as well as within alternative and non-western systems of healing. It is more than just a fad; it is an awareness and acknowledgement that the body and mind cannot be separated. There are many books on the body-mind connection which provide a good starting point for a person interested in discovering what their body-mind is expressing. Beyond the theories and information, growth comes from practice, or, using the information experiencially.
For a unique, hands-on experience of the body-mind connection and to learn powerful self-enhancement techniques, there is available a series of classes called BodyMind Clearing (BMC). These classes are a springboard for self-discovery. BodyMind Clearing is based on the principle that the body and mind are deeply interrelated. Patterns of fear and stress exist as muscular tensions locked within the body and contribute to the vicious cycle of non-productive habits and patterns in one's life. Have you ever had an insight of a need to change patterns in your lifestyle? And yet find yourself maybe even more frustrated because your body just can't seem to get up to speed? Your mind/psyche is racing ahead while your body/soma is dragging behind, caught in repetitious patterns of old (outgrown) habits. Through BMC, the body is freed up from these patterns and new possibilities are introduced as responses.
BMC is a synthesis of muscle testing, acupressure, deep-muscle (connective tissue) massage techniques, corrective exercises, breath practices, guided visualization, communication, and facilitation skills. All these techniques work to re-educate a person on psychological and physical levels, which facilitates structural and emotional changes. BMC is a unique way of reducing stress and increasing flexibility and strength on a mental, emotional, physical and energetic level, whether a personal goal is increased health and wellness, or rehabilitation to maximize physical functioning after an injury.
With treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, there are many aspects of deep muscle massage which facilitate recovery. First, because many muscles around a joint work together to perform an action, all of the muscles around the involved area are treated -- not just those at the site of pain. The point of complaint may occur as a result of an accumulation of the factors and force vectors involved, and may not necessarily be the source of the pain experienced. When all of the muscles around the injured joint are treated, and not just those at the site of pain, a more complete recovery occurs.
Another aspect of this type of massage which facilitates healing is the use of active motion by the patient, combined with the use of pressure by the therapist. Working the muscle under a controlled pressure assists the client to reset the muscle back to optimum tonus, the muscle's natural, present, and ready state.
This ultimately results in the restoration of proper functioning, clearing pain from the muscle(s), allowing for the painless and proper biomechanical full range of motion in that joint. What's different about this aspect is the active participation of the patient/client in their own rehabilitation process.
Specificity is a vital component in proper rehabilitation. BMC techniques of soft-tissue therapy use all planes of movement in working an affected muscle, because there will generally be limiting factors (areas of adhesions or adaptive shortening) in each plane. With BMC techniques, it becomes possible to select and treat the limiting factors one by one until there are none left.
Metaforms represent self-expression, an underlying aspect of BodyMind Clearing. Metaforms are a system for understanding the relationship between physical expression and the underlying mental/emotional belief system which influences that expression. Areas of the body (and their functions) represent mental/emotional attitudes and beliefs. For example, the thighs support the torso, so support is related to the thighs and can be an underlying factor when a muscle injury occurs in that area of the body. The neck contains the voice box from which we speak, so symptoms involving the neck are often related to expression. Interpretation of metaforms is based on cultural imagery and idiom; when we say "I see what you mean" we are demonstrating our cultural assoctiation of the eyes with vision and understanding. "I hear what you are saying," demonstrates an auditory association with understanding. Yet metaforms are also very personal. Most body parts have many functions, and often there are two or more functions of the same part which can't be done at the same time. For example, the hands can grasp, drop, "get a hold of," "let go of," massage, punch, reach out, push away, and handle details. They are related to dexterity and control (example: typing into a computer).
Different people may have different words and concepts associated with the same body part, reflecting individual (and different) mental associations. Therefore, a person having some trouble with their hands might need to "drop something" or the opposite, "to get a hold of something."
As therapists, where do we fit in? We are in a position to know many things about our clients. We feel them when they are tensing; we listen to them as they are speaking, and we see them expressing many different emotions. Sometimes this can happen all in one session. How do we use metaforms as facilitators/therapists to help our clients?
Let's say our client comes in with chronic neck pain. The neck is representative of expression -- they may either be expressing too much (too detailed) or not enough (holding back/too nebulous). The therapist may discover what possibilities are most valid for the client, through watching how he/she moves, listening to what the client has to say about their neck, listening to generalizations, etc. The therapist needs to be aware of the problem of bias (in terms of knowing and not projecting his/her own belief system) and remain conscious of the importance of listening more than talking. The client knows what he or she needs; the therapist helps them to get there. If I listen well, they'll hear themselves.
It is important that I respect the fact that the resources are in the clients. A therapist is a facilitator. To facilitate is to assist natural processes to occur with more ease and grace. Often, the biggest challenge for the therapist is to get out of the way of the natural healing process. An effective visualization which reminds me of this is the growth of a flower. If I pour water on the flower and allow it to have sunlight, it will grow and open. If I try to force it open myself, or to pull on the leaves to open it, I could destroy the flower with my "good intentions."
When using BMC techniques I begin with listening. I listen to a description of symptoms, to the story of their physical experience prior to the injury, I listen to their daydreams. If they speak about something, I assume that it might be related somehow to the person and their condition. I continue to encourage them to listen to themselves. As I learn more about the client, I use the BMC skills to work on the person as a whole person, not just a body, or a part of a body... or a knee problem in room three, or a shoulder problem in room two, etc.
Fred Ritchie was a Trainer with the Institute of Total Person Facilitation from 1983 to 1988. He received his BS/BA from Creighton University in 1970 and has done graduate work in family therapy with Virginia Satir at the University of Utah.He has been studying with Larry Short since 1980 and is trained in acupressure, shiatsu, massage, reflexoloty, kinesiology, yoga, T'ai Chi, Aikido, Karate, Mediation, Meditation, Feldenkreis movement and BodyMind Clearing. Fred's major focus is working with people in a transformational BodyMind context, presenting seminars and workshops as well as working in private practice with clients.