I’m getting more and more intrigued by the idea that much of health may be based on our feelings of safety in the world we inhabit. I’m reminded of John Pierrakos and CORE Energetics. Pierrakos suggests we are three-layered beings: Core is the Center Of Right Energy; layer two is the body and layer three is the environment. He suggests we use our body layers to protect our core layers from our environment layers. Thought-provoking!
Next, I’ve been reading about the polyvagal theory from Stephen Porges in Illinois, suggesting that in addition to the ‘fight or flight’ response of the adrenals, our vagus nerve also oversees an older system that is the ‘freeze’ or ‘play dead’ system. Thus, when we get overwhelmed by life, we shut down in some form or other. Again, for me this as many other ideas is simply common sense.
So how do we translate that shutting down? For example a bodywork client may stop breathing. S/he may tighten up against any pain, real or imagined. S/he may talk incessantly so as to not focus on the body and the emotions associated with it. S/he may indeed, appear to have no emotions. S/he may not have any true indicator of just how much pain or anxiety is being faced as the bodyworker works. It’s intriguing to realize that we as bodyworkers and therapists of any stripe, therefore need to get better at realizing when a client is ‘playing dead’, and learn to coax them back to life so as to work on their bodymindcore more effectively.
There’s an old country song whose chorus line is: “But your heart’s not in it, and I don’t want your body if your heart’s not in it. Certainly something to think about! If a person isn’t bothering to live in their body when we’re doing bodywork with them, are we achieving our goals?