Question: If we look at the heart-to-heart connection of a mother with her child from the embryological view as being the basis for our treatments, meaning we look at our hands and arms being the connecting stalk or umbilical cords, we invite a kind of prenatal symbiotic relation.
a.) Is this appropriate for a therapeutic situation and helpful? Where are the risks?
b.) How can we still feel, appreciate and support our independence and also the one of our clients?
c.) How can we let go of this symbiotic experience at the end of a session, or how can we support our clients to let go of the therapeutic container and become independent, empowered adults.
Answer: I like to think of the therapeutic relationship as a biological metaphor. There are so many ways especially in early development that we have a shared biology and a shared physiology. It’s natural that sometimes we might feel as if we are a parent loving a child, a mother recently conceived, or like a mother carrying a full-term child that might be kicking her diaphragm. I see no risks at all when I inhabit these biological metaphors from early development. This is because my perception is focused on PR and Stillness. At the level of early development, PR and Stillness is more related to love as a living part of our biology than anything else.
Of course, we live in the age of numerous prenatal therapies associated with early trauma. But biodynamic practice in the long-tide model of PR does not focus on prenatal trauma at all but rather the health experienced with PR and Stillness. I know that it is not easy sometimes with clients to focus on love rather than on trauma.
It’s also important to understand the emerging science of interpersonal neuro-biology (IPNB). This field states that the therapeutic relationship is a two-person-biology, in which our nervous and vascular systems start to synchronize. From this point of view we are already connected regardless of our therapeutic intent. I remember earlier in my career when I was taught that I need to shield myself or protect myself from the clients’ energy. Now I know that’s not possible. Once again, I employ the movement of PR heart-to-heart, in which I allow the client in their totality to move through me and for my heart to expand and transform the pain and suffering of the client into a sense of well-being. This requires that the therapist spend more time sensing their own body and staying in resonance with PR and Stillness.
One teacher of mine said “Breathe in the bad, exhale out the good”. This speaks to the constant exchange that is happening between a therapist and client at an unconscious level. In biodynamic practice we want to bring that whole unconscious biological domain to conscious awareness through the body first. Sometimes that’s difficult to do when we are tired or stressed. The critical factor in creating differentiation between the client and therapist, is for the therapist to spend the majority of the session sensing his or her own body. There is a natural cycle of attunement in which the therapist moves their attention towards the client, and then away from the client. It turns out that we are both experiencing the two-person-biology and two autonomous human beings at the same time. This is called self-regulation, in which I regulate via relationship and I also regulate autonomously. Resonance through attunement then is a critical piece to the therapeutic and I might say any human relationship. Animal lovers also speak about such resonance with their pets.
Both developmental vectors are present from conception onwards through the lifespan with obvious differences in the ratio of one to the other. It depends on one’s age and to a certain extent, on one’s spiritual aptitude and development. But the direct application of this information is accomplished in the therapeutic relationship by the therapist moving their attention between themselves, the client, and the natural world in the tempo of PR, waiting for an oceanic stillness and then abiding in that stillness until PR beckons the therapist. I call this the cycle of attunement. It couldn’t be simpler for achieving therapeutic benefits and much deeper sense of resilience and self-regulation.
So then how do I feel at the end of the day after all of this exchange with clients? When I practice with PR I usually feel better or clearer at the end of the day. But I always take time at the end of the day to give it all up, first through prayer and meditation, which I do every evening as a gratitude for being given the opportunity to be with other people in this way. Secondly I like to pick weeds and work with my mango trees. Once my hands get into the earth whatever is left from the client drains immediately out of my mind and body. It is important for every therapist to find their own cleansing ritual at the end of the day or between clients. When I was doing tissue work for many years I always put my hands under ice-cold water after every session. Some people like to burn incense. Whatever works!
I am looking forward to a course I will be teaching titled: An Introduction to Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy: A Training for Health Practitioners. This course will take place in New York City at the New York Open Center, February 1-3, 2016. In this introductory course we will focus on applying craniosacral therapy skills to the cardiovascular system and learn new techniques to reduce systemic inflammation and reduce cortisol and stress levels. I invite each of you to join me.
Visit this link for details and registration: http://www.opencenter.org/events/an-introduction-to-biodynamic-cardiovascular-therapy-a-training-for-health-practitioners/ I look forward to seeing you in the Big Apple.