Sunday, September 4, 2011

The engaging touch: A self-help tool that leads to a state of ease.

Touch is the most important underestimated health promoting self-help tool that I know. It’s a tool that we always have with us wherever we go and in whatever situation we find ourselves. Touch is also an innate reflex activated when we experience physical pain. However not only with physical pain, we also have a reflex touch when we have to deal with emotions - we touch our heart, stomach, abdomen or even touch one another through an embrace - or in times of stress we reach for our forehead, temples or neck.  
An example when we instinctively touch our forehead is when we’re trying to remember a name. “That business parnter I spoke to earlier, what was his name again?” and automatically the hand goes up in the direction of the forehead. Sometimes we barely touch it and sometimes we hold or rub it for a few seconds.
Have you ever wondered why we do this, or why you rub your temples when you are stressed, touch the back of your head when you know you’ve done something you realize you shouldn’t have? 
Some of these innate reflexes are unfortunately slowly disappearing through negative conditioning. We don’t have time anymore to rub our temples or hold our forehead, or so we think. We’ve got better things to do! But do we? 
What if in that touch lies the solution, or at least the solution to think clearly again, to overcome the inhibiting emotion or physiological stress response. Touch, thus creating a state of mind that is calm again and can reflect about a certain situation instead of being overwhelmed.
I see how this reversal from a state of stress to one of ease is happening every day in my osteopathic body-coaching practice. I can see how people walk in overwhelmed or in freeze mode which translates itself often in muscular tension in back and neck and when they leave the muscle tensions are gone but also with it the stress and the primitive mind state. People leave with the words, ‘I feel lighter, like a veil that has lifted from me’ and ‘I can see the forest through the trees again’. Physical and psychological tension relief all facilitated through a therapeutically applied touch. 
But you can achieve this too! You have all the potential to help yourself far more then you might think.
To help understand how you can help yourself is to understand the natural principle of engagement and disengagement. This dynamic lies at the basis of creating a state of ease. Observe your breath, you have an active inspiration phase where muscles are tensed to fill the lungs: Engagement. What follows is the automatic and completely effortless expiration phase: disengagement.
Touch as an interaction with the self healing mechanism of yourself or another - even if it is through a reflex - is the engagement phase.  In others, the engagement could be portrayed in embracing a child or adult in distress. On yourself (or others) it could be by putting your hand on your forehead, temples or on the back of your head or shoulders. The disengagement and automatic release phase is when you let go of the child or adult when he or she stops crying, the breath is regular again, when they are out of the survival mode. By ourselves (or others) it is when we feel a calm again and also that the breath is more regular. 
There are many points and areas through which the state of ease can be facilitated. The three most effective however are the temples, the forehead and the back of the head called occiput. The temples because it is closely linked with the pituitary gland and amygdala structures in the brain that are activated during the stress response. The forehead seeing that behind it lies the prefrontal cortex which is the area of the brain associated with thinking, adaptation, creativity, feelings and control our emotions. The back of the head (occiput) as it is part of the neocortex which gives insight, vision. 
Practically: “The engaging touch”
The touch should be light, barely touching the skin. You don’t massage or rub, you engage with feeling and sensing.. Ask yourself, how does this area feel? Is it frozen, still or can I feel movement? Whatever you feel just engage with it, let whatever process that emerges happen. Just like you would unwind two spirals that are intertwined with each other follow the tensions that are present without strength nor strain until you feel a process of release. This is the disengagement that emerges automatically and can sometimes feel like a huge inflation of a balloon.  
To optimize the engagement process you can add a rhythmic breathing exercise with a sequence of 5 seconds inspiration following a 5 seconds expiration. Or while you are in the engagement phase you can add a positive feeling. I mostly think of the sun that shines on me and warms me deep within.
But in the engagement phase you can add all the tools that you have learned from Reiki to NLP or others as long as it feels right to you in that moment. 
The return to a state of easy lies in your hands. Start today with applying the above consciously and see for yourself. 

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BioMotions® body-coaching is a new complimentary ‘body-mind’ health approach that goes beyond classical osteopathy. It is developed by Tom Meyers and facilitates, by means of micro-movements, the self healing processes that have been perturbed by the effects of stress or trauma. Thus promoting physical, physiological and psychological wellbeing. 
BioMotions Body-Coaching as a Self-Help Tool by Tom Meyers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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