I was encouraged by a colleague to elucidate further through writing one aspect of human development as I see it from a psycho-spiritual-energetic perspective. Let us begin by addressing embodied attachment as you’ve not heard before. Certain aspects of my work include contact and touch. When I place my hands on a person, our nervous systems connect. There are certain places along the spine that many individuals experience as blank, empty, dead or inaccessible in their immediate sensory experience. When I sense this, I guide the person’s awareness to his/her sensory experience as it makes contact with my hand.
Often times, people will feel my hand, but not themselves. Sometimes, even my hand won’t be felt. Over the years, I have witnessed that most people begin this way. Often there are individuals that orient themselves more in relation to another. In other words, they know themselves through another. They do not orient from their experience of self first apart from a relationship. The implications of this, of course, are enormous in the daily life of that individual, especially in terms of anxiety and depression and co-dependence in relationships.
At first, this was perplexing to me because I don’t orient this way. Even though I am influenced by others, I feel my self in space and in then in relation rather than only in relation. So I began an exploration with my clients melding touch, interpersonal relationship, presence, awareness and sense of self. I would modulate and titrate contact, touch and my presence depending on the level of the safety and curiosity of my clients. Sometimes, when trauma had occurred for the individual especially with a woman (often the mother or caregiver of female origin), the direction, application of pressure or even distance of contact will need to be varied. So for some clients, it may mean my hands are two feet away from their bodies or my energetic presence is brought even at a greater distance away to accommodate the sense of safety and familiarity of the individual. As I mediate my energetic presence and interface with the ongoing, current needs of the individual involved while directing him/her to his/her somatic sense of self as it is happening real time, we touch those developmental col de sacs that have been delayed in its full expression.
On the same token, I can touch a person’s spine even if they are on the other side of the world.
I also do these sessions via phone and Skype and the same principles work. This is normal in the field of energy medicine. Basically, our physical body is only one part of the self. We are bigger than this and so the principles of sense of space and boundaries do not end at the skin. This is why we can feel when someone is staring at us from a distance, for example. As the therapeutic relationship deepens and trust increases, then the client is invited to play with the initiation of this play of contraction and expansion. In the present moment, the individual can reclaim his/her power of curiosity and delight in exploring himself/herself and the world.
Why is this important?
Most people have not had an experience as an infant being held by a person that is in presence and truly connecting from a calm nervous system. This is not to blame mothers who are often the early imprint of the nervous system of the infant. The mothers had not had it with their mothers or fathers either. You can’t pass on something you haven’t had or is part of your nervous system repertoire.
There is something remarkable that happens when the individual nervous system attunes to a nervous system that is calm, clear, agenda-less and in presence. It takes Carl Roger’s person centered therapy to another stage as it is embodied though touch and energetic containment that is relational. It brings embodiment to non-duality as well. It honors the non-separation and separation of absolute and relative experiences of different lines of development simultaneously.
I support key places like the sacrum, back of the heart, cradling the occiput and skull which are places infants are held early on by their mothers before they can fully support themselves erectly by the strength of their own spine alone. So the invitation and opportunity to be held and supported this way, and at the same time to orient and know one’s self somatically, energetically from this place bring up remarkable states of relaxation, acceptance and restoration of not only interpersonal but intra-personal dynamics that are pre-verbal. The whole psycho-spiritual system unwinds as the nervous system resets and re-organizes itself.