It can be pretty astonishing what memories emerge in a bodywork session. Clients who come to me at first with vague and seemingly uninteresting body histories may open up to a whole other vista of awareness when we work on certain key areas on their body. This experience is of course different for everyone since our individual histories are so unique.
I once had a client who came to me with nothing apparent going on, she just wanted to develop more body awareness. After we worked for a while she was feeling good about the sessions, but I hadn’t seen any dramatic difference in her structure. When we got to a session where I spent most of my time on the back of her legs she suddenly broke out in a cold sweat around the hamstrings. This is a sign that her fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) had kicked in, which happens in times of duress. As we worked she spontaneously recounted abuse she had suffered as a child from her mother. They have long since reconciled and she has no bad feelings toward her but this trauma was still in her body.
I’ve studied many traditions of healing that speak about areas of the body that hold emotion. They say we can store emotion in our connective tissue as a way to cope with trauma, for some reason that serves us at the time. When I say trauma I don’t only mean big and life changing things, it could be small or seemingly inconsequential to us at the time. While this dissociation does provide a respite from uncomfortable experiences it leaves those emotions raw.
There are many reasons given for this phenomenon, some more scientific than others. I don’t know if the science is always solid, but I can tell you from the direct and subjective experience of my own body that this is a reality for some.
I make a point not to lead my clients to this, maintaining a certain level of neutrality. There are practitioners who make it a part of their practice to coax these experiences out of their clients. I’m sure if I did this I would have more of these experiences in my treatment room. The fact remains that although I stay open to it, I in no way lead my clients there. Spontaneous and organic emotional expression is an amazing phenomenon to me. I can only sit in awe and do my best to maintain a safe space for my clientele when they undergo this type of transformation.
What happens on the table is a powerful way to consciously move through some emotion that was previously turned away from. As a practitioner I seek to provide a safe and judgment free space where such expression is okay. A space where my client can be themselves, without fear of reprisal.
Sometimes this manifests itself as spontaneous laughter or just seemingly random memories. I cherish these moments, even if we know not where they come from or why they happen. It seems to me that this is necessary, our body is expressing something it’s held onto.
My treatment room is a space where it all is okay, where you can be what you need to be in that moment. Allowing my client to be what they need to be creates an atmosphere of open neutrality.