Existential Integration - Part 4
How does the Bahat Method integrate the Trager Approach, the Paula Method, and Rolf's Structural Integration to get to and touch the center of our structure and the depth of our essence, to bring back peacefulness and the ability to choose movements to our body?
Is avoiding or substantially reducing back pain even possible? This question can be addressed in two ways. The first: by seeking help from conventional medicine. The second approach demands the person to first figure out whether he wants to find the source of his back pain; whether he wants to delve into the process whose beginning and end involve the ability to recognize the unremitting support from the earth, which aids in releasing places in our bodies where we hold on tightly, including the back; and whether he wants to experience his deep sense of existence from his center axis to bring peace to his entire body.
Trager Rocking Movements
One of the wonderful systems that teach how to recognize support in order to let go is the Trager approach, which was developed by Dr. Milton Trager (1908-1997) in the United States. This approach’s key to teaching how to let go is to direct the attention to the physical sensation of the body during touch, passive movement, and active movement.
What is passive movement? When the therapist is moving the client’s hand or leg while he is lying down.
What is active movement? When the client is off the treatment table and moving by himself while recognizing the support of the earth.
Directing the attention towards the physical sensation is like pulling a lever in the brain that changes between the state of spatial orientation and of thought readiness regarding ‘what is required of me’, ‘what is expected of me’, and a state of physical sensation.
How do you switch to physical sensation?
Direct your attention to the sensation of weight. For example, the therapist lifts the client’s arm and generates a rocking movement that helps him feel its weight. The therapist can target the vibration to the palm so that it’s easier for the client to feel it. During a Trager treatment, the therapist moves every part of the body and demonstrates to the client the free and pleasant movement that can occur in the body. This experience is a preparatory step towards the active movement that the client will make in the second part of the treatment. In this stage, the client is reminded of the quality of freedom, the lightness and pleasure in movement that he experienced in a passive way previously, and he conjures up that sensual memory through active movement. The external movement becomes easier because it goes together with a pleasant internal experience. This is an important step in which the client discovers that he can choose the sensation, and that he can repeatedly choose the pleasant sensation that he experienced.
Paula’s Natural Movement
Trager wasn’t the only one who dealt with the body’s easy and natural movement. This area was developed significantly by Paula Garbourg (1907–2004). Paula Garbourg built her famous method in Israel. She found a way to teach how to allow natural movement in the body despite the blockages and inhibitions that we have as people who live within structures and molds that constantly define for us how to behave and how not to behave. These cultural norms often disregard and are in opposition to the body’s natural range of movement.
The Paula method encourages searching and finding the animalistic movement (natural and primal movement) that expresses itself in movement and sound. Paula claimed that this natural movement, when we let ourselves experience it, is run by an intelligence that is much larger than our conscious intelligence because it knows how to operate all the body’s systems without any conscious assistance. In fact, that intelligence is what manages the movement of babies, and it does so in the service of their development.
One of the tools the Paula method offers to bring the client to his natural movement is the use of triggers - repetitive contracting and relaxing exercises. One of these exercises is contracting and relaxing the eyes while giving the body the permission to respond freely (what is free response? Kids often clench their fists, fingers, or other parts when they flex their eyes. With adults the response will probably be much more subtle to non-existent).
The permission to respond freely eventually creates a state in which the different parts of the body work together in harmony. One way of demonstrating this harmony is the combination of contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor at the same time as intra-abdominal pressure or any kind of effort. When the body becomes synchronized it is in a state of natural movement, which is important on a physical level (avoiding stresses and pain), and on the level of free expression of the existential experience.
The Depth of Ida Rolf
You can go even further into the experience of existing within the body with Ida Rolf’s method – Rolfing. Rolfing is a very structured system: in a pre-defined ten stage process the therapist ‘organizes’ the physical structure of the client’s body from the outside in and from the bottom to the top. At the beginning, the therapist helps with reducing the over-use of the external muscles in order to enable reaching and awakening of the core of the physical structure later on. Our core is normally ‘asleep’ in the sense of its existential awareness, but precise touch will awaken its senses, its functioning, and its movement.
In the first stage of Rolfing, the therapist releases adhesions in the muscles’ outer sheath (this sheath is a thin and transparent membrane that looks like plastic wrap and behaves like it especially when we forget to stretch a muscle that we shortened by contracting it). Opening adhesions of the fascia (the muscle sheath) enables us to create a balance around the body’s center axis. As I mentioned before, the body can recognize the support from the earth faster when it acts from its center axis. It can also release tension and muscle contractions, and significantly reduce stresses that work on the spine, and, thus, significantly reduce pain that stem from these stresses.
Balancing the physical structure is great preparation for the second stage of Rolfing – learning how to use the core while moving; how to operate from movement that was chosen from within our body – from the center – and not as an automatic response from the external layers of our existence. This integrative stage, combines the opening of the muscles sheath and the adhesions, while choosing the right movement – movement that originates at the core.
The existential experience that is created in this stage is the key because it is an existential experience in the depth of our body. It’s an experience that is difficult to describe in words. Using Ida Rolf’s description: it separates the inside from the outside, the core from the sleeves – those external parts that contain our abilities, character, skills – the external characteristics of our existence.
Experiencing depth creates a connection to the physical world that comes from a different place, which is about being part of the universe in a communal sense that connects everything and anything. This kind of connection generates endless expressions of existence and it also generates inner peace, tranquility, and confidence because it is linked to an essence that is unchangeable. This peace moves from our depth, our inside, to the outer layers and reduces their physical, emotional, and mental strain.
People who have experienced the connection to their depth, their core, not only treated their back pain, but also brought themselves to a much better existential functioning - a confident and tranquil functioning that is connected to everything around them.
The path to self-healing
Trager, Paula, and Structural Integration are different methods that share practically the same goal – to reach a place where living in the body is an expression of our essence and not an expression of our limitations (physical, mental, and emotional). The treatment process in Rolfing is a structured process that uses chemical and physical principles to achieve an existential awareness that would eventually create a way of experiencing life that is different from what we were used to.
With the Paula method, we learn how to release the limitations created by our culture in order to enable a lower level of existence – an animalistic existence – to lead our movements and walk us through a process of self healing.
The Trager Aprroach offers the middle ground – being attuned to the physical existence of the body while in motion, and choosing your sensation.
I generally believe in integration on all levels and aspects of life, so it’s not surprising that what sets the Bahat Method, the method that I have been developing for the last 25 years, apart, is the open invitation for everyone to choose the path that best fits them to achieve an existential experience. The process of the Bahat Method incorporates all of the elements in the three methods.
Each one of the three developers of the three methods is a true innovator and groundbreaker, and has a distinct gift that has let him/her "skip” a certain element of the healing process while focusing on the element that he/she developed. I discovered, in my years of experience, that many clients require more than one element and more than one method. That is why I began developing (and continue developing) the Bahat Method: identifying the client’s exact need and customizing the process to the client at every stage.
This sort of therapeutic flexibility is part of the development of the process. Insisting on one single method can, in many cases, stop or undo the process.
One way of describing the process with the Bahat Method is as a process that proceeds from within itself. For example, a client that needs an accepting and supporting touch learns how to trust, and through that learns how to let go. The next step for this client is some work that opens up shortenings in the muscles and balances the client around his center axis. This work creates the powerful experience of an existential sensation in the center axis and creates an understanding of how to operate from it, and cannot be done if the client hadn’t learned to recognize support and to let go.
The experience of existing within the core of our structure opens up and develops the ability to listen to needs that arise from our body, the ability to express those needs in an uncensored and natural movement that doesn’t comply with rules and restrictions set by social and cultural norms.
A client that goes through a complete process feels more belonging to the world. He feels the need to act harmoniously with the world and with what it comprises. On all levels – physical, emotional, and mental – he feels that the integration within his body can also exist between him and the world. He can feel the connection and closeness and not the differences.
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