The Gift of Remembering Presence
One of the great enjoyments of being a bodywork practitioner is the opportunity--the gift even--that I have in creating a sacred space of sincere presence with each and every client I work with.
When it comes to touch and connection on a physical and intimate level, I’ve found that now, more than ever before, the lack of true presence that permeates our everyday relating is almost a pandemic in and of itself. In my practice, on a near daily basis I see clients who share with me that they’ve never before felt a therapist, or even a lover, that was so present, so engaged and connected, so “there” with them. And as they’ve expressed this ever more in recent years than in years past, I’ve been drawn to inquire what is the underlying reason that such a presence was noticeable to the point of them finding it remarkable enough to mention to me. In other words, why is it so unique that one can feel in an hour or two with sometimes a complete stranger something to such an extent that they would consider it a deeply healing experience that stood out above other experiences in relationships, or massages, sessions, etc.? And why are these experiences so hard to come by?
My late beloved mentor, Lee Joseph, based his entire principles of healing on the power within the intention of being purely and deeply present. For him, it was necessary almost always during a bodywork session, for example, to maintain two hands on the body whenever possible, and to train the hands to be extremely sensitive and attuned of the nuances in the body, of the felt experience taking place within the client. He wanted us to be fascinated by--and awakened to--the unique creative expression that occurs in every moment, when the way we touch, the way we are present within ourselves is felt in a manner that the client feels totally held, free, safe, and also totally able to rest knowing that they are not only cared for, but also cared about. And in that dimension, I have found that people can go to such depths that they have remarkable levels of re-attunement and recalibration with themselves.
If we think about the need for a baby to be held by their mother and the way in which their very survival relies on the milk that they receive from her breasts, for example, and how essential and primary is this need within each of us to not only be held physically, or touched physically, but to feel that the person we are being held or touched by is actually there in that same moment, in that same energy field and experience of the present expression of life, then it becomes very clear to see that as we grow into adults these same needs don’t go away, they just adapt. What happens is that as we become more individualized and have more and more nuances and complexities in our life, we become more adept at being out of presence, out of balance, distant, removed because there’s too much going on, too many needs for functioning in the world, too many thoughts, too many emotions. And this has only gotten worse since technology and artificial means of relating has pervaded more and more deeply into our lives.
With the baby and the mother analogy, there’s very little distance between the two individuals. Not only physically, but in the way that the baby’s needs and the mother’s ability to offer something needed are in total congruence. But as we grow, we forget how healing it is to be given the opportunity to receive from someone who isn’t caught up in their own complexities but is fully engaged in the current reality we are experiencing together.
This is nobody’s fault per se, but rather a product of a system or a culture in which we aren’t given the education or the invitation to let ourselves feel the rejuvenating effect of slowing down, of listening inwardly, of remembering ourselves.
And this is where I have begun to realize that it’s not so much about me having a gift for healing, but rather me getting to experience the gift of supporting another person in receiving my presence.