The Essence of Healing

Something happens during a massage that is very difficult to explain for most people. Being touched in an intelligent way evokes something outside normal experience: most people feel different in one way or another. Whether that is younger, lighter, emotional, out of whack, or something else, there is a unique feel to it. What has happened? Is there a way to be more exact about it?

A word that is thrown around a lot is "essence" (or essential), and we must take a closer look at this term for a beginning of understanding of this question. There is a meaning to essence that each of us knows, and it is at this meaning that I point. Essence is what a thing really is before it becomes changed, before it becomes different due to the effects of the world around it. What then is the essential thing about you? It would make sense that if the acquired things changed, the only stable point of reference would be this essential thing.

When you look at a small child, you see some definite quality to them; often this is called innocence or simply light. The child glows. The myriad contradictions that exist in adults have not made it into this child yet-the world is an open door to children, and they look at you directly with no shame. At some point this quality, which is best seen in the eyes, goes away and is replaced, or displaced, by some new acquired thing. For lack of a better term, we will call the acquired portions of ourselves "personality." Personality is acquired through education; be it formal, by imitation, or through social structures. These necessary parts may or may not be in accordance with our best interest; they may, in fact, completely obscure reality.

This may seem like a travesty, but it has happened to us all. The solution lies not in lamenting the situation, however, but in finding an efficient way to relearn the portions of this education that are faulty, or at the very least are getting in the way of us being healthy and living up to our potential. Personality has been in charge of most of us for quite a while and will not take lightly to being ordered around, so a method other than a direct approach will be useful. Conscious touch is such an efficient indirect approach. How to take best advantage of this work is what I will speak of next.

Most of us will find this post-massage condition unsettling and make immediate attempts to "return to normal." But it is possible to prolong this state and learn from it. As a follow-up to a session, many therapists suggest a short walk, a bath, or another nurturing activity that makes no social demands. This is why: it prolongs the contact with essence. Although essence is not "grown up" or educated, it does have a good idea about right function of the bodymind. It notices things that the personality misses. And when we discover things ourselves, it is far more useful than having someone else, like our therapist or spouse, tell us; we organize the information differently internally.

Personality must return for us to function and be responsible in society, but information discovered by essence can be integrated, which will result in personality making useful adjustments. It is these very adjustments that constitute healing; wrong "learnings" and traumas become resolved, and we "feel young" again. This often happens without any cognizance in the "head-brain" or reliving of past events. No catharsis is necessary. When essence and personality assume their proper roles, healing is a natural result. [Note: there may be some awkwardness getting used to new patterns and postures (both physical and emotional), much like adolescence.]

One popular term that may serve to help you understand essence is "inner child." There is a lot of talk about listening to, and nurturing, the inner child. True healing involves raising this child and allowing it to catch up with personality. Essence is undeveloped and as such is unreliable, but without it we are not whole. Understanding this will give new meaning to such expressions as "emotional two-year-old." With the right kind of work and attention, this "two-year-old" can become the same chronological age as the rest of you-thus the meaning of becoming as a little child.

As you now begin to see, there can be much more to massage and bodywork than mere mechanics or relaxation. Keep this in mind as we look further into the experience that makes up somaZen Bodymind Integration.

KSR 2/27/00