In psychotherapy we talk, we discuss thoughts, feelings, behaviours – usually those that make clients’ life difficult with their repetition or stagnation.
All feelings are okay, including the unpleasant ones, and it is in their nature to flow and change. But for the moment, imagine them as some very persistent guests who have come to visit. If we refuse to show them in, they will wait outside. Think of this as the process of denial, conscious or unconscious. If we let them inside and allow them to do whatever they please, they might start endless conversations with others and forget to leave. This is how symptoms arise (anxiety, depression etc.). What I have found to work best is to let the guests in, sit down with them and be present, totally, to the story they bring, and, once they have finished, to open the back door so they can leave by themselves. It is necessary to consciously repeat this ‘come-in, sit-with, let-go’ process many times, in order for this way of processing strong emotions to become automatic. And most of us need someone’s guide before we can do it by ourselves. This is similar to learning any new skill.
My aim as a psychotherapist is to help the person I am relating to to feel safe and be able, gradually and with guidance, to come in contact as deep as it is possible with their own truths and stories.
I encourage this contact to be emotionally and physically (i.e. “where do you feel sad/scared/in pain/guilty/ashamed in your body right now?”, “is it possible for us to sit with it, together?”, “how does sitting with it feel?”, “what is happening next, what do you observe?”). By “being with” our feelings, they naturally clarify. As they clarify, they change. As they change, we see options. We no longer feel stuck.
Massage is another form of therapy, where we explicitly help muscles to let go of long held tension, which equates to a state of wellbeing and relaxation of the whole body. I am a massage therapist in training and will graduate in June 2019.
When I give a massage, my purpose goes beyond physical relaxation. I want to offer my clients a space where they can also free themselves from mind chatter. This means less thinking, more feeling. In order to facilitate this, I myself become very present and do not allow, as much as I am able, for anything internal or external to interrupt my focus on my client. In Sri Ramana Maharsi’s words, “your hands may do the work but your mind can remain still”.