Clara is a mom.
She is a strong-willed woman who has raised 2 kids, a son and daughter, on her own for 10 years.
Now her children are teenagers. Her daughter is what we know of as the “good girl”. This means she studies diligently, is home when she says she will be, is polite, and does not get into trouble. Her son however, is taking a different route. He has started smoking dope, telling Clara lies to in order to go out at night with his friends.
This turn of events with her son has sent Clara into a panic. When she started realizing he was sneaking out, she began calling his cell phone incessantly - up to 20 times in a row. She felt as if things were spiraling out of control. As she describes her son's transformation to me, she seems small, like a little girl - and fraught with fear.
As we prepared to begin our work, I asked her to relax on the massage table. With my guidance, we began looking to determine how this life event was expressing itself physically through her body. During this body scan, a strong intense-like pressure came to her throat.
To me this seemed like a simple (but no less heartbreaking) case of unclear communication. The build up in her throat confirmed this suspicion for me.
Based on this observation, I opted to guide her through a regression session. A regression is a sort of guided meditation. As the therapist, I invite the client to close their eyes and imagine something. Normally I ask them to imagine a comfortable place - one from their life experience or from their imagination. I find this relaxes the client and gets them in touch with the kind of imagination this therapy requests. Then it becomes easier to access the subconscious and the manifestations of its discomforts.
I asked her to invite all her internal voices to openly and honestly express their opinions about the situation with her son.
One after another, Clara allowed each of the voices to candidly express their emotional responses to this situation with her son. I attempt to create an environment where the client is so relaxed that she is able to listen to herself. This means that Clara is present within herself in such a way that not only is she, Clara, hearing these voices, but additionally, the various voices are relaxed enough that they are able to listen to eachother.
This situation creates a cohesive dialogue within the self. Often, the body and mind begin to derail or consume themselves because they feels like they are not being heard. In this type of regression work, the purpose is for the body and mind to realign from fragments back into a cohesive and integrated emotional whole.
Therefore, I do not attempt to understand what Clara is expressing verbally. I am simply holding space for Clara and directing as I need to. I know the experience will be more efficient for Clara if she does not have to translate sounds for my understanding.
I ask her to let me know when every voice has shared all they need to share. I watch the process move like a wave, often getting extremely emotional and then calming again. An ebb and flow. While she is communicating within herself, I keep an eye on her breath and her energetic flow. I am like an orchestral director. I keep time and space for the musicians to play, but I trust them to express their genius as they have been trained to do. I do not want to get in the way of the flow, just encourage it.
Thus, with Clara, every time I witness strong blockages of emotion express physically, I help to reactivate the area.
When a client expresses a mental experience in a physical way, I observe the breath and muscles alter their rhythm and tone. Sometimes the process of movement is really evident and other times it is less so. I often elect to watch the face. I also observe the distribution of the breath along the torso. In attuning to the client in this way, I can understand the kind of activity they are experiencing in the moment.
When clients they are processing thoughts, I am able to tell because their faces are more steady and focused in its movements and then suddenly something releases and the muscles soften and relax. Over and over again, I witness this process repeat itself, thus moving through one block, encountering another, and moving through this as well.
Once Clara completed this process, like following a path of crumbs through the woods, her body became relaxed like a rag doll. All muscular tension is her face was now absent and her skin resumed a lively color. Her shoulders and hips released so that they flopped out in external rotation and her breath gained both a lightness in its expression and a depth in its path. It began to move smoothly and easily in long waves through both the abdomen and thorax.
Once Clara connected and spoke internally with her son, she felt a swell of peace and clarity. She realized that the set of emotions that swallowed her were an ingrained family practice. Thus I understood this issue did not stem with her son. Rather, it was showing up through her son. So, we repeated the regression, following the same path, but now focusing on her parents. The experience with her parents led us to her brother and then finally, to her ex-husband.
Finally I asked Clara to imagine the future relationship with her son. When her mind took her to a worried place, I directed her breath patterns in order to create a sense of possibility, stability, and trust between them.
I know Clara’s strength of character has allowed her session to move quickly. What she needed from me was to uncover a good strategy to manage these kinds of overwhelming emotions. Now, when she feels like she is being swallowed by anxiety, she knows she needs to lay herself on her bed or couch, go within herself and let all the voices in her head speak until they have nothing left to say. Once they all feel heard, clarity returns and she can make rational decisions going forward.
Clara shares with me that she found our session together to be life changing. She continues to employ our techniques and is watching with cheerful curiosity how it will affect her relationship with her beloved family.