Touching the Mind – Connecting Sensations, Feelings, Thoughts and Movement Part 1
We have been educated to think of language as spoken and written words, even educated to believe that no creatures but humans can properly be said to acquire and to use “language.” But organisms have been communicating among themselves and with their environment from the very beginnings of life, or life could never have succeeded and evolved.
With these thoughts in mind, then, I want to suggest some of the dimensions of the languages that our bodies speak.
In a recent class I had quoted one of my teachers, Milton Trager: “My work is directed towards reaching the mind of the client. Every contact, every move, every thought communicates how the tissue should feel when everything is right. The mind is the whole thing. That is all I am interested in.” The next day a participant raised her hand and asked, “What do you mean my reaching the mind?” The following is a summary of my attempt to answer her question.The Language of the Connective Tissue Matrix.
Just underneath the skin–in fact an integral part of it–begins the intimately interwoven web of our connective tissue. Once regarded as an inert, sort of nylon-like wrapping that divided our bones, muscles, organs, circulatory systems and neural pathways into separate functional entities, this web is now appreciated as an extraordinarily sensitive and energetic matrix that in fact connects all of our internal structures and processes, down to our innermost microscopic cellular interiors.
Far from being inert, our connective tissue matrix is a sensitive conductor of electromagnetic currents. And it is a conductor of a special class, called piezo-electric. “Piezo” is a Greek derivative, meaning in this usage “self-generating.” Every movement, every pressure, every distortion through movement, every vibration creates polarizations within this matrix, and between the polarities flow currents of electricity that surround and penetrate all six trillion living cells in our bodies, carrying not only energy but also information to their membranes and to their interiors that help to both fuel and to orchestrate many of their inner activities, and harmonize them with one another.
In these energetic and informational roles, our connective tissue matrix was the precursor to our nervous systems in both evolutionary and embryological development, animating and coordinating organisms before the first neurons arrived on the scene. And it continues to supply an exquisitely sensitive (responding to vibrations below neural thresholds of stimulation) and rapid (traveling at the speed of electron streams, not action potentials) source of vitality and organization both within us and between us.
The Language of Nerves and Muscles
Nerves and muscles share a common language in their communications and responses: the rhythms of action potentials that ripple along their membranes and orchestrate their collective activities. All these cells are tightly linked at many levels of our neuromuscular systems, and are constantly interacting with one another. It is impossible to experience a sensation, a feeling or a thought without stimulating a muscular reaction–large or small, conscious or unconscious. And it is equally impossible to experience a movement without changing the landscapes of our perceptions, our sensations, feelings and thoughts. No muscle can create any movement without neural stimulations, and no movement can occur without consequent changes in the stream of these stimulations. And further, all of these stimulations and movements are ultimately nothing less than the summary of the totality of all of our sixty trillion cells activities and their myriad and complex interactions–the activities of our entire landscape of perceptions and responses that are translated into our behaviors of all kinds and on all levels. “Mind” is vastly more extensive than “brain.” Mind involves the whole of our landscape, and all of the internal and external ecological processes that are fused into those mysteries and miracles that we call life and consciousness. We are moved by all levels of our feelings, ideas and beliefs, our current assessments, needs and intentions, and by all of the countless processes that underlie them.
These are the dimensions of the language of sensations, feelings, thoughts and movements in our lives. The vocabulary, grammar and syntax of this language are the stuff of all of our motor experience and development–all functional skills and all dysfunctional blocks, all successful adaptations and all persistent limitations, all habituated repetitions and all new possibilities. This is another domain into which we can enter and positively affect through our touch, if we can learn to speak its language.
To read part two, The Persistance of Memory and the Precipitation of Novelty, click here.
Excerpted from Deane Juhan: Reaching the Mind with Touch with permission of the author.