First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Preverbal cognition

Global patterns of restriction in the body can go way back in the way back machine. A recent injury unwinds quite readily with the right coaxing, letting the tissue know that the recent trauma has passed, that it’s okie dokie to let go. It’s a kinesthetic dialogue, nervous system to nervous system. Bodywork is a form of non-verbal communication.

Sometimes these tensional eddies go back much further. Into childhood, into birth, into our fidget in the womb. The complexities of these life-arching physical patterns may come from a place before we developed language to express our experience.

If you twisted an ankle last week, you might describe those events to me:

“I saw a dog that looked like Lassie and it woofed! I had the briefest moment of thinking, ’gosh that looks like Lassie’, when I tripped over a garden gnome with my left foot and banged my knee on a decorative rock with the word ’manifest!’ painted on it in purple glitter. I caught myself with my right hand on some soft earth and now I have a headache 4-5 times a week.”

You can begin to form a little picture of the scene and the body in motion in your head. A tense gardening excursion, to be sure!

So, if one’s experience predates language ability, then the details of trauma are more difficult to expressively account. Trauma can come from the slightest of twists, extensions and compressions when coming out of the womb, even in the everyday, no-complication childbirth. These are moments that may shape us in profound ways throughout life. Our gait, our breathe pattern take on chronic protective responses that aren’t always in harmony with our individual homeostasis. We compensate for these patterns in the myriad of ways human beings adapt to any change.

Sometimes we adapt by accepting pain, by accepting less breath, by accepting a crumple in our cadence.

We can begin to terraform our individual global climate through hands-on, somatic practices. Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau has brought us video of living fascia and it is fascinating! He shows the microvacuoles in our tensional fascial system lengthening, contracting and reforming connections within the network, creating new kinetic links between sliding compressional elements. Yes, our fascial system remodels itself, even through everyday movements.

Not many systems in the body have that degree of spontaneous variability. For purposes of illustration, the angiogenesis of blood vessels don’t just jump ship in a Spiderman like thwip-thwip to form new paths. They are more root like in their growth. Though, the fascia does, forming and reforming as needed to deal with any request at hand.

Bodywork finds use when our postural and breath mechanics reach the limit of self-correction. The intervention of a trusted guide may bring to light patterns bound into our tissue from very early on. We can become aware of those slower to soften, viscous tissues, address them, dance with them and find myofascial releases in those ingrained, multi-complex, whole-body shifts and rotations.

Photography by Hamid Shibata Bennett

On a run, I became aware of the movement of my diaphragm within my rib-cage. The two lobes began to feel like the slow flapping wings of a bird in gentle flight, riding the thermals. I nearly wept; the sensation of that awareness was so beautiful in it’s simplicity and elegance. My breath has not been the same since.

Find gentleness in your assertions as you explore these rivers. Find compassion in your intuition. Hold self-care dear. Let go of the need to fix and simply be present. More ease, more breath follows far more often than not. Trust in that.

Hamid : )

6 comments on “Preverbal cognition

  1. Linda Hunt, LMT, APP, Massage instructor
    August 8, 2011

    Beautifully written, observed, felt, expressed internally and externally and acknowledged. I’m glad I had some small part in your discovery. Thanks for sharing and for allowing and trusting me to help facilitate this new awareness.

    • Linda… Being on your massage table is a profound experience. The presence, ceremony and awareness you bring into your practice is both beautiful and inspiring. Thank you again! We shed light in all the right darkened corners.

      Hamid : )

  2. Pingback: Susan G. Komen and massage for cancer. An update. | First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

  3. Marion
    March 27, 2012

    Thank you for another beautifully written article Hamid!

  4. Pingback: Self-care and massage therapy | First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

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Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT, CAMT (OBMT #301)
Advanced massage therapy and bodywork
3810 SE Belmont ST
Portland, Oregon 97214

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