To Care: Part 2
I have said that the story of stress and trauma is not the authentic story of our being. That needs to be modified as it is authentic from the view of embodied wholeness. How? When the story of stress and trauma is being told, it is being held (listened to) by a compassionate therapist in the present moment with care in their heart. Care in the heart is literal which begins with conscious interoceptive awareness of the movement of the heart. Thus the present moment, the immediate nowness of the interaction within my embodied whole or relating to another human being, is the actual living container of wholeness, because the present moment is always and immediately inherently complete and whole. It is an experience fully integrated with the human body that is breathing and pumping blood in this precise moment of time. Such wholeness expresses itself as kindness. Kindness is thus caring expressing itself. It is an activity born of the present moment directed towards one’s self and another person. Caring is expressed as kindness and is the activity of compassion. Compassion, caring and kindness generates humility and a host of other qualities that support no flaw.
This wholeness is described by different metaphors especially in the biodynamic craniosacral therapy community. Present from the very beginning of our human life, it was and is currently holding the story line of stress and trauma better than can be imagined by any comic book super hero. But the accessibility and subsequent exploration of the story of wholeness is made available with the skill of a biodynamic therapist by listening into the wisdom of the client with their heart, in the present moment of course.
Listening into the wisdom of the client involves a practice in which the therapist is oriented to the shape and movement of their own respiratory diaphragm, heart and cardiovascular system as a whole. Gentle eye contact is made to establish safety. Language is used to establish a reflective, gentle and genuine connection. This affirms one’s own and the other’s inherent humanity and wholeness. This is further accomplished by staying attuned to one’s own body and mind which stabilizes the therapeutic encounter. The mind of the therapist reduces its wandering and rests in the movement and activity of his or her heart. The heart/diaphragm union of movement become a periodic object of meditation to build tranquility.
The biodynamic therapeutic session begins with the story of nowness. Now is quite simple. The therapist notices any wandering thoughts and returns attention to the shape of their body, the shape of the respiratory diaphragm and heart. These are explorations of interoception which changes the brain in a very positive way by reducing fear and anxiety. The movement of the heart/diaphragm is a rhythmic guide for the therapeutic relationship. The metronome of the session and connection to caring. At some moment the therapist will synchronize with the slow tempo of Primary Respiration usually by taking a deep breath.
Conscious perception of the therapist is attuned to that which is slow and still. Thus, the starting point of a biodynamic session is not only a sense of wholeness, but also a sense of no flaw. The starting point is only inherent completeness in which the narrative of stress and trauma is held in a much larger dimension, the union of embodied wholeness and compassion which is simply nowness.
Nowness is the whole, the totality of mind and body in this very moment. And a mindfulness meditation practice daily based on no flaw opens the door to the power of now. In this way, the instinct to care wakes up gradually in both the therapist and the client through resonance. The end of the session no longer has the goal of establishing embodied wholeness, because that is the way the session started. The end of the session is open ended and cannot be directed by the therapist. For sure it is supported by mindfulness. The end can go in a thousand different directions that continues beyond the end of the session. We are giving our clients the gift of our attention. Attention based in the present moment and all that the present moment includes is curative of many ailments.
Even physical death has a thousand different directions and is best supported by mindfulness as the basis of caring. This is especially relevant at death. Another direction at the end of a session in particular is the remembering of caring, not self-care. It is rather a caring linked to inherent completeness expressed as kindness. At a practical level, the end of the session is directed by when the clock time runs out and the next client is in the waiting room. There are many directions for the end of a session and each of them contain an originality unique to that moment. When working with moms and babies for example, the therapist must be acutely aware of the activity of the autonomic nervous systems of both mom and baby. This is where the story of stress and trauma or simply tiredness is most apparent and the application of kindness the most necessary.
Only one story really gets told in the therapeutic session. It is the story of the therapist. When a client comes in, the client then becomes part of the ongoing narrative in the therapist’s body and mind. That is why my friend Sarajo Berman calls biodynamic work “joint practice.” At a phenomenological level as a therapist, I can only experience myself, my own body and my own mind. The impressions that my senses give me regarding my client, even in the practice of manual therapy are still filtered through a million years of sensory development, cognitive discrimination and memory within my own body and mind as a therapist. The story of now is the story of embodied wholeness and the story of caring at the most essential level for self and other. This is the story of loving kindness and compassion. It is humbling to sense this as an embodied reality.