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 Conversations with Leaders in Self-Care: A Field Guide to Body Work 
 
Interview with Ken Dychtwald PhD
   as interviewed by Tom Ferguson MD

You can make up your own ways of doing new things with your body, too, like cleaning the house or washing the dishes with your other hand. Or learning to write with your nondominant hand. Or your toes. Or blindfolding yourself and exploring the world using only your other senses. Anything that takes you out of your normal patterns of muscular or sensory activity can be considered valid body work.

These approaches try to get your mind out of a rut. For examples, runners can experiment with adding play, movement, and dance to their regular run. Try running at varying speeds or sideways. Or backward. Of course, there are other sports, like basketball, that require constant improvisation. Aikido, a noncombat form of the martial arts, requires constant improvisation. It's a good example of high-level training in neuromuscular sophistication. So is playing a musical instrument.

What are some good books in this area?

Two books by Moishe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement and The Case of Norah, and Mabel Ellsworth Todd's The Thinking Body. A good book on dance is Sweigard's Human Movement Potential.

Approach number seven is massage.

In massage, one person uses his or her hands to touch and manipulate the body of another. There are many types of massage. Ideally, massage will accomplish several major goals.

Receiving a massage is an excellent way to become comfortable being touched by another person. This sounds pretty elementary, but for many of us, being touched in a nonsexual, caring fashion is not a usual part of our daily lives.

Light massage can facilitate relaxation and stimulate the sensory nervous system. Deeper massage can actually release the tension in our muscles. All kinds of massage can increase circulation and glandular functioning and promote a greater sense of well-being and aliveness.

The best overall how-to-get started book on massage is George Downing's The Massage Book. Another book that does a nice job of summarizing the importance of being touched for our development and well-being is Ashley Montagu’s Touching.

The eighth approach is working on emotions through the body.

Emotions live in the body, and if they're not allowed to express themselves, they may become lodged in the body as tension. Many of these approaches make uses of expressive activities in order to relieve the body of stress, frustration, and unresolved feelings. For example, instead of just stretching, you might stretch and scream or yell or make faces. Or you might hit a pillow or kick the floor to release tension. Or you might have a pretend fight with someone using Doffers kind of big, well-padded bat.

In some approaches, like bioenergetics, a therapist manipulates different areas while you focus on the memories and feelings that come up as the tension in the various parts of the body is released.

Nearly all the emotion-focused kinds of body work have grown out of the work of Wilhelm Reich. Rolling, Reichian energetics, Postural Integration, Radix, neoReichian therapies, bioenergetics, gestalt therapy, sensory awareness—these are some examples of body work methods that deal with feelings. Reich's big contribution was the idea that when emotions lodge in the body, they can distort the body's structure and impair its function. He then found that it was possible for these emotions to be released, leaving the individual not only feeling better but less susceptible to illness.

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 About The Author
Tom Ferguson, M.D. (1943-2006), was a pioneering physician, author, and researcher who virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health. Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote......moreTom Ferguson MD
 
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