All Things Energy

Recently, in a class I was teaching, a student made a comment about preferring energy work over bodywork (massage, deep tissue, Adv. Somatic Therapy™). This comment brought to mind a common misconception that exists not only amongst bodyworkers but the general public as well.

All interactions are energetic in nature. In the healing arts, everything we do is energy work. As Ida Rolf, the developer of Structural Integration or Rolfing said, "sight is touch at a distance." In physics, there is the "Observer Effect" in which the instrument used to observe a particle or object has an impact on the object being observed and, thus, cannot observe the object in its natural state. The energy or presence of the observer has a tangible effect on the object. This same phenomenon exists in life. How does it feel to be watched? Typically, our natural state of being when we are not being observed is marked different from when we are under scrutiny. Whether we attribute this to energy or not, when we know that everything is energetic in nature, is moot.

Whether we are doing energy work off the body (not touching) or Adv. Somatic Therapy&trade (deep structural work), we are working with the energy of the body. The only difference is our proximity to the body and our mental perspective as we do the work. If we think that the only time we are "doing energy work" is when we are not touching the body then we will not be open to the transformational effects that work has when we are interacting with the deeper structures of the body. In order to better understand how we are influencing the bio-energetic system, we need to understand the physical structures that interface with it.

The foundational component of all connective tissue (bone, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia etc.) in the body is collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals and makes up about 50% of the protein in the body. What is so impressive about collagen is its organizational characteristics. Collagen fibers are so highly organized that they are considered crystalline in nature. That is, they have the potential to hold an ambient piezoelectric charge. At its simplest level this infers that if mechanical stresses are placed on the structures made from collagen, an electrical potential will be generated. The greater the potential the more energy will be built up. This physiology opens up a vast vista of theory and exploration when we talk about the physical energetics of injury and muscle memory.

As a therapist works with the body, either directly or indirectly (directed stretching or prescribed yoga postures, etc.) they are accessing those deeper energetic structures and increasing the ambient bio-electrical charge that surrounds the body. When we couple this small bit of information with a knowledge of the nervous system and what stimulation of certain portions of that system can do, you are initiating a true potential for not only mental or energetic but also physical transformation on a profound level.

Back to my student's assertion that energy work is more enjoyable than bodywork; though it may be easier from the perspective of exertion or application of physical force, it has been my experience that by engaging the tissues while working within the energy of the body, you create a powerful environment for transformation and change, one that wouldn't necessarily be available if we ONLY did off-body energy work.

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