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  • Writer's pictureJulie McCammon

Deep Listening

If only I could listen with my mind as deeply as I do with my hands!


As a Myofascial Release (MFR) Therapist, I have spent years learning to listen to clients' bodies. I gently place my hands on their skin and allow them to sink slowly into my client's tissues until I feel resistance. I wait. As I apply slight sustained pressure with a stretch, I wait until the fascia releases and becomes more fluid-filled as it softens underneath my hands. This can take five to ten minutes. The body speaks; it shows me and the client where it needs work or where it is braced or holds tension. We begin our search for freedom by letting go of restrictions.


Last week I started a 9-week course,(with Mavis Karn and Azul Leguizamon) to learn how to ‘deeply listen’ to my clients as I introduce the Three Principles understanding into my work. Our homework after the first session was to notice when and how we listened during the incoming week.


I listened with more attention when I had a conversation with my mum. There, that wasn't so bad.

Tick!


Then my first client of the day taught me a huge lesson in listening!!

We were in the Garden Room, the most beautiful treatment space I have ever worked in. The fresh scent of lemongrass and clove oils whispered into the air. Sunlight shone through the huge copper beech tree, into the room. It was the end of autumn and the leaves were at their peak, with a palette of reds, golds and coppers; this was my favourite time of year and I drank it in.


As we settled into treatment, my client said “I had an amazing experience in my counselling training at the weekend.” My warm hands rested softly on her pliant abdomen. I listened to both her body and her words. I wanted to ‘deep listen’, to practice what I was learning in my 3 Principles training.


Robins hung from the bird feeder outside as they hungrily pecked at the peanuts inside. “I told them about my MFR treatment and the conversation went in a direction I didn’t expect.” She had shared with her fellow students some of the sensations she experienced in her body while receiving MFR treatment. How she was aware of things happening in her body, sensations of pressure or release. The tutor in her group asked her, “Why are you sharing this?”



My client explained that in bodywork, the fascia cannot be forced to release; the therapist must wait in patience. She felt this was similar to holding space for a counselling client to find their way to a new understanding that would help them release old thinking.


Again the tutor asked directly “But why are you talking about this bodywork and how you experienced it?”


Before my client got a chance to finish her story, I jumped in, to defend her and judge her tutor, saying “But you can't separate the mind and the body. Of course, feeling what is going on in your body is important!”


My client looked at me with a knowing glint in her eye as she explained that her tutor then said, “Is it that you want to talk about your body?”


Boom, that connected with my client, she knew deep down that she had a longing to reconnect with her own body.


Due to past trauma, she tended to avoid conversations about her body, refusing to accept and love herself, thinking she was somehow broken. She found it hard to admit this was still something she struggled with. Her tears flowed as she realised her tutor had hit the nail on the head. She now knew she wanted to heal and learn to trust her body again.


Her tutor (the one I was so quick to judge) had listened deeply, and I had not!


I didn't beat myself up over this but laughed inside, knowing I had just had an insight into the importance of deep listening that I would not forget.


This experience has shown me how quickly I get caught up in and carried away by my thoughts, even when I’m trying to just listen.


When we trust the wisdom and well-being in each of us, we listen better; we are listening to hear rather than be heard. Wisdom is in everyone; even when it seems out of reach, it's there, in the quiet space beyond thought where clarity and healing reside.





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