Posted by Ronelle Wood on 09/03/2016

Excerpt from Book "Touching Light"

Excerpt from Book


I’ll always remember a workshop experience I had when I was learning myofascial release. In the John Barnes training, after you practice a freshly learned technique on someone, they immediately practice on you. I had begun to take chances when it was my turn to receive, and I was starting to take John Barnes at his word when he said to let go.

I was in a training room where others seemed to be moving and making noise during their turn on the table, and I felt ready to see where my body would take me. Choosing a practice partner, I went first as practitioner. Then it was my turn.

I was lying face up, and the other therapist was at my feet, holding my heels with gentle traction.

John Barnes had explained to us about the fascial voice—an area of the body that has been signaling with a sensation that’s been going on in the background of our attention but mostly drowned out by external stimuli or dismissed by our telling it Not now.

I tuned in to where my body was “talking” the most. I could feel a low-grade ache in my left hip, and was surprised that I had been ignoring a sensation that felt fairly obvious once I tuned out everything else. The fascial voice was like a kid yanking on my skirt and saying “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.”

Instead of holding still, I let my left leg move of its own accord. With my eyes closed, I let it stretch out straight and then extend out to the side. Both of my arms began to reach up over my head.

I thought, I’d be mortified if I ever did this while I was receiving a traditional massage. But I went with it, and as I began to take up space by expanding my movements, the instructor brought more students to assist.

Soon there was a person for each of my limbs, one for my head, and one at my waist. That’s right: six people around that table—just for me!

I wrestled with my self-conscious inner voice that was telling me I was taking up too much time, space, attention, and resources. I politely invited my inner critic to shush.

Getting Down

Before I knew what was happening, my freedom of movement had brought me way over to one side of the table, and soon I was being gently assisted to the ground!

I didn’t have to brace or stop or apologize or start over. They just went with it and followed my body. I allowed myself to follow it, too. That is to say, I didn’t let my internal censor/ monitor/editor interrupt or stop me and require me to “act right.”

It really helped to have my eyes closed so I didn’t get sensory input. If I had seen any of the expressions on the faces of those helping me, it might have inhibited my internal process. However, I remember opening my eyes at one point and being surprised to see the underside of the massage table with all its riggings and wires.

For some reason, this view from the floor filled me with the giddiest sense of euphoria. I was so far outside the box that I was under it! I hadn’t even known this was an option. At that moment, what came out of my mouth in a whisper was, “I had no idea,” and it felt good for me to repeat these words over and over again. The statement felt like part of the unwinding.

I felt a loosening of all of the physical and mental limits and controls put on me from a young age by my parents and grandparents and their church and my school and teachers and education, and by me when I got old enough to take over imposing the constraints on my own. This felt like a return to innocence, a return to my authentic self.

As I kept uttering that one phrase, “I had no idea,” the instructor got right down there with me and whispered in my ear, “But what if you did?” Just writing these words makes me weep. I wouldn’t be writing this, and wouldn’t be able to share this beautiful information about you, if I hadn’t learned that, back then, about me.

Throughout my life, the freeze response that had taken place in moments of trauma had stopped my body from having a physical reaction to the fight-or-flight signal firing in my gut. Allowing your body to have the physical expression of fight or flight in a safe environment can unlock long-term patterns of holding. Pounding your heels, cycling your legs, flailing your arms, punching a pillow, and screaming and cursing is an authentic expression of fear that can empty out what your body has stored.

And it’s fascinating, because it doesn’t happen out of any conscious choice. No one can tell you that you need to scream or repeat phrases like, I wanna go home. It just happens when you take the brakes off.

Huge resistance to letting go like this is common. I’ll tell you more about this in the next chapter.

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