What Just Happened? (A session with Rick Barrett, RPP)

IMG_0475“What just happened?”

My clients are often at a loss to explain (to themselves and others) what exactly occurred in one of my sessions. Many experience a deep, profound healing and want to share that experience with others. But when they try to articulate what happened, words fail. What comes out sounds either too prosaic or too far out. Most don’t even try.

My healing sessions don’t easily fit into conventional models. I don’t diagnose and I don’t treat health problems directly. I am not a doctor. I don’t prescribe. I don’t “heal” people either—at least not in the usual sense of the word. I am more like a guide that creates a safe space for my client to investigate new relationships in the body-mind, and adopt or discard conditions, behaviors, attitudes, and thought patterns.

“Healing” derives from an Old English word that means “wholeness ”. And that pretty much describes what I do: I help people rediscover their wholeness . My underlying assumption is that all healing is self-healing. And all problems—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational—are best addressed in a state of wholeness . Your body-mind has an infinitely greater capacity to restore health and vitality than any doctor. Even the greatest surgeon is powerless to “cure” a patient who is not ready to recover.

There is a calm core of unlimited potentiality at the center of our Being. All that we display—actions, emotions, thoughts, structures—are manifestations of that core. It is all too easy to lose contact with our Center and get lost in the many distractions of life. After a while we may so identify with our problems that we forget our True Nature entirely. Just as we forget ourselves in a scary movie, we can get lost in our sufferings.

My job is to facilitate your returning to your authentic Self. From there, your body-mind can sort out your difficulties much more efficiently than anyone else. I have total trust in the native intelligence of your body-mind. It will always choose the best course given the data it has. Sometimes it may be unwilling to surrender what are obvious harmful patterns because it is still using them to solve an old problem. Returning to Center allows an opportunity to recalibrate from a more neutral state. I will sometimes hold or move body parts in ways that present new options for your intelligent body-mind to consider.

Many problems that do not respond to the invasiveness of drugs and surgery actually do better with this non-directed approach. Think of it as a “rising tide lifts all boats” method. The individual becomes calmer, more centered, and stronger. A by-product of this is the subsiding and resolution of symptoms.

The symptoms are not usually the problem. Of course, if I break my arm I will seek a physician to set it properly. But most of the physical difficulties we encounter are the result of how we deal with the stresses of life. Symptoms are like the red light on your car’s dashboard telling you to “Check Engine!” They alert you that your system is out of balance. If the real problem is neglected or disguised (for example, by suppressing the symptom with drugs) the body-mind will find another way to try to alert you—say, by getting ill.

My approach assumes that the underlying cause of most difficulties is a disruption of the body-mind’s energy. Chinese medicine has long contended that if the body’s vital force (qi, ch’i) is robust and flowing smoothly, then good health and longevity are assured. The stresses of our daily lives (work, family, diet, politics, etc.) can block and fragment our energy. This will manifest physically, emotionally, and mentally.

In this energetically fragmented state, we can no longer remember wholeness. This manifests in many stress-related health problems like:

• digestive problems
• acid reflux
• headaches
• sciatica
• back problems
• neck pain
• fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
• hypertension
• anxiety
• insomnia
• lethargy

Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance

One place we see this disruption is in the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system that takes care of the stuff you don’t want to think about all the time: heart rate, blood pressure, kidney function, digestion, etc. It’s divided into two parts:

The sympathetic nervous system is the go-go-go part. It’s in charge of energy out. Doing. It’s what we usually think of when we think we are being “energetic”: playing ball, arguing with the boss, walking to the store, riding a bike.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the part where energy is restored and healing occurs. It is the quiet part, and as such it is often ignored or even feared. Many of us feel guilty if we are not doing enough and the unsettled mind will eagerly seek some disturbance to fix on. Consequently, we cheat the parasympathetic by pushing ourselves to do more than is healthy.

This may not be a conscious choice. Habits are established in our youth (when responsibilities are fewer) that we are reluctant to break in our maturity. Even our “relaxation” can be full of activity. (Watching tv can tax the nervous system.) We create an artificial state of emergency to trick our bodies to forget they are weary. Even when it’s time to sleep we are reluctant to give up the worries of the day.

The source and the result is autonomic nervous system imbalance. It becomes a downward spiral and eventually manifests as dis-ease (see list above). Correcting the problem requires restoring balance. Ideally, we see-saw back and forth between sympathetic and parasympathetic, allowing the body-mind to heal itself regularly. Unfortunately, if you are sufficiently out of balance, you not only don’t remember the sweet feeling of a fully functioning parasympathetic, but you may even distrust (and fight) it when re-introduced.

Polarity Therapy

Polarity Therapy is a wonderful tool for helping us restore autonomic nervous system balance. It is done fully clothed and usually on a massage table. It is non-invasive. I use my hands to bring your awareness to parts of your body to allow its energy to amplify and flow. Most people experience a deep relaxation and a “letting go from the inside out”. The body-mind is allowed to explore new possibilities for how it relates to itself.

The experience of Polarity Therapy is like a deep, profound meditation or a healing trance. The body let’s go at a fundamental level with powerful, yet subtle changes throughout. There is a sweetness, a sense of nurturing, as your body harmonizes at a much higher level.

We are usually unaware of how much unnecessary tension we hold in our bodies, often from habits established decades ago. This tension is a product of internal conflict which has a disruptive effect on our energy. It is like driving with the handbrake on. When this tension is released the energy we use to fight ourselves is then available for other uses.

Since every part of our body-mind affects all other parts, releasing one source of disruption helps restore the whole. Our muscles, circulatory system, digestion, urogenital system, and others all respond favorably.

For some, there is a sense of spiritual awakening that comes from shedding unwanted energy patterns. As you return to your Center, all that stuff that is “not-me” becomes apparent and thus easier to discard.

This video from John Chitty demonstrates one type of Polarity session:

Craniosacral Balancing

Craniosacral balancing is a technique employed in Polarity, and is a big part of my sessions. It uses gentle, nurturing contact along neck and head to feel for movement and rhythm generated by the pulse of the cerebrospinal fluid.

The Craniosacral system is one of the most fundamental in the body. It protects and nourishes the brain and spinal cord. Any disruption in its smooth functioning has repercussions throughout the body-mind. Imbalances are corrected by gently cradling the head and sacrum and allowing the various parts of skull and spine to find their optimal relationship to each other, pulsing with a voluptuous rhythm.

Each time you experience the heightened state of wholeness that is possible in your body-mind, it becomes that much easier to find it on your own. You transform gradually, according to your comfort, as your body-mind embraces a more optimal way of functioning. Symptoms of dis-ease dissolve as your energy becomes more coherent.

Biosonic Repatterning

Just as we can be disturbed and upset by loud or jarring sounds, so can we be healed by sounds that resonate with a healthy body-mind. This type of healing tunes the body-mind using tuning forks, singing bowls, and vocal overtones. Your whole body vibrates in resonance to carefully chosen tones to restore wholeness at a very deep level.

T’ai Chi and Posture

I have been teaching t’ai chi for over 25 years and have been practicing for over 35. This has given me a familiarity with subtle energies that informs all aspects of my healing practice. It has also given me insight into posture and movement. I have found that many problems respond quickly to minor adjustments in the way we stand and move. While I do also give private t’ai chi lessons, you don’t need to devote yourself to its practice to see quick results from these postural adjustments.

Spiritual Counseling

We often experience difficulties as we navigate the waters of spiritual development. As we awaken to in our spiritual evolution, we may collide with existing ways of thinking and being. Polarity uses verbal counseling to locate stuck energy caused by old uninspected patterns of thought and emotion. Bringing them to the light of consciousness can bring about major changes at all levels of our being. My approach is non-ideological. My clients have been rabbis, nuns, and pagans.

It all begins with Meeting. Beyond all techniques and philosophy is the authentic engagement between two human beings, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. An alliance is formed that is based on mutual trust, trust that comes with Meeting with your whole being.

Simply put, my job is to restore my clients’ ability to heal themselves—physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. This is done by guiding them to a greater awareness of their wholeness which opens them to a healthier, happier life.

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