Like the fence around our property, the skin and connected soft tissues are the boundary between us and the outside world. It may be a hard fence - bricks and mortar with well protected entrance points - the ‘hard one’, bristly, always on guard; or ramshackle and run down easy to get in and out - chaotic and scatty, never on time, all smiles, constantly chatting, not letting a word (or feeling) in edgewise. Sometimes no fence at all at the back, but heavily protected at the front - the big chested body builder, ‘don’t mess with me, mate!’ or no fence at the boundary but in close the doors are double locked, the windows are barred and there is a security system.
We all build and maintain our own unique boundary in response to hurts we encounter as we grow: If a burglar gets in and steals the TV and video, I install stronger locks on the doors and an alarm system and invite the burglars to ‘steal that ya b@*#s’ … If a person gets in and steals a bit of my heart, I ‘harden my heart’ and say ‘I’m not going to let that happen again’ ‘I won’t be such a fool next time’.
The expressions; thick skinned, hard hearted, flighty; big softie, bark’s worse than his bite, edgy, describe some of the physical protections we build in the body. If I’m edgy, I only present an ‘edge’ to the world and the bad stuff from out there can’t land on me; or if I am flighty the bad stuff can’t catch up with me; thick skinned it can’t penetrate the armour.
Softening the tissues during a bodywork or massage session can allow some of the feelings that were present when the boundary was created, to emerge. This can result in tears, or feelings of anger, and resistance. Paul’s boundary (see page 3) ‘I can’t have’ presented as pain when he was reaching out for something he wanted. It was protecting him from the hurt of his belief ‘I am not worthy’. Pushing the boundary with deep massage strokes and PI exercises brought the belief to Paul’s conscious awareness thereby allowing him to acknowledge the belief (and the fact that he had created it), and then let go of it.
We encourage you to explore any feeling which may arise during a session and identify for yourself any deep seated emotion/ belief that may surround and support it. You may no longer need it, and by identifying the source of your pain you can come to terms with it, then determining if it is still useful to you, you have the choice to keep it or let it go.
By letting go of a feeling your armour will no longer be necessary. This does not mean that you will no longer have difficulties or feel tension. There is a continuing need for us to express our anxieties and frustrations, but we can now more quickly recognize, confront, and let go of them.
The full Postural Integration (PI) program is ten sessions of up to two hours over a 20-week period. It includes release of over 140 muscles, postural realignment, journal keeping, self-expression, and bio-energetic release exercises.
By Ross Housham