Body Resonance and the Client-Therapist Relationship
Updated: Jan 22
Body Resonance is a quantum medicine approach to health and well-being that recognizes the effect consciousness has on physical health. It is an approach that is informed by the quality of connection between therapist and client, or more precisely, the engaged presence of the therapist. This engaged presence, in my experience, determines the outcome of a treatment in a way that far exceeds any technique applied.
The term quantum medicine describes a universe in which everything is inter-connected. It is a medicine that views life, health and disease as a network phenomenon, and the body and mind not as separate and distinct but as aspects of one body-mind which includes the physical body as well as emotions, thoughts and beliefs.
Research in biochemistry and biogenetics demonstrate that the perceptions we have affect not only how we feel but also our physiology (see Candace Pert, Bruce Lipton, John Cairns inter alia).
“Psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing” ~ Carl Jung
When I started working as a therapist I concentrated primarily on the voice. The voice is an important expression of who we are. It is a fundamental means of communicating, yet the words we say, the content of each utterance, carries only a small percentage of what we actually communicate. The frequencies and harmonics of the voice, body language and intention carry the greater part of what we express.
Initially my work focussed on breathing, partly because I had a great deal of experience working in the theatre and partly because of my personal history with diseases of the lungs.
As I child I contracted TB which left a scar on my lung. I also had pleurisy and regularly suffered bronchitis attacks. Breathing was often painful. Later, as a young man acting on stage, these childhood experiences proved to be a challenge in more ways than I expected. I found it difficult to make myself heard especially in the larger theatres. I had to find a way to speak clearly and audibly without strain if I was to work steadily and not lose or damage my voice. So I worked with voice and singing teachers to increase the capacity of my lungs. I began to breathe more deeply, quite different from the shallow snatching breaths I had become so used to taking as a protection against pain. Over time my voice gained power.
However I discovered that all this training was not enough: I still couldn’t be heard in theatres with large audience capacities. I became aware that I couldn’t be heard not because of insufficient physical power but because I was afraid. All those years of holding back and now I was faced with everything ‘unexpressed’ within me. Now that I had the physical ability there was no ‘reason’ to hold back anymore, no excuse. And I was afraid. I worked my way through this fear by putting that energy into the characters I played. My fear became theirs and eventually fear turned to excitement and the question of not being heard faded away.
There was a by-product of this work. I had for many years neglected seeing the doctor for my regular x-rays. A TB scar on the lung was something that needed monitoring. When I did eventually have an x-ray it was discovered that the scar had diminished so much it was almost invisible. In fact my doctor at first assumed that the lab had made a mistake and sent the wrong x-ray.
The physical work I had done as well as the process of engaging with the emotional content of my childhood illnesses, changed my perceptions about myself and in so doing altered my physiology and healed old wounds.
In my work as a therapist I found that most people had ‘forgotten’ how to breath. On the face of it this is an extraordinary statement, because we cannot stay alive without breathing. And yet, the way a healthy baby breathes is quite different from the way most adults do. When an infant cries, the belly works like a pump; the throat is open and relaxed. The abdominal muscles activate, the belly goes in as the diaphragm moves upwards. Air is forced across the larynx and the baby produces a sound clearly expressing a need – hunger, fear, discomfort, tiredness, etc. When the baby finishes that breath (exhales), the sound stops and what happens? The infant simply lets go. The stomach muscles relax, the diaphragm slides downwards and the belly pops back out again. The effect is to immediately draw air into the lungs without any effort, ready for the next cry. And, as any parent knows, a baby can cry all night without losing his/her voice and no fear of not being heard!
As we grow so we are conditioned out of this natural way to breathe and express ourselves. Within just a few years we stop letting go. Every breath requires more effort because we never let go of the muscles in our body, even when they are not needed. This is a source of tension in the body. It is also connected with how we feel about ourselves and what we think is possible.
The more I worked with breathing, with how we speak, the more I perceived a connection between the physical elements of the body and the emotional state of the person. Working with the voice almost invariably brought up emotions, either by uncovering emotional blocks and/ or their release.
“The body is solid material wrapped around the breath” ~ Ida Rolf
It was not a big step to begin to see the correlation between an emotional state in a client and the thoughts they were having. What they were thinking contributed to how they were feeling – and this affected their voice and breathing. The challenge then became to help people uncover for themselves what it was they were thinking, the thought patterns that connected with the emotions they felt.
It soon became apparent, however, that it was not enough for someone to merely identify their thought patterns; logical understanding was not enough to un-learn the conditioned responses developed over a lifetime. To bring about meaningful change, something else had to happen.
The physical body is in constant flow. There are approximately 50 trillion cells in the human body which are growing, dying and being formed all the time. We renew our entire skin every 25-45 days, epithelial tissue in the mouth every few days, blood in 90-120 days. Even bone tissue is being replenished to repair micro damage and balance mineral composition regularly. We are literally changing all the time. It has been calculated that not a single cell in the human body is the same after a period of about 7 years (with the exception of some neurons that can live about 50 years). Literally, you are not the same person now as you were when you got out of bed this morning!
Even though the body’s physical processes are engaged in a flowing dance, the only thing that seems to remain fixed is what we think; our ideas and beliefs are much more intractable to change. For example how we think of ourselves, how we define not only who we think we are but ‘how things are’ or ‘how they should be’ – these ideas we jealously guard and hold onto even when they cause us pain and suffering.
We have a powerful survival mechanism at work, one that tends to support whatever our conditioning happens to be. Most of the time we are running on automatic… yet we think we are making choices all the time. Really we are operating from the blueprints we learned through culture, school, friends, parents. We continually judge things on the basis of these blueprints of survival, our social code of interaction.
There are numerous studies that explore this phenomenon revealing that people even when confronted by indisputable evidence contrary to their belief prefer to accept only ‘facts’ which conform to their ideas and ignore others which do not support their position. For example, in one study voters deemed traits in their chosen political candidate as favourable, and regarded the same traits in the opposition candidate as unfavourable (Dr. D. Weston, Emory University, Georgia).
The paradox is that these very ideas – these concepts we hold onto about ourselves and the world we inhabit – become obstacles in our way not only to our own sense of peace and fulfilment, but also, as a therapist, they obstruct us fully supporting our client. It is our hidden conditioning, those things we are unaware of that run us like a machine, that obscure our ability to connect with others. And surely that is our deepest wish, to feel connected, and in this connection to feel ‘seen’ and validated. The power of this sense is incalculable in any client-therapist relationship.
As my work developed I began to recognize that when we heal, we not only heal the body, we also change our perception of ourselves and the world we live in. In fact with every change in the body there is a correlative change in consciousness; and connecting the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our body-mind makes us ‘whole’ again.
Body Resonance is many things: but perhaps the primary aspect of this approach to healing is that it supports the therapist to ‘get out of their own way’ – to become conscious of their limiting beliefs and judgements about themselves and their clients. When we become aware that our ideas mediate our understanding of anything we perceive, that they can ‘get in the way’, the potential of the client-therapist relationship is considerably expanded.
As a therapist, the ability to connect with your client and your client’s sense of being seen and valued as a person, distinct from whatever challenge they may present, provides the greatest encouragement for significant and lasting change. This holds true for any client, no matter their age or cultural background, no matter whether they have a physical or mental disability, whether they’ve had a stroke or an accident, whether they have cancer or any other disease. Furthermore, in my experience, this work supports not only the client themselves but also their family and/ or caregivers.
Real connection is always a two-way process, a dance between therapist and client. Any treatment process cannot be fixed and apply to all clients because the signals that are received back from any client vary and are in flux. Whatever techniques are applied must be adapted to meet the needs of the client in that moment.
Body Resonance is not a closed fixed system but is continually developing. As an approach it cannot be learned by simple rote repetition, though it does indicate a way of being that can be learned and mastered. Body Resonance works through the engaged presence of the therapist grounded in the consciousness posited by quantum medicine’s interconnectedness. This ‘field’ of consciousness enables the wisdom and inherent healing capacities of each person to direct a process of change towards health and well-being.
Citations of studies:
1. “Neuropeptides and their receptors: A psychosomatic network” – C.B. Pert & M.R. Ruff in Journal of Immunology vol. 135 (2), 820s-826s, 1985
2. “The Psychosomatic network: foundations of mind-body medicine” – C.B. Pert, H.E. Dreher & M.R. Ruff in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, (4), 30-41, 1998
3. The Biology of Belief
Bruce Lipton Ph.D.
4. Cairns, J. The bacterial chromosome and its manner of replication as seen by autoradiography in Journal of Molecular Biology 6:208-13, 1963 (Canberra, Australia)
5. Westen, D. (2007). The political brain: The role of emotion in deciding the fate of the nation. New York: Public Affairs Books.
Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way you Feel, by Candace B. Pert Ph.D.
The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton Ph.D.
Elite Books, 2005
This article first appeared in LogoThema magazine October 2010