Well, to start with, I’ve always been a sucker for wordplay.
But more importantly, that one (made-up) word encapsulates the journey I’ve been on for years now, and the one I hope to bring clients on.
I spent most of my life living primarily in my head. I considered my brain to be what defined me, and my body was like my brain’s troublesome sidekick: always there, often demanding, but more of a distraction than a true point of focus. Beyond survival and vanity, I just wasn’t that interested in my body. Mind over matter!
Over the last several years, my thinking on that has turned upside-down. Those years included injury and recovery, pregnancy and childbirth, illness that changed how I eat, and a deepening relationship with bodywork from a range of therapeutic modalities – first as a client, then student, and now practitioner. I’ve learned from both experience and study that brain and body are entirely interdependent, to the extent that your thinking can be deranged by an imbalance in your gut flora, or your emotions clouded by chronic pain or tension. The brain is, after all, an organ of the body, rather than the body’s overlord. Mind is matter.
I’ve also learned that living more consiously in my body has brought about pivotal changes in how I feel and how I think. And this starts with awareness of how my body works, and careful attention to the information it gives me. This is what tells me to move or stretch before a mild ache turns into a cramp. It’s what warns me to respond to the early hints of an injury, before I’m incapacitated.
I begin all my bodywork sessions by asking my client, “Is anything going on with your body today?” Often the client tells me, “Oh, nothing much, I’m fine,” only for me to begin work and immediately think, Are you sure? Because I’ve got some compelling evidence here that you are not fine. I’ve lost count of the number of times clients have said things like, “I’d had no idea I was so tense until you helped me to relax.” Which isn’t entirely surprising; we tend to remove our awareness from areas of physical pain. Which works as a coping mechanism until it fails utterly, as that lack of awareness lets us ignore our body’s complaints until the body is all but screaming.
My goal as a therapist, then, begins with relaxing my clients and easing their pain, but I hope to take them farther than that. My goal is to get each client more fully integrated into his or her own body, so that they can better understand and more effectively respond to their body’s needs. Yes, I’m Em and I offer bodywork*, but more than that, I’m all about getting you to live happily in your whole body – the embody-work.
* (I prefer to go by Emily, but “emilybodywork” loses the pun and scans poorly to boot.)