not to be released yet
Q & A :
Raz question BODY # 2. 3. 4
How did I recognize myself as a body person?
I actually spent a good deal of my early life dissociated from my body, treating it like an object, something I had to take care of, to feed, shape, and to feel disappointed with.
I tried to escape my intense emotions by overfeeding my body through compulsive eating.
I did begin to consciously care for myself and my body when I took up yoga and meditation in my mid 20s. But although I had enjoyed dancing I had had negative experiences with it and was happy to blame my unhappiness on the dancing. (more on this later)
I exercised a lot to try to keep my weight in a normal range. But at one point I had gained 40 pounds and went on a severe dieting regime to lose that weight.
In my late 20’s, my relationship partner was a bodyworker in training. He used me as his practice person, and I received bodywork almost every day from him for a bout 9 months. He was studying several bodywork modalities. So I learned body work from the inside out by receiving it. I took it on as a profession in my 40s, without any certification or actual training. (I lived in MT where certification was not required.) I found out I was quite good at it and that I had an exquisite ability to tune in to others’ bodies and emotional states through my ‘listening’ touch.
At that time of my life I was conflating emotional connection with a physical touch connection with another person.I often found that I felt a lot of affection and closeness towards my clients, and or they toward me. And sometimes I mistook this affectionate closeness for romantic feelings, with varying results.
When I discovered contact improvisation dance, I realized I was able to use my well developed, and quite exquisite physical sensitivities to serve my emotional needs for connection and bonding with other human beings. As I learned how to move in very physically close interactive movement with others, I spontaneously began to blend Contact Improvisation partner movement with my traditional bodywork.
It seemed to me to be the most obvious thing —to accept and embrace this natural human tendency to experience skilled responsive touch as a safe pathway to explore and re-pattern human intimacy.
I realized early on that this kind of contact,- this deep mutually interactive nonsexual responsive touching could heal
emotional wounds and supply the kind of human presence and unconditional caring necessary for people to pattern secure relational attachment , in essence to learn, or repair the ability to bond with other humans.
Initially my contact improvisation explorations with others gave me an avenue to be in relationship with others without having to use words or even make eye contact. I I was able to receive a sense of inclusion, belonging, collaboration, affection, and Communication, without directly facing my partner and without needing to deal with them on a verbal social level.
Because of the lack of true intimacy and safe bonding opportunities in my family of origin, this somewhat in personal social movement space afforded me an opportunity to help me with MY healing journye—to learn how to feel and be myself in the presence of, and in interactions with others. I begin to learn how to be a self, to know myself, while interacting with other selves.
Question #4: innovation
I worked professionally as a traditional massage therapist for several years. But once I discovered contact improvisation dance I was compelled to use more of my body surfaces in contact with my massage clients. I really liked to feel that contact, and I was developing an extraordinary to sense other’s bodies’ needs with this more extensive contact. My torso breathing in contact with my client’s torso, etc. I started rolling on peoples bodies on top of the massage tables. But that was still pretty restrictive, So I moved away from table massage and created floor mats to work with under clients.
At first I took pedestrian clients- clients straight from Craig’s List. These clients loved all the contact, but we’re often sexually aroused by the amount of body contact I offered. That was disappointing for me as I wanted to keep the sessions physically and emotionally therapeutic without becoming a sex worker per se.
It took me several years to get to the place of feeling comfortable openly offering this kind of radical new bodywork to clients. I had to learn how to manage their expectations before allowing them to become new clients.
When I decided to work with dancers, I was delighted to find that they understood the point of this technique. They deeply appreciated it, and were able to hold it therapeutically.
This in turn increased my confidence and boldness to offer this very on Orthodox style of bodywork openly.
Raz question 5
Aspects of my personal history that contributed to creation of this bodywork:
I would have to say that my emotional estrangement from my family of origin launched my search to find connection to myself and to understand how to relate nourishingly with other humans. A deep personal need to understand healthy human relationship, bonding, attachment, and interaction, (so I could show up connected to my full self while connecting and interacting with others,) has been the strongest underlying impetus for the emergence of this body of work. Classic wounded healer archetype!
Raz question 6.
My modality is inspired by contact improvisation dance, Feldenkrais, Continuum, Breema bodywork, Reichian Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, social free-style dance, relationship theories such the work of John Bradshaw on family constellations, and Attachment Theory, child development, pre-and perinatal therapy, Compassionate Communication (NVC). I’ve also been deeply influenced and inspired by Spiritual Teachers and Mystics, and countless personal experiences and encounters over the years.
I totally and gradually made up this style. It is emergent. The other modalities that have influenced me have primarily served to validate what I’m already feeling and doing rather than to direct what I am developing.
Cornerstones of my work: I am here to be fully present with and hold space for my client. I let the client actually show me what her needs are and how they want to be met. My most important tool is deep body listening and I get out of the way and let what comes through me happen. I trust that I am an instrument and a channel for what wants to come through. I hold physical emotional spiritual space for my clients.
Primarily I attune to their organism their whole self— initially by offering a safe, welcoming physical embrace, and a comfortable physical space in my session area. After listening to my client’ needs and desires, I usually begin with a simple body to body connection that attunes us through touch, through weight, through breath. It’s important that my client initially feel into herself— her own bodily organism through the resistance, rapport and physical weight that I offer her body through mine.
Although I can never know the exact sequence or pathway to open my client’s expansion, I trust that it will come and is available. I encourage my client to find her ‘Agency’ her inner authority. I make sure I do not override her or her system. This evokes my client’s spirit and inner power as she feel safe to express, and knows that every expression will be accepted and embraced unconditionally.
It’s clear to me that I am not giving my clients a fish but teaching them how to fish. They are their own source and resource, and I am only a catalyst and activator. The modality invites self-connection and alignment through the practitioner’s attunement and influence. The client is being encouraged to learn how to self-connect and self-align without needing to attune through another human.
If my client becomes still, I wait, if my client becomes stuck, I invite them to release something. I am either following and supporting my client (in some ways knowing where they going even before they do), or I am inviting them to take themselves and myself somewhere. Inviting them to initiate and move into their own pleasure, move into their own desire, move into their own future self.
My client determines the pace of the session. I trust their inner self to take them where they they are ready and I honor and support that.
Clients feel seen held supported and encouraged soothed and met. I let them express and I meet that expression. That is a very empowering experience for them.
Together we are practicing fully embodied intimacy with autonomy. I am the secure partner that reflects them and reassures them.
One of my clients said to me after a session: “I had no idea where I was going but you were always there when I got there.”
Another claimed, “This is wasabi for the soul!”
I am with my client as they feel and connect to themselves. And I am there as they reach out to connect with me— as they recognize and reach for Nourishing human witness, support,, responsiveness and connection. I believe central to this work is empathic attunement that assists the client’s neuro-biological re-patterning in a way that enables them to stay present and fully experience themselves, while interacting with others. It heals attachment wounds, and allows clients to feel deeply nourished by relationships.
Raz question 9
What are some words or phrases to describe my work, how would I describe it to a neophyte or to a fellow rad bodyworker?
Presence, attunement, listening with the body, resonance, following inner guidance, getting out of my own way.
I first self-connect and then through my senses attune to my client or clients. I become and maintain a container for my client throughout our time together, To begin, I either wait for the client to initiate and then follow their movement impulses, follow and support their flow, or I subtly give them guidance through kinesthetic movement suggestions and coaxing, directional touches.
I follow the wisdom of my client’s own intelligence and body and am careful not to override them. I safely, gently and unobtrusively invite them into discovery and gradual expansion.
Technically I use my body to inform their body and to transmit movement patterns into their body. When I bring my client along with my movement their body is listening and learning to create new patterning based on my body’s patterns. My body’s movement sequencing derives from many many hours of movement with awareness done alone and with others.
Of course a fun way to describe my work to radbodyrworkers is: “we roll around on the floor together and use our bodies to massage each other. We carefully and skillfully vary the weight and direction of the forces we employ with, and between our bodies. It’s like slow motion contact improvisation on a padded floor with one person carefully and consistently holding space for the other.’
Raz question number 10
What keeps me creating?
This work, by it’s nature, is spontaneous and improvisational. Each time I practice, new ideas come to me. My clients continually present new, unique needs. I’ve noticed that people’s bodies contract and constrict movement, thoughts and emotions in a few recognizable patterns. But no two people do the same movement in exactly the same way, or have the same emotional maps. So it’s always a fun challenge solving each person’s body-mind puzzle, helping them expand into the next space of increased ease and aliveness.
Raz question number 11
My practice is evolutionary because the longer I work with this material, the deeper and more integrative it seems to go. As I become more informed with other aspects of life, and other’s ideas in the materials I study, My practice evolves. So I see that it’s not just movement-relevant. It’s t’s not just relationship relevant. We work with trauma, we work with attachment patterns, we work with the psyche all levels of being human. It’s an integrative and holographic practice. The more I personally learn, whether through my reading, through following the latest science, through experiential insight, or from insights that emerge from my personal inquiry practices, the more my rad bodywork practice evolves.
Raz question 13
Currently folks can learn this Bodywork style from me by making special arrangements to work with me. Hopefully in the near future I will be offering trainings to small groups. I also love working with couples to teach them how to interact in this way together. (www.harmonygates.com)
Raz question 14.
Regular rad bodywork as I offer it and receive it
helps me stay connected to myself and other human beings. I find it helps me be more emotionally self regulated. It helps me meet my need for human connection and physical contact and connection.
Plus it’s fun, engaging, focusing, and gives me a vacation from my cognitive thinking mind. This practice allows me to enter a flow state and a play state while connecting with another human being. I find this work extremely balancing, self-connecting and nourishing. Practicing it is incredibly aligning.
Raz question number 17 through 20.
For me the ‘community’ is rather loose. I don’t really feel like I belong to a rad bodyworker community. I have managed to offer this work to many others, and I consider them my ‘community’ —those whom have been initiated and are developing the skills to co-give, co-receive this interactive bodywork. I am incredibly appreciative of being included in events and gatherings of people who share these, ore very similar skills. I believe if we came together with the intention of promoting radical bodywork we could create a movement and visibility that would appeal to the greater population. We need videos to convey this work, either that or initiating others…once someone has experienced a session, or even a family brief sample, they are become able to sense the awesomeness of this work. .
I think we could bridge this work into the mainstream through strategic alliances with other professionals so perhaps that’s where we could best Focus our efforts. It would really help this movement become recognized to have endorsements from other professionals. Endorsements and referrals.
Right now I think we are all rather separate and struggling to create our own entrepreneurial practices. But I believe there is enough similarity around our work, that we could support each other by identifying ourselves with a name and Group.
Such as you are trying to do, Raz
Raz question 21 and 22
I would love everyone coming into session with me to have seen footage of a session, and to have red and familiarized themselves with my website descriptions.
In my experience those with the most body literacy receive the greatest benefits from this body work style. So any kind of embodiment practices are helpful: yoga, tai chi, contact improv, dance, martial arts, continuum, ecstatic dance; embodied disciplines that require listening to the body not just training it as in athletics or body building, body sculpting, or even “fitness training”
Facilitating body-based Self-Awareness & non-erotic Intimacy through Mindful Partner Movement practices
“I touch people and they get it!”
To some degree or another, most of us have lost touch with our True Selves. The process of socialization requires a certain degree of conformity-which we achieve at the expense of some or much of our personal uniqueness. In the process of reigning in our spontaneous selves, we dull our ability to sense ourselves. In many cases traumatic events or relationships further disconnect us from our ability to sense and operate from our authentic selves.
The movement practice of BodyRiding reconnects us, by gradual and sometimes dramatic shifts, to our authentic, vital, engaged selves.
How it works:
Gravity is a predictable and constant force that acts on our bodies from the moment we are born. The ground predictably and supportively holds our body’s weight. As growing and developing children we learn to move our bodies within the force of gravity relative to the constant supportive surface of the ground. In a sense, We are always partnering with the ground, constantly sensing its reliability as it supports our weight. this is our first lesson in trust
In BodyRiding, (core to core, touch connected partner movement, based on the principles of contact improvisation dance) we learn to sense and measure not only the support of the ground, but also the support of our partner’s body. We expand the sensitivity and trust we learned as children (of the relatively predictable flat surface of the ground as our base of support), to the greater complexity of movement within unpredictable dynamic conditions, (our partner’s body constantly pressing into or falling away from ours).To succeed at this movement task requires a quantum leap in brain complexity and differentiation, as it adds an entirely new dimension and an infinite number of new possibilities for movement. Our bodies love this challenge and our brains thrive in this atmosphere of sustained exploration and discovery.
Because our partner’s movement has endless variations, and is responding in the moment to our movements, we are required to have an active, alert and engaged brain and nervous system. Habitual and automatic movement patterns don’t work under these conditions. And it is this increased brain activity that keeps us vitally engaged and alive.
Brain Plasticity and whole-self rejuvenation:
BodyRiding enlivens, energizes, focuses, engages, refreshes and nourishes the brain and the entire nervous system. And it calls on the body to become increasingly differentiated in it’s movement, encouraging a constant upgrading of the quality of our’s movement.
As we re-configure ourselves and discover new movement possibilities, our Body Image, (the map our brain has of our bodies) changes. As our Body Image shifts, our Self-Image shifts with it. We re-wire our psyches as we re-wire our body image—all without conscious cognitive effort, WITHOUT THINKING.
As we open to these new movement possibilities, our brains use this fluidity. They construct new pathways and patterns that lead to improved outcomes for us in all areas of our lives. Through this practice, we literally upgrade our brains to create ourselves anew.
Our limitations dissolve. We experience new freedom and aliveness as our brains are encouraged to discover and choose new, more effective ways of being–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
My mission is to promote physical contact and nourishing touch among human beings.
“Harmony, you’ve opened a whole new world of movement to me”– spoken by a recipient of 10 minutes’ movement facilitation on the dance floor. S
related work :
mine is body-2-body rolling, bodyride, body riding, dynamic interactive bodywork…etc.
other names of similar work: somanautic therapy or play
platonic tantra…contage, danssage ….