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Radar

US Body Psychotherapy Newsletter ; Handbook of Somatic Psychology

e!cerpted " re#ised

Radar $ %indf&lness'Based (!ploration )hro&gh Unnamed %aterial


This case example illustrates a number of points in the process of deepening immediacy and intimacy in the therapeutic relationship through incorporating the psychology of the body and the therapeutic use of mindfulness . The following sequence illustrated below demonstrates the power of mindful exploration through unnamed material. In particular, one might note elements contained in this somatically and mindfulness-based therapeutic interaction that determine its particular success: 1) Tracking - paying special attention to how bodily manifestations seem to re eal core organi!er" #) Intersubjectivity - allowing the client$s presentation or organi!ation to deeply affect oneself, ta%ing it on with as much somatic resonance as possible" &) Through the therapeutic application of mindfulness, stepping outside normal con ersational habits to bring awareness to what is noticed" ') Creating safety ( in this case by calling attention to somatic realities in a curious, non-)udgmental way that suggests they should be honored for the wisdom they contain" *) +roceeding in a collaborative way of mutual exploration that engages the creati ity and %nowledge of the client$s reflecti e awareness, as well as their more immediate sensations, feelings and memories. ,) -aintaining an open, experimental attitude that allows present experience to deepen with the cooperation of the unconscious, and prevents premature explanation and theorizing from foreclosing on new discoveries. .) /onsistently honoring and respecting experiences as they arise, as opposed to pathologi!ing anything, e en if they appear defensi e or irrational. 0) 1llowing connections between bodily experiencing and mental meaning to be made when there is a felt sense of rightness, as opposed to prematurely imposing interpretations. 2) 1ffirming the narrati e meaning that ma%es sense of the deeper material that was controlling the presenting problem. 13) 1ssisting the client to experiment with consciously employing old means of self-protection, as well as discerning when new situations allow for broader possibilities. The end of the process is both client and therapist touched and energi!ed through intimate contact with the truth of felt, present experience.

44444444 *ase +ll&stration Meeting, Assessing: +t was &ne!pectedly bright and clear for $pril the kind of weather that typically &nner#es western ,regonians- e#oking a free'floating an!iety that an early hiat&s of winter rains wo&ld prolong&e the precipitation thro&gho&t most of the s&mmer- o&r respite and ref&ge. + was working at a typically &nderf&nded mental health center. )he talented administrator was beseiged with financial concerns- so the tr&e daily administration of the center fell to %&riel- o&r to&gh- b&t &ltimately big'hearted secretary. *&rio&s to this center- it was %&riel who assigned clients to therapists most of the time- employing a nati#e wisdom that seemed inscr&table to me. )hat morning- %&riel had assigned to me a new client- *atherine- (her name changed for this piece), who was in her late /0s. *atherine arri#ed promptly- somewhat &n&s&al in o&r rather laid'back comm&nity- and she greeted me cordially and formally. Smartly dressed in a beige and brown b&siness s&it- she con#eyed an air of ind&stry- competence- and confidence. *atherine worked in the corporate sector- and had- in the rather short time of a few years- mo#ed from management to the e!ec&ti#e le#el. )his was a so&rce of pride she had worked hard- and had come from h&mble beginnings b&t recently- it was the foc&s of her increasing an!iety. $ promotion now re1&ired her to tra#el more- meet many new people- and sometimes- make presentations to gro&ps of thirty or more. $ltho&gh no one aspect of this was disconcerting- as we sat down- she e!plained that together- they seemed to lea#e her &nsettled and enner#ated by the time she ret&rned home. She began to dread the trips and a despair abo&t her career encamped within her. She described an attrition that was occ&ring below the le#el of her 2ob performance ' she felt she was e!ha&sting her ability to rise to a challenge and eroding her capacity to remain e#en'keeled when enco&ntering the ine#itable s&rprises that life on the road offered. Something deep and dist&rbing was being stirred- she felt- and *atherine was at a loss how to respond. + noticed a 1&ickening within me as + listened to her. She was smart and artic&late- and she was serio&s in her mission to 1&ickly dispell her &nease and ret&rn to her career. + imagined that she wo&ld need to 1&ickly feel intrig&ed by o&r work 2&st to stay with it. + knew that this first session wo&ld be cr&cial and that 2oining with her wo&ld re1&ire a connection beneath typical con#ersation.
Richard $. Heckler- Ph.3. 4455 Sobre 6ista Road 7 Sonoma- *$ 8 59:;< 8 ;0;'5/9'=;99 4:49 >illmore St- Ste. 400 8 San >rancisco- *$ 5:??9 8 rheckler@sfhakomi.org

Radar

US Body Psychotherapy Newsletter ; Handbook of Somatic Psychology

e!cerpted " re#ised

$s o&r first session contin&ed- howe#er- and as *atherine f&rther described her sit&ation- we settled into fairly traditional roles. $s the client she wo&ld pro#ide rele#ant information and as therapist- + wo&ld assemble and reorganiAe it in some alchemical fashion in order to promote healing. )r&thf&lly- these roles were comforting. She co&ld ease into this new relationship by offering probably well'rehearsed personal material and +- within the pri#acy of my own tho&ghts- and risking little- co&ld inc&bate a cogent response. Bet it was precisely this choreographed predictability that prompted me towards more inno#ati#e st&dy first- training in family therapy- and then- in a specific form of Somatic Psychotherapy- the Hakomi %ethod of Body'*entered Psychotherapy . Somatic psychotherapies recogniAe that the body reflects psychological material with &ncanny acc&racy. )hro&gh gest&re and mo#ement- post&re and #oice- e#en in the way we breathe Cor donDtE the body more elo1&ently e!presses o&r deepest beliefs- o&r most b&ried memories- h&rts and fears- than o&r often well'worn #erbal descriptions of who we are. >&rther- if a therapist tr&ly learns the lang&age of the body- and employs the creati#ity and co&rage to incl&de the body within the field of e!ploration- deep and a&thentic work can res&lt. )herapists in somatic psychotherapy trainings spend a good deal of time obser#ing the body statically- in its post&re- and then in mo#ement as well. Fe learn to listen to the #oice- its pace and tenor; to track for repetiti#e gest&res- mo#ements and the range of mo#ement. Fe were ta&ght to notice how in or o&t of alignment the body is with gra#ity indications of e!tra effort needed to compensate for imbalancesboth physical and emotional. %ost important- one learns how to &se this material phenomenologically to help a client first become aware of how they are organiAed physically- and then &se that awareness to e!plore the emotional s&bstrate below. %oshe >eldenkrais- the famo&s and infamo&s inno#ator of the method that bares his name once declaredG Bo& canDt do what yo& want- &ntil yo& know what yo& are doing. )he Hakomi %ethod ta&ght that thro&gh the skillf&l &se of Mindfulness, an inward t&rned attention to the body in the present moment- and thro&gh some of the more &ni1&e technical elements of this psychotherape&tic method- one co&ld help a client become aware of and change patterns that altho&gh once f&nctional- were now limiting- debilitating and anachonistic. >resh from an ad#anced training- + was an!io&s to test the somatic approach with a wide range of clients. *atherine was one of the first opport&nities. *atherine contin&ed to talk abo&t her sit&ation. )ho&gh compelling in its description- something else t&gged at my awareness. +t was her eyes. Fhen + looked at her- *atherine held my gaAe ' poiseddirect and forthright. B&t + when + looked away- Cwhich + often do when thinking abo&t what a client saysE she wo&ld ferti#ely scan the office- appearing ner#o&s and almost afraid. $ few times- she 2&st barely ret&rned to me before my gaAe met hers. +t seemed important to her that + didnDt notice. Fhat was she searching forH- + wondered. Fhat was she concerned abo&tH. Fas this acti#ity significantH $nd if soHowH >&rther- altho&gh it may seem tangential to the rational mind- co&ld it pro#ide a window- entry point thro&gh which we co&ld e!plore the more el&si#e layers of her e!perienceH Deepening Through Mindful Exploration: $ choice point had been reached. Fe co&ld contin&e talking about her life- or we co&ld e!plorein the present moment- how she constr&cted it. + was reminded of a fa#orite co&plet in The Love ong of !" Alfred #roofroc$ by ).S. (liotG Sho&ld +- after tea and cakes and ices- ha#e the strength to force the moment to its crisis. Fith a bit of hesitation- not s&re how it wo&ld be recei#ed- + mentioned my awareness. + described her beha#ior in mechanical terms- taking care to a#oid 2&dgement what she did with her eyes; how she seemed to hold her breath and then added what + imaginedIthat she seemed ner#o&s. )o my s&rprise- she seemed to melt a bit. (!haling- she saidG + always do this. (#er since + can rememberI+ look aro&ndImake s&re the door is locked- windows are sh&t. + try to sit where + can see the whole room- and where my back is against a wall. + asked if she wo&ld be willing to contin&e while at the same time- describing what else she was aware of. + hold my breath as long as + can so + can hear better. Hear whatH- + asked. +f anyone is coming &ne!pectedly. + donDt want to be s&rprised. + also try to keep still. >or the ne!t few min&tes- she #is&ally tra#eled the room- b&t with this e!tra awareness. )o her listshe added that she sensed the skin on her arms- to notice if there was heat the possibility of an &nwanted approach. She listened to the con#ersation with as little attention as she co&ld in order to follow it- b&t most of her awareness was de#oted to detecting s&dden mo#ement- so&nd- or #ibration. >inally- she tried to do all this C it was before the phrase Jm&lti'taskingD had been coinedE in a manner that a#oided someone
Richard $. Heckler- Ph.3. 4455 Sobre 6ista Road 7 Sonoma- *$ 8 59:;< 8 ;0;'5/9'=;99 4:49 >illmore St- Ste. 400 8 San >rancisco- *$ 5:??9 8 rheckler@sfhakomi.org

Radar

US Body Psychotherapy Newsletter ; Handbook of Somatic Psychology

e!cerpted " re#ised

noticing. $t the end of her description- + asked her if she wo&ld gi#e the entire comple! of acti#ity a name. Fitho&t hesitation- she said- Radar.

+ noticed a c&rio&s mi! of feelings within myself. + felt awe for this comple!- end&ring- e#en loyal amalg&m of beha#iors- created in fear decades ago and practiced and refined thro&gho&t this womanDs life. + felt h&mbled that we as a species are capable of s&ch bo&ndless creati#ity and intelligence- and we yet can also tr&ncate that range as a desperate tho&gh s&bliminal response to threat. + also felt honored to ha#e been Jlet inD. +t seemed we co&ld ha#e talked for many sessions and not ha#e arri#ed at this partic&lar point. omatic Experimenting: )his s&dden intimacy also ga#e rise to a deep compassion. +n that moment- &sing the tools + had learned- my therape&tic strategy became clear. + asked *atherine if she wo&ld teach me how to peform the radar as well as she did. + asked her to teach me each part- and then check and refine my attempts while + tried to do what she was doing. She la&ghed- something between ch&ckle and r&ef&l sigh. She seemed intrig&ed- albeit perple!ed- b&t willing to go along- at least for a time. $s *atherine described the radarand criti1&ed my attempts at modeling- two significant things happened. >irst- she became a bit more playf&l. Sometimes feigning an imperio&s 2&dge- she wo&ld criti1&e- roll her eyes- bemoan my attemptsand then correct me. Fe had entered a realm of c&rio&s play light and serio&s. Koined together in this 1&eer pro2ect- we both grew animated- foc&sed- collaborati#e. $t the same time- more color came to her face. %ore emotion seemed apparent. Her s&re and certain #oice wo&ld sometimes 1&a#er. $fter ?9 min&tes or soI *atherine conceded that + accomplished a fair imitation. 3onDt let go of yo&r day 2ob- was implied. Ne!t- + asked her if she wo&ld let me do the JradarD for her- so she wo&ldnDt ha#e to. + told her it was entirely #ol&ntary- b&t it seemed that only one of &s really needed to do the work. She was s&rprised at s&ch an odd re1&est. + was s&rprised she act&ally agreed. )hese were critical moments. + knew we were working with deeply b&ried- tra&matic material. + knew we had to go slow- and + had to track for o#erload ' dissociation- flooding- n&mbing ' the entire collection of symptoms that co&ld arise. Fe made a plan. She co&ld decide all the parameters how long we wo&ld e!periment; how m&ch she wo&ld allow me to Jtake o#erD the radar for her; how deeply she wanted to sense what happened inside her. )o my memory- she said one min&te. +t may ha#e been a bit more or less- b&t not by m&ch. + told her we co&ld begin when she wanted to- and when the second hand again reached the top of the clockshe said- Start. Dissolving %oles & Exchanging elf for 'ther $ltho&gh she co&ld ne#er really know what + was tr&ly doing inside d&ring that time- + felt + m&st be absol&tely tr&e to my word. +t was a promise; a kind of sacred #ow. omeone in this room m&st be the radar. >irst- + made s&re the doors and windows were closed and locked. Ne!t- + looked aro&nd the room with 1&ick glances. + tried to hear e#ery so&nd and #ibration- not only in this office- b&t the b&ilding as well. + slowed my breath and noticed my senses becoming more keen. + felt less #isible; taking &p less space and therefore less of a target. >inally- + felt the skin on my arms for the s&dden- &ne!pected approach of a stranger. +t was an odd state steadying- b&t filled with fear; reso&rcef&l- b&t &tterly lacking tr&e creati#ity; end&ring- b&t deeply fatig&ing. +ntellect&ally + was enormo&sly intrig&ed. (motionally- my heart h&rt for the essential safety she had lost. Fe ne#er reached the time limit. $bo&t /0 seconds into the e!periment- + heard a deep e!haleand then tears. + glanced at *atherine to see her place her head in her hands- and fold o#er in her chair. She began to sob. Her body began to shake. Not wanting to abandon my role 2&st yet- + incl&ded *atherine in my scanning- and listened to the so&nds coming from a deeper and deeper place within her. ,cassionally- there are moments in clinical work where the process attains its most n&mino&s and archetypal. )herapists li#e for these moments. ,&r roles dissol#e- lea#ing 2&st two people- h&mble and #ery h&man- deeply connected. )he powerf&l silence is filled only with the most essential so&nds- spare and tr&e. )hese moments are both delicate and rob&st; inhabited by the ghosts of the past- and the seeds of a&thentic liberation and change. *atherine and + were silent for a while. Her tears had b&ilt to a crescendo- and then ebbed. + contin&ed my 2ob a bit longer- b&t then let it dissol#e as she seemed 1&ieter and more collected. $fter what seemed many min&tes- she raised her head and softly held my gaAe. She beganG Bo& know. + canDt
Richard $. Heckler- Ph.3. 4455 Sobre 6ista Road 7 Sonoma- *$ 8 59:;< 8 ;0;'5/9'=;99 4:49 >illmore St- Ste. 400 8 San >rancisco- *$ 5:??9 8 rheckler@sfhakomi.org

Radar

US Body Psychotherapy Newsletter ; Handbook of Somatic Psychology

e!cerpted " re#ised

e#er remember not ha#ing to do that; that radar. + was molested as a childIfamily and friends of familyand + was beaten too. + donDt e#er remember a time when + felt carefree and safe. )hese were the first min&tesI.this was the first time.

)his is a story abo&t 2&st one session. Fe had three or fo&r more appointments before she had come to the clos&re she had so&ght. +n each of those sessions- she recalled o&r first enco&nter. +t had become a new reference point; for her- a #ery real e!perience that represented a sense of possibility. She ended o&r work elated- #ictorio&s in a gentle way- and for the first time- feeling free. + donDt belie#e all of her healing had been accomplished. +n fact- the breakthro&gh she e!perienced wo&ld probably- finally allow her to re'enter her past- witho&t re'tra&matiAation- and tr&ly heal and close that chapter of her life. *atherine chose to relocate for her 2ob- and that was the last + saw her. Howe#er brief- this enco&nter remains a pi#otal one for me. +t deepened my respect for- and garnered a powerf&l appreciation for the tr&e inno#ation that somatic psychotherapy and mindf&l in1&iry represents. 7 7 7

R+*H$R3 $. H(*LM(R- PH.3- is an $ssociate Professor of *o&nseling Psychology at Kohn >. Lennedy Uni#ersityPleasant Hill " *ampbell- *alifornia- and an $d2&nct Professor at the Union +nstit&te for (!perimental St&dies in *incinnati- ,hio. He is the 3irector of the Hakomi +nstit&te of San >rancisco- which pro#ides trainings for therapists in Somatic Psychology. Richard is the a&thor of - (a$ing )p, Alive*, a critically'acclaimed st&dy of s&icide- and +,rossings*, a st&dy of the Psychology of the Une!pected- and is completing training as a *omm&nity 3harma Meader thro&gh Spirit Rock %editation *enter in Foodacre*alifornia.

Richard $. Heckler- Ph.3. 4455 Sobre 6ista Road 7 Sonoma- *$ 8 59:;< 8 ;0;'5/9'=;99 4:49 >illmore St- Ste. 400 8 San >rancisco- *$ 5:??9 8 rheckler@sfhakomi.org