13. Touch: Contact

1. Introduction to Hands-on. We use touch to express ourselves, to reach out, to communicate, to support someone--but also "to prevent certain things from happening and encouraging others to happen instead." Hands can guide and heal. We'll start our exploration of hands-on work by figuring out helpful priorities in touch. As in all settings, the first priority is for you to know how to work on yourself through touching others.

2. Connection & Release. Imagine that I put a little pressure somewhere on your body: for example, I stand behind you, place my hands on your shoulders, and squeeze your shoulders gently. If you resist my pressure and create an opposition of forces—in versus out, up versus down, forward versus backward—then the shoulders connect to the back, the back to the pelvis, the pelvis to the legs, and so on. Thanks to this circuit of connections, the neck releases, the back lengthens and widens, the breath flows easily… Release, then, is the result of a process, not the process itself. In this session we’ll explore the process of “pressure, resistance, connection, release.”

3. Skin, Flesh, Bones. Suppose you take hold of someone’s forearm with one hand, wrapping your fingers and palm all around the forearm. If you pay attention, you’ll discern many layers to your student: a sweater and a shirt; beneath it, skin and perhaps hair; beneath it, flesh and muscles; beneath it, bone. Moreover, your own hand has many layers: its own skin, its flesh, its bones. So you might feel as many as nine or ten layers, each with a certain texture, each responding differently to your touch and perhaps even “requesting” a particular touch. In this session we’ll explore layers of sensation and response.

4. Elbows Out, Wrists In. As conduits of energy, your arms and hands behave more efficiently when elbows and wrists figure out how to oppose each other. The play of opposing forces isn't a muscular fight; rather, the elbows and wrists strengthen and stabilize each other by "tending away from each other." We'll practice multiple exercises to establish these oppositions, which we'll then employ as a basic quality in touching others.