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Monday to Friday 8-4pm and by appointment


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What is Visceral Manipulation and how does it work?

by Aviva Cohen, bodywork practitioner

somaticsVM is a somatic therapy. ‘Somatics’ is a field that recognizes the body’s wisdom and self-corrective abilities. The practitioner connects to the telephone line of mind and body, tapping into the conversation.

The body needs to be heard. Like any story, it just wants to be told. The practitioner, listening without goal, offers the body the opportunity to invite the practitioner’s hand into the area of dysfunction. This spot can be microscopic, just a few cells bunched together, causing chaos magnified, as it ricochets out into the body.

It’s like a snag in a sweater: there’s a few threads stuck together, and when you put it on, you can feel a pull all across the sleeve, or around the torso, as if the sweater is twisted. You can place your hand anywhere on the sweater, and follow the pull until you reach the source.

The tissue in the body is like that. It is heavier, denser, hotter, in the source of dysfunction, and pulling the rest of the body’s tissue into it, so that the practitioner’s hand, if the body lets it in, will get pulled in with it. It’s identical to scar tissue. A hole in the sweater that has been fixed many times becomes embossed, like a seam. The body fortifies, fixing the hole.

The body has many layers (it’s ‘organic clothing’), woven together in a very intricate system, wrapping around every organ, muscle, bone, inside bones, much like each segment of an orange is separated by white pith, holding it to the peel. Connective-tissue is called connective tissue for a reason, as layer upon layer connects, wraps, holds the body together in one unending, many times enfolding, unbroken sheath.

Listening to the body, the practitioner’s hands will be directed around organs, moving the organs out of the way slightly, checking between structures, underneath, on top, beside, an organ. When the hand stops moving, you know you are at your snag in the sweater.

And then what the practitioner does here, is a different analogy. This one comes from John Upledger himself, the developer of Cranial Sacral Therapy, to which Visceral Manipulation is akin. A door that is stuck shut in a wooden frame, a drawer that is stuck open in a chest of drawers: what do you do? Do you yank the door open? Do you force the drawer shut?

No, you gently guide the door further shut; you coax the drawer further open. It’s the unlocking principle. It’s the same with tissue. The practitioner follows the tissue all the way to where it is stuck, and then gently nudges it, encourages it, further into that direction, until it has been unlocked, and then it is free to retrace the trajectory that it took to get into it’s original stuckness, and finally free itself, once and for all.

body-wisdomThis is called Somatics not only because it is following the body’s wisdom, listening as the tissues say, “Hey, over here!”; but also, when the practitioner applies the unlocking principle and follows the tissue as it unwinds, what is happening is the practitioner is giving the brain the opportunity to make a new decision for itself, and forge new neural pathways.

Any emotions either caused by the injury, or associated with it, have a chance to leave the body, as the brain-body connection, the telephone wire, has now been set to a different conversational path.

Aviva can be reached at happybodyworks@gmail.com