I’m supposed to be such a scientist. I mean okay, yes, a social scientist, not a physicist. But still. I know how to run a randomized controlled trial. I understand regression discontinuity design. I’m good at statistics. I read ethnographies and case studies and find interesting insights in them, but with skepticism of their ability to show causal relationships. I like empirical data and statistical controls. I like to look therapies up in research journals and then bring the results to my doctors to discuss them.
I’ve changed. Not that I think it’s bad to be a scientist. But over the past year or two, I’ve stepped outside the zone of the empirically testable and into the realm of metaphor and imagination. I’m surprised, still at how effective it’s been for me. And how deeply moving, at times.
My latest example comes from Friday’s session with C, the mind-body therapist I work with about twice a month. I haven’t written much about my work with her, in part because I don’t know what to say. And that’s in part because the work with her is not about words. It’s about body and breath and image and mind, but not the rationally thinking mind.
On Friday I told her that I’ve been trying to talk to E about sexuality and being present. I said I can accept that dissociating is not “bad” per se, but that I’d like to reach a point where I have the option of staying present. Also, I’m wondering whether my pelvis isn’t still tight and I don’t know, maybe even somewhat traumatized by last spring’s surgery.
Body work with C entails lying on the floor, wearing yoga-type clothes, on top of a wonderful warm mat. I breathe slowly and deeply while she presses on the inside of my hip bones, gradually going deeper until it almost hurts. Then she puts a hand flat over my lower abdomen and slides another under my low back. “Imagine, if it seems appropriate, a ball of healing golden light between my hands.”
And I do. I see and almost feel this warm light, moving in a golden sphere among my pelvic organs. I breathe into it and feel my muscles release a bit.
She goes on to use some Thai massage strategies to help me achieve deep stretches in my thighs and hips. My muscles release even more, and as my body relaxes, so does my spirit. And the golden light seems to have grown inside of me until it fills me up.
On the drive home, I think about all the times I have made fun of anything that I thought was “touchy feely.” Ha, just more evidence that the point of life is to continually expand your conception of what is possible.
May you all experience a golden ball of light in your pelvis–or anywhere else you might need it.