6 Most Useful Tips to Improve Your Palpation Skills
As a body worker its my job to feel. I have to feel sometimes ridiculously small variations of change in someone. Honestly the difference between a excellent bodyworker and a good one is nuance.
Here are my tips for improving:
You want to enter into a meditative state. The meditative state is a state of flow. In other words you might consider it to be like floating in a swimming pool. You are aware of the water, you are aware of the waves and currents and yet you are not making waves so to speak. When you make the waves it means you are projecting your impressions on the client.
3. Develop your gut feel. So there has been scientific research into this and so while it still needs research we don’t need to wait for science to catch up. Let’s just educate your feeling to yes and no. Things which feel heavy, dead, unresponsive are a no. That’s a general rule but also consider that there’s a lot more you have the potential to feel, and so this process can be confusing (ref. Prof. D.Bem - Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect at Cornell University). Now, just stick with it. The first time you meet something you may not recognise it’s true nature. Even when you encounter something many times if you are good you will be open to seeing it in a new way.
Paraphrasing Donald Rumsfeld and expanding on it slightly: there are things we know we know; there are things we know we don’t know; there are also things we don’t know we know and things we don’t know we don’t know. In other words you are not infallible but your know more than you know.
4. Meditate. Bodyworkers are typically down to earth people. We get our hands dirty on peoples problems. It might seem to some that meditation is the antithesis of what we do. It isn’t. Meditation is the practice of experiencing who you are beyond your habitual self. Now I spend time looking for where I heard this definition and I couldn’t find it, so my thanks goes to the wise man who said it. A further definition of meditation clarifies this:
“The basic definition of meditation is having a steady mind. In meditation when your thoughts go up, you don’t go up, and you don’t go down when your thoughts go down. Whether your thoughts are good or bad, exciting or boring, blissful or miserable, you let them be. You don’t accept some and reject others. You have a sense of greater space that encompasses any thought that may arise.
In other words, in meditation you can experience a sense of existence, or being, that includes your thoughts but is not conditioned by your thoughts or limited by your thinking process. You experience your thoughts, you label them ‘thinking‘, and you come back to your breath, going out, expanding, and dissolving into space. It is very simple, but it is quite profound. You experience your world directly and you do not have to limit that experience. You can be completely open with nothing to defend and nothing to fear.” (retrieved from the internet: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/01/chogyam-trungpa-rinpoche-meditation-101/)
5. Beware of big and/or overwhelming feelings. Kind of see point 4. You see when you really identify yourself with a feeling you think it’s you. At some point you are going to feel a strong feeling. It might be that you feel like you are physically being moved by the patient. Now, this is an intriguing feeling and so you might want to know what it is. While I agree it is interesting for me it’s polluting your perception because it is so big. Your job is to feel what is going on inside the body of your client. You need to remind yourself of that and recenter. What I do is I say to myself that I have become to entwined in my listening and so I need to relax up until my feeling is under my fingers. I am not saying that you are wrong but identifying too strongly with what you feel is a double edged sword. It can certainly be very symbiotic empathic and cuddly to feel so connected to the client but you don’t want to be caught up in this when it’s pathological or unhealthy feelings.
6. Anatomy, anatomy and anatomy. Learn the map.
The measurement of a good therapist is in nuance. Great discoveries have often been small observations and so while being mindful be aware that you are on the cusp of new knowledge. Don’t let anyone tell you your feelings are wrong, you feel what you feel and they feel what they feel. Most people feel a bone in a similar way but don’t copy, allow yourself to grow into your own feelings. This is personal development.