Boat docked at lakeside amidst setting sun.

The Part Exists Because of the Whole

Aug 26, 2022

by Susan Mankowski

My first years as a massage therapist were in a physical therapy clinic. I had 20 minutes with each patient to focus on the site of injury, help relieve the pain, and support their healing. Over time I witnessed rehabilitation of the physical conditions of many individuals.

Behind the scenes, for myself, a shift in perspective began to take place. As each person shared the stories of their life and recounted their accident, I heard the losses of the past, the hopes for the future, and also was privy to the experience of how they managed to live each day with their condition. These ongoing relationships supported me to feel into what it was to be each person, whom initially I had seen as apart and different from me.

Several years later, I was fortunate to be on the staff of an Integrative Medical Clinic, adding my handful of somatic-based modalities to the augmentation of Western and Eastern models of health. The approach of this clinic supported each person as a sum total of all their parts—body, mind, feelings, and spirit—and looked for the root cause of their personal dis-ease. This environment gave my mind a way to view each individual in wholeness, however, I began to see how I used only parts of me to do this, including sometimes putting the needs of my own body aside to help them. I also observed how within each modality, my approach still followed a more linear and diagnostic path. I may have massaged more than the injured site, yet my main attention and expectations were still focused on how to “fix” or “change” the condition.

After the first decade of clinical work, I began my study of Breema bodywork. Clients came off the table and onto a padded floor. I would read their charts and listen to what brought them in, but not let that be central to my relationship to them. Our relationship became a dynamic of mutual support. I was included in the process. I did not put the connection to my body in the background in order to work “on” them but I began to work “with” them. My experience was guided by the Nine Principles of Harmony, which are expressed through the physical form of the bodywork. The well-being and ease that I wished for them was identical to that which I began to experience directly in my own body while being with them.

As I began to more fully participate in each session, I experienced a taste of real connection and unity within myself. The effect of my body, mind, and feelings working together supported availability to what is occurring and who I am, in a clear and nonreactive manner. In particular, the support of the principles of No Judgment and No Force helped me to understand how to approach the physical tensions in the body and also how to relate to the fears, anxieties, and criticisms that are hidden within every person.

As I continue my study of self and my relationships to others with the support of Breema, I receive a direction to think, feel, and move with a new posture towards life: interconnected, in unity, and with a comprehensive acceptance of how we are, moment to moment.

Susan Mankowski, LMT, is a Staff Instructor at the Breema Center in Oakland, California with an offsite base also in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Breema Practitioner Course provides in-person study toward certification as a Breema practitioner. The Breema Center offers Practitioner workshops the second weekend of each month. Those not interested in certification can augment their professional practices using the support of the Nine Principles of Harmony. Weekend workshops are held monthly.

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