Underpinning biodynamic massage are basic theoretical assumptions. Central to the work is the understanding of ‘contactful’ or ‘essential touch’.
Touch in biodynamic massage is not used to try to ‘cure’ or make anything happen but is an invitation to engage in a relationship with oneself and another through touch.
Therapeutic Relationship - it is the relationship between the client and therapist that makes the depth of work possible in biodynamic massage. In an atmosphere of curiosity, awareness and acceptance we can naturally move towards health and wholeness.
Trust is vital to the process. It enables the client to deepen and discover more about him or herself, to become more embodied. The biodynamic massage therapist is closely attuned to what the client is saying and also to the body’s non-verbal signals. Some people get in touch with feelings and memories which help them find meaning in their current situation and the therapist gives space and support for this process if appropriate.
The concepts of energy used in biodynamic massage are taken from Reichian* theory rather than from Eastern healing traditions although there are some similarities.
Biodynamic massage therapists pay attention to how and where the energy or ‘life force’ may or may not be flowing freely in the body. This can be evident in many levels and segments of the body and is apparent in behaviour, movement, structure and breathing.
The attitude of the biodynamic massage therapist is that of the ‘midwife’ waiting to welcome the emerging life force.
* Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst and student of Freud, is considered to be the father of body psychotherapy. His unique contribution to the field of psychotherapy was his interest in the movement of biological energy in his patients. He developed and expanded his ideas about bio energy or the life force from his observations of single cell life forms seen under the microscope. What he observed was the basic pulsation of life, a process of moving from mechanical tension to bioelectric charge to bioelectric discharge to relaxation. He eventually made the link between the energy present in all life forms and atmospheric energy, a synthesis of creative forces in the organism and the atmosphere. He named this energy ‘Orgone’,
Although Boyesen’s ideas developed independently of Reich, his theories with regard to the movement of the life force and the charge and discharge of energy are evident in the fundamental principles of biodynamic psychology.
The vasomotoric cycle is a term that comes from biodynamic psychology. Gerda Boyesen identified that energy moves through cycles and our ability to complete the cycle represents healthy self regulation.
The cycle has four phases; charging, action/expression, winding down and relaxation. This mirrors what happens in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) when there is movement between sympathetic and parasympathetic branches.
The upward or charging phase of the cycle corresponds to sympathetic activity and the downward, discharging phase to parasympathetic activity.
We can also see this in the basic pulsation of life; contraction or tension, moving to expansion and relaxation or represented by the in breath and out breath. We can get stuck at any point on the cycle which, if chronic, can lead to ill health. For example; we can have difficulty with motivation, get stuck in activity or collapse to the bottom without winding down. The aim of biodynamic massage is to re-establish and complete the cycle and to restore balance.
Unique to biodynamic massage is the use of an electronic stethoscope to monitor the sounds of the digestive system.
In the early days of her practice Boyesen noticed that significant moments in the massage initiated sounds from the abdomen.
It is known that when the parasympathetic branch of the ANS takes over the digestive system is more active. However, Boysen found that the sounds of digestion had another quality linked to the emotional state of her clients. She discovered that this system not only takes in, digests, process and assimilates food but also emotional experience. Boyesen called this function psycho-peristalsis.
The sounds have their own meaning and guide the biodynamic massage therapist towards the most effective level of touch needed to encourage movement around the vasomotoric cycle.