Connecting the Body & Mind Through Touch

“Awareness is like pure sunlight shining into a cellar, making it possible for healing to happen and growth to take place. One has to do nothing with it.”

—Gerald May, Simply Sane 

by Carl Johns, LMT, Director, ASIS Massage Education-Flagstaff

Awareness is our somatic sense of ourselves and our surroundings — somatic being our perception through our sensing body — seeing, hearing, smelling, and most importantly, touching.

All living things move toward what feels good and away from what does not.

Both sides of this equation teach us and are important, but our deepest nature is our drive for what feels pleasing, which can be externally or internally felt. The boundaries between external and internal are not easily defined, and each undoubtably has effect on the other.

Ultimately when we feel comfort, pleasure, joy, ease, exhilaration we move toward the inner felt sense of health and vitality. This is a body-mind connection that allows our deeply intertwined inner systems to work optimally together to create not just a felt sense, but actual health and vitality. 

There are few things as illuminating for the body-mind than the full-body sensory experience of receiving any of the myriad forms of massage and bodywork available. In the words of Deane Juhan: “The bodyworkers hands are like flashlights shining awareness into the darkened room on the body.”

By facilitating awareness, bodywork can start to shift all of us toward that felt sense of health and vitality, and not only physical health, but mental health as well. In the last few years, the review of research has shown that massage therapy has a very positive effect on mental health, particularly around anxiety and depression.

We can become what we feel, and when we feel the pleasant sensations of massage, we are allowing a little pure sunlight to shine into our cellars, and all we have to do with it is follow the sense of feeling better, healthier and more alive.