Completely Understood

“The worst thing you can do for a patient is to make him feel completely understood.”
—Carl Jung, paraphrased as best I can remember it

Some of the most vulnerable moments for me in my practice are at the very start of a bodyreading session (and you thought you were vulnerable, standing there in your underwear!), or when my client stands up for reassessment after doing some work on the table.

Those are the moments when the best I can do, literally, is begin with a blank slate, and simply see what’s there. It feels vulnerable because I honestly don’t know what I’m going to see, and therefore what I’m going to do from there. I have to wait.

As I get better and better at what I do, I also notice there’s less and less I can consistently say about any given pattern or condition. I feel much less certain now than I ever have before that a poor breathing pattern is caused by internally rotated shoulders, or that the root of low back pain tends to lie in the psoas.

It can seem a little crazy to hear your healthcare provider say this, but … I quite often have no idea.

Until I do. Until we’re both standing there, getting a sense of what’s actually going on with only the most barebones of preconceived notions to guide us.

It seems like there’s something in the middle — between emphatically certain allopathic causal medicine, and hopelessly vague assessments relying on intuition with no left-brain activity. There’s a way that doesn’t use “I don’t know” as a crutch, but rather as a real launching pad for a unique path to integration and health to unfold … as one of the clearest lenses out there from which to gaze through …

In fact, some of the most difficult moments I have with clients are when someone comes in having everything figured out: the problem, the pattern, the way it is and will be. The difficulty isn’t that they’re necessarily wrong per se, but that the rigidity of diagnosis doesn’t allow for much movement, or potential for unexpected change.

We change. Patterns can change. Thank goodness.

Now, the challenging part, is to see what’s really going on …

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4 Responses to Completely Understood

  1. Noémie Chabot says:

    Great post my friend! 🙂 One of my favorite Goethe quotes is actually “The most difficult thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” Seeing the whole in the parts, the parts in the whole. Seeing as both active and receptive, a conversation between subjects rather than the dissection of an object. Keep on recreating the blank slate!

  2. Alexandra says:

    I have come to find that I have a good sense of intuitiveness when it comes to feeling out my body and what’s going on with it. For example, I often will rotate my hips forward and back to relieve back strain or discomfort, often caused by imperfect posture throughout my vertical limbs and the off-balance of my body horizontally. What I didn’t know, however, was that this area is called the psoas.


    • Liam Bowler says:

      Hey Alexandra, yeah, amazing to be able to make all those little adjustments, eh? Reminds me of that quote from Paracelcus, the 15th century alchemist/botanist/physician who said, “There is but one disease, and its name is congestion.” Keep on moving 🙂

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