Gravity and Grace: Bodywork’s Basic Principles
By Nishant Matthews
Bodywork is fascinating. A mix of science and intuition, touch and understanding. Done well, it is a dance of duality, both knowing exactly what you are doing, and allowing space for something beyond to also happen.
These two principles are reflected in two laws: the law of gravity, and the law of grace. Gravity governs the physical, the anatomy that we study, the body we touch. This is Job’s Body, with its density and suffering. It is a body we can learn about, treat in predictable ways and achieve predictable results. The law of Grace is more mysterious.
Grace is the client’s answer to the treatment that we offer; it is the healing response. Grace prefers invitation, since it is not something we do, but rather something that arrives. In practice, we see that the law of grace is also is the law of creation, the science of light.
To be clear, grace, here, is not a religious concept. It is not something that descends from above. It is the healing force that arises from within each person, according to a set of scientific principles. We fix bodies according to the laws of gravity. What actually happens is grace.
In my schooling, I was taught a lot about gravity. This subject is something anyone can teach, everyone can learn, and has many practical applications. However, a practice based on gravity by itself is not complete, and barely effective. That is because we are seldom dealing with just a body. We are working with people, and with people there is an intimate and complex weave of emotions, thoughts, energy, and light all intertwining together. The physical segment of this intertwining is only one part. The other parts are equally significant, if not more so.
Just as the skin is only the surface cover for many layers of muscle, bone, nerves, fascia, fat, and blood, the entire physical body is the outer covering, the skin, of interwoven energy networks. The energetic components are much less dense than the physical body, but are vibrantly powerful. If you look deep enough, you see that there is core to all the energy systems. This core system is light. The way it operates is the law of grace.
Learning to work with the light system, learning to make it my ally has been an immense gift to my practice. Acknowledging this system, working with it, has made many things possible that were simply not possible before. The light body carries enormous healing potentials, as you will learn. Further, when we contact the light system in people, we also contact the deepest layers of intelligence. We awaken forces in people which have been unrecognized, or like sleeping beauty, asleep.
In my own practice I quickly learned that there are many worlds inside a person, many things besides the muscles of anatomy and the weight of gravity. Emotions as well as lymph lives in the tissues. There are intimate relationships between organs, energy, and feelings. The way a person thinks has a lot to do with the way his body works, and the way his body works has a lot to do with how he thinks. There are also very strong forces which are counter to gravity. Something is determined to rise.
The results in my practice were quite different than what I expected from my training. Yes, I could massage deeply, and affect muscles, tension, and structure. But there were many other less tangible results. Change of perception, opening of the heart, clarity of mind, understanding of feelings, new appreciation of relationship, and others. I couldn’t say, I “did” these things. They happened.
At first, this happening was purely by chance, like the way rain comes to a farmer’s fields. Later, I understood that there are places in the body where there is resonance, a natural openness. Working with that natural openness energizes the whole system. I learned to shift my attention from fixing problems to supporting the resonant areas. This is like the horse whisperer….calling to the healthy parts to assert themselves again. It is inviting a person’s innate intelligence — their own healing forces — to join us.
In the process I learned much about grace. There is a lift inside each person which is more than counter to the laws of gravity. When we align with our gravity we are solidly connected to the ground. When we align with grace, we ride on a “free” energy that is practically boundless.
A lot of my early success with curing back pains came as I learned to balance the flow of gravity down the spinae erector muscles with an energy that rises through the vertebral column. Stimulating the energy movement up the spine creates a cushion of space between the vertebrae, as well as increased flexibility. Pain does not live in a field of space and flexibility. It thrives in compression and immobility. When the back is lengthening upwards, and the head is floating on top of the spine, there is no place for pain. The system is too open, too flexible.
Soon, this notion of grace expanded to include more than the head and spine. I discovered that in any area of the body, pain depends on contraction. Tightness. These contracted area are additional gravity centers within the body. They pull everything down and in.
Physically massaging such an area is touchy business. Often massage gives a temporary relief, with a rebound in pain levels soon after. In my experience, these causes –the inner gravity — are not fundamentally physical, and seldom submit to purely physical treatment. Rather they are a weave of mental, emotional, energetic, and functionalfactors which need to be.
To a simple massage therapist, such a realization can be intimidating. It was for me. I knew my bodywork, but I didn’t know how to approach all the inner complexities.
One day, the answer appeared: “You don’t have to fix everything yourself. That is not your job. “Let the body that presents itself, also heal itself. Your job is to be its friend. Invite the healing forces, and it heals itself.”
Just as there are individual areas of gravity, there is also grace. There is a force inside us which is ready to get well, to be healed, to live vitally. When we make that force an ally, it brings an expanding light from within. In that expanding light, anything can happen. (revised in 2014).
Nishant Matthews, MA, MTH, LMT, is a Rebalancer with over 25 year of experience in bodywork, working with presence, meditation and consciousness. He is also a color therapist with many years experience teaching and offering clinical color therapy. He is in private practice in Stockholm, Sweden, and teaches courses in various locations in the USA and Europe. Nishant is a visiting lecturer at the Rebalancing School voor Lichaamswerk en Bewustzijn, the Netherlands, at which he has been a visiting and permanent lecturer since 1989. Nishant is the author of ‘The Friend, Finding Compassion with yourself’ (2010) which has been translated into Dutch in 2011 under the title: ‘Vriend in de Spiegel, Compassie met jezelf ‘. You can reach Nishant at firstname.lastname@example.org.