Diary of a Calm Clinic: Wednesday 3rd November
It’s 11.15 am and I am on my way downstairs at the Centre for Better Health to set up the Calm Clinic in the Gallery. It’s a great space for the Clinic with its low ceiling, multiple soft lighting and the small courtyard out the back where the afternoon sun- provided there is any- slants in over the wall and through a row of tall ever-green trees. Hence the name: Dappled Light Calm Clinic.
I run the Clinic directly after the Yoga class and I chat briefly to Marcia, the Yoga teacher who is on her way out. Shiatsu is done at floor level on thick mats and a person wears everyday but comfortable clothing and receives this gentle touch therapy as they lie sometimes face up and sometimes face down or on their side.
The room is set up so that people can sit before or after their treatment and have a hot drink and look at Art books. Cirillo, the Facilities Manager helps me with this, bringing down a giant hot flask for the drinks. It’s important I think that people feel relaxed and unhurried so that even in a fairly brief twenty minute treatment there is a sense that the process is much longer; in how each person settles into the treatment and how they take this into the wider shared space of the Clinic and then out into their continuing life. If people come from week to week these small touch treatments begin to build up and I sense that people feel more and more that they in fact are not simply receiving the treatment in a passive way but in fact guide where and in what way their treatment unfolds.
Sometimes people are motivated to come because they have specific pains- lower back discomfort, headache, sleeplessness, sense of breathlessness or simply a generalized feeling of being ill-at ease or restless. Whatever may have brought them into the Calm Clinic this can be a useful beginning. I take the problem as a Key that can ask the question: what happens when we stay with a situation for long enough to notice it change? The changes may be small at first. But over time people grow more sensitive in noticing what is happening for them; like how a pain rather than going away completely begins to change; pulsating, flicking on and off or moving into other areas in the body.
By staying with what is happening, the physical pain or the emotional feeling of being overwhelmed can begin to soften and literally have more room to play out. This sometimes allows it to transform.
I think that the relationship between me as therapist and each visitor is also very important. A wordless conversation takes place on the mat which is very unique to each person.
I had five visitors’ today; two people coming for the very first time and three people who have been coming regularly. With the regular people there is little talking before a treatment; more a simple “How are you”? After the treatment we may touch on how a person is feeling and this may feel relevant to them in terms of their life-situation. Shiatsu is not a bossy treatment with a lot of “Dos” and “Don’ts” about how people live their life. People take the information they find out about themselves in a treatment and they apply is to their life as and when this feels right.
Towards the end of the Clinic Clea Sambrook, who is a Cranio-Sacral practitioner, dropped in. Next year she will be offering her treatment at two of the Calm Clinics. This is a delicate and powerful treatment that is done on a couch with light but continued touch. Clea is a gifted practitioner who is newly qualified. She chatted briefly to the last client about this approach and we talked about how this therapy could be useful for people. A Cranio- Sacral practitioner can hold a clear and un-busy space for a receiver in which many small shifts can occur and a greater sense of wholeness can start to be felt by them. I very much look forward to welcoming Clea for her slightly longer sessions of 35 minutes on the 28th of January and the 11th of February.
Shiatsu practitioner at: Dappled Light Calm Clinic
Centre for Better Health
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