Touch is like wine tasting. That’s something most people do not realise. Somehow, the sense of touch is quite often reduced to an extremely narrow field. People believe that they touch with their hands. And most of us, including manual therapists, do not understand the depth of touch.
A bit of wine tasting
If you’ve ever gone for a wine tasting session, you might be aware of the whole ritual that takes place. The first steps of wine tasting don’t actually start with tasting. The color, the smell, the cork. All of those elements allow you to create a first connection with the wine you are about to taste. You haven’t drunk a single drop yet, and have already started to taste.
Then finally you’ll get to drink. The receptors of your tongue (along with those of smell, but let’s keep it simple) will send information to your body. But this is not tasting. Tasting starts when you start the cognitive process that allows you to really feel.
Just like wine tasting, osteopathy is not about the way you move the “glass”
When you practice wine tasting, you won’t spend years studying how to bring the glass to your mouth. Wine tasting is about how the wine interacts with your senses. It is a body experience through the senses. It is sensual, and no different to osteopathy.
Nowadays manual therapy is mostly about the way you move the glass
We do not apply all that crap to smelling, tasting or seeing. But we apply it to the way we touch. And this mechanical way of seeing things became rampant in manual therapy; be it osteopathy, craniosacral therapy or massage.
Most trainings are about techniques. How to place your hands, how to move, in which direction etc. Even in fields that are supposed to be more based on the sensation, the technique became prevalent. Being grounded, centered and aligned is taught everywhere. It is so taught that most people don’t even know what it means anymore. For sure people use those words, but those words are separated from the sensation of being grounded, centered or aligned.
During my studies, I encountered this issue many times. When I studied the biodynamic field, my teacher was always insisting on how to place my elbows on the table. Years after, I keep on getting messages from that person about my pictures and about how my elbows are not on the table. Along with comments on what I feel, telling me that it is not right. The accent is on how to lift the glass, not on the tasting.
Touch is like wine tasting
Honestly we can do much much better. How?
First of all, start realising that you do not touch with your hands. You touch with your whole body all the time. You touch the space around you, you touch your clothes, you touch the floor etc.
And even the patient before you place your hands on them. And you already gather information from them as soon as they enter your room (or before actually). Start listening before you use your hands, you are already touching the patient just like you are already tasting the wine before you actually drink it.
Touch, just like wine tasting is a sensual experience. It is not a mechanical technique. Listen more. Listen and see that you don’t hear even though you already have all the needed information.
Give up on your models
Stop thinking about your techniques, your models. About how to place your elbows, about the pressure of your fingers. Leave those poor fascia alone, stop pulling on those muscles. Throw your cranial osteopathy, give space to that cerebro spinal fluid and just burry your biopsychosocial model.
Stop running away from the sensation by trying to grasp its meaning. As soon as you feel anything, you feel the need to label it. “It is energy! This is a chakra! this is the 5th vertebra! That’s long tide! A trigger point! An ancestral trauma! A past life trauma! A trauma! Anger! Fear! A spirit! A tension in the psoas!” If you do label it, just get back. Can’t you see that you are getting away from the sensation?
Place your elbows the way you want to place them. Try different ways maybe, but don’t listen to people who tell you what to do or what to feel. And just start feeling for God’s sake! Start tasting the wine. Let the wine fill the whole space of your body, not only your tongue. Let the sensation spread in the space. Because touch is just like wine tasting. Feel that you are touched every single second of your life.
Just be alive. Feel. See that everything is sensation and sensation only. Your body is purely a body of sensation. Start feeling. Stop pretending that you are a muppet.
Find the stillness within you and operate from there. Hold space and touch. Feel how the patient reacts to your massage, to your cracking technique or your craniosacral touch. Stop running away. Nothing to change, nothing to fix, nothing to adjust. Just feel. No mind to control if you meditate, just being here.
And if you start to realise that running away will never take you anywhere, just like mindfulness, then you might like to start working with me either through osteopathy or meditation. When you’ll be ready to get out of the way, just let me know.
About Jules RampalMeditation teacher and osteopath
I am an online meditation teacher and an osteopath currently working in Cavan, Ireland. My courses are for people who want to learn meditation with guided sessions, and for therapists who want to delve into the way they feel and the knowledge they can gather for their clients.
Learn more about me here