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Integrating Approaches To Bodywork: The Polarity Therapy Experience

by Anthony Deavin(more info)

listed in polarity therapy, originally published in issue 158 - May 2009

Polarity Therapy was established by Dr. Randolph Stone in the 1950s. He studied Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and Neuropathy but remained dissatisfied with the skills available to him. The breakthrough came when he came across Mysticism: the Spiritual Path by Lekh Raj Puri. [1] This explained for him where energy comes from, and how it can be harnessed for spiritual development. It also spoke of how blockage of energy flow results in illness and unhappiness. These insights formed the core inspiration for all of Dr Stone's work. His key aim was to support spiritual development by working with the body and the flow of energy within it:

"The human body was originally given to us for the purpose of truth and God realisation. It was through the human body that we involuted, and it is through the human body that we obtain the key to evolution (liberation and God-realisation)".[2]

Dr Stone uses the term involution for the process whereby energy, originating at Source, steps down in vibration to form our physical body, mind and emotions, i.e. the realm of materiality. Evolution is the process of turning the attention away from dense matter so that energy may return to Source. If this flow is free of blockages, the flow of energy is like breathing: an outward breath from Source to matter (exhalation) and an inward breath from matter to Source (inhalation). The purpose of Polarity Therapy is to clear all obstacles to the flow of energy, both in inhalation and exhalation. In this way we may combine both the experience of materiality and experience of Source within our awareness. 

Polarity and Polarity Therapy

Two poles must exist in order for energy to flow. (We can think of these poles as positive and negative.) This is the Polarity Principle. Thinking in these terms, the Source is one pole and the material world the second pole, with energy flowing between these two poles. This is the most fundamental polarity of our existence.

The author giving treatment

The Polarity Principle also applies when we use our hands on the body to promote energy flow. In Polarity Therapy, the hands are placed on two places on the body. This creates two poles, between which energy may flow. Touching the body in two places, thereby establishing a polarity, or relationship, reminds the body of how the energy needs to flow. In Polarity Therapy, the practitioner has a direct experience of energy flow between the hands. Frequently, the client simultaneously experiences changes, e.g. tingling and colours and tissue relaxation, so that the therapy session may develop into a co-operative exchange of observation between practitioner and client. In this way, the client is empowered by consciously participating in the healing process. Of course, sometimes a silent session is what the client is in need of.

The Hands and Energy

There is no doubt that the hands emit an energy field:
"...an extraordinarily large biomagnetic field emanates from the hands of a variety of practitioners of a variety of healing and martial arts techniques.....The emitted field appears to sweep or scan through a variety of frequencies in the ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) range. This is the same range of frequencies that biomedical researchers are finding effective for jump starting healing in a variety of soft and hard tissues."[3]

Experience shows that the body seems to take what it needs from the energy emitted from the hands, e.g. clients often experience a penetrating heat from the hands when areas of tension are being treated. Cooling is observed by the client at exactly the same moment as the practitioner detects a relaxation of tissues. Such observations confirm that there is a profound intelligence in the body which is over-seeing the healing process. For Dr Stone, this intelligence was the Soul:

"The Soul is a unit drop of the ocean of the Eternal Spirit which is the dweller in the body as the knower, seer, and doer; it experiences all sensations and action. It alone is the power in the body which reacts to any mode of application of therapy or action. Consciousness and intelligence reside within the soul."[4]

The Healer Within

Central to the practice of Polarity Therapy is the certainty that something within the complex being that is the client is able to use the therapist's touch, pure intention, and compassion as a resource for its healing. Whether one uses the word soul, like Dr Stone, or intelligence, or innate wisdom or some other word for this something is not important. Perhaps The Healer Within would be the best term. What is important is the therapist's inner knowing that this something, which is totally unaffected by any disturbance, exists and directs the healing process. In Polarity Therapy our study of the system, or our intuition, leads to our placing the hands on two places on the body and energy flows, directed by the intelligence within. The therapist simply observes and listens. From this perspective, the therapist would not think of themselves as a healer, but rather as a facilitator, co-operating with the healer within.

Knowing where to Place the Hands on the Body

Polarity Therapy provides a simple scheme as to where the hands need to be placed. Sometimes the therapist simply knows what to do, without reference to a scheme. However, most therapists need a clear scheme or map for placing the hands, at least at the start of a therapy session. As the session proceeds, the appropriate hand positions may follow an intuitive sense of what is required.

One way to know where the hands should be placed is to know what quality of energy is out of balance, and where the hands need to be placed to correct this imbalance. In order to describe different qualities of energy, Dr Stone used the Ayurvedic system of five elements: Ether (space), Air (movement), Fire (transformation, heat), water (cohesion, fluidity), earth (materiality, stability). The qualities of the elements may be used as a basis for diagnosis as to which element is out of balance; for example, poor digestion may indicate an imbalance of Fire, nervousness a problem with Air, and obesity a disturbance of Water. When Earth is disturbed, the person feels ungrounded, and when events overwhelm, space (Ether) is lost. Dr Stone specified where the hands need to be placed to balance each element. The three key places for each element are:

Earth Neck Colon Knees
Water Chest Pelvis Feet
Fire Eyes Solar Plexus Thighs
Air Shoulders Kidneys/Colon Shins
Ether Ether is located in the joints

So, to relieve neck problems (earth) one hand may be placed on the neck, and the other under the knees, i.e. there is a relationship between the neck and knees. Low energy (fire) will be helped by using the solar plexus-thigh relationship.

Dr Stone described many relationships in addition to the elemental relationships described above. [5, 6]   Overall, the Polarity approach of understanding relationships is more  simple than those methods which require a knowledge of the meridians. Also, the experience of working with relationships gives the practitioner the freedom to discover intuitively where the hands need to be placed.

The Experience of Energy Flow

Uniquely in Polarity Therapy, the practitioner has a direct experience of energy flowing between the hands: energy flow is an experience, not a concept. Practitioners come to know how they, personally, experience this flow. Common indications are: pulsation in the finger tips, tingling in the hands, 'waves' flowing through the arms and simply 'knowing'. When this flow takes place, there is usually a feeling of relaxation under the finger-tips; the practitioner knows with certainty that energy congestion has been cleared. At exactly the same time, the client will often observe tissue changes, e.g. disappearance of soreness, muscle relaxation and disappearance of pain.

Treatment of the neck

Variation of Touch

One aspect of the art of Polarity Therapy is to be sensitive as to what kind of touch would be most appropriate to meet the needs of the client. In Polarity Therapy, we enjoy the flexibility to work in the aura, as with Spiritual Healing, to apply a gentle touch, as in Reiki and Cranio-sacral Therapy, to work deeply into sore places, as with Acupressure and Reflexology, and to traction the tissues as in Shiatsu and Massage. More often than not, more than one kind of touch will be used in a therapy session. The Polarity Therapist is sensitive, not only to the flow of energy between the hands, but also to the relaxation and movement of tissues under the fingers. This movement of tissues in the body, under the guidance of the Healer Within, takes place as tensions are released: the body is reorganizing itself. Often, the client will report such changes at places at a distance from where the practitioner's hands are placed. This release of tension can be quite dramatic, as when the whole arm or leg moves without any intention on the part of the therapist, a process often called unwinding.[7]

A further aspect of touch is the palpation of the subtle emanations of cerebro-spinal fluid, discussed below.[8]

With such a variety of touch available, the Polarity Therapist develops a sense of what the client needs by observation of the client's qualities, and by listening deeply to insights as they are presented during the therapy session. It is clear that, with Polarity Therapy, different aspects of body-work blend into a single integrated approach, something which practitioners of Polarity Therapy find deeply satisfying.

Structural Work

A body may have a structural problem, e.g. fallen arches, a short leg, a high shoulder and spinal distortions, such as scoliosis. Frequently, such problems will improve as a result of receiving Polarity Therapy, without any intention on the part of the therapist to address the specific problem. However, if a specific structural imbalance has been identified, the problem can be addressed directly using Polarity techniques. Polarity spinal work is particularly effective. With the hands in the appropriate positions, much can be done to relieve spinal problems and its attendant pain, without having to resort to manipulation.[5] The Polarity approach is to restore structure by encouraging energy flow, rather than by forceful manipulation.

The Ultrasonic and Light Energies

Dr Stone taught that the Soul, or Healer Within, has a seat within the brain. It radiates the information, or blue-print, required for the functioning of the whole body-mind system. This radiation, which he called ultrasonic and light energies, is conveyed throughout the body by the flow of cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) which flows within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the spinal nerves. There is no doubt that Polarity Therapy enhances this flow of CSF.[9, 10]

"The Soul is the essence of being and life in the body, and functions through the brain and spinal cord, to the coccyx....The cerebro-spinal fluid seems to act as a storage field and a conveyor for the ultrasonic and light energies. It bathes the spinal cord and is a reservoir for these finer essences (which are) conducted by this fluidic medium through all the fine nerves...."[9]

Cranio-sacral Therapy refers to the ultrasonic and light energies as The breath of life.  Polarity Therapists develop an extremely sensitive touch-awareness and are therefore able to treat the cranio-sacral system using the techniques of cranio-sacral therapy. These blend easily and naturally with Polarity Therapy, so that the two approaches become integrated into a single therapeutic approach.

The breath of life is experienced by the hands differently to the experience of energy, described above. Especially when holding the head, it feels as if the hands are slowly being pushed out and withdrawn by a kind of breath.[10] This observation confirms that with the breath of life we are dealing with a different aspect of the body-mind system compared to energy.

Tissue Memory

Tissue or cellular memory is the term used for the ability of tissues to store the memory of disturbing events from the past. Such memories distort the tissues, which in turn leads to the blocking of energy flow and ill-health. As tissues relax during therapy, these memories, possibly long since forgotten, may come into conscious view. Such occasions provide a unique opportunity for resolution and healing at a deep level.[11]

The Integration of Bodywork within Polarity Therapy

Polarity Therapy integrates work with energy, structure,  cerebro-spinal fluid, and tissue memory into one therapeutic process. As has been described above, much of the work of the Polarity Therapist is concerned with enabling energy to flow by placing the hands on two places on the body. There is often a blockage to energy flow which will present as soreness, pain or tightness. Many other therapies work with energy and clear blockages, e.g. Reiki, reflexology, therapeutic touch, Bowen, acupressure and shiatsu.  The effectiveness of such therapies may well be enhanced by utilizing the double contact used in Polarity Therapy. This is certainly the experience of reflexologists and massage therapists, who find that Polarity Therapy integrates very naturally and beneficially into their work.[12]

Polarity Therapy also deals with structural imbalances, and thus enjoys an interface with Osteopathy and Chiropractic, though with Polarity, no manipulation is involved. Because Polarity works with energy to change structure, results may be more lasting than methods which rely on manipulation alone. One reason for this success is that with Polarity we are empowering the body to change rather than forcing change. Another reason is that with Polarity, a disturbing tissue memory, which is the actual cause of the tissue distortion, may be released during the treatment.

Working to promote the flow of cerebro-spinal fluid, which carries the blueprint of the body as the breath of life, also forms an important aspect of Polarity Therapy. Here, Polarity has an interface with cranio-sacral therapy.

Thus, in a session of Polarity Therapy, the therapist may find they are focusing on energy, structure, CSF, and issues which are released from the tissue memory during treatment. The skill of working with Polarity Therapy lies in tuning in to the client's needs at the time of the session, and following insights as they are presented during the session.

Case History

This case history concerns Jane (not her real name) who is in her 50s. She is a single mother with four children, for whom she has had to work hard over many years to support. In January 2008 she had sprained her foot. Despite months of McTimoney Chiropractic, practising special exercises and using an elastic bandage and custom built insoles for her high arches, 9 months later her foot problem remained unresolved: She walked with a limp, the foot was very sore, and she needed pain killers at night. She also had upper and lower back pain. 

Key aspects of the body-work for each session were as follows (commentary is given in italics):

Session 1.  8.9.08

  • Release of  neck muscles at the occiput. With the client lying on her back, the finger-tips are placed on the neck muscles where they insert into the occiput.
    The weight of the head on the finger-tips is sufficient to promote the release of muscular tension and general relaxation.
  • Release of transverse restrictions by placing the hands above and below the thoracic inlet, the diaphragm and the pelvis.
    These holds are an aid to overall relaxation. The therapist waits until energy flows between the hands, and also until any tissue changes have been completed. Placing the hands above and below a place of energy constriction is a common and very effective hold in Polarity Therapy.
  • Foot work: The injured right foot was very sore in the centre of the upper side. A double contact was maintained with a finger of one hand on the sore place and a finger of the other hand on the equivalent position on the other foot. Eventually the soreness and pain dissipated. The foot was then held in both hands and allowed to unwind.
    Holding equivalent positions can provide a very effective Polarity hold, as in this case. Unwinding, i.e. spontaneous tissue movement, can be very effective in releasing shock and stuckness in tissues.
After this treatment, there was no pain in the foot. In the words of the client: "I don't understand it, but it miraculously helped my very painful foot."

Session 2.  26.11.08

Jane reported that her foot was now pain free for most of the time! "Can't really believe that so little treatment  effected  a cure." It was decided to treat the neck and upper spine for the pain which had troubled her for several years.
  • Sore neck points cleared by making Polarity contact with the sore place on one side of the neck and the equivalent position on the other side of the neck, waiting until the soreness dissipated.
  • Hands above and below shoulder to release scapula.
  • Sore points in the muscles each side of the thoracic vertebrae (erector spinae muscles) were cleared by Polarity contact to the opposite point on the front of the body.
 Another way to release sore errector spinae muscles is to use the sitting bone as the second contact. There are many options in Polarity Therapy.    

Client's comment: "I think Polarity's very surprising and powerful."

Session 3.  9.12.08.

Jane reported that the back pain had not improved. However, her energy was more balanced: she did not become totally exhausted as had been the case before.
  • Held hands above and below both shoulders. This resulted in twitching, which did not stop. Both arms were therefore supported and allowed to unwind. 
  • When head was supported, it spontaneously unwound.                                                  
  • During the above work, the breathing became laboured.                                          
  • Gentle Polarity hold, with one hand under the occiput and the other over the sternum (head-heart stretch).  
  • Feet held, and the toes pulled in pairs. 
The body wanting to unwind so extensively suggests that it holds a lot of tension. The laboured breathing may indicate a release of issues from the tissue memory. (Agitation within the breath cycle generally indicates emotional disturbance.) The head-heart stretch and foot work will have calmed and grounded the client.

Client's comment: The following day, I was very stiff in the top and bottom of my back. (Top painful in a specific place.) I feel convinced of Polarity's ability to shift stuck energy, problems and injuries.

Session 4. 16.12.08

The aim of this session was to see what could be done about the spinal pain which  seemed to have increased as a result of the previous session' work.
  • Released neck soreness as described for session 1.
  • Allowed neck to unwind.
  • Cleared soreness from upper thoracic erector spinae muscles (see session 2.)     
  • Worked on transverse restrictions (see above). 
  • Decided on a spinal unwind since the feet twitched when held for balancing. This  was done on a carpeted floor, allowing the spine to move spontaneously ( a rocking motion), whilst holding sacrum and occiput or sacrum and neck. Jane started to cry. She felt a terrible anger which she thought she had dealt with. Finally the feet were held until Jane was well grounded.
It is clear that emotional issues have been released from the spine as a result of the body-work.

Client's comment: 
Waves of emotion kept coming for the remainder of the day. The following day I was still very emotional with a very painful back. Felt both vulnerable and new. A very deep healing is going on.

Session 5. 19.12.08.

Since the treatment, Jane's back had been very painful, though she felt totally confident in her healing process. A calming and balancing treatment was therefore indicated.
  • Gentle head and shoulder holds.
  • Balancing with the 6-pointed star pattern of relationships: Each hip to third eye  and each shoulder to pubic bone (anterior work). Each hip to centre of occipital base and each shoulder to the sacral apex (posterior work).
Jane relaxed enormously during the balancing, falling asleep at times.

At the time of writing, March 2009, Jane's foot problem has not returned and for most of the time she is free of back pain. An occasional intense pain returns when she is tired or angry. She thinks this pain will clear of itself. Jane feels a new person.

References

References to Dr Stone's work are taken from POLARITY THERAPY. The Complete Collected Works on this Revolutionary Healing Art by the Originator of the System. Volumes One and Two. CRCS Publications. USA. Each reference to Dr Stone is given as a book and page number.

Through the generosity of Positive Health PH Online, all references may be downloaded from www.positivehealth.com free of charge.

1. The Astonishing Story of Dr. Randolph Stone's Polarity Therapy. United Kingdom Polarity Therapy Association.
2. Stone R. Book 5 p.44.
3. Oschman, JL. Energy Medicine. The Scientific Basis. Churchill Livingstone. Chapter 6. ISBN 0-443-06261-7.2000.
4. Stone R. Book 2. p.3.
5. Deavin A. Universal Application of Polarity Therapy. Positive Health. August 2001.
6. Sills F. The Polarity Process. Energy as a Healing Art. Element Books. Shaftesbury, Dorset. ISBN 1-852230-052-3. 1989.
7. Upledger JE & Vredevoogd JD Craniosacral Therapy. Eastland Press, Seattle. ISBN 0-939616-01-7. 1983.
8. Kern M. Wisdom in the Body. The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health. Thornsons. ISBN 0-7225-3708-5. 2001.
9. Stone R. Book 3. p 26 & 30.
10. Deavin A. Polarity Therapy. Touch with Awareness. Positive Health. March 2007.
11. Deavin A. Releasing Trauma through Bodywork. The Power of Awareness. Positive Health. August 2000.
12. Williamson J. An Introduction to Precision Reflexology. Positive Health. June. 1998.

Acknowledgement

The author wishes to express his gratitude for the support and encouragement of Helga Frank during the writing of this article.

Comments:

  1. Ena said..

    Polarity Therapy does work miracles. I dont understand why it is not THE leading healing/ health modality. Have you worked on cases of obesity at all?


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About Anthony Deavin

Anthony Deavin BSc PhD RPP RCST has a BSc and PhD in chemistry and research experience in the biological sciences. Anthony then studied Ayurveda (Indian Medical Science), qualified in Medical Herbalism, and lectured in Anatomy and Physiology and Pathology. Subsequently he qualified in Polarity Therapy and Cranio-sacral Therapy, and established a Training in Polarity Therapy. More recently, Anthony's focus has shifted to gaining the skills necessary to help his clients overcome the trauma, limiting beliefs and turbulent emotions which prevent them realising their direction and purpose in life. To this end, Anthony has qualified in Journey Therapy and Theta Healing and has studied many other methods, most recently Reference Point Therapy. Anthony now teaches Causal Healing, which integrates all the methods he has studied and practised into one unified approach. His clinic work combines Herbal Medicine, Polarity Therapy and Causal healing.

Anthony may be contacted by on Tel: 01737 842749; anthony.deavin@btopenworld.com   www.causalhealing.com

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