By Simon Voysey, B. Ed Human Movement, Dip RM, Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Sydney, Australia.
I was watching a TV program the other night and there was a panel of four, three women and one man, discussing domestic violence. Asked at the end of the discussion to state, in their opinion, what was the most important thing to tackle about domestic violence, the man replied that men needed to get rid of the rough and tough image of what it was to be a man. As the camera panned back to the women, all three were nodding implicitly.
Addressing the rough and tough image around being a man is a key factor in understanding domestic violence. And one very important aspect of this is the hardness that men develop in their bodies and the insensitivity that goes with it. Men are conditioned from a very young age to be tough, to not cry, to be insensitive and physiologically this means holding hardness in their bodies.
To explain this in physiological terms is very simple. The hardness is like a bracing in the body, which occurs when we take on the image of being tough. When you are told to ‘suck it up’ or not be ‘a sissy’, or ‘a girl’, there is literally a tensing in the body and over time, the hurts that could easily be released by expressing how you feel and perhaps crying, instead become a held tension in muscles, connective tissue and even deeper in organs. The deeper hardness in organs means a more entrenched hardness in the body, which affects its natural harmonious function and flow, and the resulting physiological and emotional dysfunction can lead to the body becoming run down, to depression and to other forms of mental and physical illness.
Emotional dysfunction means living in reaction. This means reacting way out of proportion when feeling threatened, even by someone who is not physically threatening you. Such ‘irrational’ behaviour goes hand in hand with hardness in the body, which can lead to people being abusive, or accepting abuse, as well as being a factor in many other lifestyle choices that do not make sense such as emotional eating, alcohol and drug abuse, and indeed any other choice that can harm our bodies.
Our Connective Tissue
The very interesting relationship between the hardness held in our bodies and our behaviour, highlights the importance of understanding the role our connective tissue plays in our physiological and psychological health and wellbeing. The role assigned to our connective tissue in modern medical science is of protection and support of other body tissue. The fact that it wraps around muscles, joints and bones, all of our blood vessels, nerves and organs, plus throughout our central nervous system, the spine and brain, indicates how important connective tissue is to our general wellbeing. In its role as a protective layer of our body, it is very sensitive to impending hurts.
At any time we feel an insult, our connective tissue contracts, influencing the muscles, blood vessels, nerves or organs it is supporting. The hardness held in our bodies significantly relates to how the connective tissue acts like an ‘armour’ and as muscle fascia, it relates to the hardness in muscles often seen in men as ‘beneficial’ – according to the model of how ‘a man’ should be. Yet this kind of hardness does not release as a muscle should, when not actively being used. It stays tense, and so, the whole sensitivity of our awareness to our world becomes distorted and dulled, just as if we were wearing armour all day long.
Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy
Through the amazing work of Serge Benhayon and Kate Greenaway – a physiotherapist who has worked in close relationship with Serge for many years – a form of healing called Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy (ECTT) has evolved. This therapy knows and understands our body and the role of connective tissue to such a deep extent, that it recognises how very subtle movements applied to the body causes a physiological and energetic shift in people’s bodies, like a ‘ripple effect’, where the hardness can release markedly even in one session. ECTT is a very gentle therapy performed lying on a massage table, which has been found to be great for the relief of pain. Yet more importantly in the context of this article, any one who receives ECTT gets to feel the hardness held in their body and how unnatural it is compared to the natural sensitivity and tenderness that we can surrender to in treatments.
My personal experience of ECTT and Esoteric Healing began several years ago when as a fitness and Yoga instructor I considered myself to be very strong, fit and flexible. Through these deeply connected modalities I became aware of the hardness in my body and this awareness was integral to how I changed my exercise and Yoga practice. The sensitivity I reclaimed meant listening to my body and exploring a totally different relationship with it to avoid any insult I was causing my body through intense, forceful or jarring exercise or stretching.
This increased sensitivity and awareness has also become a whole new foundation for the way I live and brought a new more gentle quality to everything I do, which has greatly increased my level of vitality and my sense of wellbeing. Letting go of hardness and honouring my deeper sensitivity has led to a tender, loving way of being that has positively affected my whole life, including all of my relationships.
The extension of ECTT into everyday life is choosing to be sensitive and gentle with ourselves, rather than tough and hard in how we live our lives. This includes the choice to be present with our bodies and to the constant signals they offer us about our posture, the quality of our movement and how we relate to people. These choices can be easily made when we begin to feel and appreciate what a difference it makes to our energy levels, our self-confidence and our overall quality of life.