Mind Asleep, Body Awake

I had an interesting session today in which my client wasn’t actually there. I mean, he was there in that his body was there, but my client as I knew him was checked out, in dream-land. And I was left to have a conversation with his myofascial system.

I’ve never had anyone fall asleep on the table. Either the sensations of the work are so intense, or I’m asking them to engage specific muscle groups, or something … no one’s fallen asleep until today. Today I was left to work entirely with the body—Karl’s body, in this case (not his real name)—devoid of any consciousness of what I usually think of as this entity called “Karl.”

The interesting part, for me, was what a conversation I had with Karl’s tissues, the systems underneath my fingertips, my forearms. In particular, while working his right hip abductors, I found his musculature doing things that I had always been certain were informed by the conscious mind: actions like prolonged guarding and pulling back.

As I sank slowly into a trigger point in Karl’s gluteus medius, I felt a familiar slight recoil of the tissue (meaning “too much!”). I backed off completely for a moment, then began slowly to put slight pressure on the same trigger point, only to have the whole structure pull back and guard again, like you might envision a jellyfish pulsing in the ocean under a false attack.

I had always been sure that this stuff was conscious mind stuff, like “okay, it’s too much because he’s anticipating my next move, thinking about how he’d better guard that area” … but Karl, indeed, was snoring away quite loudly throughout this whole “conversation” I was having with his hip. He was gone.

The body seems to have a personality of its own, wisdom aside.

Anyone else who’s had this experience, please comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear it, as this is all new stuff for me.

5 responses to “Mind Asleep, Body Awake

  1. I once fell asleep during a massage and woke up when it was complete. I was so upset with myself that I had not been awake to enjoy the experience. Now, when I have a massage and think that I might fall asleep, I let the therapist know that I would prefer to be woken up if he or she notices that I’m asleep.

  2. Ha … yeah, I can imagine! That thought ran through my head, for sure, but only briefly. It seemed that, in this case, that was totally what he needed. Thanks for sharing, Kirsten.

  3. Not sure how to explain. About 2 years ago I went to meet with someone. I was aware of the entire evening, yet felt in dream-like state. My friend even mentioned how it seemed I wasn’t entirely there. I remember my brain going between consciousness and dream-like state. It was difficult to get through the evening. Today, I had a similar experience. I was taking a walk, yet my brain felt in a dream-like state again. I can’t quite put words to it other than when you’re asleep at night, it’s like your body’s asleep yet your brain is awake sometimes. This is the exact opposite. My body is awake, but my brain seems to slip in and out of a dream-like state. A very curious and unnerving sensation.

    • Wow. Interesting, Carol. Yeah, the brain is awake or … something is conscious of it all, it sounds like, no?

  4. Yes! Its fascinating, I also feel like there are different ways a person can ¨leave¨ the session, and falling asleep doesnt necessarily mean they are not there.. in some way… I have felt like the conversation is even more honest sometimes, when a client is asleep (but not fully absent, I dont know how to describe it) and we into a dialog that is even beyond my own mind.. Its all fluctuations and responses to my input. What has been even MORE interesting is the kind of work that happens when I am falling asleep! As a therapist! Ive had periods of time when I don´t know if I was over doing it, or the heater was too hot and the windows were not open, or I was channeling something from another dimension (I doubt it) that I would go into a very different state (a little like the one Carol mentioned) where there was a very dense sense of syrupiness, where tissues somehow communicated beyond my mind, waves and textures would come and go, and images would come… It was a little bit confusing at first, until I got really good feedback from clients telling me it was their deepest session… It hasn´t happened in ages, and i kind of miss it now…

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