What's In The Belly?

Yesterday was my sixth day observing Shmuel Tatz Body Tuning. When I walked into the office this morning, he was already working on a woman. An hour later, he finally finished. The whole time I watched and I wondered what her complaint was. I know that Shmuel likes to only focus on one complaint at a time, but I could see that he was addressing many different parts of her body. This is perfectly logical because anytime you have any one part not co-operating, it will have an effect on the structural integrity of the whole body.

One of the things I saw yesterday was something that I’ve seen Shmuel do a few times, to different people. He presses his hands deep into the client’s belly. Sometimes he’ll apply pressure in a certain direction or seem to apply a certain motion to the activity. It’s different each time he does it, but it always seems to me to be so dramatic. It really was curious to me.

Through this process of leaning the art of Body Tuning, I have avoided asking questions. Body Tuning is an intuitive art and I want to trust my intuitions in both learning and practicing. When I got my Nia Black Belt, I learned that asking questions can shut off the intuitive mind, so I let my questions sit and they fuel me to watch more intently. But today, I did ask a question. I wanted to know why Shmuel was pressing into people’s bellies.

I had pondered this question since I first saw him do it. When something puzzles me, I often try to do it to myself. But this one looked so scary. I didn’t want to do it to myself. But yesterday I asked him what he’s doing so that I could go home and try it on myself. His answer was disappointingly vague to me. I asked “what are you pressing into? Is it the diaphragm? the psoas? the liver? what? I was hoping for specific directions and he gave me a surprise. In stead of giving me a specific technique or target, he told me that many problems lie in the digestive system. I know that our health is tied up with our digestion, but I didn’t realize that Body Tuning would take that into account. In retrospect, I don’t know why that should surprise me; Body Tuning is a holistic approach to physical health and well-being.

It was a reminder to stay in my intuitive mind. So I put my questions away again.

When I got home, I pressed hard into my own belly. The first thing I noticed was that it was not only easy to go as deeply as I saw him pressing on the clients, but that it actually felt really good. It felt especially good when I stopped. I know that sounds like an old joke, but it actually felt like a really good muscular release.

And here’s another thing I noticed... Ever since my injury (see Too Little is Better Than Too Much , Injury Update and How I Fixed My Body) I’ve noticed that I’m crooked. When I hold a plank position for more than about thirty seconds, I start to lose the inner grip on my ribcage on the right side, and despite my best efforts I cannot hold my upper body evenly. I also notice that if I stand and look at my body in the mirror, there is a very slight deviation of my ribcage in relationship to my pelvis. I’m wondering if something inside didn’t heal up right; which made me crooked.
Well, when I tried this belly-pressing technique and I actually pressed in and turned, with the intention of fixing my crooked ribcage, it felt amazing. And I felt like I could realign myself from the core. It actually felt like something Shmuel might be up to when he’s doing some of his digging.

The strange lesson I learned yesterday was not to think in terms of parts. I already know my anatomy; its not like I’m not aware of the parts. But the focus seems to be on the organism as a whole, rather that any single part. We’re dealing with systems and connections. The body working in concert.

The comparison of how I thought of the belly pressing before today and after my own belly pressing experience is that this morning, I was interested in what muscle was being targeted. And now, I understand it as a great center. An access to some profound shifting.

Then, as if by divine coincidence, I went into the office this morning to find that Shmuel was absent for the holiday and that his assistant was the one who had asked me to come in an hour early. He laid me on the table and proceeded to give my body a thorough working over. This session is actually going to be another post, but what I wanted to mention about it was that, as part of his work, he pressed deep into my belly.

The sensation was astounding. It wasn’t particularly painful, but it was certainly loaded with emotion. I felt like I was about to cry. Not from pain or even from any particular memory, but just a pure, strong emotional connection to whatever he was accessing with his deep touch.

The question remains unanswered for now. But it is still burning and driving me to observe and experience even more. One of the driving questions of my work will now be “What’s in the belly?”


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