Even after twenty plus years of study, practice, and training polarity therapists I still wince when asked that one simple question.
Polarity is such a huge topic that it is often hard to condense into a nice neat sound bite. Or if it is, I somehow feel like I’ve cheated the questioner by only touching on a fraction of a piece of the whole thing. Over the years it has, however, gotten easier to explain, as more people have become exposed to the ideas on which polarity was founded. Concepts like: the body, mind and spirit are interconnected and have direct bearing on our health; and the body-mind system has a self-healing, self-correcting mechanism which is constantly trying to bring the system back into balance. Other polarity underpinnings are still not as commonly accepted, like the notion that we are fundamentally energetic beings and that the free flow of energy determines and maintains the physical health of the system.
So you see, polarity is more than a bodywork technique, its a way of understanding the interconnection between the physical, mental, emotional and the metaphysical components that make up life. It is a system’s approach to thinking and living which applies quantum physics to natural healing. It is an overarching paradigm that encompasses Western and Eastern medicines.
Polarity studies the direct connection between form, function and subtle energy. As polarity therapists become sensitive to feel this energy which is at the most subtle level, we also become sensitive to palpating muscle tone, bony alignment, fascial movement, organ motility, cerebrospinal fluid flow, nervous system relays and much more. Polarity practitioners also hone their awareness of how psycho-emotional patterns link to physiological ones.
Polarity founder, Dr. Randolph Stone would say, “If it breathes its alive, no breath, no life”. What that means in the body is that every part of the body, every muscle, organ, and area of the body needs to go through a complete cycle of expansion, contraction and rest––literally to breathe. What’s more, this movement must be uninhibited for the system to be healthy. This is a big part of what I feel for––“Is this part breathing freely and how does that movement carry through to the rest of the body?”. I work with three main questions. What is this part of the body trying to do? How would it like help doing that? And what other areas could support the reintegration of the parts into a working whole?
As a therapy, polarity uses four distinct components: bodywork, dialogue, exercise, and diet. It looks at the process of disease as a fragmenting of what is an interconnected whole into dysfunctional parts, and healing as the process of re-integrating those parts. Using these four components we observe how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior patterns all have direct bearing on the shape and health of our bodies.
The bodywork can range from very deep, physical manipulations of muscles which unlocks stuck energy; to active rocking moves which relax tissue and disperses energy; to gentle, subtle bodywork which balances the energy, giving a sense of peace, and allowing the body to integrate structural or physiological change.
We are listening with our hands to how the system responds to touch at a variety of levels and customizing the way we work to the individual and their body’s needs. Clients come in with a range of ailments including muscular tension, acute trauma (like car accidents and falls), organ problems (like headaches and poor digestion) or emotional issues, stress, depression, etc. each requiring a different approach. In addition, each polarity therapist is unique in how they work, the depth and quality of their touch and what they incorporate into their work.
It is at once very similar in feel to other types of bodywork and very distinct. The results will vary depending on the focus of the session: clients can come away feeling very sedate or energized. Most report feeling “profoundly” relaxed and experience relief from their areas of pain or discomfort. Most of all, I hear from clients that they feel centered and more able to meet life’s challenges.
So, what is polarity? Its a way of understanding the interconnectedness of all things and of coming into harmony with the dance of life.