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Self Care is Health Care

Self care for a stressful day: the chelly

Today was a seriously stressful day for a client, I could hear the constriction in the throat as he talked, and felt the tension in the body as his story unfolded regarding what had happened since the last monthly session. Overall tension relief was the request, but it was not until the end of the session that I discovered "the knot".

Working from the extremities toward the center of the body, rhythmically rocking and loosening external and internal structures, the tension began to recede.  Words became less frequent, and a lulling into present experience occurred. This was followed by silence as each limb softened.

As I approached the ribs with gentle compressions, I felt tightness, and  my hands became softer. Going back and forth from ribs to belly, I explored the entire chelly slowly and gradually going deeper as the external muscles softened, and then I found it.  Just below the diaphragm,  under the tightness of the softening abdominal muscle wall was a tight knot.  My fingers became attuned to the edges of the knot and slowly loosened it from the outside, until I could not discern its' shape anymore.

"Chelly" is a term I learned in my Trager training. It is the combination of the belly and the chest~chelly!  the gentle rocking of the chelly allows the internal organs: intestines, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, lungs, heart, and kidneys and core muscles support them, to soften.  The intestines unwind and relax.  The repetitious movements of Trager may put us to sleep.  Milton Trager would say "don't wake the baby!", so the rocking goes on and on and on.  Some estimate the body is rocked over 5000 times in a single session. this rocking motion is the message the body needs to relax and let go.

How does stress knot up the stomach?  If you have ever had a "gut" feeling, you understand the power and sensitivity of this area. Eastern approaches say this is our energy center, and it is wise to develop and store "chi" (energy) on a regular basis.  When our energy is depleted, our resilience to stress decreases and every organ of the body is involved.  When we are stressed, the body tenses to preserve our energy for vital organs, slowly decreasing blood supply and fluids to areas that are not needed to function. The gut tension is a result of this process, and constriction works great for decreasing fluid and flow of energy.

The intestines are one of the largest organs, and are formed at the same time as the skin and brain in a fetus.  The number of cells involved in these three areas are astounding, and the innervation of them even more so.  With all that ability to pick up and send signals, it is no wonder we can feel a knot in our belly when stress is overpowering us. Relaxation is key.

"I never thought Trager would help my belly!".  He left feeling much more relaxed, the tight knot in his belly gone, and a smile on his face. For 90 minutes he was able to forget what was on his mind.

Letting go of stress in the body is not separate from the stress of the mind. The mindbody is one.  there are many ways to relax, but few as pleasurable as this approach.  As a nurse coach and Trager Practitioner, I am here to help you let go of whatever is not needed any longer in your life, your body or your words will reveal what is needed and when.  You can feel as relaxed as the lazy cat on the couch below!  

 

Miltonio and Giuseppe
Judith Fasone