Being in the Body: Biodynamic Massage

I went for Biodynamic Massage this week! I think touch therapy is so positive and I have been finding out about low-cost options in London. I found a concessionary rate with a therapist in South London (comment below for details if this would be of interest to you!)

Here’s how a Biodynamic sessions goes:

The therapist will sit down with you and ask you a bit about yourself and why you’ve sought massage in particular. It’s a chance to talk a bit about yourself but isn’t too intrusive. I outlined my mental health briefly and talked about how I’ve found touch therapy makes me feel better.

The massage in my case was Shiatsu-based and so was clothed, focussing on pressure points and seeking out areas not just of tension but of resistance, pulling away, and hotter or cooler areas. I’ve never had shiatsu before and found it really soothing. I really appreciated the sustained attention to different areas – right down to fingers and toes, for instance.

Afterwards, the therapist checks in with you, asking how you were able to relax and what areas in particular came up for you. The therapist feeds back about what particularly struck them too. For me, my shoulders in particular and also my hips are areas that are really tense to the point of being sore, but I was really surprised to hear that for my therapist my feet and legs were noticeably resistant and I was unconsciously pulling away. I found that so interesting, and told him that with dancing I spend a lot of time thinking about my feet. He told me that the feet and lower legs are associated with rootedness and feelings of being grounded. It struck me how ballet is all about the illusion of being aerial, and although use of the floor is integral to technique, we never get down to floor and instead float away from it.

Fingers and toes are associated with each other and the therapist said he noticed anxiety in both – at that point I realised that I had nervously raised my fingers towards my mouth and was fiddling with them! I am prone to eczema, which is exerted by stress and anxiety, which crops up on and in-between my fingers.

I found the experience so soothing, and another way (like ballet)  in which I can be present in my body. I’d love to have some more sessions and see how this all develops.

To find out more about Biodynamic Massage, take a look at the London School of Biodynamic Psychotherapy.

Creativity and Depression

Source: Creativity and depression… do they bother you? — SewCanShe | Free Daily Sewing Tutorials

SewCanShe is a great blog and tutorial site that I follow and would totally recommend for any sewists! But this post was a bit more personal and one that I really appreciated. I suffer from Clinical Depression and creativity (of lack of) is something that I spend quite a lot of time thinking about.

The post above and its comments mention sewing projects as a source of creativity and a bit of everyday hopefulness for people suffering through depressive times. I can definitely relate to this. Sometimes, just picking up a simple bit of hand-sewing and completing just *something* for the day can mean the difference between writing-off the day and salvaging something positive and hopeful. I think as well that the attention demanded of making something can be so helpful in re-focussing thoughts away from sorrowful or anxiety-inducing spirals.

Ballet, as well, has been and continues to be an absolute life-line for me. Again, for me, it is the quality of attention that must be paid in class that brings relief for me. If I can find the heart to just get there, to turn up and turn out, I know that for the next hour and half I won’t be at war with myself.

However going through depression and related issues can often mean that creativity grinds to a halt. I often feel overwhelmed by the thought of beginning any kind of project and a profound lack of creative energy and imagination. It is a real problem for me as my occupation as a graduate student means that writing is central to what I do – and I often feel absolutely unable to write.

I think there’s a bit  of a culturally-imagined image of the depressed or “mad” person somehow harbouring a special kind of creative energy or the ability to  create wonderful things out of darkness. No doubt many celebrated creative people have had mental health issues. But I find this assumption quite damaging. For me, depression is a very barren place and I really do feel the pressure of not being able to function or create.

I would love to hear people about their own creative lives. Have you found any ways to access your own creative energy through the dark times?

Dancing in the Dark. (photo: Erwin Olaf)

Dancing in the Dark.
(photo: Erwin Olaf)

Touch Therapy (when you’re brassic)

I’m furiously researching massage therapies at a low cost in London. I’m a big believer in the efficacy of touch therapy and I think especially at this time of year as the dark draws in it can be such a big boost to wellbeing.

I live in central London, not the easiest of places to find anything at low cost, so I thought sharing my findings would be pretty useful.

 

Believe it or not, Clarins Spa in Peter Jones offers really good value for money on massage!  With a guideline London price starting at £60 for 60mins, Clarins’ 85min aromatherapy massage for £57 is really reasonable. If you are able to book a block, you can buy 6 treatments for the price of 5 as well. I have tried this one out and it a really good quality, truly full-body massage. They do seem to have a really busy diary, so expect to book at least a couple of weeks in advance.

 

Student salons offer  good low-cost options. Although they are often busier treatment environments, (and, sorry, some students are more proficient than others!) you do have the benefit of your student therapist being supervised by a professional.  The London School of Beauty Therapy offers full body massage for £25, and adds scalp massage for £3 extra.

The London School of Beauty and Make-Up (which used to be known as Esthetique) offers  a good range of different massage treatments starting from £20. Their 90min aromatherapy massage is £35. You also have the option with some of the massage treatments to book with a qualified therapist as opposed to a student for a bit extra.

 

Different therapists and clinics have different concessionary policies – some do offer student discounts, or set aside an off-peak slot on a weekday for treatments at reduced cost. More often, concessionary rates are available for those with long-term illness/disability, those in receipt of benefits and retired people. If you fit the bill, you can check out :

BodyWise, which offer a range of low-cost therapies including massage at a flat rate of £25 in Bethnal Green. Added bonus, they’re above a great vege cafe!

HandsInc., again in East London, they have clinics in Stoke Newington and Clapton, and offer massage starting at £17.

I’m hoping to add to the list as I continue researching this!

 

I’m also learning more about Biodynamic Psychotherapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that involves massage.

The London School of Biodynamic Psychotherapy in Highgate runs a fortnightly student clinic on Thursdays, with treatment at £20. They have a list of therapists too, some of whom are able to offer concessionary rates.

More on this as I find out more!

 

 

Ballet state of mind

I’m starting a new type of therapy, which is scary and exciting and hopeful.

I’m just at the stage of having initial assessment appointments. Which can be hugely stressful – I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone through this stage with all different types of talking therapies. And, although it was hard, and exhausting, I feel like it it went pretty well this time.

One thing which I’m turning over in my mind is how my therapist was interested in my ballet classes. Therapists want to know that you have interests and that you are getting exercise, and ballet has been a really positive thing for me in this regard – not just in my general everyday life, but as a thing I can bring to therapy and say Look – I am doing this positive thing.

But this therapist said to me – I am interested in your doing ballet. Because it seems to be a very exacting discipline, and a very self-critical one.

Now, I have thought a lot about the psychological aspects of dancing, and I hope to think a bit more about them on this blog, but this was something that had never occurred to me. Sure ballet is a discipline, it just is, but I had never thought about the critical aspect of it. I don’t necessarily see this as a negative quality – but even looking in the mirror and self-correcting needs a critical eye doesn’t it? If we were not able to be critical of ourselves as we dance we would not be capable of much improvement, I feel. In a sense I mean critical here in a way similar to literary criticism, noticing and analysing and improving. But there is a sense in which criticism is scary, hard to accept, maybe hurtful and destructive at times. Most of us must have noticed the difference between teachers giving constructive criticism and the kind that feels destructive, for instance.

I wonder how this resonates in my life. I am an intensely self-critical person, to the point of being destructive. Maybe this is a reason for being drawn to ballet? But, more importantly, maybe ballet can help me model more positive ways of being self-critical?