Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bilateral integration

I was listening to Thom Hartmann's radio show this morning and he was talking about this. He noted that Mesmer was on to something with his technique, but that the interpretation was wrong about it being some sort of metaphysical force from the moon that did the healing. Then Braid renamed it hypnosis and Freud took it up as therapy. It has since been demystified through empirical research that shows it works by alternating focus from one side of the body to the other, thereby stimulating brain hemispheric integration.  Hence early Mermerism and hypnosis had one watch either the therapists hand or a watch as it moved from side to side.

Also part of the technique was to bring into focus a traumatic event causing symptoms while doing the bilateral movements, which allowed for the event to be acknowledged and integrated. Some of the modern applications of this therapy are NLP and Eye Motion Desensitization and Reintegration (EMDR). Hartmann did a book on this called Walking Your Blues Away, free Google preview here, where the simple of act of walking combined with eliciting traumatic memory can serve the same purpose. 

Which of course led me to other such bilateral therapies or arts I've been involved in over the years. As but one example in bodywork therapy, which I did professionally for several years, one technique I continue to use on my own physical rehab is Trager. This technique is a gentle rocking or shaking of the body from side to side, or top to bottom, thereby creating neurological relaxation and release using the bilateral principle. In my personal yoga sessions I use this by getting into a particular posture that focuses on one area and then rock my body from side to side or top to bottom (and/or a combination). This is particularly effective in those areas where I suffered bodily trauma and have broken bones that healed badly. The latter used to cause a lot of frequent, chronic and sometimes severe pain. But since I've been doing this for over 30 years now the exercises using this bilateral technique has drastically reduced the trauma and pain to manageable levels, often not having any pain for long periods of time. I've also reduced the need for outside physical therapies to only infrequent visits.

Another expression of this as art is in dance, which I've been doing for the past 16 years. Obviously one is doing bilateral movements by alternating feet in the movement, as well as alternating emphasis on each side of the rest of the body when performed with a partner during lead/follow. In this case those the focus is not on trauma but on fun and aesthetics. We are well aware of how those endeavors are quite therapeutic in themselves, and part of dance involves bilateral brain integration as well. Which of course feeds back into general well being and psycho-emotional-structural health as well.

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