On Teaching Therapeutic Touch
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
Teaching Therapeutic Touch is an exercise in Living Therapeutic Touch. A teacher who meets a class with compassion and sees the beauty in each person builds trust and communication rapidly. With the ability to hold and deepen center, a teacher can lead students into greater understanding and more profound experiences. Classes become stimulating and inspiring when a teacher is willing to be in the moment and follow intuition.
Meeting students from a centered state means accepting them where they are and finding gentle ways to lead them to further understanding. The qualities of peace, acceptance, compassion, kindness, and trust in oneself and in others build powerful bridges among people. They support profound learning and support spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well-being in both teacher and students.
When a student is having difficulty centering, or working, I deepen my center and see the beauty in the student. For a student who has great trouble sensing the field because of doubt or worry, I try to release judgment, and in my mind and heart accept the person where she/he is at the moment. My acceptance and recognition of something wonderful about a person always result in a shift–greater relaxation, deeper centering, and sometimes more awareness, and greater confidence.
Occasionally, a student may hurl a question or a comment out of fear or frustration. Rather than react, I try to pause, breathe and deepen my center before responding. For example, a young woman in my spring class this year stated unequivocally on the first evening that she thought TT was phony. She was taking the class because her mother uses TT and had asked her to get some training in it. Rather than become defensive, I told her that she would have to decide about this on the basis of her own experience as the class progressed over eight weeks. Ultimately, she became one of the best TTers in the class, and on the final evening she spoke eloquently about the impact of Therapeutic Touch on her life.
Offering guidance to students must come from a centered state if it is to be heard and accepted. Some difficult sessions over many years taught me this. By lunging forward to admonish people who kept their hands still or moved them too slowly around a receiver’s head, I put both doer and receiver off center. Gradually, I began to understand that this reactive approach shocked people and that they only became tense and defensive; they certainly did not take in the information I was trying to give. Now when a problem arises, I consciously deepen my center, move softly toward a working pair or triad, alerting them with a low voice that I am coming into the realm of the treatment. I offer guidance gently and kindly, and move away quietly.
In a centered state, ideas flow easily and with a finer order and appropriateness to the moment than any laboriously developed lesson-plan. In TT, we learn to follow intuition. For example, in TT treatments, I get a picture in my mind of what my next step is to be–it may be to unruffle a specific place, or pause to offer love and acceptance to the field, or move to another place on the person. In class, the willingness to follow an idea that comes to mind, or that develops through discussion, often leads to very valuable learning for teacher and students.
Recently a VON nurse in class asked how to work with severe, chronic edema in a leg and foot. This was not on my agenda for that session, but the sense that this was important was immediate, so I deviated from my plans and developed a twenty-minute segment around this topic. This included developing ways of reassuring the field, initiating some clearing of congestion, using visualisation, supporting the functioning of the chakras, working in partnership with the receiver. This was a valuable lesson for everyone, and the nurse reported the next week that her patient’s leg responded well to TT. Also within the week, I found myself working with a woman with this condition too. The opportunity to clarify ideas in class helped in both treatments.
Rather than read a meditation to students, I usually enter a meditative state myself and develop a guided imagery by following thoughts, pictures, and words that come into my mind. As a result, each meditation is different, vibrant, and appropriate to the particular session.
We teach more through who we are than by the words we speak or the gestures we make. Working consciously with the process of mirroring can be a very effective way of leading students into deeper experiences through the aspect of resonance. If we want to teach centering, we must be centered. If we want students to understand that Therapeutic Touch comes from compassion, we must be compassionate in our teaching. TT honours the receiver, and in teaching this discipline we must honour our students.
A good teacher teaches from experience and lives the lessons of that experience. We teach best and most effectively by walking our talk–being the qualities that we teach. We recognise that Therapeutic Touch is not only about healing but more importantly about developing self-understanding, and ultimately choosing to live in ways that honour all life: choosing to live by Love.