You’ve noticed in the treatment room, that moment when something “lands” for the patient, and there's a palpable internal shift. You’ve noticed this in yourself, that a question can be inviting as a whisper, or make you bristle like a growling dog.

In this conversation with Margot Rossi and Nick Pole we explore Embodied Language, a way of connecting that is friendly to both the body and spirit.

What we say, and how we say it can have a profound impact on the experience of both patient and practitioner. Listen in for how you can use language as skillfully as you use your needles.

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Learning to use body friendly language
  • Creating a container that is safe, secure and playful
  • Inviting a sense of possibility
  • Connecting with the experience of the body
  • Can you remember a time when?
  • What was it like when that happened?
  • What would you like to have happen?
  • Inhabiting the perspective of a beginner
  • Using questions that lead patients to themselves
  • Asking what’s needed? Rather than what’s wrong?
  • Allowing patients to hear what they are already saying
  • Accidently causing harm with the language we use

Margot Rossi, L.Ac
It's not an exaggeration to say that Eastern medicine and philosophy saved my life. They have rocked my world for over thirty years. Along the way, here and in China, I've learned much from remarkable teachers, including my family, peers, patients and students. My mission is to share that bounty of wisdom with my community.

In private practice, I see myself primarily as an educator, aka wizard of possibilities. Creating a clinic environment conducive to learning and being a neutral sounding board, I use the interview process as my main modality for diagnosis and treatment. Patients and I explore the fabric of reality and build an awareness of experience and perceptions. Along with mindfulness, using nature's systems to understand ourselves helps us feel right at home and capable of shifting with self-compassion, confidence and resourcefulness.

Another essential in my repertoire is movement therapy either Dao Yin or yoga. I find mindful movement and breathing can influence all issues regardless of where they're housed, just like water can flow in places nothing else can or wants to go. This medicine keeps reminding me: there is wonder here, simply awaiting our presence.

Nick Pole
I've been practicing, teaching and writing about shiatsu since I graduated from the Shiatsu College in the UK in 1989. I spent the first ten years of my shiatsu studies trying to find the best teachers I could and then doing my best to copy them. It always worked for a while, but then I would come back to the same intangible sense that something important was missing. Meanwhile, to improve my skills as a shiatsu teacher, I studied NLP in some depth and that led me to Clean Language. That was it! – a way to bring language into my sessions by asking questions that make sense to the body. With its Zen-like simplicity and rigor, Clean Language invites both practitioner and client to listen to themselves in a truly mindful way.

How could someone who loved language as much as I did come to be practicing shiatsu, which in its original Japanese form at least is done almost without any words at all? Bringing this subtle and elegant questioning process into my sessions helps my clients listen to themselves, and helps us to come to a shared understanding of what they want to achieve. When you invite the bodymind into the conversation like this, painful and frustrating symptoms can rapidly turn into signposts on the path towards the kind of life a person really wants to be living. And in researching my book Words That Touch (2017), I found the neurological explanation for Lao Tzu's great riddle: the Tao that can be spoken of is not the “constant/eternal/real” Tao because speech traps us in the left brain hemisphere's abstract world of names, concepts and categories, at one remove from reality.

It's only through the right hemisphere and its wordless but deeply embodied way of knowing, that we can ever get a sense of what the unspoken Tao is really all about. This is how I love to work, integrating gentle and respectful questioning with the meridian-based bodywork of shiatsu. That way, we invite the two sides of the brain to have a better relationship with each other and our patients to have better relationships with themselves.


Links and Resources

Read Nick's book Words That Touch, on the practice and use of Clean Language


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