Have you ever tried to think without words? Have you thought of the directions not by the names of street signs but what if feels like to drive through a neighborhood, the smell of pine tree sap and shadows as you go down a road with tall white pines, or the way your car handles as you navigate several turns and you just know that is a few beats you’ll need to turn again.
As a massage therapist and bodyworker much of my knowledge is tied up world of abstract thoughts that I can stick words on like a post it note on a refrigerator, but can’t explain how to make a casserole. Folks often ask me what I’m doing or feeling, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at answering.
Emmett has been teaching for 40+ years and still can’t really tell you what he is doing. Words a depressingly empty when explaining bodywork. Emmet calls Rolfing a folk art. A tradition passed on from teacher to student in a hands on way. Watching and thinking in pictures, and going further thinking in actions. I create a model in my head when I work with someone, and test that model with my hands. Feedback from tissue and the results of applied technique inform next actions.
This is an example of what Alfred Karzybski calls relationship communication. If cooks think in cause and effect in the kitchen, chefs think in relationship. These are non-verbal non-linear relationship of complex ideas.
Food is a great example of non verbal communication and here are two fun exercises. 1) Next time you go our to eat something awesome, ask yourself what the chef had in mind for you. What were they trying to tell you, convey with flavor or the image of the plate. 2) Create a message with food. Tell your family or loved one about the freshness of spring with an amazing salad including delicate seasonal greens, nuts and local cheese. Maybe an exquisite olive oil and balsamic with a little pepper and salt accentuated with a little strawberry or plumb.