By Bibiana Badenes, Certified Advanced Rolfer™, Rolf Movement® Practitioner
The body often expresses itself through the hands. By relaxing them and allowing them to move with fluidity, we can release and relieve blockages in other areas of the body. Helping our clients to be more aware of their hands and to teach them exercises they can do at home can create a connection to other tensional patterns throughout the body. This will be valuable in showing how emotional patterns will show up in the hands. Personally, working with my own hands on a daily basis has brought me a new understanding of embodiment and an ackwnoledgement of how important the hands are for the body to be fully integrated.
Our society places a lot of importance on the face: we use makeup to look more seductive, spend a lot of money getting nose jobs, whitening our teeth, and whatever else we deem necessary so that our face looks perfect from the outside. There is, no doubt, something to the saying that the face is the mirror of the soul. However, the truth is that our hands transmit the depth of human expression. It is important that we tell our clients how much the hands can show what is going on in the rest of the body as well as about their emotional state.
Perhaps our hands might not be our most glamorous body part, but they show a certain complexity and the richness of our humanity. They are full of sensory receptors which have their own language — touch is an entire world of its own.
With our hands we can express a myriad of emotions – delicacy, subtlety, love, strength, vulnerability. We write with them, as well as craft and create. Might we consider this a direct projection from our hearts? In fact, when we greet each other by grasping hands, this gesture brings our hearts closer together. When we hug, we use our arms as much as our hands, and with them the entirety of our body’s energetic field, to transmit our feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
As our species evolved into an upright posture, the hands were free to become more dexterous. Among the earliest expressions of human language was simple hand signs. The motor areas of language and movement are not only side-by-side, but are intimately connected within the brain. A great example of this is sign language, where hand symbols create language. By using our hands we activate different areas in our brain: a pathway of neural connections is formed and each pathway is unique to each function.
But our hands are much more; they can create, they bring food to our mouths, and, if it’s tasty, we say the food is finger-licking good. The healing power of our hands has been used since time immemorial to restore health and transmit energy. In meditation we use our hands in certain postures. Also, in the practice of qi gong, specific hand positions are used to activate certain energetic circuits.
Using our hands makes us more human and the fullest expression of this is the infinite creativity of the human species. In that case, we could say that trained hands, hard-working hands, are creative hands, and we can be proud of them. However, in these times we seem to value machines more than our own hands. We even hide them if they don’t look glamorous enough – the solid, strong hands of a woman who works with them or those of someone who bites his/her nails to let go of tension. We are not aware that so much of the stress we suffer from is, precisely, the fruit of not being able to express ourselves or communicate, not only through words, but also with our body.
We can change and reorganize our sensations and tension substantially just through our hands. Also, as Rolfers, our embodiment affects our client while being touched by us. By changing our sensation of our hands, we receive different information from out clients’ bodies and, therefore, our way of touching changes.
The exercises and the awareness explorations proposed here can be done either separately or as a sequence. They help improve mobility and fluidity in daily movements, thereby preventing tension not only in our hands, but tension created in other areas that can be released through our hands. Keeping our hands versatile will furthermore improve circulation, prevent arthrosis, and keep the palmar tendons from retracting. These exercises could be a complement for Rolfers to take care of their hands as a daily regimen.
Bibiana Badenes has a degree in physical therapy from the University of Valencia, Spain; she is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and a Rolf Movement Practitioner. She has been educated in different psychosomatic bodywork therapies throughout the world and is currently investigating and creating a program she calls Body Intelligence (Inteligencia Corporal) as a way to discover one’s potential through one’s body. Bibiana has developed one of the most comprehensive residential treatment programs available in the world today for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), working with more than 2,000 RA patients – adults as well as children. She leads stress management and burnout programs. She directs Kinesis Center in Benicassim, Spain where she leads retreats and lives with her family in this beautiful seaside town.The Hands – Our Tools, Our Expression[:]