The GEM Method – A New Perspective On Wellbeing – Longer Explanation
GEM as a name for my approach, was suggested to me by my colleague, mentor and friend Ilana Rubenfeld, founder of The Rubenfeld Synergy Method TM USA. RSM as it is known is an incredibly elegant, sophisticated and profound body orientated psychotherapy method. So smooth, flowing and skilful it can be likened to a martial arts experience, a dance of energy between client and therapist.
With aspects of Rubenfeld included, my own brand of healing was taking shape over a thirty-year plus period, and like Ilana’s method, there was a distinct synergy that had evolved. Although I drew upon technique and wisdom from a vast range of experience and practiced therapies, the key aspects that made it so individual and unique, was my own life learning; particularly my time spent as a patient. Also, like RSM, the sum total of these therapies was so much more than all the components.
GEM was born. A new name, but the methods are based on age-old healing concepts put together in a unique body-mind format. Essentially the method and way of practice begin first and foremost with the self i.e. with the practitioner, who in turn, can then educate the client. Many years have been invested in the exploration of my approach. There was much to learn and many complexities to know – The end product however is like a distillation process – where what has resulted is profound and relatively simple. I now specialize in training others in this method.
Indeed it was the wise Hippocrates who said “Physician heal thy self.” GEM approach is a catalyst that provides a ‘wake up call’ to live our lives consciously. However, in order to do that we need to be in touch and connected with our bodies and understand and acknowledge our feelings or emotions.
Horses as teachers – My next learning came when I decided to study dressage. I had begun riding horses when I was five years and about that same time I became a vegetarian. Horses and the co ordination and rhythm of my body with the horse’s body, became a fascination and, provided me with a tremendous learning curve in body awareness as well as the power of subtle communication. I then studied and practiced the martial art of riding dressage and horsemanship. I learned all that I could and experienced many ecstatic moments where horse and rider became one – meditation on horseback and what I now term “The Torvill and Dean” experience! Later I identified this experience with what Ilana Rubenfeld was teaching with therapist and client at the massage table.
My Introduction to “Healing Hands”
Having spent six months with Filipino psychic and hands-on healers in the mid seventies was a wonderful gift and introduction to this side of my work. As well I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who maintained my training for 2 decades after my time there. Very few people are aware that my partner Ian’s recovery from secondary cancer and his ongoing health also involved thousands of hours of hands-on healing, a process I continued long after we left The Philippines.
Meditation entered my life while in the Philippines and for many years I learned and practised with many masters around the world. It was effective to a certain degree but what I felt was lacking, was the assistance, the “how to do ” that could give me a direct experience of what I was looking for. I wanted someone to teach me meditation the same way I had been taught dressage. I wanted to find that unifying feeling, but the experience was elusive. It was like someone trying to tell me what a banana tasted like if I had never tasted one.
I realised that as a healthy person, I could afford to take 14 years to experiment; but for people whose life was depending upon it, the practise and “getting it right” often became a huge stress in itself and I saw so many get frustrated, declaring the practice to be too hard. Frequently people became stressed try to get unstressed! I realised that this was the huge gap in teaching many so-called mind – body techniques.Attention was given either to the mind or to the body as if they were totally separate and emotions were completely left out of the picture.
Making the Connection – The Beginning of GEM.
It is not only our genes that create us; but it is our life stories that significantly help to shape us as people, this includes the shape of our bodies. It came as a revelation to me that when we “touch” a client, we are touching their story. In my early days of practice I listened only with my ears to many stories but as my methods evolved it became obvious to me that working with the “mind-story” was not enough. Effective change occurred with talk and touch, and that we could “listen” with our hands as well as our ears. I postulated that a person’s response to life could indeed create a “story” in their body that reflected in musculature, body language, posture, how they breathed and many other signs. There were bodies that “held on” and bodies that could “let go” muscularly speaking. I discovered that talking a client through a guided meditation using simultaneous “safe” touch; could make a significant difference to the shape of a their shoulder and affect a sustained release. Such was my personal “ah ha” and the beginning of my understanding of emotional anatomy.
GEM -How it can help with Meditation and Relaxation.
It became clear many years ago that clients didn’t know what they were supposed to feel or experience during a meditation/relaxation session. I observed rooms full of physically tense bodies, people “thinking” they were relaxed; as well as tired folk who snored at various levels of decibels!! People just spaced out instead of spacing in! So I decided to study ways of providing simple exercises that would give them an experience, a taste of this elusive state that everyone was seeking; but didn’t know where or how to find! Then they would have direction and a sense of what state they were wanting to achieve What GEM can help you to do is meditate in your body – not just in your head. As well it can demonstrate how to effectively use imagery and visualisation methods in your body – not just pictorial mind games. Imagery and relaxation in the body help you to be present, mindful and to heal. GEM teaches a very different approach to self-care and self-development, providing a pathway to a ZEN type experience so that whatever therapy you practice, it can become your Martial Art – your own experience that you deliver to the massage table with each client, whatever your modality.
GEM is a method of understanding how we can best use our energies in everyday life, especially with relation to effective boundaries and emotional health. I believe that as an integrated method, it provides the fundamental foundation for anyone interested in the effective application of wholistic healing or mind-body-emotion medicine. GEM can also be a catalyst to help open up an authentic pathway to the soul. The method focuses on how to create healthy boundaries, prevention of practitioner fatigue and burnout. The approach not only talks about mindfulness, focusing, intention, clarity, presence, grounding, practices of embodiment, developing awareness and self-care, but actually shows you HOW to achieve these states so that your personal self-care practise and work become one. Just imagine no damage control at the end of the day. This is a win-win situation for both therapist and client. Learning this method can be achieved by using many experiential gentle but profound exercises, so that you have a taste or experience of what these experiences are and how they can be applied or put into action.
Developing a philosophy – My definition of wellbeing is a person who is living true to their innate potential – a person who has developed the ability to live life from their “changeless core.” Such a person does not resist or deny change, but chooses to yield to it, going with the flow rather than pushing the river! This attitude paradoxically, allows one to get their desired result. This is quite different to giving your power away, as you are in charge of your choice and how your river flows. These people have developed what I have termed – resilience of spirit! Following on from that thought – could we perhaps better define a well-being as a person who does not resist life? One basic understanding, there can be no real change without personal awareness. For example, if we try to change a habit because someone else tells us to, or adopt a diet because we are told it is good for us, we are accepting change externally and it is likely it won’t last very long. A healer or hands-on therapist can be a catalyst for change without trying to fix their client! GEM approach helps and educates the client to self-care and therefore they are empowered to self-heal in whatever way is appropriate for them.
When we can be involved as a whole person in the process of change i.e. mind, body & emotion; amazing behavioural shifts can occur that will be long lasting. Sometimes a client just needs this awareness and change to be effective in one major area of their life in order for change to filter through into the rest of their life. GEM is simple, profound and practical and can be learned and incorporated into any lifestyle and for any person. Once you know it – you have it for life!
One simple solution
Relate life to a bank account. If we regularly make deposits – we will have credit – if not and we keep spending, we become overdrawn and may even become bankrupt. Relate this model to our health. Imagine if you only keep depositing in your physical – external-material-world “bank account” and you make no deposits into for example, your “emotional” and “psychological bank account”, however you keep making withdrawals and no credits are deposited. To carry this analogy further, by the time most people are diagnosed with an illness or disease, they may be bankrupt in all or some of these accounts – hence energy depletion, fatigue and nothing left to withdraw from. No energy to heal.
Albert Sweitzer once said “ Disease didn’t stay with me too long, I was too inhospitable a host!” Helping clients to regularly make deposits into their “personal life” bank accounts is the role of the healer-catalyst. These “deposits” will help them to develop their personal brand of wellness. Healers who treat may show the way, even alleviate symptoms for a while; but unless clients and therapists are shown how to maintain and replenish their energies, i.e. put credit into their “Wellness bank account”, wellness and wellbeing will elude us. We will therefore be continually reliant upon someone else to make it right, to fix us, do damage control or to help us escape for some short-term relief.
Touch – During any massage treatment, hands not only touch the body, but the deeper layers of being. Shaped by intention, touch is a vehicle for the neural system of the therapist to begin a tactile dialogue with the neural system of the client throughout a session. Herein the opportunity exists for a therapist to engage in a more meaningful way, providing a gateway and connection to the soul. In our therapy rooms we can create atmosphere, ambience and aromas to stimulate the senses but most importantly… we provide touch. “Safe touch” is a highly therapeutic tool. Babies fail to thrive without touch and can die. Touch can be the joy of intimacy – skin on skin that is a special part and bonding in human relationships. Blood pressure and heart rate decreases when patting or stroking a pet.
Touch powered with unconditional love is the most potent healer on the planet. It can change the vibration of cells and reconnect body, mind, emotion and soul. The more clear the therapist is i.e. the massage therapist who “walks their talk” practises their self-care, the greater the potential for healing and the more profound the experience will be for both. Deepak Chopra has said that a one-hour relaxation massage can produce the laboratory equivalent of $5000 worth of interferon as made by the cells of the immune system. – The immune system responds to the “power of touch”! Touch with love, presence and intention heals.
*(“Safe touch” – trust and safety must be established for a therapeutic response).
The Importance of Being Present
In order to heal you need to be present – both healer and healee. This wisdom comes from indigenous cross-cultural studies.
When using touch therapies – it is important for the therapist to be present. I have designed many training exercises around this theme. In my work and practice – my aim is to keep things simple. Wellness/wellbeing can only be experienced when we are “present” to life and when we have had the “ah ha” of personal awareness.
I hope that this article will provoke some thought and further investigation into practises of embodiment for your self and your clients.
GEM – A SUMMARY
GEM is an approach to life that when practised and embodied will avoid burnout, improve relationship with self and others, increase awareness of self-care and boost immunity and health in general. GEM is shared and taught by way of experiential as well as integrated learning techniques
Just some of the benefits
• Development of awareness of boundaries of self and others
• A method of identifying personal stressors and finding immediate solutions
• Gaining of awareness of body language of self and others and its influence
• Learn about sensing, intuition and perception.
• Learn how you personally respond to stress and how it impacts on and within your muscles – learn how to let go in a way that works for you.
• Understanding the energy of emotions and their impact on yours and others health
• Learn how to be present, mindful, aware and yet relaxed and be able to take this into your everyday life.
• Understand the basic principles of energy in self, food and environment
• Make the mind – body – emotional connection a reality
• Become resilient to negative influences through choice rather than denial.
• Learn to meditate and relax effectively so that it filters into your everyday day life.
APPLICATION – As my methods were synergizing, I found that I was able to assist a vast and different range of clientele. Those who were ill and seeking recovery, those who were well and were seeking better health and even those who were dying and wanted to optimize that experience for themselves and their families. Along the way I discovered that there is no age barrier. Children love the concepts and find the learning fun.
How the GEM approach is shared: Components of the method can be shared in a one-day workshop for anyone. These are not training courses, but are designed for giving people simple, effective and do-able tools that can be easily applied in everyday life.
I have also designed a range of corporate workshops and programs that introduce these ideas into a work environment – optimizing potential, realistically creating work-life balance, self care, preventing burnout and re engaging with personal passion.
Training – GEM approach can be shared and taught to health professionals. Particularly those who are hands-on healthcare practitioners will benefit from these training events.
Training courses can be either a one, two or three day residential format held regularly throughout the year or in a certified MASTERCLASS format 3x 5-day residential training modules held once a year in New South Wales. Over recent years, due to demand, specialized courses for Spa employees have also been designed.
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