The Amanae Experience
Amanae is a type of dynamic therapeutic body-work, originating with Christine Day out of Australia. The theory is that memories are trapped within the body which prevent the free flow of energy around the body. With the application of pressure on certain nodal points, known as “doorways”, the memories are released, and the energy flow is restored to its original, natural state.
I first came across it in 2009 when a friend of mine started having it. I’m a sceptic by nature, but even I had to admit that her transformation from a person weighed down by a life-long, chronic illness, to someone breezy and bright and – yes! – noticeably happier, in such a short period of time, seemed remarkable. There was a spark in her eye I’d never seen before, a lightness in her walk, a sense of relaxation, as if she was comfortable with herself for the first time in years.
At the same time I was undergoing massage with a body-psychotherapist for my own on-going problems with insomnia.
At some point my therapist started training in Amanae with Eric Lipin, the only teacher in Europe. One day, out of the blue, she applied it to me.
She said, “I’m going to go very deep now. Tell me when you want me to stop.”
She started working her thumb deep into the muscle tissue close to the bone, deep into the spaces between the bones. I was suddenly aware of this rigid structure within my body, the framework that keeps me upright. It was odd. I’d never thought about my bones before, and yet, of course, they are central to our human existence, the framework from which the soft parts of our bodies hang like loose sacks. Without the bones the body would just flop upon the ground, like a useless bag of flesh.
She told me to breathe into the sensation, taking my awareness in with my breath. There was a kind of ache hidden away there. It was oddly satisfying. But then she touched a point – it’s hard to describe – like a lump of gristle on my bone, which she seemed to twang like a bow, which sent a shot of weird pain throughout my whole body.
I almost jumped out of my skin!
“What was that?” I said.
I’d never felt anything quite like it before. It was like a lump of clumped up trauma which had attached itself to my bone-structure and which she was bringing to my awareness with the pressure.
It was only later that I realised it was Amanae she was applying.
After a while I learned to “stay with it”, to bring my awareness to the pain, to find out what was hidden there. There is a special kind of Amanae breath. You breathe in through your mouth and out with a kind of sigh, giving voice to all the sensations in your body. Breathing in through your mouth allows you to feel more deeply than you usually do. It’s as if you are taking your awareness in with your breath, and allowing your body to communicate with every outward sigh.
Very quickly things started to happen. I learned to love the pain. Those were bits of me, hidden away in that pain, forgotten bits of my own lost self.
One day she pressed a point on my shoulder and – I don’t know why – I was suddenly aware of a tension throughout my body, a way I was holding myself, that had always been there, and I decided to let it go.
That’s all I did. I let go. And the next thing my whole body was unfurling like a young fern in springtime. It was just like that. I had a clear image of a young plant unfurling in the dappled sunlight in the woods under the trees. The tension disappeared and my body opened up. It started with my fingers. One by one, each of my fingers unwound, released, as I let go of my unconscious hold over them. My fingers relaxed and stretched out, and then my wrists, and then my elbows, and then my shoulders, as my whole body let go, as my arms stretched out into in an arc of embrace, as if I wanted to hold the whole world in my arms, like a long-lost friend.
The following week my therapist told me she sensed a hidden rage in me. I laughed at that as I think of myself as an easy going type of person. She applied pressure to my legs, putting her weight down upon them, and telling me to resist. I was still trying to laugh this off, making quips, but I was starting to get annoyed. What was she up to?
“What do you feel?” she said.
“I’m feeling amused at whatever it is you are trying to do,” I said.
Only I wasn’t amused.
I was Mad!
My body began to shudder. My legs began to kick. My back began to arch and pound, as my coccyx crashed itself repeatedly against the massage table.
Next thing I knew there was this piercing scream, and I was emerging from a kind of light.
I didn’t know where the scream was coming from. I’d been away somewhere. The scream was continuing, and I suddenly realised it was me.
I came to out of the scream like a person returning from a very long journey, not quite sure where I was. I was shaking all over, feeling shocked at myself. I never knew I had feelings as intense as that.
You spend your life - don’t you? - telling yourself stories about the kind of person you think you are. I’m this kind of person. I’m that kind of person. I’m witty, I‘m wise, I’m detached, I’m amused. I’m wry. When we tell people stories about our conversations it’s always our side of the conversation we remember, not the other person’s. We remember how intelligent we had been, how sharp, how we had put them down with a few choice words, how clever our quips had been. We carry a narrative in our heads about our on-going existence, like a novel we are continually updating, or a soap opera in which the central character is ourselves. We think we know who we are because, after all, it is our own story we are constructing, every minute of every day, with every encounter, with every situation. Sometimes it gets kind of boring because we are constantly going over the same ground, the same set of stories, the same narrative. It’s like we are walking round and round the same set of streets in the same town, day after day after day.
And then something like this happens. Something comes at you from some unexpected angle, from out of the periphery, like an asteroid hurtling in from deep space, and hits you in the heart. And the strange thing is, that thing is you. It’s a bit of you, something you had wrapped up and slung out, into the far reaches of your self, so far that you had forgotten, far, far away into the vast constellation of your being: your soul which is also your mind which is also your body – your mind-soul-body - because the mind is just the body is just the soul in a different form. The mind minds the body. The body embodies the mind. The soul embraces the whole.
So that was it really. It was the start of my Amanae journey into myself.
It has been an exciting and continually surprising journey so far, and I’ve only just begun.
Amanae Transformational Bodywork in Europe. For information about the work and how to access it.
© 2011 Christopher James Stone