Working with Mind-Body UnityMar 06, 2011 03:53PM ● By Kim Childs
“Treat people, not diseases,” is the philosophy of Lexington-based healer Alison Shaw, a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist. “The next, deeper level of conversation we need to have around health care is dealing with the person as an integrated being,” she says. Shaw’s background in science (B.S. in nutrition and M.S. in nursing), plus 20 years in private practice as a licensed massage therapist and certified energy healer (Brennan Healing Science), have led her to found Nexus Integrative Therapy (2020 Update: Bodymind Repatterning). “I work with mind-body unity, the direct connection between mind and body, which includes the spiritual,” Shaw advises. She uses body-centered counseling, energy healing and integrative bodywork to address the connection of emotional, physical and spiritual issues with acute and chronic illnesses.
Shaw explains that every thought and emotion has a direct physiological effect at the chemical level, such as the “fight-or-flight response.” Over time, experiences can create conditioned responses that last beyond the immediate event and determine one’s experience in a new situation—even when the response may not be helpful.
She gives this example: “When someone is chronically tense in the neck, jaw or back, that [tension] becomes their first reaction and triggers a default emotional experience of anxiousness. With depression, people may literally collapse their muscles and breath, which then locks in their depressed mood. It’s hard to change the mood without changing the body, along with underlying beliefs and attitudes.”
When a client comes in with a physiological issue, Shaw explains how feelings and beliefs are related to what’s happening in the body. She leads clients in exercises, such as guided body awareness, to connect feelings and beliefs with illnesses or symptoms. “If someone were to have a dialogue with their high blood pressure, for example, he may find information about emotional issues expressed as illness,” she says.
Awareness is vitally important; what causes the cycle is the unconscious internal dialogue. “The nervous system doesn’t know that an old emotional situation is over,” Shaw clarifies. “If a person becomes aware of how the body is enacting problems, I can teach new ways to release with movement, grounding, breathing, opening and awareness exercises.” Her clients often show progress quickly, within as few as two sessions.
“It’s the system that is un-integrated,” concludes Shaw. “If every practitioner—even the traditional clinician—were to look at what’s going on with their clients’ lives and emotions, patients would greatly benefit and medical costs would decrease.”
Location: 109 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington. For more information or to make an appointment, call 781-646-0686, email [email protected] or visit BodymindRepatterning.com.