The Embryonic Field

Holographic Touch®: Engaging the Continuum of Consciousness


Carol A. Agneessens, MS.
© 2010
Download this article in pdf format

Two questions have captured my passion and curiosity over the 35+ years I have practiced in the healing arts. The first question: what is a body? And the second: if our bodies are the physical expression of something bigger than a personal self, how do I touch all that a body is?

This article is based on the sensory experience that we are 'whole' from the very beginning of life. It is this wholeness that health care practitioners are able to contact and that is key in sustaining a transformational process.

This implicit oneness is charged with the potency of consciousness imbuing all living things.

The idea of Whole, a unit, the undivided, is foreign to our culture and is slowly vanishing like an aboriginal form that is viewed as "primitive" by the intellect. Each one of us faces the reality in ourselves and [we] must meet that responsibility first, and then the perception will follow.1

In my desire to know and touch the spectrum of consciousness expressed through the varying densities within and around our physical bodies, I slowly came to the realization that the quality of my touch echoes my state of mind. By cultivating an ability to shift my awareness, through attention to perceptual cues and body sensation, I am able to more clearly listen and sense the unseen dimensions of an individual's system. Through the medium of my hands, as an extension of my heart and body knowing, I've discovered that quietly sitting and waiting at the edges of someone's body space, cultivates a perceptual synaesthesia, allowing me to feel-touch-see-and gain a clearer sense of their systemic voice. In a state of quiet receptivity, I am learning to listen.

Holographic Touch®2 asks the health care practitioner to attend to their own perceptions, somatic feedback and state of mind, instead of directing focus entirely toward the other. As you will see and feel, when attention is given to our own perceptions and sensorium, a portal opens to an exquisite gestalt:

state of consciousness quality of touch multi-dimensional somatic3 awakening

The following inquiries are designed to initiate an exploration regarding your familiar patterns of engaging through touch. Take a moment to ask the following questions and notice the body sensations generated by your response.

How do you begin a session?

The alchemy of touch and presence is a potent elixir.

Holographic Touch® cultivates receptivity to the many dimensions of consciousness. By questioning firmly held beliefs about healing, and the nature of our physical reality, we can expand the boundaries of our own perceiving field. It is possible to engage with this underlying plenum of consciousness, interconnectivity and the original blueprint of the body. It is our own perceptual armoring that blinds us to the multi-dimensional rhythms of life that are already there yet buried under the flurry of thoughts and activity.

"There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter for the field is the only reality." — Albert Einstein.

Within the imagined solidity of the body exists vast spaciousness. Our bodies are a temporary expression of the mystery that we call life.

"When scientists study complex systems, the notion of parts begins to break down so that quantification of such systems becomes impossible. By contrast, in qualitative measurement, plots show the shape of the system's movements as a whole"…4

Sitting within the quiet flow of Primary Respiration, our hands engage with the physical expression of consciousness - the body - and witness the shape changing effects of this rhythm throughout. A three dimensional - spaciousness expands beyond the boundary of skin. The intelligence within consciousness is greater than the matter of our flesh.

"What we observe as material bodies and forces, are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space."— Erwin Schrodinger

A dynamic pulse of stillness vivifies the center of a non-material and translucent midline. Within a spacious interior, a numinous thread arises, a 'line' of vibrating potential, weaving together cosmos and earth, organizing, informing, yet not penetrating the body's density.

"Man is something organized around a line." — Ida P. Rolf

Back to Top

The Dynamic of Touch and Consciousness

Efferent and Afferent perceptual styles.
In the ever quickening pace of a world squeezed by schedules and deadlines of time, the seduction of 'doing' chains many to watching the clock. Self-worth is often keyed to what we effect or accomplish in an hour or compress into a day. These patterns are reflected in nervous system activity and create a perceptual bias and tonal resonance.

To effect something or someone is to change the state as a direct result of action by doing. Efferent perception radiates awareness like a force field in order to sense the environment. This is a field of vigilance.5 It is a model for directing intention into a system in order to correctly palpate, find the cause and resolve it.

Efference is derived from thinking, objectifying, separating, planning, and wanting to know what is going on in your client's body. Any perception, touch, technique, intention, or preconceived idea of motion that you apply to your client is efferent.6

Afferent perception describes attention inwardly directed. This is a state of receptivity to being in-formed. It is a state of yielding into the unknown moment. In this place of 'not-doing', the systemic intelligence of another informs the practitioner. Afference requires waiting. I have found that an individual's system 'speaks' most clearly to me if I wait at the edges of their skin boundary attending to my own orientation, sensations and perceptions. I wait and wait, and wait a little more as their system becomes acquainted with the tonal resonance of my presence and like a deer in the forest, begins to understand that the one who is waiting is not predator and they are not prey.

Touch has an effect on different centers of the brain, but especially the insular cortex. This part of the OFC [orbital frontal cortex] is generally regarded as having self-regulatory control of the entire corticolimbic system and autonomic nervous system. This means that the client who is receiving physical contact… is unconsciously reading the context of the touch as much as the sensation of the touch.7

The ability to differentiate whether we are touching and perceiving with an efferent or an afferent perceptual resonance is essential for cultivating receptivity in our hands and our touch. The fight-flight-freeze response inflamed by an efferent tone is quieted. As I continue to gain clarity about the subtle yet profound shifts in body sensation and state of mind between these two perceptual styles, the following inquiry arose.

Inquiry: Identifying your Perceptual Style

As you sit in a comfortably aligned position, notice where your attention is settling. Notice if your attention moves easily out into the space around you or does your attention rest within yourself and your own body skin, or do you perceive a little of both - being out and being in at the same time?

Describe the difference you experience between these two perceptual styles.

The Newtonian Body and Bio-mechanical Anatomy8

As a dedicated practitioner of Structural Integration for many years, 'my work' was informed by anatomical drawings, dissection labs, reading, and workshops guided by efferent perception. It was important to have this lens into order to correctly palpate, find the cause of the stated structural problem and resolve it. It was imperative to know and understand the function, anatomy and integral structure of the body. With this anatomical background, many pain symptoms and client concerns were relieved.

Anatomy, especially when studied through the remains of a dry cadaver, reveals the bio-mechanical underpinnings of the Newtonian body. Classically, it was thought that this body was a machine. If it is broken, it can be fixed, either by replacing a part (as in modern day surgery or putting a part in a better place and call for more efficient movement. A Newtonian view employs a fix it model of the world. And in this state of mind, it works.

However, when I touch, guided by Netter's Illustrated Anatomy as both map and template, my hands become more tool-like and I work from a mechanical linearity. Often, in an attempt to address the identified problem, (the particulate structure embedded in connective tissue), or in my zeal to find IT and fix IT, the 'lesion' being investigated blocks the movement of an interconnecting wave. The joy of years in the field of Structural Integration occurred when anatomical knowledge receded and I was guided by a systemic intelligence lighting the way through the myo-fascial planes.

"Like the mass points of Newton, humans appear to be self-contained, mutually independent chunks of organized matter only externally related to each other and to their environment." — Ervin Lazlo.

Inquiry: Touch and the Bio-mechanical Mind

The following exploration is not about your knowledge of anatomy but about attention to shifts in your state of mind, perceptions, and quality of touch when you are focused on palpating a specific anatomical part.

What is your experience as you search for and palpate a particular anatomical structure, whether it is gross anatomy or delicate nerve fibers? Notice the qualitative shifts as you assume the intentional mind behind palpatory specificity.

Try this a few more times with different anatomical landmarks, perhaps bone or organ or ligament. Attend to the quality of your touch.

When my intention is to palpate or manipulate specific tissues, with the efferent tone of fixing, I lose a quality of curiosity, a gentle inquiring into the unknown territory of another and the subtle exchange that occurs when I take the time, not only to touch, but to be touched by another's somatic intelligence.

Is it possible to set aside the belief that depth is a matter of muscle or directing intention into another's body? Whether you are diving into tissues with a strong hand or an energetic one, notice the quality of your touch, your thoughts, and the felt sense of your own system as you work from a Newtonian understanding of the body.

I do not see anatomy when I treat. I do not visualize, yet I see a physiological living process in motion. Visualization of static anatomy inhibits function in both the operator and the patient. Let the process reveal itself to all your senses, you will "see" clearly.9

Back to Top

Sensing Fluidity: The Embryonic Body and Primordial Anatomy

"…A successful response from the cerebrospinal fluid…is an intensified interchange between all the fluids of the body…It is definitely evident that the reaction is systemic and includes the whole body even within the bones." — Anne Wales DO

There is an ocean within. A saline viscosity permeates every nook and canny of our body, floating cells, vessels, organs and bones. Contained by the boundary of skin, fluids generate pathways of information flow, connectivity and conductivity. The sacred waters within our body space carry life's beginnings emerging from the primordial well of time.

The scientific basis for a fluid body

As my thinking shifts from a 'fix it' state of mind to one of fluid integration, a homogenous quality can be sensed throughout the physical body. Bones, blood, lymph, nerve, musculature etc. share one coherent movement. Fluidity engenders the sensation of wholeness.

William Sutherland, DO, the founder of cranial osteopathy, spoke of a fluid body which held the lesions of a system and obstructed movement toward an individual's well-being. The relationship between the physical and the fluid body is really the foundation of the biodynamics and biokinetics of embryology.10

The embryo, as an archetype of perfect form, serves as a blueprint for our body's ability to heal itself. The formative, and regenerative fluid forces that organize embryological development are present throughout our life span, ready for our cooperation in harnessing their therapeutic potency. In other words, the forces of embryogenesis become the forces of healing after birth.11

During childhood, water comprises a significant proportion of our bodies (75-80%). As adults our total body water decreases to about 60%. Bones are 20% fluid.12

Our bodies are mostly fluid. Although as adults it is said that we lose this as we age, remember that once upon a time we were a fluid and pulsating mass of undifferentiated potential within the saline sea of a maternal womb.

Initially, 98% of the embryo is fluid. It is this fluid movement that lays down the shape for muscles, bones and other anatomical structures. Water knows no boundary and in an enclosed system spiraling patterns imprint all function and structure. Living tissues contain thousands of different kinds of molecules, each of which is surrounded by water. Most people do not recognize that the body is a water system that both regulates and conducts information and can be imprinted.

Molecules do not have to touch each other to interact. The electromagnetic field along with water forms the matrix of life. Water…can form structures that transmit energy.13 — Albert Szent-Gyorgi.

The fluid Body shapes and re-shapes texture and form. This body resonates with life perpetuating potency and is a unique biological entity. To engage the fluid body of another, I must be willing to engage this dimension permeating and surrounding my own physical body. Spiraling and interconnecting fluidity moves through me, softening and melting the density of structural compressions held by the ground substance of flesh. Porous and permeable, my sensorium expands as I engage a different kind of knowing and re-membering. I dwell in primordial waters. Sitting within this fluidic egg, my mind shifts from linear patterns of thinking to an instinctual knowing. Inspiration infuses and ignites cortical firings and glial connections; from cause - effect to acausal understanding; from isolation to connection with something more than that which I know myself to be.

In this world, the edges soften and something 'other' breathes me.

Fluid conducts and carries information. These oceanic inner waters of life sustain a deepening harmony crucial to health and connectivity.

According to the Bushman, an individual's separation from that part of themselves that is connected to "everything else" leads to fear and a sense of aloneness, and this facilitates the disease process. Because treatment using the BOCF (biodynamic osteopathy in the cranial field) connects the patient to nature, the patient receives an immediate experience of "not-aloneness" or "belonging" in a deep way.14

If I wish to sense and know the Fluid Body I must cultivate an afferent way of knowing and touching. As a practitioner, I have to reduce the cultural bias driving efferent activity. I have to question the intention I direct through an individual's system and yield to the sensory understanding of a receptive perceptual state of mind.

Inquiry: Engaging the Fluid Body

Sit side by side a partner. This exploration is in three parts. Initially it is important to get feedback on the familiar way you initially contact another when you begin a session.

1). Place your 'working' hand on your partner's thigh.
How do you experience the touch of your own hand? How does your partner experience your touch? Give and receive feedback.

2). Sensing your buoyant hand.
Within your own hand – sense its inner ocean. Allow your awareness to rest within the bones of your hand – settle into the blood filled lattices of your bone marrow. Take time to sensually absorb the transformation of your hand as you re-member its inherent fluidity.

3). Now, place your fluid hand on your partner's thigh. Explore the felt sense of your hand as a buoyant medium, floating on the sea of interstitial fluids and tissues comprising your partner's thigh.

The fluid body remains hidden from my perception when I engage 'it' from a bio-mechanical state of mind, or as a technique to be applied when all else fails. It is a whole body experience of becoming one, of embracing both our autonomy and connectedness to everything at one and the same time. It is a practice of knowing this duality yet releasing it in order to be taken to a ground of wholeness in which the ego driven self is no longer the one who knows or is the doer.

"There is no drop of water in the ocean, not even in the deepest parts of the abyss, that does not know and respond to the mysterious forces that create the tide." — Rachel Carlson

The Quantum Body: Engaging the Holographic Matrix

As practitioners in the healing arts, we have the rare opportunity to remember our interconnectedness to a world beyond our brain and body. The potential for perceiving multi-dimensionality arises in each therapeutic session. The sensorial understanding, that our bodies are the portal through which we engage dimensions beyond the scientifically proven or physically manifest, is an ever-present reality. In western culture, these dimensions are often ridiculed, dismissed, and denied. Our bodies are a condensation of consciousness – a range of knowledge exists through and beyond the physical realm. Consciousness extends in all directions throughout all matter of space and time.

In order to experience these multi-dimensional facets, I have worked through my own perceptual barriers cultivating the somatic qualities of permeability and fluidity. In a very real sense, accessing this domain requires a reexamination of my beliefs about what the body is and ways of living. By exploring beyond the culturally myopic view of how life functions, a realization and understanding emerges igniting a unified field of knowing. We can re-member our fundamental wholeness, a beginning that speaks to an inseparable connection to everyone and everything.

How is it that we can learn to touch in a way that supports the re-membering of origins and the underlying matrix that is cosmic consciousness?

Our hands can become a vibrating continuum between the most solidified forms of consciousness (like bone) to the more subtle forms of consciousness – the original matrix, the informational field and the rich emptiness that holds all. In order to immerse myself in this phenomenal field, I was jolted by the realization that this continuum is always there. It was my own perceptual armoring that restricted this sensual knowing.

Although I was introduced to the geodesic dome of Buckminster Fuller's genius years ago, it was only recently and while walking the beach during winter's low tide, that an image of an iridescent blue tensegrity shape appeared before me. This image flashed as if neon. I hurried home to research the cellular existence of the structure. Tensegrity proffered an explanation for the unusual visual and kinesthetic feedback arising through my hands during biodynamic craniosacral sessions. And it was the exceedingly fine interlinked filaments forming the cellular geodesic structures, that I sensed and envisioned in my hands.

Triangular, octahedral and tetrahedral forms are self organizing patterns in all biological structures for they represent the best organization of least energy (energy efficient) and mass (size) through structures of continuous tension and local compression, that is through tensegrity.15

Throughout his numerous writings, Ervin Laszlo, speaks of a cosmic memory field. He defines this as a real, lived experience that conveys a thought, an image, or an intuition that was not transmitted by our senses either at the time it happened or at anytime before. This lived experience occurs in the extra- or non-sensory mode.16 Perhaps I had entered Laszlo's field of cosmic envisioning during my twilight walk.

Back to Top

Inquiry: Your Multi-dimensional Hand and Holographic Touch®

The following inquiry is first done solo and then with a partner who is lying on a table.

While exploring 'holographic touch'®, I realized that my touch needed to be more than a feather's weight. As I engage an individual's system - with gentle yet firm presence - my hands began to transform in the distinct way I have described. They became more porous and dimensional, and my client's system mirrored this state. Whether I was connecting with organ, tissue or bone, I experience the synesthesia of seeing-feeling their system expand into the vast field surrounding both of us. The membranes separating their system, my system, my hands, their issues, became a unified experience of expansion, and shifting form. From these experiences, the role of the tensegrity function was clarified. I imagine it to be the archetypal functional-structure connecting the intercellular space of my body's trillion-plus cells to the holographic matrix and blueprint of origin. Tensegrity, lifts the compressive forces of cultural imprinting, trauma and injury.

From the palpable and experiential to the scientifically researched, I found that cellular tensegrity provides both a sensorial bridge and biological understanding for the continuum I was experiencing. The body as a whole and the matrix we are embedded within form a geodesic continuum. In a way it is the gossamer glue of our cosmic connectedness.

A tensegrity structure forms a stable yet dynamic system that interacts efficiently and resiliently with forces acting upon it. Tensegrity provides a conceptual link between the structural systems and the energy-informational systems.18

Cells and intracellular elements are capable of vibrating in a dynamic manner with complex harmonics, the frequency of which can now be measured and analyzed. … It is important to understand the mechanism by which this vibrational information is transferred directly throughout the cell. From these observations we propose that vibrational information is transferred through a tissue tensegrity-matrix. … A tensegrity tissue matrix system allows for specific transfer of information through the cell by direct transmission of vibrational chemomechanical energy through harmonic wave motion.19

In Summary

Sitting within the stillness of the mystery we call life, I recognize the subtle yet palpable dimensions just beyond the seductive veil of the material world.

By following my passion to expand the spectrum of my touch, I found my way to Holographic Touch and its ignition of a numinous body. By questioning the belief that diving into physiological depths is the avenue for repair, a novel understanding arose. Waiting at the edges, orienting to my own sensorium, and cultivating spaciousness within my own hand/body space reveals another way of healing which fosters dimensionality within the other. A holograpghic touch yields the recognition of the ONE that is embracing us all. By engaging the infinitely fine tissues, functions and structures of the body, the often compressive imprints of our origins, birth, injury and society can be lifted.

Re-membering that our bodies are one with and embedded in a cosmic plenum, touches a kinesthetic knowing; the marrow of our bones flows with the marrow of the holgraphic matrix. Lymph, blood and fluids stream through our bodies; as cosmic intelligence streams through all existence. The breath of Primary Respiration breathes us all.

We talk about the mind-body-field as if they were separate but, in fact, it is our attention that is split.

Imagining there is a difference between my inside self and outside, I return again and again to the felt realization of seamlessness. I touch another and I am touched. I perceive consciousness in life and I am perceived by consciousness itself.

My hand is able to touch things only because my hand is a touchable thing, … Similarly, the eyes with which I see things are themselves visible. … to touch the coarse skin of a tree is thus, at the same time to experience one's own tactility, to feel oneself touched by the tree. And to see the world is also, at the same time, to experience oneself as visible, to feel oneself seen.20

 

1 James Jealous. "Healing and the Natural World". Alternative Therapies. January, 1997. Vol. 3. No. 1. pp. 1-9
2 Holographic: The condition upon which the information for creating a whole system is stored in each of its parts. Through the application of a coherent light source, a 3-dimensional image is re-created from the memory of wholeness held in each of the parts. (definitions: lycaeum.org)
3 in this context I am using the word 'somatic' referring to the continuum of manifest consciousness expressing through the physical.
4 Briggs, John. Peat, F. David, Turbulent Mirror. Harper & Row, NY. 1989. pp 83-85.
5 Charles Ridley, Stillness. pp. 22. North Atlantic Books. 2006. Berkely, CA.
6 ibid. pp 186-187.
7 Michael Shea, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. Vol. 2. pp. 202. North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, CA. 2008.
8 Although the descriptions I offer relating to the spectrum of consciousness and physical densities are different, I acknowledge Emilie Conrad for inspiring these classifications.
9 James Jealous, DO. manuscript. Living Fluids. (unpublished copyright date)
10 James Jealous, DO. CD lecture series. Fluid Body 1 (2000)
11 John McPartland. DO. Evelyn Skinner, DO. The Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1. Pp. 22-32.
12 Marc Rosen, DO. Fluids. Web site information.
13 James, Oschman. Energy Medicine: the Scientific Basis. pp. 60. Churchill Livingstone. 2000.
14 McPartland, John. DO. Skinner, Evelyn, DO. The Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1. Pp. 22-32.
15 K. Yu. Volokh, O. Vilnay, M. Belsky. Cell cytoskeleton and tensegrity. Biorheology/ IOS Press. Vol. 39. pp. 63-67.
16 Ervin Laszlo, The Akashic Experience: Science and the Cosmic Memory Field. Inner Traditions. Rochester, Vermont. 2009.
17 Michael Shea, class notes – 2005.
18 James Oschman. Energy Medicine: the Scientific Basis. pp. 153-157. Churchill Livingstone. 2000.
19 DS Coffey, KJ Pienta. "Cellular Harmonic Information Transfer Through A Tissue Tensegrity Matrix". Med Hypotheses. 1991 Jan; 34(1): 88-95.
20 David Abram. The Spell of the Sensuous. pp. 68. Pantheon Books. New York. 1996.

Back to Top