Saturday, February 05, 2005

Zentherapy: A Conversation with Patty Adamik

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Patty Adamik has been both my student and my teacher, and always a colleague on the somatic path. Together we have followed the work of Emilie Conrad in Continuum and have enjoyed a healthy somatic dialogue for the past several years. Adamik has been practicing Zentherapy® since her initial training with Dub Leigh in 1991 and has completed two advanced level trainings. She brings her early training in dance as well as 18 years experience as a Tai Chi and Chi Kung practitioner to her work with an emphasis on assisting her clients in accessing the inner wisdom of their body’s intelligence to guide the healing process. She is a Nationally Certified massage therapist and member of the International Institute of Structural Integrators. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Adamik on her work.

DH: What is Zentherapy®?

PA: Zentherapy® is a method of releasing the natural form of the body from the aberrations caused by physical, chemical and psychological traumas. It recognizes that from birth to death our life is a flow of energy shaped by our attitudes, emotions and form. The actual techniques of Zentherapy® draw on many systems, Rolfing®, Feldenkrais®, Berry work, Raymond Nimmo’s triggerpoint work and the teachings of Tanouye Rotaishi. What makes it unique as a method is experiencing and understanding the use of universal energy. There are two parts to the Zentherapy® training. Zen Triggerpoint Anatomy® which provides the concepts and techniques for releasing the ‘stuck’ patterns and Zen Bodytherapy®, a systematic, progressive series of sessions that provides optimal alignment with gravity and development of internal and external body awareness. There are also advanced training courses. Zen training is a key component of all the work.

DH: How does Dub Leigh fit into the somatics movement?

PA: Dub trained directly with Dr. Ida Rolf, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, Tanouye Tenshin Rotaishi, and Lauren Berry over many years. Dub took all of the important principles he learned from them and interlaced his own ideas to create his unique style of bodywork, which continues to evolve. Practitioners of Zentherapy® act as facilitators to assist a person in confronting and releasing that which is no longer serving them. Awareness of ‘what is’ in both the client and practitioner in each moment is an integral aspect of the work and critical to the outcome of the session and the long lasting changes that occur. I make sure that a client is aware that changes are taking place in his/her body while working on them.

DH: What does Zentherapy® have to offer to dancers?

PA: Zentherapy® aligns a person’s body with gravity so there is not a lot of focus on holding the right posture. As a body is worked free of aberrations, it becomes lighter and more graceful, able to move with the least amount of effort. Gravity and space then become allies and support to the dancer rather than a force to overcome.

DH: How do you find your background as a dancer/mover coming into play in practicing your work?

PA: I can still recall my shock, when at age 14, in a discussion with my ballet teacher, I expressed my interest in pursuing dance as a career. She immediately stated “You’re a little too old to be thinking about that now.” Conventional wisdom holds that dance is for the young and decline is inevitable. Although I didn’t pursue that dance career, it launched my interest in movement practices as a way of enhancing health and well being in mind, body and spirit. When I first experienced Zentherapy®, I was amazed at the plasticity and malleability of the fascial system. Many of our restrictions and limitations in movement are merely a force of habit and not a fixed part of our structure at all. The invitation to move in freer, lighter ways that Zentherapy® offers was a life changing experience for me. I constantly challenge my own boundaries of movement and encourage my clients to do the same. Those boundaries are different for everyone, but the delight that occurs when one steps beyond them and finds not pain and injury but a new lightness of being is what keeps me coming back again and again to the work. The effects of giving and receiving Zentherapy® are cumulative. I have less pain, more mobility, and greater freedom in my body than I did 15 years ago. So my sense is that while aging is inevitable, loss of function and mobility is not.

DH: What happens to connective tissue when we dance?

PA: Connective tissue is a very general term that can refer to many different types of connectivity. Most often it is used in reference to the fascial layers connecting muscle to tendon, and tendon to bone. In a best case scenario, the energy and movement of dance softens, vitalizes and rejuvenates those tissues. Problems occur due to overuse, or not allowing an injury to fully heal. Emotional pain also can shorten and harden the connective tissue. That is why a modality such as Zentherapy® is so important to longevity. We can clear those issues and injuries and allow the freedom of expression and heart of the dancer to be available in every performance. In Dub’s words, “The connective tissue becomes the servant of the dancer’s movement.”
In a different sense, connective tissue is also an aspect of the social field that binds us to each other and to the energies of the cosmos. It’s a form of communication and in that regard, dance is one of its most universal expressions.

DH: Thanks Patty for sharing the wonders of your work.