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October, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 10

The Present Meaning of Life

By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD and Lansing Barrett Gresham

In our previous article, "The Mind is the Source of Our Stress" (, we described how the mind superimposes its predictive models of "what is going to happen" upon one's present time experience.

We have all reacted to a flicker of stimulus that vaguely reminds us of a past hurt, but that doesn't recognize the difference in context, people involved and the range of our expanded options for adult behavior. We simply react, instead of consciously "choosing." Our mind dutifully functions as our guard dog, but operates from a point anchored in the past. This is the pendulum swing of the mind, from the past to the future, rarely pausing to experience the present moment.

Touch slides in under the radar of the mind.1 Touch accesses the matrix of meaning assignments. Touch creates a crucible for gestating new experience, and thus new conclusions within ourselves and about the world. "Touch conveys the meaning of life," most specifically, that our sense of individual worth and our sense of belonging can change.2 These shifts occur because touch allows the human nervous system to update itself, bypassing the models and rules set down by the mind, and to develop new reference points from which to make present time choices. This is how one transforms the rigidity of the mind, from the "inside-out."

Touch does not change what has happened in a client's life, yet it invites them to expand into all levels of human consciousness: spiritual, energetic, emotional, physical and mental. With the full depth and breadth of this expanded perspective, that which seemed so large, poignant and endless, finally can be assimilated, digested, reconciled and accepted. Like a pinprick on a giant.

Last year, the analog of a framed mirror emerged in my awareness following a day of particularly intense sessions. It consisted of an appreciation for how various clients had moved traumatic experiences and profound confusions from the mirrored glass to the wood frame that held the mirror. No longer a "reflection of themselves," their gauntlet of difficulties now had the capacity to support a more complete and integrated reflection of their wholeness.

In ancient Hebrew, "reconciliation" means "to change through the gut."3 In The Body's Map of Consciousness, Lansing details many astounding emotional and energetic correlations with our gastrointestinal tract and other body sites. Among these are aspects of "hiding from self and from others" associated with the ascending and descending portions of the colon; "confusion" associated with the great length of our small intestine; "unfairness, blame and resentment" associated with the gall bladder and spleen; and "shame" associated with the pancreas and duodenum, to name but a few.4

As I write these emotions: hiding/shame, confusion, unfairness, resentment and blame, I can feel their resonance within myself. Who among us has not experienced these emotions? Certainly, too, do our clients. We all have the desire for our intentions and behavior to match, to be congruent, but this is not possible when our minds are driving the bus, because its models and rules are set in a previous reality that no longer exists.

Touch acts as a bridge, a pole vault, a dissolver of rigidity, and as an energetic transformer to the creation of our present meaning of life. As babies, our parents' quality of touch defined our world. The energetics of their emotions combined to help create the soup in which we swam. Babies don't have the ability to perceptually separate "self from other." What our parents felt, we felt, and we experienced ourselves as the very source of their feelings.

It appears that this "feeling others so deeply and experiencing ourselves as the source of those feelings" is so universal as to be considered part of the game board of life. In the normal progression of personal maturity, we are innately oriented to develop the ability to distinguish where we end and another begins. Carl Jung referred to this process as individuation.5

This represents a partial description of our personality development as humans, but it also suggests a reflection of our spiritual unity and our origin in consciousness: coming from unity to experience a life that will inherently involve separation, randomness and the crowning opportunity for "choice." This appears to be how we grow as souls, through our choices, in the context of a world where we will feel alone, and where we are unable to control what the consequences of our choices will be. Uncertainty is real, and it's the wellspring of free-choice.

Separation is the most poignant feeling for us as humans, and we all experience some degree of its stab. Aside from the mind's function to assist us in "fitting in" so that we might physically survive, its belief systems, the sergeant-at-arms, function to come up with a reason(s) for feeling so separate. We call these our issue(s).6

Touch, like water, can find the cracks in the seams of our belief systems. Just because something was so before does not mean that it is now. This is the "shift in perception of possibility" that is a marker for real change, real transformation, the re-assertion of our depth of creativity which is our birthright as human beings. For those of us who touch with the intention of assisting the healing process, these perspectives encourage us to embody our touch with those qualities which promote the full range of our human consciousness! It encourages us to recognize the sacredness of entering onto the field in which clients may expand their capacity to perceive the possibilities both within and for themselves, and for the world. We sense this is why most who read this have chosen the "path of touch" as central to their life purpose.


  1.  Upledger, DO, favorite phrase to describe the touch quality of CranioSacral Therapy, course notes, 1986-1993, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
  2. Lansing Barrett Gresham, frequent quote, Integrated Awareness® Training, 1993 - 1996, Cotati, Calif.
  3. Jay C. Rochelle, PhD Div., Campus Ministry, Bloomsburg State College, 1972.
  4. The Body's Map of Consciousness, Volume I: Movement, Lansing Barrett Gresham and Julie J. Nichols PhD, NonetoSoon Publishing, 2002.
  5. Carl G. Jung, MD, Man and His Symbols, Aldus Books, Limited, London 1964.
  6. Lansing Barrett Gresham, Belief Systems, unpublished manuscript, 1991.

Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.

Lansing Barrett Gresham, founder of Integrated Awareness®, has more than 30 years of touch and movement work utilizing enhanced perception. He has co-authored two books, Ask Anything and Your Body Will Answer and The Body's Map of Consciousness®. For more information please visit


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