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A little something for the holiday season

The festive season can,I think, be a little trying. It can be complicated. It can be sad. If your holidays are relentlessly jolly stop here. This post is not for you. But if you are finding it a little tricky and if that trickiness manifests in your body - if it is somatised as - for instance -digestive problems, or neck pain, or a panicky feeling, or vocal strain well then read on. We may be able to find a way to help. Just a little.

One of my favourite forms of self touch - without accepting the associated conceptual baggage - comes from that broad family of methods drawn from the world of myofascial release. It's a kind of contact that addresses the abdominal area and I find it to be inestimably helpful. I wish I'd known about it years ago. And I want to share.

I'm thinking it may be helpful for the things I've mentioned above but it also fits nicely into a voice training. It would help many a young actor (perhaps many an old one) release a little something abdominally. It might enable the ribs to move a little more freely. It might give the diaphragm the space it craves.

You can try it on a friend too. You could try it on that relative who's disrupting your equilibrium if they'll let you. You could try it on a sad or sick lover.

Like many similar types of mischief you might not get it at first. So persevere. You'll get better. And then it might become a little sane piece of consolation. Help when you need it.

So here goes.

It probably works best on naked skin. So if you can afford the central heating bills pop your top off - or if it's chilly slip your right hand under your Christmas jumper and lay the palm in the region of your left side (so your working across the body). Ideally your hand will fit in the space between your ribs and the top of your pelvis with the fingers reaching around to the back. I just tried to take a selfie of myself doing this and it's impossible (the selfie not the move)

Then do nothing. Your hand is wrapped around your middle but kind of mostly on the side. It's nice to rest the other hand on top. So right hand wrapped around the left side of your torso. Left hand on top. Get comfy. Make an adjustment. Be particular.

Now somehow imagine sinking. Don't try too hard. Just soften in a little. Relax your shoulders. Breathe.

After a minute or so begin to drag the skin (and fascia and perhaps somehow the stuff underneath) a little towards the midline. You've reached around and now you drag everything back in the direction of the elbow...but don't slide on the skin : stick.

You won't go very far. Millimetres or centimetres perhaps. Just a bit. Till the skin stops. Till you meet a barrier. Now hold. Relax. For a few minutes.

After a few minutes slowly slowly delicately let everything go back into its place. Come out like you went in. Thoughtfully. Gently.

See how you are. See how you feel. Still want to kill Uncle Benjamin because of his views on immigration...well perhaps...but does it hurt as much.

Now do the other side.

Perhaps you affected your breathing. Perhaps you've hacked the Vagus nerve. Who knows.

It's easier on a friend. Get them to lie down and reach across their body. Stick. Sink. Glide. Be gentle. Be safe. Be kind.

And if you want someone to do this to you come and see me at 58 Broadwick Street.I love working on abdomens. It might help your voice issue. It might even help with your reflux diagnosis.

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