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At the Speed of Life

by Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. and Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D.
1993 Banta

Reviewed by Terry Larimore

Husband-and-wife therapists and training team Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks present a systematic and thorough approach to personal change through body-centered therapy. It is keyed on "essence" that part of human beings that is clear, spacious and free of conditioning. Essence is not hard to contact, but for people who've spent years avoiding feelings, it takes attention and practice. Essence is the home" underneath everything else we do and are from which we can reach the same place in others. It is from that all pervading clear space at the center of ourselves that we make our deepest and most profound contact with others. The more deeply therapists are grounded in essence, the more effective they are. (Of course, that sentence is also true for people in general.)

"This is a book about a form of healing that is also a way of life." With this first sentence of Chapter 1, the authors launch into what they call "signposts to essence" through five "flags:" Breath, Posture, Movement, Speech Pattern and Attitude. Flags are "cracks in a persona" and "point to places where the stress of living in a person is so great that a tiny breakdown is occurring." The Hendricks consider them "winks from the soul" signaling an opportunity to surrender and reclaim essence. Good primal therapists have always tuned in to these flags, but this is the first book I've seen that lists them so clearly and offers such specific instructions for spotting and working with them.

The book is worth the price just for Chapter 5: The Presencing Principle. What is presencing? The nonjudgmental attention that provides the space for feelings/issues to transform. It's a powerful and healing state that is too often rushed past in the quest to do something about our pain. The Hendricks provide specific reminders for how to presence (a verb they admit isn't in the dictionary yet, but should be). Presencing brings us to ourselves deeply and opens the way to awareness and healing.

Nine techniques are also presented with numerous examples taken from the Hendricks' case files and training experiences. The techniques are Presencing, Magnification, Breathwork, Moving, Communication (with an emphasis on Truth), Grounding, Manifestations, Love and Responsibility. The book offers several fundamental techniques each for magnifying, breathing and moving, some of which will be familiar to primal people, but some will probably be new (and exciting).

"At the Speed of Life" is heart-full, information-packed and deeply centered in the Hendricks' experience that no technique is effective unless the therapist is grounded in integrity (as evidenced in keeping agreements and alignment between intentions and actions) and love (both tough and tender, with self and others).

"At the Speed of Life" affirms what primal people know - that the body is the ultimate and supreme genius. Our task (as therapist and clients) is to attune our listening to hear the message of our bodies and get out of the way so our bodies can express the truth buried inside. As the old civil rights song says: "The truth shall set us free."

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This article appeared in the Winter-Spring 1994 IPA Newsletter.



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