Filling in the Gaps
This scene from "The Help" is one of the most potent images of nurturance that I have ever seen on film. Here Aibileen, the "help" is warmly affirming this neglected child's inherent worth and dignity. She pats, presses, and wills the loving words to penetrate into this lost little girl. It worked, and it works on us vicariously as we watch the scene.
A big part of my work with clients is helping them build their own resources for inner support. Like the child above, many people have gaps from childhood that have never really been filled. Some were not protected, others were neglected or not attuned to, some were abused in many ways. Even those with "good enough" childhoods have vulnerabilities.
One of the practices that has been profoundly supportive to people has been Resource Tapping, which I learned from Dr. Laurel Parnell. As part of this this practice, we identify figures that when invoked build in the qualities are needed inside. I usually begin with the quality of nurturance...it is so often desperately needed.
The imagination is a powerful thing. The brain doesn't really know the difference between what is happening and what is imagined. For example, just thinking of food that you love, you can bring on a craving/salivary response in your body even when the food is not really there! In the same way, when you invoke an image of nurturance vividly, using all of your senses, you can fully experience that warmth in the moment. Do this enough, and new neural pathways are created.
With Resource Tapping, we add Bilateral Stimulation, a right-left, right-left tapping of the hands on the knees or shoulders to integrate these healing images more fully into the neural networks. It is a very powerful practice that you can try on your own, though it is best to have some guidance initially.
Here's how it goes. You can bring in your own images, or use Aibileen!
1. Go inside and quiet your mind
2. Imagine a being, real or imagined from your present or past that you associate with nurturance.
It can be a person, a religious figure, someone from a book or movie, an animal. Then feel
the nurturing quality in your body.
3. When you've got it, bring all of your senses to it. As vividly as possible, imagine what the image
looks like, bring up any sounds, smells, sensations associated with it.
4. Once you have a strong and vivid sense of this, begin to tap on your knees right and left, keeping
the image clear and strong. Keep tapping for as long as you feel the image and nurturing quality
is strengthening and integrating.
5. Use this before going to sleep, and any time you need nurturance.