What is a Structural Connection?
About twenty-five years ago I had an extraordinary moment with one of the teachers from a training in which I was participating. When I shook hands with her my entire being was enveloped in a feeling different than anything I had ever experienced. It felt as if we were dance partners performing a well-rehearsed routine where I could not tell who was leading or following because we moved as one. My muscles relaxed and my body yielded as she connected with my entire structure. It was over when she guided me away as if sending a boat gliding across the water. Even today the mere memory of that connection relaxes me. I will never forget that moment. I knew I had to learn about the quality of that connection!
I call what I experienced a ‘structural connection’ because it went deeper than skin and flesh to the core of my being. In the years since that moment I have cultivated a structural connection for my business helping individuals eliminate pain, recover fully from injury, and better learn new skills. A structural connection is complex because the sensory brain responds to it with immediate trust, but consciously it can be alarming because it does not feel like a choice, you just do it. I compare it to leaping through the air confident your partner will catch you!
In meeting new people the main components that make a meaningful interaction is trust, warmth, and congruence between body language and what the individual says. Body language conveys whether you are ready to leap forward together or ready to run away, all of which is non-conscious. We like to think we can control how we respond to one another but no matter what we are thinking, the body and the sensory brain is responding to the reality and truth of the moment. If you are disconnected from what you feel through your body in any given moment then your conscious self can make up any story it likes to justify your actions and behavior because it no longer has a moral compass to guide it.
Feeling a Structural Connection
By making what you think congruent with what you feel through the sensory self is when you are positioned to make a lasting impression. Try the following to get a sense of a structural connection:
Sit comfortably in a chair and wrap your right hand around your left lower arm. Do you contract or become tense in the left arm? Do your neck, chest, or shoulders contract? How tight or contracted does the right arm feel? Do you stop breathing? Do you feel some parts of the hand that is holding the arm more than others? Does the hand feel hard or raspy?
Do the movement again as you imagine your palm and fingers are as soft as a sponge wrapping around the arm. Release through your joints and breathe independently of your movements. Release your lower arm and shoulder feeling just the biceps contract as you hug the arm. Imagine you are holding a baby or a small animal such that you squeeze just enough to keep it snug in your hand.
Imagine your hand bones are slowly hugging the arm, much like a boa constrictor wrapping around its prey. Release joints such that the hand pressure wraps around the arm evenly. Notice if your biceps are engaged. Go slowly so that you can feel when you start getting stiff in the joints or you contract too many muscles. The squeeze should slowly become more snug without harshness. Notice if your palm and inside lower arm is smooth.
Wrap the hand around the arm as if you are hugging it. Is your left arm beginning to relax. Are you relaxing the right arm? Practice until you feel a firm, even grasp of the left arm without being tense anywhere else in your body.
Wrap the right hand around the left lower arm with even pressure. Use the tips of your fingers to search for bones. Once you are touching the side of a bone, let the fingers sink in until you have a firm enough hold to rotate the bones. Repeat several times feeling how to reduce your effort and still rotate.
Wrap the right hand around the left lower arm with even pressure resting the fingers on the side of the bones. Rotate your left wrist and follow the movement of the bones with the right hand keeping an even pressure. Eventually switch to initiate rotation with the right hand and then switch back to rotate the left arm. Keep feeling muscles to release so the movement becomes lighter and easier. Eventually, when you are moving optimally you won’t be able to tell whether you are initiating with your right hand or left arm.
The brain and nervous system evolved to respond to the structure moving, not muscles. It is difficult to convey in words what if feels like to connect with one another through the skeletal structure, but perhaps you can think of a performance that mesmerized you? The quality of how you touch can be the difference between a so-so meeting and a wildly positive, exuberant, and heartfelt interaction.
Step one to cultivate structural connections start with you. A great beginning to your journey starts with the book More Human Than Human. A structural connection has the potential to transform your life intellectually, emotionally and physically.