OPENING TALK – INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
From Wynn Tamura:
Thank you for participating in this workshop and having a desire to learn more about the Tamura Method (or TM). For 40 years I had a body-based counseling practice that incorporated hands on energy work. I retired 7 years ago, but I continue working, teaching this method, and consulting with my students. I believe passionately in this system and its ability to heal, and I’ve witnessed it help many people to live more conscious, joyful lives. A few years after I retired, a client asked me to teach the Tamura Method to him and a group of four other students. I was interested because of my desire to pass on the concepts of the work, and I was also curious to find out whether the effectiveness of TM was due to me and my particular weird makeup or the concepts of the work. I was happy to say it was not me! The group learned TM, integrated it into their practices, and got the same powerful results that I have had. Now all of them are doing great work, and share the same passion for the work that I do. Since then, I have been inspired to continue to teaching and spreading the concepts and practices that make up the Tamura Method
TWO SELVES – THE BASIC CONCEPT OF TAMURA METHOD
The basic concept of the Tamura Method is that within us there are two selves, and each perceives and interacts with the world differently. The first is the Adult Self (or the Adult), whose tools for interaction are basically intellectual – logical, analytical, rational-thinking, and having the perspective that comes from knowledge and experience. The second is the Wounded Child Self (or Wounded Child, Wounded Child Complex, or Child) that resides in the Adult’s unconscious. When activated by pain or stress the Wounded Child Self will literally emerge and take control from the adult. These emotional reactions are programs of the Wounded Child. The core of the Tamura Method is learning the genesis, impact, and healing of the Wounded Child in order to be able to remove these programs.
HOW THE WOUNDED CHILD IS CREATED
The Wounded Child is created when a child feels unloved. This is not to say the child wasn’t loved by their parents but rather that every child needs to be loved in their own unique way and with their own specific timing. Most commonly, wounding is connected to a chronic emotional or somatically painful situation. This can confuse people who think that their wounding must be tied to one specific, horrible event -especially if none exists. But being in great pain with of no hope of escape can create a deep emotional wound. This perception of feeling unloved leads the child to believe that there must be something wrong with them, that they are defective or unworthy of love. This belief is the basis of low self-esteem and the Wounded Child Complex. The Wounded Child Complex manifests in four ways: a child’s life plan, being reactive to pain of past wounding, distraction from pain, and disconnecting from the body.
1. Life Plan of the Wounded Child:
When a child believes that they are not lovable because of some intrinsic defect, they create a life plan to gain worth and become lovable. These plans negatively affect every aspect of a person’s life because they are unaware that there is an underlying program that drives their actions -let alone just how much of an effect it has on day to day life. These plans are unconscious, compulsive, and always active. They have a tremendous negative impact of a person’s life because they affect every part of their life, yet they are unaware of their existence. When a person is reflexively acting out childhood programs, originating with their wounding, they cannot be actively present.
There are many types of life plans. Some of the most common are trying to be perfect, being a “winner” at everything, being a caretaker, and being the family martyr. For example, the perfectionist’s plan is “if I am perfect I will be worthy to get the love I long for and need to survive”. Perfectionism supports this illusion because the child receives positive reenforcement for doing things well, being focused, self-motivated, and having the drive to do everything perfectly. They expend great amounts of energy on everything they do because it reflects their worth. The problem with being a perfectionist is that perfection is unattainable, and therefore pursuing it is frustrating, unsatisfying, and stressful. A perfectionist will constantly ruminate on the belief that everything they do is not good enough. They have impossibly high standards for what is acceptable and as a result they have control issues because, in order to assure perfection, everything has to be done their way. These issues impact their ability to connect with others and negatively affect all of their relationships. A perfectionist might be aware of this pattern, but they cannot change it because they are unaware of the underlying cause that drives it.
The “winning” plan is different from the perfectionist plan. Here’s an example of a “winning” Child’s Life Plan and what it can look like in adult life: Off the court, a tennis player is seemingly a mellow, easy going guy. However, his Wounded Child Program associates being a winner as a way of gaining positive attention and worth (and thus love). When he wins he feels good, but he feels terrible when he loses. When playing a match he gets activated and his Wounded Child takes control. The drive to win at all cost causes him to cheat, pout and be a very disagreeable guy overall. Yet he has little awareness of his actions nor how they impact others and their perceptions of him. This is because, when the Child Self is activated, there Adult isn’t present to retain information about his behavior or people’s reactions to it.
2. Being Reactive to Past Wounding:
The Wounded Child is hyper-sensitive to any interaction that triggers their specific wounding. For example: if a person had a very critical parent, their Wounded Child complex would be triggered by even the slightest perception of being judged or criticized. When activated, the Wounded Child will emerge, take control from the Adult Self, and react as they did in the past. They could throw a temper tantrum, pout, cry, withdraw, abuse themselves, or display physical or verbal aggression. Physically there will be a change in their posture, body conformation, facial configuration, and speech (vocabulary, tone and patterns of speech). The intensity and duration of the episode in which the Child Self is in control is dependent upon the level of the activation. If a person’s Child Self is extremely activated there will be little or no memory of how they acted because the Adult isn’t present to retain the information of what transpired during the Child Self’s activation. The Wounded Child’s reaction to their wound affects ALL of a person’s relationships in a negative way because the frequency and intensity of the Child Self’s reaction is inappropriate for the situation they find themselves in.
A past client of mine provides perfect example of activation and its problematic impact. This client had a PhD in business, yet could not keep a job for more than a short time. As a child, he was wounded by his mother who was critical of his every action leaving him hyper-sensitive to any hint of criticism. At work he would get activated and then wind up getting into conflicts with his co-workers. He would react as he did with his mother and become verbally abusive and attacking. He would constantly repeat this pattern and, as a result, he would lose his job. Yet he couldn’t understand why. His Child Self’s distorted perceptions led him to believe that he was the victim and treated unfairly. When people are activated they are trapped in a place of hurt and pain. They remain in that triggered state until the Child Self feels safe enough to let go and allow the Adult to resume control.
3. Avoidance of Pain Through Distraction:
The third program of the Wounded Child Complex is the Wounded Child’s use of distraction to avoid feeling their emotional pain. The best examples of distraction is any addiction, such as drugs, sex, gambling, food, or work. The Child’s unconscious plan is to not feel their pain. The plan works, but obviously the drawbacks are quite damaging.
4. Disconnecting From the Body:
Emotional pain is experienced and felt in the body. When we feel emotional pain we cradle our bodies, not our heads. In order not to feel emotional pain, the Child Self will directly disconnect from their body, and instead connect to their body through their mind’s thinking function. Using the thinking function will work but has drawbacks. This lack of body awareness is unhealthy because when you numb the body in order not to feel hurt you also lose the ability to feel good. Then there is the loss of the sensitivity needed to feel symptoms of disease, or to be aware of musculature, connective tissue and organs in order to prevent or recover from injury.
SEPARATION OF THE ADULT AND WOUNDED CHILD
Understanding the concept of two selves allows separation of the Adult and their Wounded Child.
The Importance of Separation:
The Adult’s inability to control or remove the patterns of dysfunctional behavior stemming from their childhood wounding reinforces their low self-esteem, leaving the Adult frustrated and depressed. Separation from the Child Self helps the Adult understand how their current problematic patterns of behavior were created from their childhood wounding -not from an intrinsic defect within them.
Separation needs to take place so the Adult can return when the Child is activated, and then take on the role of protector, nurturer, and guide to the Child Self. The Child cannot heal themselves and instead looks outward to get the love and help they crave and need.
When the Adult and Wounded Child are entwined it is too difficult for the Adult to discern when their Child is activated. The practitioner temporarily fills the role of a loving, nurturing adult until the Adult Self can consciously fill this space.
Separation allows the establishment of a healing relationship between the Adult and their Wounded Child. This is vital because the Adult is the only person that can be there for the Child Self 24/7.
Separation makes it easier for the Adult to support, nurture and love themselves. The process of externalizing the Child Self helps the Adult to separate enough to tolerate the unbearable, painful feelings they had as a child. The Adult is then able to help the Child (and thus themselves as the Adult) to heal.
Importance of Connection and Trust
The essence of the work involved in the Tamura Method is the practitioner’s ability to create a deep connection with their client. The effectiveness of the work is directly related to the depth and quality of this connection. The Tamura Method’s ability to reach deeper levels of connection builds trust with the client and accelerates the process of the learning, growth, and healing that is essential to access the Child’s Core Wound. The challenge of developing that connection and trust is facing the Wounded Child’s worst fear: that if they are truly seen their defects will be evident and that they will be rejected and hurt all over again.
HOW THE TAMURA METHOD DEVELOPS CONNECTION AND TRUST
- The Tamura Method Body System uses the same tools the Child does (the five senses, energy, imagery, sensation, and feelings) for processing information. The child feels more at ease with their natural form of communication and will connect with the practitioner more easily. By comparison, if a child is trying to use the adult’s thinking system, it will lead to frustration and disconnection from the process.
- Safety and Trust is Related to Proximity. The Tamura Method bypasses the child’s normal proximity-based defenses they use to maintain a nsense of safety, and instead gets directly to the work of developing trust. The first level of the Child Self’s defense is distance: the closer another person is, physically, impacts their sense of safety. The next level of safety is body contact. Finally, the Tamura Method’s method for connecting energetically inside the client’s body leaves the Child Self feeling the most vulnerable. The practitioner is literally asking the Child to meet them inside their body -directly activating the Child’s issues of vulnerability and their willingness to connect and trust.
- Use of Conscious Energetic Touch to Develop Connection and Trust: A child’s defenses are tied to their fear of emotional pain and their desire to feel safe from that pain. When the practitioner feels a defensive block, they ask the client to meet them there, energetically, to dissolve the block. The practitioner informs the client that the objective is to have them feel the energetic space and sense of freedom that the block is impinging upon. The practitioner teaches the client that dissolving the block requires trust because the block has served them by shielding them from their emotional pain. Because the practitioner is able to give instant feedback as the client moves towards or away from their block, the Client is able to develop an intimate form of communication with their Child Self that facilitates deep connection and trust with the practitioner. This process teaches the client how their body manifests protection from their emotional wounding by disconnecting from their body, and also how to be more conscious within their body. When the child is finally able to be seen so clearly through this feedback it has a powerful impact on its healing. The child feels secure and safe by feeling seen and accepted instead of rejected, and finally the healing occurs when the Child senses they have no longer need to hide.
NOTE: Because this process brings the client more present in their body, it also manifests overt changes in body tempo, softness, breathing, and in the client’s awareness of their surroundings.
THE CORE WOUND
The key to the Tamura Method is accessing the Child’s Core Wound in order to heal the Child and enable the client to remove the Wounded Child Complex. This wounding can be an intense emotional or physical event, or it can be a chronic, emotionally painful environment. Children believe that they are responsible for how they are treated. This leads them to believe that their wounding is due to some defect within and to conclude that they are unworthy of love. Naturally the Child Self avoids unbearable hurt, pain, and confusion of their Core Wound, with its accompanying feelings of isolation and helplessness. The Child desperately wants help to get out of this place, but they are afraid to connect with anyone to get that help because their deepest fear is that there really is something wrong with them, and if they are truly seen they will again be rejected and hurt. Thus trust in the practitioner, created from energetic connection, will provide the Child the feeling of safety needed for them to allow the themselves to be guided into their Core Wound.
The Tamura Method’s process of energetic touch returns the child to their wounding experience -but this time both the practitioner and the Adult Self are present. Together they help reframe the Child’s experience of the event, lessening the impact and the effects of the wounding. There will still be pain from the experience, but this time it will not develop into a Core Wound. Utilizing Body Memory to bring the child into present time while accessing the Core Wound makes this reframing possible.
The Core Wound needs to be experienced through the Child’s felt experience of the body, not the Adult’s memory. This means returning to the intense feelings of pain, hurt, confusion, and isolation which first gave rise to the Child Self’s belief that all of that pain was their fault. The Adult Self experiencing their Child’s wounding in this felt way enables the Adult to gain new understanding of, and respect for, what they experienced as a child and their ability to survive. Experiencing their wounding in this way helps the Adult understand why the Wounded Child Complex is so deeply rooted and difficult to change.
The process the Tamura Method uses to activate the Child and bringing them into real, present time also keeps the Adult present. The Adult’s presence is needed to retain the information gained from the experience and to further develop a healing Adult/Child relationship. This relationship is necessary because the Adult is truly the only person that can be present and loving of their Child Self unconditionally and 24/7.
When the Core Wound is accessed, neither the practitioner nor the client will have any doubt: the wounding will be felt emotionally, energetically, and somatically. A child’s experience is exaggerated because they do not have an adult’s experience and cannot understand what is happening, and this created the Core Wound. The Core Wound is extremely powerful, and accessing the Child’s Core Wound for the first time is the very difficult. However, the process becomes easier each time it is revisited. As the process goes on, and the client learns and frowns from the experience the Child’s confidence and trust in the process will grow with each visit to the Core Wound.