At the core of the Tamura Method is the concept of Mind-Body Integration, that within us are two distinct selves and each perceives and interacts with the world very differently –but only one can be in control.
The Adult-self is the intellect, it is logical and analytical. The Adult-self holds our knowledge and experience of the world. It can calmly calculate our best course of action, our best path to self-care, and our most reasonable response to any situation. The Adult-self resides in the brain.
The Child-self consists of our feelings –both physical and emotional. It contains our memories of physical sensations and our emotional reactions to things long forgotten or even unconscious. The Child-self preserves our memory of our wounds, both physical and emotional. It reacts reflexively in the moment, rather than considering the repercussions of our actions. The Child-self resides in the body.
When our Adult-self is present life flows smoothly. Our Adult-self is highly competent, capable of handling whatever life throws at us. The Adult-self effortlessly guides us to making good choices, and doing the right thing. When our Child-self is present life becomes much more challenging. We become very reactive, often jumping to conclusions or flying off the handle. Lacking maturity, the Child-self struggles to care for our self, choosing short-sighted responses to our situation, and tending towards unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors.
Would we put a child in control of our complicated adult lives, our grown-up responsibilities, and our complex relationships? Would we choose a child to do our taxes, go to our job, or maintain our marriage? Obviously, the answer is no: a child would struggle terribly with the task, and suffer greatly trying. Unfortunately, we don’t always have a choice. Our Child-self is very powerful, and occasionally overwhelms us. Sometimes we don’t even know the Child-self is in control until suddenly we look around and see that things in our life are a mess.
Mind-Body Integration is adult-child integration. It isn’t enough to understand how the Child-self came to be and that it interferes in our adult lives. The Tamura Method uses the Mind-Body Integration model to teach us how to cultivate a loving and secure environment our Child-self desperately needs and deserves. This gives us the serenity for our Adult-self to thrive, and brings us deep joy from our Child-self’s experience of being truly loved.
Where did the Child-Self come from?
The Child-self was created at some point in our childhood when we did not feel loved and cared for in the exact, unique way and at the precise time that we needed. We can all probably guess at that moment or moments, or we can might even know it exactly. For a child, dependent on its parents for all things, love equals survival, but suddenly it felt like something was wrong with us, that we were unlovable, and our self-esteem shattered. Our Child-self is a consummate survivor, and, unconsciously, it created a plan to protect itself from this terrible pain -unfortunately, without good guidance, a child lacks the perspective and experience necessary to create a good plan for taking care of its physical or emotional needs.
Often the Child-self starts by finding ways to replace its lost self-esteem with esteem from others. We might have become an over-achiever or a perfectionist to impress others and gain praise, or perhaps we became a care-taker or a martyr to prove we had value. Maybe we even did both. Next, the Child-self seeks out ways to self-soothe or escape the unbearable pain of perceived abandonment. To distance ourselves from the brutal feeling of being unwanted or unlovable, we may have developed addictions to substances or experiences that made us feel good in the moment, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or food. Or, the Child-self may have figured out how manufacture distractions from our emotional pain by creating life full of day-to-day crises or chaos (drama), displacing our pain anxiety such as hypochondria, or even distracting from our emotional pain with the physical pain of self-abuse of self-denial.
If our Adult-self were always in control we would have put these behaviors to rest in the past as we grew up, so why do these techniques developed by our Child-self persist into adulthood? Remember that these behaviors are not consciously developed, they were created by a Child-self that may not have been able to articulate their own pain, let alone rationally examine their experiences. Just as we are our logical, analytical Adult-self, we also carry with us our Child-self, tucked away in the body. And everything we encounter in life is experienced by both of selves. While our Adult-self might be able to come up with a better plan to respond to an event, our Child-self has been honing its survival plans for longer than the Adult-self has existed.
What does it look like when the Child-self is in control?
The Child-self can take control of our lives instantly and without our noticing. Perhaps we are feeling ignored, put down, or treated unfairly. Perhaps we are being emotionally or physically abused. It could be something as small as being cut off in traffic, or as huge as discovering a spouse’s infidelity. When we experience something activating, something that is evocative of our early wounding, the Child-self literally takes over the controls from the Adult-self. We might even see a physical change: body posture, facial expression, tone or speech patterns may revert to a child-like state. Emotionally, we might regress to childish behavior: temper tantrums, sulking, crying, aggressive behavior, or self-abuse. The intensity and duration of the Child-self’s reaction is proportional to the intensity of the triggering experience. The bigger the trigger, the bigger the Child-self’s response and the longer the Child-self remains in control.