You may have heard of closing the bones for postpartum recovery, but did you know that it also supports healing through life transitions, physical and emotional health, and helps regulate the nervous system, including for people who are neurodivergent?
Closing the bones is a traditional postpartum massage ritual. It is mostly known for its South American roots, but versions of it exist (or used to exist) on all continents (including in Europe).
The ritual involves a massage/rocking of the body using scarves, a hands on skin massage, and a sequence of tightening scarves around the body. I use drumming in my rituals as well.
Closing the bones supports healing:
- Physically, by providing movement in the joints, muscles, tissues and fluids.
- Emotionally, by providing space to simply rest and be and be held, as well as for emotions to be honoured, witnessed and released.
- Spiritually, by providing closure, and bringing energy back to the person receiving it.
I have written many posts on closing the bones for the postpartum and you can find them below:
- What is closing the bones
- Closing the bones, a universal postpartum healing practice
- Closing the bones massage, why it is so expensive?
- Why postpartum bodywork is a need not a luxury
Beyond the postpartum, this ritual supports healing through women’s life transitions and rites of passage, as well as healing trauma and calming the nervous system.
- Menarche, Motherhood, Menopause
- Conception and fertility
- New beginnings or endings
- Loss: baby loss (miscarriage, abortion stillbirth), and any form loss
- Trauma (birth trauma, sexual trauma, shock…)
- Regulating neurodivergent overwhelm (ASD/ADHD)
- Recovering from illness
Menarche, Motherhood, Menopause
- The 3 big transitions of a woman’s life, adolescence, matrescense and sagescence, are systematically dismissed, shamed, downplayed, feared, presented as only scary and/or inconvenient, and in modern cultures instead of the powerful rite of passage that they are.
- As Jane Hardwicke Collings says “Anything to do with women, or the feminine that is put down, ridiculed, feared, or made invisible, is a clue that it holds great power. Think menstrual blood, think childbirth, think menopause…”
- A closing the bones ritual (especially one held in ceremony with a group of other women) provides a way to empower, witness and honour these passages.
Conception and fertility
- Not only is this ritual a powerful healing experience for the postpartum but I have plenty of personal experience (and other practitioners too) of women overcoming fertility issues after this ritual. It can also be part of a conscious conception process.
New beginnings or endings
- A closing of the bones is beautifully suited to support and ritualistically mark new beginnings and endings, such as mariage, divorce, a new career or job (or the end of one). I now use it as part of birthday celebrations for friends, and because I have trained many people in my community in offering this ritual, people tend to ask for it or offer it when people are struggling or when it’s their birthday.
- I have supported many women through loss, from miscarriage to abortion and stillbirth, and I have written a blog post called How closing the bones can support babyloss.
- I have also used it to support people through the loss of a loved one, the loss of a community, a relationship etc. It is a perfect way to honour and support grieving and healing through difficult times in life
- I have used this ritual many times to support birth and sexual trauma, including during pregnancy.
- I have also used it to support people through all sorts of other situations causing trauma and or shock, including recently for a friend after she had been in a car accident.
- I was myself the recipient of such a ritual last year when I was in a very difficult family situation, and it was instrumental in my recovery. You can read about this in my post, ADHD and the kindness boomerang.
Regulating neurodivergent overwhelm
- Through the ten years I have trained people in giving this massage, many told me how helpful it was for their kids who were autistic, especially the wrapping. My own daughter loved it and it never occurred to me until she was diagnosed with autism to put two and two together. This year I was diagnosed with ADHD myself, and I have been on a big journey to understand what this means. One of the things I have discovered is that people who are neurodivergent are very easily dysregulated. Closing the bones not only soothes the nervous system deeply but it also helps teach the body what it feels like to be safe.
Recovering from illness
- In the past I have used this ritual to support people through severe illness, including chronic lyme disease, and more recently, terminal cancer. Every time I can see how the effects of the ritual are incredibly supportive in this context too.