Mesmerising, spellbinding people are a rarity. There is a certain sort of person I find enchanting, but the quality which makes them so is hard to describe. I suppose the twin things the people I find mesmerising have in common is how memorable they are, and the way in which they imbue me with a sense of calm.
My first memory of drifting off in another’s presence was with my art teacher when I was a youngster. She wore a stack of silver bracelets all the way up her forearm and when she moved, they jangled. I would unwind amidst the smell of paint and the sound of that metal clanking metal.
Then there was my physics partner, Jo. Physics was not my subject, and Jo used to endlessly doodle in the margins of her pages, keeping me positively entranced by the lines appearing on the page.
Vanessa Hodge is one such mesmerising person. She is the sort of woman for whom the catchphrase ‘I want what she’s having’ could have been invented. When I visited her in The Hodge Centre for a chat and a session of Craniosacral Therapy, I knew next to nothing about it, short of having read this vague premise: ‘palpating the rhythms of cerebrospinal fluids’. Yep, I was as confused as you probably are now. The boys at my old office even circulated e-mails and included me in the chain with unsavoury, but hilarious, suggestions when I told them about the treatment.
As soon as I entered The Hodge Centre, I knew that whatever the treatment would involve, I was going to like Vanessa. And I did. Immensely. She was effortlessly erudite, empathetic and just mesmerising. Within five minutes of taking notes on her learnings from various travels I postponed all my subsequent meetings.
So, Vanessa aside, what does the treatment entail? If I were to tell you what happens were you to watch a session, it really is an hour or so of having various parts of your body held while you lie comfortably (dressed) on a bed. In my case, Vanessa cradled my feet, my lower back, my shoulders and, finally, my head. No massage, no pressure, just a relaxed hold.
It sounds like hogwash, I imagine you’re thinking. I cannot say anything in defence, as measuring the effect of something like Craniosacral Therapy in any real way is impossible. I will tell you, instead, what I felt. Halfway through the holding of my feet I started to just really relax. So much so that I almost fell asleep during the treatment several times, even though the self-conscious side of me ought to have been shouting about the oddness of having my back cradled in W1 by a grown woman.
I left on a blustery day and the air was swimming with leaves and debris, which would ordinarily set my worrying off (I am excessively concerned with my breathing) but, for once, I wasn’t concerned about struggling for breath. I felt free. In that single moment I was amazed by the effect of the treatment – both relaxing and breathing clearly in town are extremely uncommon sensations for me.
When I shared my amazement with my father’s German no-nonsense friend I expected snorts of derision and was met with wide eyes. “Me too,” he said, “I went to have Craniosacral Therapy and didn’t think it would do anything but I felt amazing afterwards.’ That makes two of us, then”