It’s 3pm on a Friday and I’m lying on my back in the plywood room at Shepherd’s Bush. Beside me knelt a famous Australian named Duran Mack. He applied slow but steady pressure to various points around my diaphragm. He pushed harder into my stomach. Sometimes it is almost unbearable. “Is that too much?” he asked. “No, it’s fine,” I lied.
Overall, though, it’s very relaxing, slightly relaxing, and part of an increasingly popular stress remedy in the capital city. As a city we certainly need any help we can get. According to the Mayor’s office of London, 914,300 people of working age feel the effects of anxiety and depression every day. It’s a familiar state to anyone who takes the Central line during rush hour or who charts their day through endless, free-of-charge, killer meetings with our smug bosses.
London has a stress problem. Duran and his father Andy had set themselves the task of calming us all down. If they want to do it, it must work. I have never seen a more smiling man in my life. “Personally, I haven’t been depressed or sad or angry or felt those kinds of emotions since 2010,” said Andy. They exude a good life, and have a supernatural calm that I envy.
Solution Therapy focuses on removing the lumps of stress, tension and torsion that we build up in our bodies in everyday life.
Their methods are innovative and earnest. This is also something quite new and specific to London. I overturned the fairy’s notion of a sad thing. As Duran said, “I don’t have time for bullshit”. And for that matter, neither do I. I am a cynic of the world. After a period of illness and arguably very high stress levels, I was willing to try anything.
Macks’ practice is known as Dissolving Stress Therapy. This treatment focuses on removing the lumps of stress, tension and torsion that we cause in our bodies in our daily lives. Macks’ thesis is that most – if not all – of this tension is stored around the abdomen. To overcome this they use a mixture of meditation, breathing exercises, and visualization.
“So if you feel tension in your shoulder, close your eyes, think about your shoulder and magnify the tension that is there. And then my mind went, ah, the tension isn’t actually real. I just endured it for no reason,” said Andy.
Dissolve treatment stems from an ancient Eastern practice, which Andy Mack learned while living in Thailand and on Australia’s Gold Coast where he was under Adam Mizner, a 7th generation Yang style Tai Chi Chuan teacher.
We have conditioned ourselves to become a closed book, full of pain and stress, which causes the body to freeze physically.
Mack spent 30 years studying martial arts, meditation and setting bones. He argues that our bodies are full of blocks, both emotional and physical. The goal is to untie the knots and by doing this, we are on the path to a better mental and physical condition.
As Mack explains, we have conditioned ourselves to be closed people, full of pain and stress, which causes the body to physically freeze. This can lead to everything from depression to fatigue to sexual dysfunction and unpleasant sleep patterns.
The key is to open the pages that have been closed for a long time and relieve the torque that has been there for a long time. “When you let go, you release so deeply into yourself that all the things you’ve been holding on to are gone forever. And you find this freedom. You forget your problems,” said Andy.
Working from a purpose-built medical center beside a church in West London, they have successfully treated countless stars – from royals to rock stars to rappers and sadly injured members of the England rugby team. And now me.
When I arrived at the Millers Way Project on the W6 I found a place that looked more like Kyoto than She Bu. The atmosphere is serene, serene, and the few people I met there moved with grace and smiles that were almost startling after a fifty minute train ride.
Millers Way is a lockdown project created by Chloe Ogden, an acupuncturist who studied in Shanghai and Taipei and is committed to treating the dysfunctions of fellow Londoners in ways traditional medicine may not be able to. Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and western “alternative” techniques are at the heart of this. It serves as the headquarters for the Mack duo.
Guests at the center are asked to remove their shoes when they arrive. Water is offered; pleasantries exchanged pleasantries, and the stress was already starting to seep into the soles of my socks, which, sadly, I soon realized had holes in them. But no problem, my host politely ignored the minor insult.
Duran, who seemed perfectly healthy, carried me downstairs to the treatment room of incredible size and comfort. The Japanese style curtains protected me from the scorching sun which left me half drenched from walking from the station. “If you can lie on your back on the bed in the middle of the room,” he says. Inevitably, I lay on my back. While laughing kindly he corrected me. And then the treatment begins.
He started by feeling around my stomach for any points of tension. He immediately found them. “Breathe,” he said. And with each light breath, he exerted more and more pressure. It is a strange sensation at first. But her calming demeanor and kindness put me completely at ease.
His hand pressure continued to increase. “That’s great,” he said, working through all the knots I had built. The skepticism I might have felt before I arrived is blown away with every breath I take. An hour passed like the blink of an eye. I worry in the last ten minutes I fell asleep, how comfortable I was. I hope I don’t make him snoring which my partner often complains about. But maybe I do.
When we finished and I returned to the living world, I felt softness, my shoulders were no longer ready for action, my chest was no longer filled with anxiety. “Go outside, go for a walk, enjoy the day, and let your body relax,” he says.
I like to think of myself as stoic and cynical, but I left that place in Shepherd’s Bush feeling lighter than air. This is the best Friday afternoon I’ve had in a long time.
Late Therapy £115 fee for a 60-minute session at the Millers Ways Project, Shepherds Bush; dissolvetherapy.com
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