The Touch to Well-Being
By: Evan Upchurch
According to Greek mythology, Atlas carried the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. This magnificent feat would have felt heavy, strenuous, and painful – a lot like life may feel at times. Our mental and emotional well-being is a reflection of our thoughts and feelings that oftentimes get the best of us. Yet, to struggle with our deepest parts is entirely human. Whether it is mental illness, engrained negative beliefs, or generational trauma, our turbulent inner worlds can manifest physical effects on our earthly bodies. By learning to understand this profound connection, we can cultivate a greater inner knowledge and acceptance of what is.
While the importance of mental and emotional health has become less taboo, society continues to present more reasons to feel distracted and overwhelmed. At Habitas, we believe in healing our hearts and minds through the transformative power of our bodies. A unique aspect of Habitas Bacalar’s upcoming wellness program is the intersection of holistic practices and physiotherapy. We spoke with José Ramón Campo Alonso, one of our physiotherapists in Bacalar, about the importance of his work and the profound effect it can have on our emotional well-being.
Originally from Spain’s Basque Country, José Ramón goes by the name of Txape (pronounced Cha-pe) – a nickname given to him as a child. He has been a resident of Bacalar for the last 14 years, ever since he happened upon the town during his travels. Today, he has grown a private practice that focuses on the health of the local community. “I believe in working in service to the community. It’s like taking care of a family,” comments Txape. For us, it is a privilege to have him on-call for our guests.
Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, has a certain reputation in today’s world. As in many instances in modern medicine, patients rarely find therapists who understand the true meaning of effective listening and who don’t already have one foot out the door. But this doesn’t have to be the case. “Trust is the most important part of my relationship with my patients – trust in me and in themselves. Without that trust, people won’t open up physically. I like to call myself a manual therapist instead of a physical therapist. Many physical therapists have taken the path of machines, which is often cold and disconnected, but my greatest tools are my hands. They are the sensors that allow us to feel everything,” says Txape.
Like stress and anxiety, we all tend to normalize slight misalignments and minor aches in our bodies. Most people see physical therapy as a mundane practice exclusive to those who have an injury or severe pain. However, Txape explains why it is for everyone, “The root of wellness is feeling good in your body and mind, which is why physiotherapy is important. It helps us restore the balance we’ve lost. Most people don’t go see someone until there is true and constant pain or even immobility. That’s why I believe in preventive physiotherapy.” He continues, “At Habitas Bacalar, I’d like to develop spaces where people can discover their bodies and learn to maintain them, not just fix them. By doing this, it leads to a more balanced life.”
Chemical imbalances and other disorders aside, many mental health issues take root in unbalanced or repressed emotions, which usually manifest in our bodies. “Emotions look to break free and express themselves – and often do so in the form of injury, pain, or illness. That is why it is so important to feel your body and listen to what it’s telling you. There’s only so much I can do when the patient is with me on the table. As much as someone wants to heal on a physical level, they won’t be able to truly liberate themselves from pain if there isn’t space for emotions to transform,” says Txape.
At Habitas Bacalar, treatments such as therapeutic massage, cranial sacral therapy, and dry puncture therapy will address pain and discomfort while strengthening the body-mind connection. The mix of physical therapy with more holistic approaches opens a space of exploration within the body. Through Bacalar’s wellness menu, guests will have access to a combination of therapies that will help them feel their bodies and everything stored inside of them. Maybe that’s all that will happen during their stay. But like Txape mentions, “Once you can recognize what you’re feeling, that’s when transformation and genuine change can occur.”
Photography by: Aleks Ol