Changing the world: An Interview with Linda Tellington-Jones


jones_wideLinda Tellington-Jones, Ph.D. (Hon), is passionate about helping all species return to a state of peace and well-being. What began as a love for riding horses as a young girl in Edmonton, Alberta — she was teaching riding lessons and showing by age 13 — led to a career of healing companion animals and their people by reducing fear and deepening the animal-human bond.

Her pioneering work is called the Tellington Method, or Tellington TTouch — a system of animal training, healing and communication that allows people to relate to animals in a deeper, more compassionate way — a way that furthers inter-species connection and honors the body, mind and spirit of both animals and their people. It is revered today as a respected alternative healing modality not only for companion pets, especially dogs and horses but for all people, young and old.

Dr. Tellington-Jones returns to the Twin Cities in May to demonstrate TTouch for Humans and offer training of TTouch for Humans and TTouch for Dogs:

  • May 16: Dr. Tellington-Jones will demonstrate TTouch for You – the Tellington TTouch Method for humans – at 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Spirit United Church, 3204 Como Ave. SE, Minneapolis. A donation of $20 to benefit Pathways Health Crisis Center and Spirit United Church is requested. Includes a question/answer session and a booksigning.
  • May 17: Dr. Tellington-Jones will provide training of TTouch for dogs at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The cost is $175. Contact Tellington Training at 800.854.8326 or email [email protected]
  • May 18-19: Dr. Tellington-Jones will provide trainging of TTouch for You at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The cost is $395. Contact Tellington Training at 800.854.8326 or email [email protected]

Through her non-profit organization, Animal Ambassadors International, she supports projects of children working with animals to enhance understanding, compassion and quality of life for both humans and animals. In 2007, she was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame. A year later, she received an Honorary Doctorate degree from the Wisdom University, a global learning community, and was granted the position of Director of the Institute for Interspecies Connection. She has written 15 books about various aspects of the Tellington Method. There are more than 1,300 practitioners of the Tellington Method in 29 countries, as well as Tellington Method Centers in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S.

Dr. Tellington-Jones spoke with The Edge by phone while in Switzerland during her recent training schedule in Europe.

face_TT_KosmosWhat inspired you to create Tellington Touch at the beginning and what role did intuition play in the process?
Dr. Linda Tellington-Jones:
It’s quite fascinating actually. In 1960, my grandfather, whom I had never met, visited our thoroughbred farm in California and showed us Russian Gypsy massage, and my husband and I both became really interested in equine massage. At the time we had 90 broodmares, and we did a lot of endurance riding and showing. So we started using equine massage very successfully and wrote a book on it.

In 1975, I started a full year of professional training at the Humanistic Psychology Institute with Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais, and I did the Feldenkrais training, thinking I was going to use it for my riding students. Actually, in the second day of that training, I realized this was something I could develop for horses. So I used it very successfully and my second book came out in 1979 on using the Feldenkrais Method for horses. Feldenkrais is wonderful work based on activating unused neural pathways to the brain with non-habitual movements, and I did it very successfully with horses and people.

Not long afterward, I was working with a very difficult horse at a veterinary center in Delaware. This was a horse that couldn’t be touched without reacting strongly, pinning her ears back and being unhappy. When I put my hands on her, very quietly, she got really quiet. And the owner said, “What is your secret? Why is this horse so happy?”

I intuitively said, “Don’t worry about what I’m doing. Just put your hands on her shoulder and move the skin in a circle.”

I had already learned to trust my intuition, so when those words came out of my mouth, I thought, “That’s pretty interesting.” I didn’t tell her that I hadn’t done that before. And sure enough, she just moved the skin around in a circle and the mare got as quiet for her as she did for me. And I thought, “Whoa, that’s pretty interesting,” and had one of those epiphanies, because it takes years to learn Feldenkrais and anybody could learn this easily. That’s when I switched from Feldenkrais and started following these circles.

To better answer your question on intuition, in 1968 for my birthday, I had an astrological chart done in San Francisco from what was billed as the first computer-generated astrological chart. It said that in my lifetime, I would develop a type of communication that would spread around the world — and in order to do so, I would have to learn to trust my intuition.

I tried to find a definition for intuition. I looked in one of my husband’s books, a Rosicrucian book, as he was a Roscicrucian, and it said that intuition is unlearned knowledge. From then on, I really began to listen to information that came through.

Do you view Tellington Touch as a form of communication?
Yes, the intention behind TTouch is this: The message that we send, verbal or non-verbal, is to remember your perfection at the cellular level.

In 1976 I was sitting in the Mövenpick Restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany, reading the book Man On His Nature, by Sir Charles Sherrington, a Nobel Prize winner. It was one of our textbooks in the Feldenkrais training. Cherrington wrote, “If you would cut out several inches of nerve, most of the time the two ends will find their way back together. How is this possible? Simple, because every cell in the body knows its function in the body.”

I thought, “Whoa!” I remember looking at my fingertips and thought, “All I have to do is put my hands on this animal or person and remind the cells of their potential for perfect function.” I just started following this whole concept by seeing the body as this collection of cells.

And something started to happen. Whether there was fear or injury, like a horse getting hit by a pole over a jump and having an injury — and it was strange, because I don’t know how this happened — but I began seeing that there was less light in areas where there was dysfunction, dis-ease, fear or injury.

That was in the ’70s. In 2006, I had the great privilege of spending a couple of hours with Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp at the International Institute of Biophysics. This is a world-famous lab that studies light in the cells. I did some TTouch on him, about three touches, and explained to him about the light I see. He said the light represents the communication between the cells. And that brought me back to that original astrological chart that said I would develop a type of communication that would spread around the world. And it now is around the world.

So that story is what keeps me totally juiced and constantly astounded, excited and passionate about this amazing body we live in — about the 50 trillion cells that make up these incredible bodies we have. We are a miracle. And the more we tune into this, and the more we appreciate it, the better the cells function. That’s something the Institute of HeartMath has found in their research.

Is your intention the key to the success of Tellington Touch, or does it work without the intention?
It works without the intention. A child can do this.

We talk a lot about this, because for years we didn’t hold that intention. I feel that intention is embedded in the touches, in the circles, as a homeopathic, if you will. What we found in two studies with the Boulder Institute of Biofeedback with Anna Wise in the ’80s was that when you gently move the skin in a circle, one and one-quarter times around, that there is an activation that takes place in both hemispheres of the brain in a specific pattern of beta, alpha, theta and delta, which is called the Awakened Mind State by Maxwell Cade.

This is what I feel is happening. As we move the skin gently and activate both hemispheres and the feeling and emotional centers of the brain, we just become more caring human beings. That’s what excites me about sharing this work. We do a great deal of work with dogs, cats, horses and other animals, but because we work in this gentle, respectful way, we learn by working with the animals to treat our own fellow beings with understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion and gratitude, which are keystones in the Tellington TTouch.

After working many years with animals, what led you to bring TTouch into the world of humans?
In 1983, when I started following the path of the circle for horses, a month later while giving a workshop for people with horses with problems — there were about 100 people — I had the participants stand up and move through some of the basic touches on each other so they could feel the trust that develops between the person doing the touch on them and themselves. We also were seing a sense of well-being, so I wanted people to see what the touches felt like.

Two weeks later, I received two phone calls that made me realize the value of sharing this in groups working with horses.

One of the people who brought her horse was a massage therapist, for people, and she had an injury on the bottom of her foot that was keeping her from working. It was very painful. She asked me about it at the workshop. I told her to make one circle and a little more on the bottom of her foot and see what happens. A couple of weeks later she called. She was back at work and said her foot had healed very well.

Another person who attended the training went home and showed her husband. He had been suffering quite some time from a pain in his back. So she tried the circles on it and the pain went away.

That’s how we learned that TTouch reduces pain, enhances well-being, and brings a feeling of trust. What really excites me about this work is that anybody can do it — and you can do it to yourself.

So there is a similar response to TTouch among all animals, including people?
Yes. What we do is watch for feedback. We’re looking for them to accept this work and lose their fear. If an animal or person is fearful, you can tell from their breath. For people, we actually have a wellness scale, from 1 to 10, and we begin with a very subtle touch and see if they like that pressure, or prefer it to be lighter or a little more pressure. We use the fingers and barely move the skin, usually through clothes, not on bare skin.

We call this the Empowerment Feedback Scale, because what this does is give the person receiving the touch control over the process. So many people don’t feel a lot of control over their lives. This process develops a new sense of listening, respecting and confidence.

I had an interesting experience, quite typical actually, a couple of years ago in Minneapolis when I was teaching this TTouch for Humans. A couple who had been married for more than 20 years were in the class. During the wrap up at the end of the session, the woman said she came because she was going to give her husband one last chance, because in all of their years of marriage he never one time listened to what she wanted. And now, for the first time, because of the Empowerment Feedback Scale, he could give her the type of feeling and touch that she wanted on her body. And they’re still together!

So this process provides value to interpersonal relationships.
It is so wonderful. I’ll give you another example. A couple came to a training weekend I did in Wyoming. The husband could only stand the lightest pressure, a 2 out of 10 on the scale, on his body. And his wife couldn’t feel anything less than a 6 on the scale, which is a lot of pressure. So during the training, they found that each could give the other what they wanted. That makes such a huge difference in the relationship.

What chronic conditions have been helped by TTouch?
It helps with long-standing pain in the back, neck, shoulders, hips and joints. Remember, this is always done with very gentle pressure. One of our big rules is that we do not create more pain! I believe the idea that you have to create pain to create healing is such a misunderstanding of cellular intelligence. We have a lot to learn.

How would you characterize the response to TTouch by health care professionals here and abroad?
There’s so many new developments in medicine all the time, so why would you ever think this simple approach would work? It has to be experienced. It’s all about individuals in health care who realize that it works by experiencing it. Or, in the case of Austria, we had a 58-person well-being study financed by two doctors who had personally experienced the work.

But we can’t get our studies out there. We have this very solid study done on 58 people, but it can’t be published because so many of the medical journals — probably all of them — are controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. When there’s nothing to sell, like a drug, who’s going to back it?

Talk to us briefly about how TTouch is being used by parents and educators in working with children?
It’s incredible. For a child in school who is nervous about exams, you can teach what we call the Heart Hug, moving the skin gently through the clothes one circle and a quarter, and it moves them from a place of fear and stress to a sense of well-being. We’ve also taught them how to do circles around their mouths to relieve their fears or anxieties about testing. The mouth is a direct connection to our limbic system, which controls our emotions.

During our training, we work with the personal tool from HeartMath called the emWave®. It provides wonderful feedback to determine when you are in heart coherence. We use it all the time in our classes for humans and animals. We’ve done many informal studies that show a child can do the circle and a quarter, and an adult can do it, when they are feeling great stress and then move into a sense of well-being.

Also, it’s extremely effective for children with hyperactivity. Last year in Ohio, I did a workshop at a senior center. During the second day of training, one of the nurses said she did the simple touches she just learned the day before on her very hyperactive 12-year-old son, and he went to sleep in ten minutes instead of the usual 45 minutes. Think of the value of that!

You can learn it from reading a book. You can learn it from reading an article.

What simple steps would you recommend to give our readers a sense of how to do TTouch?
Put your hands gently on top of each other on your heart chakra on your chest. Imagine the face of the clock on your chest, with 12 on top and 6 toward the ground, with 3 on the left and 9 on the right as they would be on a clock. With your hands at 6 o’clock, move your hands gently, just barely moving the skin, around the clock up toward the 12, back to 6 o’clock and then one quarter more to 9 o’clock. And take a deep breath. Just think about something that makes you feel real good. If you’re feeling stressed, do the circles faster at first, and then take some deep breaths and do them more slowly.

This is what we call the TTouch Heart Hug. Studies that have been done reveal a release of stress and anxiety that comes from it. You can do it four times, and it only takes a couple of minutes at the most.

If you have a pain somewhere, put your fingers there very softly, with the lightest contact that does not cause pain while being able to gently move the skin one circle and one quarter. Try one direction, and then try the other, to see which you prefer. Just move each circle an eighth of an inch. Don’t repeat on one spot, because it doesn’t work the same.

For long-standing pain, we do a circle and a quarter stop at 9, or 3, depending which direction you are going take a breath, and then move back from 9 to 6, or 3 to 6. We’ve found that can really diminish long-standing pain, or even have it disappear.

Why do you dedicate your life to this path?
I learn all the time and I get such pleasure sharing this work with people and animals. I was born to do this! And according to that astrological chart, there’s no question about that!

The people who are drawn to TTouch, and bring their dogs and their horses and their pets, are special people who are interested in reaching out and making a difference for others on the planet. That’s what interests me. It creates a state of happiness and joy and peace when we are able to reach out to others and make a difference in their lives.

What can those who come to see you in May in the Twin Cities expect to experience?
A new sense of appreciation for themselves, their families and their fellow beings. A sense of joy. Giving touch with the miracle that we are, these bodies, these cells. You arrive at a new level from which to view yourself, your world and your fellow beings.

TTouch Heart Hug directions


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