Fall is in the air, students are returning to class, new school shoes are being purchased, and I am on a new adventure, learning how to set up a blog. I will be sharing my work as a Mind/Body/Spirit Therapist and also sharing things that fascinate and entertain.
I am a Licensed Individual, Marriage, and Family therapist, specializing in work that combines the mind, body, and spirit. In 30 years of experience I have discovered that the quickest, most profound, and most effective way to foster growth in my clients has been to use this wholistic approach. Conventional “talk therapy” can be useful in certain situations, but I have found that for truly inspired and transformational work, the body and Spirit must be engaged. I use a gentle form of bodywork based on the ancient Chinese energy meridians and I invoke Spirit in our sessions by using techniques from the great spiritual traditions and from the vanguard of 21st century spirituality. For a description of what a session with me might look like, read on –
I did a session with a 91 year old client/colleague this week that was so satisfying, for both of us, that I wanted to write it up and share it with you. Our session was scheduled immediately after his appointment with a pastor from Hospice. I didn’t really know how I would find him – on his last legs ready to “cross over” or with both feet planted firmly on this side of the river. I was happy to notice, as we settled into an easy conversation, that he was alert and talkative, but even more exciting, that he was talking about death and the next chapter in a calm, expansive way. We discussed the fact that many people who had “died” and been resuscitated, found the “other side” to be very attractive and were looking forward to going back. We both agreed, however, that we find those stories comforting but that we weren’t in a big hurry to get there.
As we approached the bodywork table we gathered pillows and a blanket to make him as comfy as possible. He demonstrated considerable grace in first sitting on the edge of the table and then swinging his legs up as he lowered himself on his side to the table and then turned over on his back. It reminded me of a well-executed Aikido move. We had both studied Aikido and acupressure together in graduate school 34 years ago. The Mind/Body/Spirit classes we took at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology have served us both well in the intervening years, both personally and professionally.
When I asked my friend what he would like to get out of his treatment, he answered that he would like to “unwind” and that his neck, shoulders, and middle back needed attention. I thought that the “Great Central Release”, an acupressure treatment which focuses on the spine and the energy centers or “chakras” would be a good choice. I started with some gentle movements from a bodywork system called Zero Balancing , which helped to begin the process of lengthening and releasing muscle groups in his body. As I manipulated his body with all the awareness and intelligence I could manifest in my hands I noticed that his body felt very much alive and receptive to the process. He was paying exquisite attention to the interface between my hands and his body, as evidenced by his “ooohs” and “aaaahs”, and he quickly moved into a deep state of relaxation. In this state he reported that he “traveled in galaxies that he had not visited before”. The altered consciousness that one can enter into as a result of deep relaxation is profound. In addition to facilitating deep healing on a physical level, it can be the doorway to expanded awareness of psychological and spiritual truths. I often use this altered state to help a client tap into their innate wisdom for problem solving or for greater perspective on their life. Today, however, it seemed that the best course to chart was for places “no man has ever gone before” and it would be best for my friend to navigate that journey on his own. One of the important things a therapist must learn is when to ask questions and probe, and when to be silent and let the client sink deeper into his or her own experience. My friend was a veteran of inner voyages and I knew that I could trust him to go where he needed to go as I continued to use gentle acupressure to stimulate his body’s own energy and to encourage it to flow freely throughout his body.
We worked together in this manner for an hour or so. I gently touched and activated acupressure points, focusing on being as relaxed as possible so that my life energy was strong and clear in its interaction with his. My job, when doing acupressure, is to decide on the best treatment for the situation, locate and stimulate the points indicated by the treatment, feel the energy pulse in my client’s body at those points and to wait until the energy pulse has normalized . Sometimes it needs to strengthen. In other cases, it needs to calm down, depending on the client’s condition. When I can feel that the energy pulse is steady and balanced between the two points that I am focused on, I know that the energy is flowing freely along that meridian or energy pathway and that is my signal to go on to the next point. The appropriate treatment depends not only on the physical symptoms my client reports, but also on the emotional and spiritual challenges he or she is experiencing. For instance, someone who is grieving the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, will benefit from a treatment which includes work on the lung meridian, for in the Chinese system of medicine, this is the energy meridian or pathway which is stressed when we are having trouble “letting go”.
I once had a client who spontaneously recalled a near-drowning experience she had as a child – something she had not thought of for years-as I worked on her lung meridian. As we explored this memory using imagery and bodily sensations, and as she gave herself permission to consciously feel the terror that she had not felt safe enough to fully experience at the time of the accident, she began to notice the feelings in her chest change. In place of the tight feeling of panic that was there before, she noticed a loosening and relaxation. Formerly plagued with recurring asthma attacks, she never had another one. She had “completed” an incomplete experience from her childhood and her body could now “let go” and move on.
Meanwhile, back on the table with my client/colleague, I closed the session with a few more acupressure points that are located on the neck and shoulders since he had also asked for special attention to those areas. He was still in a deep state of relaxation though able to converse and express his delight with his “travels to other galaxies” and with what he was feeling in his body. I encouraged him to rest and to let the treatment “soak in”. I talked with him a couple of days later to see how he was doing, and he said that the treatment had been “incredible”, that he had been places he’d never been before and that he had a sense of deeply relaxed floating. He was looking forward to brushing off his old acupressure skills and giving a few treatments himself!
This work is sacred work, not only because of the healing which takes place for the person on the table, but because in the process of relaxing and allowing energy to flow freely through my body/mind/spirit, I am also healed. I can’t imagine better “working conditions”.
I want this work to be available to everyone so I’m offering sessions on a pay-what-you-can basis. Feel free to contact me for more information