Massage in the Time of Covid-19 cont’d

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I have made the decision to close the Stairway Healing Arts studio until further notice.

While this is clearly the right thing to do, it breaks my heart. With stress levels ratcheting up daily, I want to be of continued support to all of you.

With that in mind, please know that I am continuing to offer Distance Energy Healing sessions. As you know, in addition to being a NYS licensed Massage Therapist I am also a Reiki Master and Therapeutic Touch practitioner. A Distance Energy Healing session is a beautiful and effective way to receive the support and healing you love about massage while honoring the current necessity of social distancing. You might think of it as the Massage Therapist’s form of on-line therapy. If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to switch your next massage or energy healing session to a distance session, please contact me. You can also read more about it on my website under “Distance Energy Healing.”  

I’m sending love to each of you. I can’t wait to be back in the studio together. Please take good care of yourselves. 

Massage in the Time of Covid-19

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Massage Therapy and Energy Healing support good health. That’s why I love my work. It’s an honor to support your wellness and healthy lifestyle. I, too, am committed to personal wellness and enjoy robust health which has equipped me to do this work for the past twenty-five years. 

With Covid-19 on the move, I am practicing sanitation and cleansing with diligence and vigilance before, during, and after each session at Stairway Healing Arts Center. As always, I aim to thoroughly support you as we navigate this trying time, and keep us both healthy and safe. I welcome your thoughts and concerns- we will explore them together when you come for your session, or via phone, text, or email before your session if you prefer.

I love being part of your healthy lifestyle- thank you. And thank you for taking good care of yourself.  

Distance Energy Healing

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Faith Falls on Your Hand by Romolo Tavani via Pinterest

In another post, I was talking about a great healing energy session I had with Kate; about how happy we both were that pain had been released from her body, and how vibrant and healthy she felt after the session. I’m always thrilled when a session offers such tangible results.

What I didn’t mention was that Kate wasn’t with me during her healing session.

I completed her session in my studio here in upstate New York.   Kate, on the other hand, was at her home in Honolulu.

Yup.  The Honolulu that’s in Hawaii.

My hands weren’t resting on and above her physical body. But they were working directly with her energy.

I know. I can hear you asking, “What?! Come on!”

Well, not so long ago, there was a part of me that would have agreed with you whole heartedly. I had heard of distance healing, but I thought that it was either total hogwash (I love that word), or something for a select few of incredibly gifted and spiritually advance people.

Saints, perhaps. Or mystics.

I put my beliefs in the latter notion, but worried that there were plenty of imposters out there claiming the ability as well.

Until I traveled to Seattle last fall for a continuing education class on energy healing. Part of the curriculum was Distance Energy Healing. I remember when we arrived at that part of the course I was thinking, “I’ll try it, but this is not something I’ll be incorporating into my practice. I don’t have that kind of gift.”

I’ve been practicing massage therapy and energy healing for almost twenty-five years. That means I’ve put my hands on thousands of bodies, with the (successful) intention of  nourishing body, mind, and spirit and promoting good health.

I’ve studied various modalities of massage therapy and energy healing, and have developed many of my own techniques and methods in these arenas.

Over the years, I’ve learned to listen for and trust the guidance of my intuition while caring for my clients, my loved ones, and myself.

But the work has always involved having my client under my hands. That just seems a given, right?

So sitting in Seattle on that sunny Fall afternoon, I was skeptical that I would have any success with the distance healing session.  How can we facilitate health in healing in someone who isn’t even in the same room? But I had arranged with my daughter, on the other side of the country, to be my recipient. I asked her to just lie down at the arranged time.

“At least you’ll have a good rest,” I told her.

But when I used the technique to call in her energy I suddenly felt her presence beneath my hands.  I remember how the tears rolled down my cheeks during the session. How clear she felt.

I was incredulous.

When I asked her about it later, she said she had felt light and tingly. That she hadn’t slept but that she hadn’t been really awake either. That it had been relaxing, soothing,  and pleasant.

This was a revelatory experience for me. While this work was certainly for people of great  spiritual gifts, it was also for everybody else too. All we needed was a willingness to be open to it. All we needed was a willingness to heal and facilitate healing. This work was for me.

So when I returned home from the Seattle workshop with a new assortment of tools in my proverbial medicine bag, I was particularly excited to continue with the distance energy healing. I began practicing with fellow classmates in Hawaii and the west coast, then reached across the Atlantic to friends and family in the UK.

What I especially love about the distance healing is how clear and powerful it is. I guess that’s because I’m working with pure energy, unencumbered by the physical body of the human. I intuit more readily and clearly. And the energy moves and flows, and healing begins.

Clients will say, incredulous as I was in the beginning, “I could tell where your hands were!”  “Suddenly, my eyes fluttered open, as if I’d been in a deep sleep, thought I don’t think I was actually sleeping. More like dreaming. Then you texted me to tell me the session was over. But my body already knew.”  “That was amazing.”

My life’s work has been about having a positive impact on people’s lives:  helping people heal and grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually; nourishing body, mind, and spirit. I love seeing the look on a client’s face after a session- a smile and expression of health and peace.

And I love the fact that this distance energy healing enables me to help people not just in my own neighborhood, but anywhere in the world. It’s humbling and thrilling in equal shares.

It’s Here! New Table Warmer

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“Your comfort is essential.”

That’s something I stress when you come in for your massage or energy work. The more comfortable you are, the better you’re able to receive the work. Whether it’s the pressure I’m applying, the style or volume of the music I have playing in the background, any outside noises or interference (like maybe your cell phone…), the temperature of the room, or a number of other possible influences that can enhance or hinder your comfort and, therefore, the quality of your healing session.

Temperature is key. I don’t want your body’s thermostat to have to work at all to warm you up or cool you down. Not even the slightest.

So in the summer, I run the fans or air conditioner. And I use light cotton or microfiber sheets.

In the cooler months… All right, I’ll just say it: In the deep freeze of upstate New York’s brutal and relentless  winters, it’s essential that I make sure you’re cozy and warm for your massage or energy work. So I pull out the flannel sheets, the down comforter, and, everyone’s favorite: the table warmer.

When you get under the covers, you always breathe a sigh of relief. Partly because it’s just so lovely and unusual to lie down in the middle of the day. And partly because that cozy, warm, heated table is just a slice of heaven. Welcoming and warm.

When you’re warm and comfortable, you’re more relaxed. When you’re relaxed, you’re ready to receive. When you’re ready to receive you’re ready to begin the healing and rejuvenating work that lies ahead.

So when I pulled out the table warmer a couple of weeks ago and plugged it in, I was dismayed that it wouldn’t turn on. And so, I might add, were a number of you. It had served me well, probably having clocked several thousand hours.

So I ordered a new one and it arrived last night in all its fleecy, cozy,  plushness. I set it up today, set its thermostat for a cozy 108 degrees, and listen to the “oohs” and “aahs” when you each lie down.

It’s here. Not just the cold Northeast winter. But, more importantly, the cozy, delightful, warmth of your next massage and healing session.

Body World

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There it was, standing before me, still and lifeless yet pulsing and glowing with the life energy that it once embodied. Brain, spinal cord, brachial branches spreading out across the shoulder girdle, reaching down the arms into hands. The nerves of the torso reaching and spreading across the chest, the back and abdomen.

And then Sciatic Nerve, branching off the spinal cord where it would have passed the sacrum. It was thick and strong and vital-looking, a twin on each side branching into rivulets and streams down both legs and into the feet where it touched and met with the ground.

“Hello,” I said, and the tears pulsed down my cheeks.

“Hello,” Sciatic Nerve pulsed back. Old, intimate friends meeting face to face for the first time.

We’d encountered each other many times a day for the past 20 years. Me prodding and coaxing. Sciatic Nerve sometimes yielding, allowing itself to be soothed and relieved. Sometimes not. Always there for me, waiting in its bed of muscle, blood, and bone beneath the skin’s surface.

You see, I’m a massage therapist. Working with the unseeable pains of the body is what I do. Sometimes the pain is emotional. Sometimes it’s physical. Either way, Sciatic Nerve is the source of much of it.

We have a regular conversation, Sciatic Nerve and I. Silently, in my head, and led by my hands, forearms, and fingers. We talk, cajole, and coax. An ongoing conversation. A friendship. Life-long companions.

My daughters, Marleigh and Delaney, and I had flown to Amsterdam for this experience. To experience the Body World’s Happiness Project exhibit. A six story museum in the heart of Amsterdam, my favorite city, exhibiting, well, real dead bodies. I know, it sounds weird. Crazy. Maybe gross. But these bodies, pristinely preserved and dissected into various organ systems and posed in motion and action are a work of genius and an absolute beauty to behold. To see the body from the inside out was, for me, magic.

An absolute joy.

When I see a person, I see the form of the their muscle and tissues through their clothing and through their skin. It’s not something I talk about because, not surprisingly, it tends to make people self-conscious. I also wonder at the function of their heart, their lungs, (and my own as well) as I see their chests and stomachs rise and fall with their breaths.

I am amazed each day by the wonders of our bodies: the growth of hair and nails, the blossoming of a bruise through its rainbow of colors, the healing and re-sealing of damaged skin, the coordinated movement of torso and limbs to stand, walk, run, dance; our ability to reach and grasp, to touch and feel the roughness of sandpaper, the coolness of water, the gentle warmth of a lover; I wonder at the formation of words on our tongues, our incomprehensible ability to create, comprehend and interpret language, conversation, the written word, art…

I am awed by our form and by what lies beneath our surfaces- the raw, pulsing dynamism that coordinates our existence, our movements, our thoughts, our emotions, our survival, our growth. Scientists can break this down into atoms and formulas.

But to me it’s magic and art. Beauty and wonder. Balance and harmony. When the balance is off there’s dysfunction, pain, illness, disease.

These are things I think about each day. These are the things I imagine, beneath the surface as my hands coax muscles and emotions into a healthier, relaxed place. These are the things I finally saw before my eyes in the Happiness Exhibit.

We were here as a family, celebrating our last summer together before Marleigh’s senior year of high school. It was Marleigh and Delaney’s first trip to Europe in the friendliest of towns- Amsterdam, with its shining canals, its curving cobbled streets and gingerbread architecture. Each day we wandered these lovely streets in search of an exotic lunch, the perfect pastry, Anne Frank, street musicians, a good tattoo shop, a great photo. Perpetually smiling, laughing, and loving each others’ company.

Our family of three. The pride and love I feel when I look at these two amazing young women (my daughters!) overwhelms me. And here we all were together, sharing this experience. They were as excited as I was.

I’d have loved to send a snapshot of us into the distant past. To myself when I first embarked on the trek into single-parenting. I was so scared, terrified even, alone in foreign terrain. Solely responsible for these two brilliant little girls. Could I do them justice? Could I care for them well? The snapshot would have assured me, “Yes, you can do this. Your family will flourish.”

I’ve been pulled to Amsterdam all my life, but it was this exhibit that really yanked us across the ocean and back to this wonderful town for our summer holiday.

So here I was, standing in front of the first exhibit of the Happiness Project in Amsterdam, weeping and conversing with Sciatic Nerve. I felt like Harry Potter chatting with the snake at the zoo then looking around and realizing no one else could hear the snake’s words. It was like that.

“Hello,” I said, “It’s so good to finally see you!”

“Hello,” Sciatic replied.

“Hello, hello, hello,” it echoed and pulsed.

I was filled with its vibrancy, its vitality and its life. I was awed and in love. I stood there weeping with joy simply to be in its visual presence.

I caught up with Marleigh and Delaney a little later.

“Girls,” I said, still wiping at my tears “this is going to take me a really long time. You can head back to the apartment whenever you want. I’m gong to be here a long time I think.”

“We know Mom!” they said. “We love it too. Take your time. We’ll wait for you.”

My two beauties.

They understood. They got it. I hoped for a minute that I was this patient and understanding with them when they were little. Worried that I hadn’t been. Then brushed that away and hugged them. Held them for a minute.

We took our time wandering through the six stories of the exhibit wondering at the beauty and glory and gore of our bodies, in sickness and in health. We each went at our own pace and met-up from time to time to smile, to marvel at something, to share a thought, to nod. We lingered at the gift shop, bought another book on anatomy, and took some pictures.

But before leaving the exhibit, we stole back up the stairs to revisit Sciatic Nerve and say goodbye. And then, of course, we each took our own two home with us.

I’d been back home for a couple of months and shared the story of meeting Sciatic Nerve with many friends. One friend pointed out that in a city of so many Old Masters I was gaga over an anatomy exhibit. And it’s true. Meeting Sciatic Nerve was, for me, greater even than experiencing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

Then one Friday night, sitting on my couch watching a documentary on the guru Yoganandya I realized a little more deeply what my experience had been about. Yoganandya said something about our brain and spinal cord being where and how God or the Divine enter our body. And I thought, “Yes. This I know.”

Looking at Sciatic Nerve and the nervous system in Amsterdam, looking at all the exhibits of the body in fact, was for me like looking at the face of God.

How strange it feels to write that. But how simple and true and real. To me the Divine lives in our flesh and bones and echoes in and out of us through our energy. I feel it strongly. Revel in it. Wonder at it. And on that joyful afternoon in Amsterdam, I saw it for the first time. Face to Face.

Radar Hands

I received a really neat compliment the other day from Jim*, a long-term client and competitive athlete.   Every two weeks he brings a variety of  issues to the massage table for me tend to.  And because he’s a true North Eastern Man, he switches sports with the seasons, bringing a new variety of treatment issues with each season.  We joke that he likes to keep me on my toes and give me a good work out.  It’s true though.  Sometimes it’s a matter of tending to the tension and (over)use issues he mentioned in our pre-session discussion, sometimes it’s something I come across that he wasn’t even aware of yet.

On his last visit when I asked what his needs were, he took a breath to tell me then stopped and grinned.  “I’m not gonna tell you,”  he said.  “Those Radar Hands of yours will find everything.  They always do.”  And a few minutes into the session he said, “See!  I was right.  Radar Hands.  You zeroed right in on the pain.”

We had a good laugh about that.  But I liked the image.  Clients are always asking how I seem to know exactly where they’re hurting.  Like it’s some kind of magic or esoteric “knowing”.  I kind of wish that were so.  But it’s nothing nearly so romantic.  It’s really  just about having a through understanding of the musculo-skeletal system, and knowing the pathways and patterns of healthy muscle fibers.  By following those patterns, my hands can discover the inconsistencies in the system.  That’s were the problems lie that cause you pain and discomfort.  Once my hands zero in on those places of insurrection within the muscle fibers, they do the work of coaxing those fibers back into healthy alignment.  And that’s what make you feel so much better.  Radar Hands.

 

*My client anecdotes are true, but I change the name and other characteristics of my clients to ensure their privacy.

To Wear, or Not to Wear? The Undies Delimma

Yellow Heart Art via Etsy

Yellow Heart Art via Etsy

When you come in for your first therapeutic massage session, we’ll discuss many things, and you may have lots of questions for me.  One of them will likely be, “How far down do I undress?  Do I leave my underwear on?”.

My first answer is “Please undress to your level of personal comfort.”

Before I can continue, some of you will say, “Okay.  I’m good with that.”

But for some of you this is a more complicated question, so here’s the rest of the answer:

1.  Your comfort is essential.  Whether it’s the pressure I’m using, the temperature of the room, the volume of the music, or anything else, it’s vital that you feel comfortable and safe at all times.  When you feel comfortable and safe, you can relax into the work and receive the massage to your best advantage.  If keeping undies on helps you feel comfy, safe, secure, and it just feels right to you, then it’s the right thing for you to do.

2.  That said, please know that your modesty will be respected at all times thanks to proper draping techniques.  “Draping” is my use of the sheet and blankets that cover you. Proper draping enables me to respect and protect your modesty, while at the same time allowing me to access the major muscle groups of your body so that you can receive a great therapeutic massage.

3.  A quick anatomy lesson:  Our buttocks are home to lots of muscles.  You’ve probably heard of the gluteals (maximus, medius, and minimus), but there are many others.  These muscles help to keep us upright, and they help keep us moving.  So they’re key to mobility and range-of-motion issues.  They’re also key in causing and treating lower back pain.  If you’re coming in with any of these issues, it will be really helpful to have these muscles tended to.  I address them as part of your leg, because they are.  No undies helps me access these muscle groups adequately and appropriately, again and as always with the use of proper draping.

If the “undies dilemma” is a biggie for you, this information should help you make your decision more easily.  But if you have any more questions around it,  please ask me and we’ll discuss them.  The important thing is that you always feel comfortable, safe, and respected during the session so that you can receive a great therapeutic massage and that you feel better.

 

What Holds Us Back

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Fear.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and discussing it with clients and friends.  When is fear healthy?  When is it helpful?  And what about the rest of the time?  What I’ve come up with is that on its own fear is neither helpful nor particularly healthy.   Now, when fear is triggered by DANGER, that’s different.  It can save my life.  And yours too.  And that is indeed pretty darn healthy.  But on its own, fear just holds me back.  Because fear is in my head.  It resides inside of me and it isn’t real. It can’t actually cause me a speck of harm.   Danger, on the other hand, resides outside of me.  It does pose a threat to me.  It can cause me harm.  Danger is real.

So take my hike into rattle snake country the other day.  Several friends asked me why I went if I was so scared.   They know I’m really, really afraid of snakes.  Even those that are very small and non-poisonous.  Now, I’ve never had a dangerous encounter with a snake.  Nor have I personally known anyone who has. This fear lies completely in my head.  Of course in the case of the rattle snakes there was actually some real danger.  That’s why I called Ranger Mike.  I got the facts.  Had he told me that the Timber Rattlers of the Adirondacks were vicious and aggressive and had he listed the number of bites and related fatalities this season alone, I would have stayed right at home that day.  But the truth of the situation was that even though fairly large, poisonous snakes resided in the region I was headed into, they didn’t pose much of a threat to me at all.  According to my trusted and expert source, the situation rated pretty low on the danger scale.

My fears were big.  But the danger risk was small.  Very small.  So, with the facts in hand, I had a choice.  A few, in fact. I could have just listened to my scared-of-snakes self and stayed home.  Or, I could have gone on the hike and carried my fears with me, jumping at every winding root along the trail, keeping off the summit stones and not enjoying the expansive views.  To me, these choices weren’t very healthy because they would both be based on my irrational and oppressive fears.  But I had another option.  I could cradle my fears in the knowledge of the actual dangers.   I could let the facts dwarf the fears; compartmentalize them.  To me, that was the healthiest thing to do.  Certainly the most fun of the options.  With the knowledge of the dangers in hand, I chose expansive views, good conversation, fresh air, exercise, and Belgian chocolate over the slithering fears  in my head.