Current Austin stats: over 22,000 cases, 287 deaths. The number of daily positive cases has declined from over 700 in June to less than half that since late July.
Austin appears to be doing better than other large Texas cities.
I am still not doing bodywork.
That just doesn’t feel safe any more, especially given that more than half the sessions I gave included working inside the mouth.
That’s very risky in these times.
So…I’ve been working on creating an online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain. It will be a 5-class series offered on Zoom. I hope to get going in September. ]
The coolest thing about the class is that I don’t know that it’s ever been done before: a course that teaches people with pain and tension in their jaws to work on themselves, working inside their own mouths to release tension in the never-touched but overworked internal jaw muscles.
That is often a revelation, based on my experience of having given over 500 TMJ Relief sessions and consultations since 2018. (I started doing intra-oral sessions in 2013 but switched from paper to electronic records in 2018 and haven’t sorted my records from 2013 through 2017.)
The course will also address factors that predispose people to experience jaw pain: strain patterns, stress, and habits such as clenching and grinding.
Changing these habits will keep jaw pain from progressing.
I’ve worked on so many people (who’ve paid way more than this class costs) who have lived with jaw pain for a decade or longer.
This kind of suffering is optional.
Please help spread the word.
The first class will be limited to 8 students and will be offered at a low price, so I can learn and tweak It as needed.
I will post more here when I’m a bit further along in course development.
Anyone with jaw pain who’s interested can also check out my Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Relieving Jaw Pain/Dysfunction.
When I started doing distance sessions at the beginning of the COVID lockdown in March, I would feel energy pouring out of my hands just as I would when doing bodywork with someone in my office, even though the receivers were sometimes in other states.
I didn’t know what to do with it at first with no body in front of me, but I definitely understood it was an indication of me being in a resourced state for healing.
In the 27-hour intensive course I just completed in Long Distance Healing, the instructors called this phenomenon “energy hands”.
It’s fairly common for bodyworkers to experience this energy flowing out their hands, especially when the type of bodywork they practice includes deep listening with their hands, as do craniosacral therapy and Reiki, or if they are also trained in some types of yoga or meditation that cultivate this kind of awareness.
(By the way, distance healing is not craniosacral therapy, which always includes physical touch, and some craniosacral skills transfer over to distance healing.)
With my distance receivers, I started placing my energized hands on the area of the body the receiver had identified as wanting attention.
Paying attention is the most basic and profound expression of love.
Usually an identified area is experiencing some form of disconnect from the healthier parts of the body. It’s not necessary to recall the original reason for disconnecting, and in fact the mind may get in the way, but it may help to understand that your intelligent body-mind system was working to protect the rest of you when something happened (physical or emotional or both) in that area, and you may not need that protection any longer. The energy involved in keeping the identified area separate and contained can be freed and returned to the whole system.
Receivers said they would begin to feel changing sensations in the identified area: for example, the area would change shape or temperature, pain would lessen or disappear, tension would soften, and sensations would become more diffuse, possibly move to another area, or even bounce around (“Hey, you’re finally looking at me! Yippee!”).
Although our bodies are constantly healing themselves below our level of awareness, in these sessions, receivers often sense the healing as it occurs.
To be clear, I don’t heal you. Your own cellular intelligence is the healing power. I show up for you in a resourced state (built on years of yoga, meditation, and studies in how healing works), which your system can entrain to. I show up with presence, curiosity, and support, as an ally and a witness, with an intent (shared with you) for healing to take place, but no agenda about how that will happen, because it’s your body, your history, your awareness, and your healing. I just facilitate.
I have not yet worked with anyone who did not experience a change for the better. I’ve worked with people trying their first energy healing session after Western medicine was unable to explain or treat their issue without drugs, and I’ve worked with people who are deeply aware somatically.
We practiced with partners during the training, placing energy hands on our partner’s shoulders and having them say when they felt them and whether they wanted the touch to be more intense or diffuse, and then disconnecting and switching partners.
We also did this with the adrenals, which pump stress hormones into our systems, since most of us are feeling some stress and anxiety because of COVID, the economy, our culture, the future, etc.
When my partner held my adrenals, after about a minute, I felt my autonomic nervous system down-regulate into a deeper parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. That’s another benefit of working with energy hands. I can put my energy hands inside your body, not just on the skin.
I want to do more distance healing sessions. These sessions are collaborative, empowering, use a lot of dialogue, and are based on consent. I cannot do anything to you that you do not allow.
If you’re wondering what it’s about and would like to try it, I’m offering sessions on a donation basis for a limited time. Look at what it’s worth to you, what you can afford, and donate accordingly.
I know some readers are skeptical. After half an hour, if you don’t think it’s doing anything for you, we will end the session without your donation.
Another review after a distance healing session. This woman was the first recipient I’d never met before. She lives in Indiana and was referred to me by a former client who moved there from the Austin area.
Before this session, I had a strong hunch that the distance apart doesn’t really matter, nor does having met someone in person. This confirmed it.
“I am fairly new to energy work and had been in a good amount of pain when I contacted Mary Ann. Through a distance energy healing session, she guided me through a process of understanding my pain and communicating with it in a way that brought me a lot of relief. She also taught me how to continue using these techniques on my own. Because it was a distance session, Mary Ann and I communicated throughout the process and she brought me into the experience in a way that was extremely empowering!” ~ N.V., 5/6/2020
I have been doing some distance energy healing sessions since it’s not safe to do hands-on bodywork during the quarantine, and I like working. I’m not sure when I will be going back to doing hands-on work in my office.
I did practice sessions on a couple of friends to gain experience and come up with a general process, and then I let my bodywork clients know I was offering them.
I’ve been getting good results!
Today was the first day I worked on someone I’ve never met. She was referred to me by a former client who moved away.
Sometimes it’s even more powerful to work at a distance than it is to work in person.
I work from my home, sitting on a meditation cushion next to a yoga mat on which I visualize the recipient. I encourage recipients to lie down comfortably in their homes and to set aside the 60- or 90-minute session time to be uninterrupted.
We use our phones (on Speaker mode) to communicate verbally.
It’s interesting that my hands are as full (or even more full) of energy in these distance sessions as they are working in person.
I have a big toolbox that I can draw on, as needed: empathy, compassion, curiosity; training and experience in craniosacral therapy, somatoemotional release, the healing process, Reiki, Zero Balancing, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming; long-time practices in yoga and meditation; experience receiving distance sessions; and years of doing bodywork (of which energy work is always a part).
Each recipient and I create a shared field of intent focusing on healing. The body-mind system wants to heal! We stay in this field throughout the session. Although each recipient has their own issues, the process is similar: finding a focus, exploring, allowing change to occur.
If you should feel moved to experience this, these sessions are available on a sliding scale basis: $30-100 for 60 minutes, and $50-130 for 90 minutes. Pay using PayPal or Venmo.
Breath of fire is a yoga breathing technique that has many benefits, including strengthening the breathing muscles. This is timely, given that one of the early symptoms of COVID-19 may include shortness of breath, which after 5-10 days may turn into quite difficult breathing.
Even mild cases can last several weeks and require breathing exercises that physicians are prescribing. Pulmonary doctors in hospitals are working hard to figure out exactly what’s happening with the lungs and with oxygen intake when COVID turns serious, and whether (and how) the protocol for putting patients with difficulty breathing on ventilators (if even available) needs to be changed.
It makes sense to me, given that there’s no vaccine or immunity to this novel virus and they’re still figuring out how best to treat severe cases, to prepare for the worst, and strengthening breathing muscles is one way to do that.
My experience with breath of fire
I’ve written about breath of fire before, because it helped me reduce the discomfort of a hiatal hernia, which involves the opening in the diaphragm for the esophagus to pass through to the stomach.
I’d had occasional discomfort for a while. One day, after a group meditation in a biodynamics class, it suddenly came to my mind that this technique, which I’d learned in a yoga class years previously, could help.
I started practicing it, and it did help. It’s rare for me to feel any hiatal discomfort now after 2.5 years of regular practice.
The diaphragm Is a dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity (containing heart and lungs) and the abdominal cavity (containing liver, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, bladder, small and large intestines, and reproductive organs).
The muscle attaches to the bottom of the rib cage (higher in front, lower in back).
When we do diaphragmatic breathing on the inhalation, the dome of the diaphragm flattens and our rib cages and bellies expand. When we exhale, the dome of the diaphragm moves up and our rib cages and bellies narrow.
Other breathing muscles that breath of fire activates include the external intercostal muscles between the ribs. The major accessory breathing muscles include those surrounding the rib cage: the pectorals, trapezius, the lats, the serratus muscles, the spinal erectors, quadratus lumborum.
Because breath of fire uses forceful exhalations, the abs are also involved: rectus abdominis, the transverse and oblique abdominals, and the internal intercostals.
Doing breath of fire can help us to not feel so helpless when so much is beyond our control in regard to the pandemic.
It energizes the mind, fights depression, and may help with controlling diabetes, asthma, blood pressure, and obesity.
It provides your body with more oxygen. (I just took a pulse oximeter reading before doing 3 minutes of breath of fire — 96 — and after — 98.)
It massages your abdominal organs. People pay good money for this!
Because movement helps our lymph flow, doing breath of fire especially activates abdominal lymph, increasing the elimination of toxins. It’s said that 70 percent of the immune system is in the gut in the form of gut-associated lymph tissue, so breath of fire strengthens immunity.
The yoga connection
In Sanskrit, breath of fire is called kapalabhati, which translates as “forehead or skull shining”. This refers to the facial radiance of people who practice this technique regularly.
You want some of that, right?
Keep in mind: as with all yoga, you are the ultimate teacher. Listen to your body. Let it tell you when to stop. Let it tell you the pace that is right for you. Be kind.
And if you haven’t done yoga before, I recommend getting started. Yoga with Adriene is a YouTube channel with lots of classes of various lengths, including classes for beginners, and nearly 7 million followers.
Please don’t overdo it. It’s strong medicine and should not be done if you have epilepsy, have had recent surgery, or are pregnant. Kundalini yogis require that women not do it during the first three days of their menstrual periods.
To avoid muscle soreness, start with 30 seconds. It’s much kinder to build strength gradually.
Also, don’t practice it right after eating a meal!
My friend, international NLP trainer Katie Raver, has put together a series of 15 one-hour programs, given by NLP-trained people who variously work as coaches, teachers, researchers, healers, entrepreneurs, therapists, and more.
These online programs will take place at noon CDT every weekday for three weeks, starting Monday, April 13. That’s 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain, 1 pm Eastern time, and 1800 British Summer and 1900 CEST if you’re across the big pond.
The programs are intended to share resources during these times. If you’re a parent, partner, friend, working from home, spending too much time online, feeling anxious, not feeling resilient, wondering if you’re drinking too much, etc., you can find something here to help.
A Facebook friend posted this poem three days ago. Asenath Avinash is also a bodyworker. Her place of employment is currently closed, but if you love this as much as I do, you could ask for her when they reopen. http://www.workwellaustin.com/
It’s a good reflection of the shift in the narrative many of us are experiencing now.
And we looked around, and we saw ourselves, and it was so funny, so strange to recognize, not the selves we had built, but the ones that were buried out in the long backyard of our lives, forgotten, rusted, decomposing, presumed lost, presumed even never to have existed, but there they were, just like the canal-bottoms in Venice, waiting for us, never having gone, never having left, and the miracle was being able to see clearly what was already there.
The miracle was how quickly the pollution vanished, and our eyes healed, and we looked out on a world that was fresh and different and we saw that businesswomen were really poets, and that scientists were really prophets, and that we were all vulnerable and worth protecting, and that toilet paper was a kind of false security, and that all our systems needed a pause and a fresh start and that most of us were really, very tired.
And we rested, and our children wondered what is happening right now? and we couldn’t answer. We weren’t supposed to touch anything or do any work or go anywhere, and it felt that we were being shown something.
So we stayed at home, and we mowed the tall grass and listened to birds and gave thanks for the garbage collectors and the grocery clerks, and we organized our closets and made pots of nutritious soup, and the introverts turned their cameras on and taught us how to make crafts, and the musicians picked up their instruments and walked out their front doors and sang in the streets, and nothing stopped them, not cars, not fear, and no one thought they were lunatics, in fact, we thanked them, we came outside to listen standing far apart, and feeling our interconnection.
We understood that something so profound was taking place, and that if it went on long enough, the fireflies would come back into our yards and the ladybugs and the milky way. The earth herself was waking up quietly, or rather, we were, and we saw that maybe we didn’t need so much after all, maybe in this new world, we’d find new careers or they would find us if we let them, and we wanted to stay put and be still and feel it out moment by moment. We didn’t want to touch it with our clumsy hands or make plans or disturb anything, and so we just watched it breathing softly and steadily like a precious newborn.
And we knew that, at some point, it would probably start up again, which was confusing, because, yes, we did need money, or so we had always believed.
Dear readers, I hope you are staying grounded during this time of uncertainty and fear. I recommend going outside in your bare feet and walking around on some grass, as often as you need.
Feel your feet sink slightly into the earth with each step. Enjoy the temperature, textures, and other sensations in your feet.
Imagine this connection with Mother Earth moving up your legs, into your torso, touching all of your tissues, permeating all of your cells, and leaving your body through the crown of your head.
You are connecting to earth and to heaven! This energetic experience is about being fully alive in the present moment. It’s a renewing and restorative antidote for upsetting news, conflict on social media, fears for ourselves and our loved ones, worry about our uncertain futures.
After checking with other craniosacral therapists, I’m changing the name of my new online service to Phone Sessions. Bear with me as I navigate this rapid change…
Quite a few CST practitioners are adamant that working remotely is not craniosacral therapy. (Plus the words “remote” and “distance” counter the connection we make, even when we’re not in each other’s physical presence. “Phone” connotes connecting with each other, but not physically. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing.)
This attitude is coming both from those who are Upledger-trained and those who are biodynamics trained.
I’ve trained in both, and I’ve trained in Reiki, which can be done at a distance.
In my ninth year of offering bodywork, I can only say that when I work, everything I’ve ever trained in and experienced while working informs my work. What I’m using at any given moment is what’s in the forefront of my awareness.
That could be what I’m sensing in my body, what I’m sensing in your body, what I’m sensing in our blended energy fields, where your body-mind system draws my attention and hands, changes I notice during a session. “The work” flows through me, and through you.
A few years ago, it became clear to me that I could not do bodywork without also being aware of my energy, your energy, the energy in the room, and the power of intent to influence energy.
This may sound woo-woo to some, but for me, energy is real and can be sensed, usually as subtle sensations, but sometimes not so subtle. It is described in the ancient traditions, yoga, meditation, Qi gong, shamanism, Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda.
We have energy centers and channels in our bodies. We have awareness. We have intent.
Anyway. Other practitioners are calling it energy work, remote healing, distance sessions, shamanic energetics, etc.
I prefer Phone Sessions. Clear and simple and not too woo-woo.
I stay on the phone with you during sessions, even though there will be some periods of silence during the call that allow “the work” to go deeper.
We can use speakerphone. I want you to feel free to share what’s coming up for you in real time, if you wish, and of course, you can also wait to share your experience for the end of the session.
If you receive a benefit, schedule another session and pay what you can or what you wish via Venmo or PayPal.
Some people are unaffected financially by this slowdown, and others have quickly become destitute. I leave it to you to determine what is an honorable amount that you feel clear and good about. No need for guilt or shame, please!
I’ve run into this issue before: if you absolutely hate to hear “pay what you can or wish”, here are some numbers to make you happy. My regular rate is $100 an hour. If you can afford it, great. If not, sliding scale is $20 on up. If that’s not affordable, let’s talk about bartering or paying it forward.
Once you’ve received a session, you can gift sessions to others. I prefer that they know and consent to doing this and are open to quietly receiving at the given time, whether we connect on the phone or not if they are sick.
This is not a substitute for medical attention. It is not a cure for the coronavirus, nor will it make you immune. I believe it can give you more resilience, but you may not notice anything. That’s why I’m offering the first session for free, so you can find out.
What would that feel like in your body and in your mind, to be more resilient?
Once upon a time, people didn’t know about viruses, bacteria, or hand-washing. They tended to live shorter lives than we do now. They got sick more often, and a whole lot more infants and children died than do nowadays. It was rare for people to live past 60.
But they were observant, and they developed practices like yoga and Qi gong to strengthen and balance their bodies, to keep their energies vital and strong. They created medicines from herbs that we now know have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, without knowing about these things. They walked everywhere and grew their own food and got plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
Think about it: all their food was organic because there was no alternative! They enriched the soil with manure and dead plants. The soil produced healthy food. The water was clean for the most part, the air unpolluted. They saved seeds from the best plants. They stored what food they could, and they fermented foods to strengthen and lengthen the nourishment.
In Russian and Eastern Europe, they made a fermented drink called kvass, from bread and other things. In Ukraine, they made kvass from beets, which are easy to grow, produce leafy greens you can also eat, and keep well. Kvass was common in every kitchen during those long cold winters and kept people healthier than they would otherwise have been.
Kvass may have even kept viruses at bay, or at least minimized the severity. We’re all very interested in that now!
You can make your own beet kvass at home, and here’s what you’ll need:
A jar — quart size or larger.
Filtered water (tap water has chlorine in it, which will slow fermentation).
Good non-iodized salt.
A medium to large beet.
A little bit of sauerkraut juice or whey from the top of plain yogurt (not whey powder).
This recipe below makes half a gallon. Put equal amounts of each ingredient into two quart jars if that’s what you have. If you want just one quart, halve the recipe. If you want to make a gallon, double the recipe.
I like to use an organic red beet, medium to large in size. Rinse any dirt off and cut it into half-inch cubes. Do not peel or scrub. You want 1 to 2 cups of cubed beets. Place them in the half gallon jar.
Fill the jar to an inch below the top with filtered water.
Add 1/2 teaspoon good salt.
Add 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut juice or whey.
Stir and put the lid on.
Every day, open the lid to let any fermentation gases off so pressure doesn’t build. If any scum forms on top, scoop off as much as you can.
Knowing when it’s done: The water will have turned a beautiful deep red color that is opaque — you can’t see through it any more. The water has thickened a bit to have more viscosity.
You can start tasting it on day 3. Beet kvass tastes earthy, salty, and tangy. This is hard to imagine because there’s nothing else quite like it. The flavor strengthens each day.
When I tasted my first batch, I didn’t know if I’d like it, and I just tasted a tablespoon of it. Wow! It’s a unique flavor, and my body wanted more so I drank more. I’ve been making it ever since.
Taste it every day for 7-10 days, and when you feel it’s done, put it in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation. Then drink some with every meal.
You can strain and refrigerate it, keeping 1/2 to 1 cup of the kvass and the beets and starting over to make another batch. Add filtered water and salt as above. Remnants from the first batch serve as a starter for the second batch. What’s not to like about that??
I recommend making this plain version the first time. You could add slices of ginger root or whole cloves to the next batch.
In my experience, it’s not worth it to try making a third batch. Too much of the goodness has left the beets by then. Start over with fresh beets and compost the old ones or add them to broth or soup. (They still have some flavor and all the fiber.)
And while you are making it or drinking it, you can imagine old Ukrainian ladies in their babushkas making this for their children and grandchildren to increase their vitality and resilience.
And you can imagine this kvass delivering all kinds of health-giving properties to your digestive system and immune system. (Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut.) The probiotics from fermenting, plus the nutrients from beets (Vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, and more) make this a nutrient-dense food.
It’s harder than you think, isn’t it? You’re still going to do it because it’s mostly an unconscious gesture. But there are things you can do to change this habit and protect yourself, and it’s important to stay healthy and keep others healthy.
Carry tissues or a handkerchief (remember those?) with you always, or wear a scarf or Buff around your neck. (I love Buffs. You can pull them up over your nose and mouth, keep your hair out of your face, keep your neck warm, protect your thyroid from WiFi/5G, etc.)
As soon as you become aware of touching your face, immediately repeat the same gesture but with a tissue, handkerchief, scarf, or Buff over your fingers.
This will work much better than “don’t touch your face” to train you to become more aware of touching your face! When we hear “don’t x” we hear the action “x” more clearly than we hear “don’t”. An action is something to do, even when we desire not to do it!
So you’ll touch your face unprotected, and then touch your face protected. And…what’s been unconscious becomes conscious.
Keep doing this, and with repetition, you will remember that you want to just touch your face with protection, and you will begin to omit touching your face unprotected.
The more you do it, the more the habit becomes ingrained.