Referrals for alternative health care providers

I’ve received different types of alternative health care, and I’d like to list some of my favorite practitioners here on my blog. I will update this list from time to time.

First of all, for do-it-yourself pain relief, relaxation, and massage, get yourself some arnica, some epsom salts, and a foam roller. I also recommend meditation. They cost little to nothing and make a difference.

If you’d like to have a floatation tank experience, try Zen Blend, in far south Austin. I’ve been three times now, and each time I’ve been more relaxed and present. The epsom salt in the water plus silence and darkness all contribute to the relaxing effect.

If you’d like to improve how your body moves, either for a sport or better workouts or the movements of everyday life, I recommend Matt Fuhrmann of Tao Health & Fitness (on Facebook) for functional movement screening and classes. It’s what Tim Ferriss (in The Four-Hour Body) calls “pre-hab”. In other words, injury prevention. Matt also offers classes for kids.

For biodynamic craniosacral work, I recommend Nina Davis. I also recommend David Harel, who specializes in TMJ disorder Gtreatments. In the DFW metroplex, see Ryan Hallford for treatment. He also teaches craniosacral work. (Note: I am studying craniosacral therapy from Ryan after receiving it from Nina and being mentored by David.)

For classical chiropractic, I recommend Active Life Chiropractic, which offers a wide range of services including Graston and “the activator”. I’ve seen both Dr. Cynthia Schade (the owner) and Dr. Cynthia Lara.

For upper cervical chiropractic (first cervical vertebrae and cranium), I recommend Back N Balance. If through head trauma or emotional stress your head is not sitting atop your spine in a balanced manner, check them out. It unwound my spine from scoliosis. I saw Dr. Shelley Lorenzen.

For applied kinesiology chiropractic, I recommend Austin Holistic Health. It’s another form of unwinding from dysfunctional neuromuscular patterns. I saw Dr. Chandler Collins.

For integrative healing, I recommend Fran Bell at Austin Holistic Health.

For acupuncture on a budget, I recommend South Austin Community Acupuncture (sliding scale) and the student clinic at AOMA ($35 per treatment, supervised by professors, in both north and south Austin).

I have personal experience with each of these practitioners and clinics, and I know how valuable good word-of-mouth can be. I hope this helps you find healing.

Looking back on a year full of changes

This past year held a lot of change for me. The previous year, 2010, was a year of sitting in meditation daily, and I very nearly accomplished that. It was a year of contemplation, exploring my identity, waking up, and getting clear.

The changes in 2011 helped my external life — how I live in the world — match up better with how my energy and identity had changed after all that meditation.

Changes to the blog

This blog had gotten 5,000 views in January and is ending the year with nearly 27,000. Readership really accelerated. I felt like I hit my stride in the second year, and I want to keep getting better. I currently have 156 followers, which includes WordPress and email subscribers as well as Twitter followers.

I redesigned and renamed the blog (from The Zafu Report) at the beginning of 2011 and stuck with the same template, albeit changing the photo often, for the entire year. I broadened the topics from mostly posting about meditation and yoga to posting about wellness and aliveness. I began including posts about healthy eating and reviews of movies that I’ve found inspiring and expansive.

My intent for 2012 is to be more personal in my writing. I noticed that those are the posts that get the most views, likes, and comments, not the reposts. I will still share the juicy information I come across, but I’ll also tell you why it’s meaningful to me. I’d love to have more comments from you.

Selling my house and moving into a trailer

My house was on the market in January 2011, and I closed and moved out in late February. I immediately bought the vintage Spartan Carousel that I’d had my eye on online for months. I put household stuff in storage (what remained after paring down) and moved in with dear friends until I could get the trailer here.

I found my trailer park in March.

First, I waited to get a title from the state of Washington, and then I waited for flood waters to recede so the trailer could be loaded on a trailer and hauled here. That finally happened in June. We got it set up, repaired, installed cork flooring and an HVAC unit, and I moved in in August. A friend donated a washer and dryer, and I got them set up in my shed in October.

Trailer life is good! I am enjoying living here a lot, and it’s great to have a paid-for, portable, recycled, streamlined, vintage home. I’ve had friends do two house blessings here, and I’ve done some landscaping. I’ve seen deer and a fox in the park, as well as lots of birds. My neighbors have been very unobtrusive.

The only sad part is that my cat, Mango, did not adapt well to trailer park life, and he went back to live with my former roommates, who love him, and we all have joint custody. I see him every week, and he still loves me.

It’s also been a bit of an adjustment, moving from the center of the city to the edge. I do more driving. I listen to music and NLP CDs a lot now while I drive.

My intent for 2012 is to install more window coverings, have a deck built, and get a chimenea and some bird-feeders for viewing pleasure. I look forward to doing more landscaping and gardening. I’ll see what my budget allows in terms of further improvements.

Teaching and studying yoga

I taught restorative yoga weekly through July at an acupuncture clinic. Although the class size was small, that teaching experience was invaluable. I worked with private students and substituted at a lunchtime yoga class — the one I took when I was working — and taught a restorative class in a studio for Free Day of Yoga. Did restorative yoga by invitation on a friend’s moving day.

I did two workshops in 2011 with nationally known teachers, Shiva Rea in January and Judith Hanson Lasater in February. In the summer, I began taking classes from Anusara teachers and later picked up a sweaty vinyasa flow class for a more challenging workout. I love working with accomplished teachers — I’m there to learn more about teaching as well as about yoga.

I’m signed up to take Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff in January 2012.  I’d love to combine my love of yoga with my love of massage to work on yogis and help prevent and heal yoga injuries.

Practicing changework

I started this year serving as an assistant for NLP master practitioner training by Tom Best of Best Resources/Texas Institute of NLP. That ended in April. I served as program director for the Austin NLP meet-up for a few months and later co-taught an NLP class to women in prison. I attended Metaphors of Money, a workshop with Charles Faulkner, in the fall.

I offered NLP changework sessions this past year, and some of my clients had some wonderful outcomes, reaching major milestones and fulfilling long-time dreams. The sessions played a role in their success, which is pleasing, of course, and my clients already had a lot of resources when I worked with them. It was fun.

I attended two weekend sessions with Byron Katie in which she demonstrated The Work. I use her method of inquiry on myself often and with clients.

I did a lot of reading and personal experimentation with two healing practices, the trauma releasing exercises of David Berceli and shaking medicine taught by Bradford Keeney. Each has tremendous value.

I practiced the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) every day in January as I waited for my house to sell and found it helped keep me calm and centered. I’ve since taught it to others.

Going to massage school

In April, I learned about hands-on healing from giving it, and that steered me toward massage school rather than acupuncture school (although never say never). I began studying at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in late June (the same day my trailer arrived!) and finished my academic work in early December. I’m currently working in the student clinic, gaining the required 50 hours of internship to get my license.

Meanwhile, I’ve worked on about 30 friends and family members and about 25 of my fellow students.

Besides my regular classes, I took a workshop on cranio-sacral therapy. I’ve gotten massages from my teachers as a way of learning, and I’ve been fortunate enough to trade Swedish massage for lomi lomi and reflexology sessions. The learning will always continue.

Once I’m licensed, probably in February, I’ll officially start my practice, although I’ve been doing bodywork/changework sessions for gratis for several months.

Continuing my own healing

I continued to do acupuncture with Patrice Sullivan and did my usual spring and fall cleanses, which I’ve posted about before. This year I finally cleared my liver and gallbladder of stones!

I continued receiving applied kinesiology sessions from Chandler Collins and hands-on bodywork sessions from Bo Boatwright to free up even  more health into my body and life.

I began working with Fran Bell, who gave my walk a makeover. I had been walking as if I was still injured long after my injuries had healed. Sometimes it takes help to change habitual patterns. Now when I walk, my body feels good and has energy.

Also in the past year, I resumed my practice of ecstatic dance, which I fell in love with in 1995. My ecstatic dancing was on hiatus for the past three or so years. My body craved yoga and more silence, stillness, and solitude. It’s good to be back. I feel like I’ve found a good community, Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

In May I had the initial assessment for brainwave optimization, and in June I did 10 sessions with NeuroBeginnings. The benefits continue to show up for months afterward. I feel more centered, myself, and content. I imagine 2012 will bring even more health and healing into my life.

Working 

I started the year jobless, living on my savings. When I realized I had no idea how long it might take to sell my house, I decided to do contract technical writing. The day I posted my resume, I was contacted by a recruiter. I worked at 3M for 3 months.

I’ve done some freelance work writing and editing website copy.

I’m holding a space for a part-time job in 2012 for financial security while I get my practice established.

Spiritual direction

In the spring, I joined my friend Thomas in watching a group of Tibetan monks destroy a sand painting they had constructed painstakingly and then walk in procession to release the sand into Lady Bird Lake. Very moving, a reminder of impermanence.

On the fall equinox, I realized that I felt as if I had finally fully arrived, or one might say, as if I fully occupied myself, as though I became fully present. Gratified. It’s hard to know that is even a goal until you experience it.

I joined a book group in the fall, studying the 4th way Gurdjieffian path as taught by E.J. Gold. I plan to continue with that in 2012.

I also began dating someone this fall after four years of not dating. I don’t know the future, but it totally feels very sweet and lovely to be in a relationship at this time with this man!!

My second Saturn return occurred in December. My astrologer said that for Aquarians like me, rather than age, I “youth”. So far, so good!

So that wraps up 2011, the year of big changes. I don’t do resolutions, but I check in with my intentions, many of which I’ve shared here.

Wishing you all many blessings in 2012.

Feet report, planting a tree

Well, my feet did not take me to Barton Springs after all on Saturday. I woke and remembered it was a day of honoring my feet, of letting them lead. I put my attention into my feet, feeling into them.

While still in bed, I did some exercises that Fran Bell gave me to increase my ankle and hip range of motion. Out of bed, I did the Z-Health foot exercises that Patrice Sullivan gave me to open foot meridians.

After that, my feet felt alive and glowing! They took me to the shower. I love washing my feet, especially between the toes.

You can say to yourself:

Oh, those are my ordinary feet, and they look clean. I feel them resting on the floor.

Or you can think:

Wow, my feet are tingling with life force, energy, chi! I wonder how far the energy would extend if I could see it. Seriously, if this energy produced light, you could read by it!

Well, those feet took me to my yoga mat! I did a leisurely round of sun salutions, paying special attention to my feet in tadasana, lunge, plank, down dog, and so on, feeling the mat and pressure and stretch and strength and position and air currents.

Then my feet walked me over to the zafu and zabuton. I turned on a timer for 30 minutes and sat. I wanted to spread the aliveness of my feet into the rest of my body.

That was a great start to my day.

The rest of Saturday, I checked in periodically with my feet without thinking too much. They wanted me to make monkey tea. They wanted me to do some more unpacking and arranging at the trailer. They led me to set up my hummingbird feeder.

Then we ran errands. We went to Home Depot, and among other items I bought a soaker hose. My landscape architect friend/writing client Merrie told me I need to water the ground under my trailer, where there are big cracks in the bare soil from the drought.

I came home and soaked the parched earth.

Feet, connect us to the earth, pachamama, terra firma.  Connect us to our big blue marble. Keep us grounded in what we do. Let us be of service to you.

In the evening, my feet served me well when I gave my daughter her first massage from me, the first of many, I hope.

I danced for 90 minutes on Sunday morning. My feet felt free, loved, and joyous. After lunch, I stopped at The Natural Gardener. I needed some potting soil and bought some basil, thyme, and peppermint. The garden center was nearly deserted. Most people give up on gardening in August around here. I’m just getting started in a new place.

And then I wandered through the tree section. Thirty percent off a tree is substantial, and they had quite a few $24.99 trees before the discount. Half my trailer is unshaded, and since I can’t plant a tree 10 years ago, now is the next best time.

I thought I was going to get a cedar elm but felt pretty ho-hum about it. After discussing various oaks, I was drawn to an arroyo sweetwood (new to me), and one of The Natural Gardener’s plant-loving helpers showed me a mature one next to the parking lot that had been planted about 7 years ago.

Wow. These trees grow fast, are native to northern Mexico so can take heat and drought, and are fragrant, smelling like cinnamon and vanilla. They are multi-trunked, and have spring flowers, a dense canopy, and autumn foliage. Something wonderful for every season, plus scent. How perfect can a tree be?

So that’s what I bought, for just under $18. The cashier said my tree looked like a happy tree! I was a happy customer.

On my way home, I saw a sign:

I bought a tree to plant on the hottest day of the hottest month of the hottest year on record.

Yes, you can plant trees at the end of August if you are willing to check the dampness of the soil several inches down every couple of days. They’ll tell you how at The Natural Gardener.

Got home, picked a site that will perfectly frame a view of the tree from inside a nearly-floor-to-ceiling window, and watered the ground. Water, let it soak in, dig, repeat.

I finished digging this morning and planted the tree. When I came home this evening, my new little tree was having its branches gently jostled by the warm wind.

Next up: mulch.

So that’s what happened from letting my feet lead. I got so connected to the earth, I bought a tree and planted it! I took care of the ground under my trailer. I gave my daughter a massage. I did yoga and sat.

Grounded.

Thank you, feet.

Ecstatic shaking dance

On Sunday morning, I was driving to Castle Hill and dancing in my car as I drove. On the way, I realized I didn’t want to do yoga — I wanted to dance. So I drove to the Austin Yoga School and danced with Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

It was a homecoming of sorts. I started doing ecstatic dance (Sweat Your Prayers, 5 rhythms, Gabrielle Roth) in 1995. That group evolved into Body Choir, whom I danced with, while continuing with 5 rhythms when available.

A few years ago (four? five?), I started feeling conflicted about going to dance, any kind of so-called ecstatic dance. When I went, my body didn’t want to dance, it wanted yoga! I felt some attachment to people in the community of dancers and kept going for a while, but my attendance tapered off. I felt less and less joy at dance and finally I stopped going. It felt unsafe, it was too crowded, and the community was too political. And my body really wanted yoga.

I entered into a peaceful time of pulling in my energy, a time of healing my body. I did more yoga, committed to a home practice, and later trained as a teacher. I began meditating. I did two rounds of NLP training. I began seeking and finding great healers — starting with Nina Davis doing cranio-sacral therapy and Patrice Sullivan doing acupuncture and myofascial release (plus Patrice’s unique magic!).

I had NUCCA chiropractic, which got my head straight on my spine, which unwound my scoliosis. That was awesome. Then because I was still having pain in my left sacro-iliac joint, I found Dr. Chandler Collins for applied kinesiology and Bo Boatwright, DC, another creative and effective bodyworker, and I began working with Fran Bell this year.

I learned that I had probably had a birth injury to my S2 nerve. Maybe that’s where the scoliosis came from. And the SI joint pain could be related to the IBS-like symptoms I had before I went gluten-free several years ago. It’s complicated.

Anyway, my body is feeling pretty good these days. I still have some aches and pains, but is that not common at age 58? I don’t know! I notice stiffness when I’ve been still for a while and then stand up and move. It takes longer to warm up and move fluidly than it used to. But I get there!

What’s new is that my left and right sides are more balanced than ever, in body and brain and energy field.

While I was away from dance, lots of change happened. Body Choir became Dancing Together, then Body Choir came back. (I’m not sure I have the story straight.) Then Ecstatic Dance of Austin started up, and when Lakshmi Jackman was telling me about it in Whole Foods, I started thinking about returning to dance. I got a “no” a couple of Sundays ago after meditating, but I knew a “yes” was coming.

It felt good to be back in a large dance studio with a sprung floor, plenty of space, and rhythmic music. Also, no puddles of sweat on the floor! It felt safe, and the energy felt really clean.

I had changed so much over the time I was gone, I needed to get acquainted with my dancing body again. I did some shaking (yes, I can shake while standing now and can induce shaking when I want to) and found that my dancing edge was surfing between voluntary and involuntary movements, letting the shaking arise where I needed to shake, and then surrendering to the beat in dance.

Several times I felt energetic rushes of pure ecstasy move from my center out! Chills, thrills, goosebumps, GUS (God Universe Spirit) bumps — totally that howling-at-the-moon feeling of abandoned joy.

It was a real breakthrough for me, a joy, a homecoming.

I’ll return.

Bodywork and TRE update

Yesterday I learned something: there is such a thing as too much bodywork.

I had an early appointment with Chandler Collins, DC, who did applied kinesiology on me. I’d been having some nerve pain down my outer left leg. He made it feel better. That was about 20 minutes.

At 11, I had two hours with Bo Boatwright. We talked and then did some tablework. We did the stretching myofascial release on my hips, and then he spent a good amount of time doing reiki on my left sacroiliac joint. Just quietly holding. I had some shaking in my left arm. Then a lot of neck work.

That is, if I’m remembering right. You’ve heard of “sex haze”? There seems to be such a thing as a bodywork haze, because when I showed up for my appointment with Fran Bell at 1:30, she took a good look at me and could tell I couldn’t integrate much more.

She taught me an exercise using a stability ball, worked on me, woke me up to being more present. We talked, then she got out her pendulum and had me lie on the table. She checked — my chakras were still, not spinning. (Heck, I can’t tell. All I know is how open they are.)

So she did more work with me on the table, and left me there to integrate it. I dipped down into delta waves for I don’t know how long. My chakras were spinning after that, energy reaching at least a couple of feet out.

Advised me to look at tree trunks and go home and take a nap.

It has hardly ever happened that my appointments line up on a single day like that. A few times I’ve seen two healers, but never three.

You really do need time after bodywork to integrate it and get the most out of it. Take a nap or do simple things — gazing at a landscape, walking at a leisurely pace, making a salad, playing with a child, listening to music — not reading, working on a computer, or watching anything intense on TV or movies. 

~~

This morning I did the trauma releasing exercises, which I haven’t done for a few weeks.

Wow. I had an entirely new pattern come up. After shaking of legs, pelvis, arms, shoulders, and neck while lying with knees bent, soles on floor, I straightened my legs. Usually that puts an end to the shaking.

Not today.

My legs wanted to shake while lying straightened on the floor. They even came off the floor for a bit. Then they shook with my heels as pivots. My feet and legs rocked right and left in unison, like windshield wipers. They moved pointing out-in-out-in in unison. They moved forward and back in unison. Sometimes just my knees lifted and lowered repeatedly.

Some of these are Trager-like movements. (I’m barely familiar with Trager but remember that. My astrologer mentioned recently that she was certified in Trager and referred me to someone if I’m ready to experience it.)

When my body stops shaking, I lie still, not knowing if I’m done. Usually, more shaking arises.

I like to give my body the space and invitation to release what needs releasing. When nothing is forthcoming, just being still seems to give the deeper tensions time and permission to release. 

It wasn’t intense shaking when my legs were straight. The most intensity came from my arms and my legs with feet flat on floor. The rest of it was mild to moderate.

~~

I am hoping to start Level I training in TRE later this summer. After completing it, I’ll be able to do sessions with individuals.

Allowing the inner Buddha to walk, working with Fran Bell, emergent knowledge

I’m sharing a beautiful article from Tricycle magazine, Walk Like a Buddha, written by Buddhist monk, teacher, and activist Thich Nhat Hanh about walking meditation.

For many of us, the idea of practice without effort, of the relaxed pleasure of mindfulness, seems very difficult. That is because we don’t walk with our feet. Of course, physically our feet are doing the walking, but because our minds are elsewhere, we are not walking with our full body and our full consciousness. We see our minds and our bodies as two separate things. While our bodies are walking one way, our consciousness is tugging us in a different direction.

For the Buddha, mind and the body are two aspects of the same thing. Walking is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. But we often find it difficult or tedious. We drive a few blocks rather than walk in order to “save time.” When we understand the interconnectedness of our bodies and our minds, the simple act of walking like the Buddha can feel supremely easy and pleasurable.

What this brings up for me is noticing where my attention is. When do I pay attention to my body? My answer has been: not often enough. It’s there all the time, so easy to take for granted. The external world seems so much more engaging because it’s constantly changing.

I walked habitually, without paying much attention (or rather with more attention on my destination than the journey), and as a result, I acquired some mindless movement patterns that actually created stress and tension in my body.

Fran Bell is helping me with that. She shows me there’s an alternative, and it feels so relaxed and healthy! I feel totally in my body. I enjoy it.

But I only see her for an hour a week, and although I retain some of what she shows me, I also become mindless again, some of the time.

The real learning is up to me. Influenced also by the book Effortless Wellbeing, I’ve been paying attention to my body when I lie down, when I sit (at my computer and in the car), when I stand, and when I walk.

Where do I feel tightest, most constrained? Can I just let go of that? Well, yeah!

Here are some of my new awarenesses:

  • Walking as a unit rather than as an assemblage of parts.
  • Feeling the left-right symmetry of my moving body.
  • Feeling the rhythm of walking.
  • Balancing my head easily atop my neck with minimal strain.
  • Balancing my rib cage easily above my hips with minimal strain.
  • Ankles, knees, and hips.
  • Feeling the natural springiness in my walk.
  • Feeling the side-to-side sway of my body.
  • Feeling the relationship between my hip and the opposite shoulder.
  • Letting my arms swing from my dropped shoulders.
  • Keeping my sternum in an easy natural place.
  • Keeping my eyes in a soft gaze.
  • Finding the most ease.

Walking meditation is really to enjoy the walking—walking not in order to arrive, just for walking, to be in the present moment, and to enjoy each step. 

I notice that walking with mindfulness adds presence and pleasure to my life.

He goes on to include some instruction about adding breath awareness to walking medication. Here’s an excerpt I liked:

After you have been practicing for a few days, try adding one more step to your exhalation. For example, if your normal breathing is 2-2, without walking any faster, lengthen your exhalation and practice 2-3 for four or five times. Then go back to 2-2. In normal breathing, we never expel all the air from our lungs. There is always some left. By adding another step to your exhalation, you will push out more of this stale air. Don’t overdo it. Four or five times are enough. More can make you tired. After breathing this way four or five times, let your breath return to normal. Then, five or ten minutes later, you can repeat the process. Remember to add a step to the exhalation, not the inhalation.

A reader’s experience with shaking medicine

I’m feeling very blessed to have recently had two readers of this blog respond to it in depth, either by sending me a personal email with questions or by leaving a lengthy comment on a post and sharing their experience.

Readers, you are welcome to comment on anything you read that so moves you. You may also email me privately with questions. I love the personal connection.

My theory is, if you take the time to ask your questions or share your comments, there are at least 10 people behind you with questions and comments, and I’d like to share them publicly, disguising your name to preserve your privacy unless you explicitly give me permission to use it. This is one of the great strengths of blogging — the community aspect of it. I’m currently getting about 50 views per day and one or two new subscribers a week. This blog is reaching and speaking to people interested in at least some of the things I blog about — people who want to come back. I’m really tickled about it!

Jose Luis shares his experience with shaking medicine, and his experience is worth sharing in a post

Hi Mary Ann,
just a sharing… Shaking Medicine emerged in my life spontaneously during a series of Holotropic Breathwork workshops I attended years ago…and then 12 years ago, I found Brad Keeney’s work: everything fitted… Brad Keeney’s “The Energy Break” is a nice, friendly-user introduction (you can begin inmediately!). Amazing medicine! Finally I could attend two three-days-gatherings: As-toun-ding! It’s a deep mystery, but this I know: It’s heart medicine, for sure…and it keeps “cooking me”…

“Bushman knowing is inspired by feeling love rather than thinking ideas. The more they feed love – loving the loving in a recursively spun positive feedback loop – the more they amplify its presence and impact on their body. It causes them to tremble and shake, an indication to them that they are awake and in the only state worthy of trustworthy knowing. For them, thinking should serve authentically experienced love rather than the latter being an abstraction for intellectual word play. Bushmen seek to make their “ropes” (a metaphor for relationship) strong. They do so by shooting “arrows” of amplified love into one another. You might be tempted to say that they are “cupid scholars” who hunt for “n/om” (the soulful life force). They work to make themselves “soft” through absurd play and open hearted expression so that the arrows and ropes that enhance relational connectivity may pierce and join. Bushman stories emphasize changes that surprise and trip you into being off guard with any convenient category of understanding. In effect, Bushman knowing is all about letting yourself out of any and all typological grids of abstraction so that the Heraclitean movement of spirited love can dance you into ever shifting relations with life.
***
A group of elder women n/om kxaosi were asked what made them so strong in matters of n/om (Keeney 2010). They replied, “we are this way because of the tears we have wept for the ancestors who have passed on.”  The deepest longing human beings experience often comes from the loss of a loved one. Rather than trying to emotionally get over it, these Bushman elders keep the longing alive, feeding it until it breaks their hearts wide open in an awakened way, bringing them inside a more expansive and intimate relation with their ancestors. In this connection tears flow along a channel that keeps their relationships strong and permits a never-ending expression of love and soulful guidance.

Another intense form of longing is familiar to all lovers who fall deeply in love. In this infinite ocean of Eros we find there is more than simple love. There is loving love. When we become lovers of loving, the ropes are inseparable from us and carry our hearts into the highest realms.”

Nice interview with Brad here:
http://www.futureprimitive.org/2008/05/shaking-up-bradford-keeney-phd/

warm regards
Jose Luis

PS (Peter Levine speaks briefly about the connection between trauma and spirituality at the end of his latest book…in fact he is writing a book about the spiritual experience…)

Thank you, Jose Luis. I took the liberty of making bold some things that popped out at me.

I’m adding Brad Keeney’s The Energy Break to my next book order. I love what he has written about love in the Bushman culture. I’m still reading Shaking Medicine and recently got Shaking Out the Spirits.

I would so love to know about these gatherings! Please email me about these.

Love is embodied experience. It does mean opening to our own softness and letting down our defenses, which once protected us but often become habitual. I thank healer and bodyworker Fran Bell for showing me the difference.

The intent of Bushman storytelling seems very Zen-like.

What you shared about Bushman grief expanding the heart came just in time for me to share with a friend who recently lost her mother and is grieving deeply.

Peter Levine’s latest book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, has been highly recommended to me by others as well, and it’s now on my list. His book Waking the Tiger changed my life. One of my friends just got certified in Somatic Experiencing.

Thank you for the link to the interview. Thank you again for sharing.

Getting a Fran Bell makeover of my walk

I came out of my third appointment with Fran Bell today with a new walk. I mean, she gave my way of walking a complete makeover! She gave me a taste of it during my first visit, but it didn’t fully stick.

The new way feels so good, I didn’t want to stop walking. And most of it is going to stick. I can just tell.

Before she did anything, she had me walk as she observed and “got” my pattern into her nervous system.

Then she put on my movement pattern as if it were a dress and walked like me, so I could see myself!

Talk about a revelation! Wow! I could see an intention for grace, good posture, and efficiency of movement in my walk, and I could see that my right side was ahead of the left and that I walked with some stiffness in my body.

Fran, who can discern so much more than I am presently able to, showed me how I led with my feet instead of my whole body working as a unit. She showed me how immobile my shoulders were. My arms didn’t swing nearly as much as hers. She told me where to look to discern these things.

She put me on  the table and we did some work together, and she taught me the homework I’ll be practicing this week. Ankles, hips, breath. Leg lifts every other day. Foam roller as needed.

Then I walked. My knees felt slightly rubbery, like sea legs. My right and left sides were the same. My arms swung freely from my shoulders. My hips swung from side to side. My whole spine moved. Even my head bobbled!

I don’t remember ever having so much swinging, swaying motion while walking from Point A to Point B before! I have a hunch I’ll be doing a lot more walking, because it’s just plain fun now.

What’s interesting is that when I observe a lot of people walking and running, such as on the Lady Bird Lake trail, I readily notice when someone’s body is locked up in some way. Maybe they barely lift their knees, or run on the insides of their soles, or lead with their head or chest. I feel for them.

I just never could see myself.

And now I have, and not only that, I gained a new way of walking that — and this may sound weird — appears to recharge my batteries and give me energy instead of draining energy.

Go figure!

Follow-up with Fran Bell

Had another session with Fran Bell today. She did the functional movement screening, or at least part of it, where she directed me to do some unusual movements, and she notices and measures stuff about my body.

Yep, it was as I thought. I need help. I need to get more stable and flexible to prevent injuries.

For this week, I have some exercises to do with a foam roller, working the knots out of my leg muscles.

She’s very sensitive to emotions and shifts in energy.

Also, she’s going to show me later, when I’m ready, how to do the kettlebell swing without injuring myself.

Working with a healer, Fran Bell

Yesterday I went to see a new kind of healer. Her name is Fran Bell. Remember that name.

I work with practitioners who specialize in one healing modality, and others who combine modalities, and some who’ve learned and integrated multiple modalities and added something else to it. They’ve invented something that nobody else does.

That’s the kind of healer Fran is. Her business card says she is an integrated health coach. Because of course, the body, mind, heart, and spirit/soul are integrated. The name of my blog and her business card nearly match!

So the background for me going to Fran is this (skip ahead if you’ve heard my story before – la di dah): I’ve had a lot of body and alignment issues in my life, including a sacral nerve injured at birth, a major childhood trauma that left me with PTSD, scoliosis from adolescence until a couple of years ago, and a car accident that left me with significant soft tissue damage in my lower back, which centered around my left sacroiliac joint.

And you wondered why I like yoga so much! It’s all about healing and expanding my well-being.

So all this physical and emotional trauma, even with yoga and everything else I do, has left me with movement patterns that stem from trying to hold myself together in ways that are less than optimal.

These ways were the best my jangled nervous system could do right after the injury. They did hold me together when I had to soldier on — go to work to have health insurance, be a single mom. (That’s part of the problem, too, the belief that I had to soldier on and couldn’t really take the time for myself that I needed to heal.)

I’ve had balance issues. Tree pose is hard. I often wake and go through my day with minor aches and pains. I don’t have stamina for being on my feet for more than a couple of hours, and forget running!

So now it’s time to learn functional ways of holding myself together, ways of just using what is needed and letting everything else relax. These old injuries are long healed, and the patterns no longer serve — they constrict.

If I knew how to repattern my body on my own, believe me, I would have done it.

I went to Fran because I had been told by my chiropractor that she was trained in Functional Movement Systems, which Tim Ferriss wrote about in The 4-Hour Body. (Read the chapter called Pre-Hab: Injury-Proofing the Body.) FMS looks at bodies in terms of mobility, stability, and strength. I was sure I needed more stability and was looking forward to Fran giving me some exercises.

Fran starts where she starts. She’s a delightful person who knows that people get into these holding patterns because they’ve experienced injury and they’re trying to protect themselves. She knows how to make a client feel safe.

She’s empathic, intuitive, and has developed her perception of how to correct dysfunctional patterns to a remarkable degree. That is something that has marked the healers I’ve worked with in the last few years: they have developed their perceptions (of injury, imbalance, energy pathways, blockages, holdings, and releases, movement patterns, the nervous system) to such a degree that I can barely understand how they do what they do, except to know that it’s beyond me. It’s deepened my awareness.

Fran watched me walk and said I had a big holding pattern. She took me to a massage table. She had me move this way and that, coordinating movements with my breathing.

I came out of our first session feeling different and better when I walked. Before, I was holding myself together from the sacrum, with stiffness in my lower back and not much range of movement.

After, I was walking from the hip joint, which is the natural place to walk from. My lumbar curve increased and I got to experience a springlike movement there as I walked, a fluid dynamic relationship between the masses of my pelvic bowl and my rib cage.

My breathing was more relaxed.

I also could see more clearly. Fran took me to the window and raised the blind. Everything had more depth and richness.

Wow. Isn’t this what we all want, to be more alive?

A day later, I’ve lost a little of that freedom I felt at the end of yesterday’s session, but I know I won’t revert to how I was before. I can feel my body shifting, adjusting, taking in as much as it can of a new way of being.

After my session with Fran, I actually did remember that after the car wreck, I was aware that my body felt very different, almost alien-feeling. One day when I was walking, I realized I was dragging my left heel. I made an effort to pull myself together, and at least I didn’t drag my heel any more. That’s probably where this pattern stems from.

Fran is certified in Spiritual and Medical Healing by the Jaffe Institute, now called the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism. She’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a Certified Personal Trainer, as well as being trained in Functional Movement Systems. And she’s been a healer since the age of 11.

I’m going to see her weekly for a while. I’m feeling very grateful to have this opportunity right here in Austin, Texas, USA. And I’ll keep posting. You can search my blog for “fran bell” to find posts about my work with her.

If you have body aches and pains that are persistent, I recommend seeing Fran. And here’s a link to some more testimonials.

She’s at Austin Holistic Health. Call her at 538-5993 or email fran.bell @ yahoo.com to schedule or discuss. Her rates are $120 for the first session and $95 after that.