Relieving forward head posture: full body myofascial release (aka Deep Massage)

This is the fourth post in a series about Cate and me partnering in bodywork to relieve her forward head posture. Click here to read the first post, here for the second, here for the third, and here for a special post about the Still Point Inducer.

by Cate Radebaugh

Since I was in Austin for several days early this week, I opted to go to MaryAnn’s on Wednesday instead of Friday. She told me that it was time for a full body myofascial massage and gave me the familiar intake paper with four sketches of a human body — front, back, and both sides — and instructions to circle where I feel discomfort, pain, tension, etc.

It’s always the same for me: neck and shoulders, lower back, and feet — so that’s where I made my circles.

Then MaryAnn went out while I undressed, got on the table, and under the sheets. I’ve had massages before, so I knew about putting my face in the little face holder, but she also had a special pillow with holes in it that I could put my breasts in, and that was wonderful, because typically, they get smooshed between me and the table, which is not so great. With my breasts in a safe space, I felt completely comfortable for the first time ever laying prone on a massage table.

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Pay what you wish: how it works

I’ve been offering pay-what-you-wish massage and bodywork off and on since 2011 for modalities I was getting certified in. This summer of 2014, I offered pay-what-you-wish for all my services at The Well during July and August.

It worked out well. I have had more people coming in to be worked on, new people (often via word of mouth) are coming in, and I am making ends meet, thanks to the generosity of my clients. It’s satisfying.

I am going to continue to offer it indefinitely. I like this way of working. It’s part of the gift economy. (If you’d like to learn more about it, read Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, visit the website http://sacred-economics.com/, or watch the video below.)

The way I see it, bodywork and healing are what I do, and I’d like to stay busy doing it. I encourage you, if you’d like to receive regular or even occasional bodywork that you can afford to move your life to a higher level of well-being, to connect with me so we can talk about how we can work together, or just make an appointment.

Sometimes people are uncomfortable with this unorthodox concept of pay-what-you-wish, so here’s some thinking behind it, and I hope it will help you feel more comfortable deciding how much to pay for my services.

First of all, by offering pay-what-you-wish massage, it is not my intent to offer “cheap massage”. I work hard to improve my skills. I seek a lot of training, taking classes and workshops, reading, watching videos, and practicing with/on other massage therapists — way, way beyond what Texas law requires to maintain a license. Who knows? At some point in the future, I may be only offering some elite modality and charging top dollar. I’m not there now. I’m having a good time practicing and improving my skills.

Secondly, I want my practice to be full and thriving. If I hold out for top dollar, I will not be working as much. Since I learn so much from doing, making massage affordable gets people on my table more often, and the more I work, the better I get.

Thirdly, making a lot of money is not my top priority. I like money for what it can do for me, and my expenses and obligations are modest. I’m sharing this here because some readers may not be aware that there are real, regular people whose lives and decisions are not driven by the need to make as much money as possible by working at a job that is stressful. I too have had a mortgage, a child at home, a lot of debt, and stressful jobs. Not any more. My work now is driven by my desire to be of service and to take excellent care of myself while doing so.

Fourthly, in the so-called olden days, healers of all kinds – herbalists, hands-on healers, shamans – received support from their communities in many forms in exchange for their services. Entire villages could exist without money being exchanged because people traded and bartered for goods and services, and everyone did what they could to help the whole village thrive. If someone was poor and needed healing, the healers didn’t turn them away. If they could only pay with food or labor or kind deeds that benefited others in the community, that was acceptable.

Importantly, there would always be an exchange (because everyone has something to offer, and it’s crucial to recognize that), and if times were hard for the community, times were hard for the healers too.

Now we live in bigger communities in a society that uses money for most of its trade, but the good life is still about being connected and reciprocity.

Fifthly, if it’s not sustainable, it ends. I’ll change the way I do business or find another livelihood. This is what I wish to offer now, and so far I feel great about every single one of my pay-what-you-wish sessions and what I was offered in payment.

Here are some guidelines about how much to pay:

  • If you can afford full price, I gratefully accept. My full-price rate is $75 for an hour. For ninety minutes, full price is $105. (With the customary 20% gratuities, those amounts rise to $90 and $129 if you can afford it. Another great thing about pay-what-you-wish is that tipping is not accepted. Oh, I guess you could give me a tip about a good movie or restaurant, if you wish!)
  • If you are totally flush with money, and you totally loved your session, you can pay  more if you like!
  • If these are beyond your means at this time, here’s something to consider. As of late August 2014, two major “discount” massage chains in Austin offer a 50-60 minute massage for $44-60. Adding the gratuity expected at these establishments puts these massages in the range of $54-70. Scale up or down for 90 or 30 minute sessions. If these prices are what you can afford, please consider booking an appointment with me.
  • Here’s how I differ from a chain: I’m interested in getting to know your body, your tension patterns, your habitual postures, your tender points, so I can deliver relief and healing, so I take good notes and refer to them before your next visit. I want to work with you to reduce your overall stress and pain levels over time. I can advise you on how to prevent/relieve tension from working at a desk job. I can offer to teach you stretches, exercises, and self-care techniques you can do to enhance your quality of life. I can refer you to other good alternative health care practitioners and trainers. I give you the full time you pay for, if you are not running late. I offer better music, nature sounds, or silence if you prefer. I offer a variety of essential oil aromatherapy choices if you want it. I keep arnica on hand for your bruises and muscle pain. I’m more personal, less corporate.
  • If this is still beyond your means and you need bodywork, talk to me. I know incomes can fluctuate. Maybe you’re pursuing work you love, but the income isn’t there yet. Maybe you’re just not driven to earn a lot. Maybe you’ve had some misfortune. Maybe you feel stuck in a low-paying job. Maybe you’ve had some unexpectedly high expenses. You may even be stressed out about your situation, imagine that. I want to help you out, get you back on your feet, relieve your stress, change your energy for the better. Just ask what’s acceptable.
  • I am willing to trade or barter for services I need. Electrical work? Sign painting? Car detailing? Housekeeping? Gardening? Hauling? Delicious meals? Ask.
  • Also, if you would like to offer me a delightful non-monetary token of your esteem (some green or herbal tea, flowers or plants, a nice bottle of red wine, art, music, poetry, books, tickets, pickings from your garden, bone broth or other Paleo/WAPF diet food), please, just go right ahead and enchant me!

This blogger’s life…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a catch-up post about what is going on in this blogging woman’s life. Rather than blogging about some topic, I thought I’d share a slice of my life. Meet the blogger, if you haven’t already.

Massage school, test, license. You probably know that in my pursuit of health and happiness, I enrolled in massage school last summer. Well, I finished my internship on February 10 and completed the paperwork and fee-paying the following week to get my transcript. Then I holed up with books to study for the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

I took the test on Feb. 25. It was very hard. I got to a place where I knew I’d done the best I could. There were maybe a dozen questions out of 160 that I was clueless on and quite a few more that required my best guesstimate.

I turned it in after 2 hours and 10 minutes (20 minutes short of the maximum time), and 5 minutes later learned I’d passed.

Whew and yay! I’ve been a good test-taker in the past, and it had been many years since I took a test of that sort, the GRE for grad school. It’s good to know I still got that mojo, and I sure don’t want to do that again. Immediately after getting the results, my mind began to let go of all that information. Damn, my brain was full! It’s still there in my unconscious mind, accessible when I need it.

I’ve applied for a Texas state license, and it will take a few weeks to get it. Then I become Mary Ann Reynolds, LMT. (If I wish, I can add NCTMB to that.)

I’m continuing to practice massage in my Spartan trailer. Have now done 168. It’s said that it takes 200 massages to really get your hands minimally educated in the art of massage. I’m counting toward that milestone, and then I won’t be keeping track any more.

Going back to work. Meanwhile, my savings are running very low. I’m going to do some contract technical writing for a few months to replenish my coffers and bankroll starting a full-time private bodywork/changework practice. I’ve been looking for a short-term contract job since January and am currently being considered for eight such jobs in the Austin area. It’s been slow hearing back, but finally, I’m online to start a short-term editing contract, possibly followed by a technical writing contract. Thank you, Universe.

I’ve really enjoyed this time of not having to go to work! Of learning and practicing massage being my work. I’m looking forward to the time when that’s all I do. When I asked myself the question of what kind of work would I love to do even if I didn’t get paid, healing touch came to mind. Of course, I will get paid for it, which makes it even juicier!

So even though I am going to back to technical writing for a few months, it’s temporary.

And while I am working as a technical writer, I’ll still be doing a few massages each week during evenings and weekends to keep in practice and segue into my right livelihood.

Getting sick. So… the stress of studying for and taking the test, being broke, and the slow job search took a toll. Add to that some emotional difficulties, and I got sick last week. It’s been up and down — not really ill, but not feeling like my usual buoyant, energetic, resilient self consistently. It’s been part emotional, part energetic, part physical, like a mild stomach virus coupled with a sea change in my life. Times of not being able to get warm enough, of belly aches and no appetite (I’ve lost a few pounds), of needing extra rest, taking naps, going to bed early — mixed with life as usual, running errands, spending the day with my daughter when she had surgery, going to dance.

This past Monday, I went to South Austin Community Acupuncture — my first time there — after a week of illness, to receive sliding scale treatment on short notice. (My regular acupuncturist whom I see every couple of months, Patrice, is rarely able to get me in quickly. They take walk-ins at SACA.)

It was awesome! After the intake and interview, I was led to a room with 9 sheet-covered recliners, dim lighting, and very low soothing music playing. The acupuncturist read my pulses and looked at my tongue. I rolled my pants up to my knees and pulled my shirt up a little. He put some needles in my legs and feet, also at my waistline and key points on my head. Then I just laid back and let the needles do their work.

After about 45 minutes, I felt great. My energy felt healthy and balanced again. The acupuncturist took the needles out, and I felt better than I had in days. That lasted for several days.

Emotional distress. It’s painful but here’s my best shot at being quick, accurate, and kind about my experience: I dated someone for a couple of months. I really, really liked him, and he did some things that shocked me. We broke up (he really scared me), and we tried to be friends (he scared me again).

I put our friendship on hold because I need friends whom I trust, who treat me well, who disclose what needs to be disclosed in a gentle, kind, and trustworthy manner.

I desire to move toward loving relationships with healthy, grown-up men and women. I desire to feel valued and emotionally/physically safe with those who surround me.

I have compassion for what I know of that he’s been through and respect his path toward a healthy life. I know it’s tough. I appreciate how much he did open to up me and all the great qualities he has. I’m grateful for the times we shared that were good. I hope I made a positive difference in his life. I wish him well.

Yesterday I saw a therapist/shaman/friend who worked with me on undoing these emotional disturbances. We did left eye/right eye/cross-hemisphere work using visualizations. We also did some classic NLP. It was  fun, amazing, and effective. We untriggered these disturbing memories. I also decided to learn to stop pointing and use my whole hand as an indicator instead.

This morning I was struggling to awaken, feeling really exhausted. I felt the presence of an angel loving me energetically. A visitation! It was so awesome and so welcome after the difficult emotions of dealing with this. Thank you, angel. Please come back!

Changes to blog. I’m interested in monetizing my work, having started and maintained this blog as a labor of love for free for over two years now and spent many, many, many hours on writing posts.

I’ve decided to join the Internet economy. I added a Donation button after seeing one on some other WP blogs. Why not? If something I share is worth something to you and you’d like to show that monetarily, it’s one way of reciprocating.

I also love your likes and comments and subscriptions!

Massage school classwork over; internship starting

This morning I finished my classwork (except for a couple of makeup classes) at The Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage.

I’ve been in the fastest-paced program available, called “the intensive”. My class started on June 27, 2011, and has now completed 450 hours of training. My 50-hour internship in the school’s student clinic starts on Thursday.

If you are in Austin and would like a $35 student massage from me, click this link to view my December internship schedule. You can also just call the clinic at 512-453-2830 and ask when I’m working and not booked. (Please note that these massages are in demand, and the clinic tends to book several weeks in advance. I’m doing 20 massages in December, 28 in January, and 2 in February, if all goes according to plan, so call soon.)

I want to thank those family members and friends who have let me practice on you during my training. I appreciate your patience and willingness (okay, I didn’t have to twist any arms), and I hope my practice benefitted you and enhanced your well-being. Actually, I hope you loved my touch. I’ve worked on about 25 of you outside of school, generally for longer than an hour, and several of you more than once. Thank you.

I’d also love to thank my classmates. Our class held together pretty well, with not too many drop-outs. We started with 28 and ended with approximately 22. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and working on and with you and receiving your work. I’ve worked on most of you multiple times. Thank you! I’d like to stay in touch.

I’ve greatly enjoyed my teachers at TLC, the apropos nickname for The Lauterstein-Conway school. Your personalities are so vivid, I’ve thought that someone should write a sit-com pilot set at a massage school and pitch it to Hollywood — and much hilarity ensues! Thank you for choosing to practice and teach massage, and for teaching me so much.

I’ve learned a lot about anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology — and I’ve really just begun a lifelong love. I’ve learned the basics of Swedish and sports and deep massage and Shiatsu, BMTs, ROMs, stretches, pressure points, and more. All have made their way into my work. In addition, I learned about business, ethics, energy work, clinical protocols, and so much more it’s hard to even remember at this moment.

I also want to acknowledge Awareness, in which you, I, and all of Creation exists, and recognize its internal guidance to this right-for-me livelihood and so many other things that are right in my life.

I want to especially acknowledge two people who work on me, Bo Boatright and Patrice Sullivan, as being instrumental in encouraging me to do healing work.

Bo asked me to work on him when he was injured. I only had reiki training at the time and had hardly used it, and that was all I could do, but I stayed with him and let the energy pour through. He recognized the quality of my touch and my heart connection, and I am finding that others recognize that sometimes too. Thank you for dancing with me, Bo.

Patrice has been the best role model ever for a learned, very skilled healer and teacher and a happy free spirit who does life her own unique way, and it seems to be working out extremely well for her. We’ve come such a long way together over the past few years in terms of health, relating, and getting my qi flowing well. Thank you for dancing with me, Patrice!

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m dreaming or awake. Is living the dream the same as being truly awake? Today I’m going for dreaming and awake.

Read these books!

I read a lot.

Let me clarify that. I don’t read as much as a few other people read, or as much as I read in the past, but I am a reader. I’ve been an avid reader from a young age, at times indiscriminate but now much more discerning.

It’s that Buddhist saying: “Don’t waste time.” If a book doesn’t hook me early on, I set it aside and try later. It doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means it’s not relevant enough to what I need to learn in that moment to make the effort feel alive. Energy flows where attention goes. If there’s no energy there, why bother?

The following is a list of books I read in 2010,  plan to read in 2011 (plan, not commit), read before 2010 (and mentioned on this blog) that have shaped my world, and reference books that I dip into but will probably not read cover to cover. Links are included to the books’ pages on Amazon.com; if you buy a book from clicking a link here, I’ll get a very small financial reward — which I appreciate, because blogging takes time.

I’ve mentioned a few of the 2010 books prominently, namely, The Open-Focus Brain, A Symphony in the Brain, Buddha’s Brain, The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process, and What Really Matters. You can do a search for those posts and read what I wrote if you want.

Books read in 2010

Buddha, by Karen Armstrong

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson

The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, by T.K.V. Desikachar

Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings, by A.G. Mohan with Ganesh Mohan

The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body, by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins

Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times, by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times, by David Bercelli

Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath

A Symphony in the Brain, by Jim Robbins

The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted J. Kaptchuk

What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, by Tony Schwartz

Yoga Sutras, translated by Kofi Busia (PDF file)

2011 Reading List

The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy Ferriss

Access Your Brain’s Joy Center: The Free Soul Method, by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain

Beliefs: Pathways to Health & Well-Being, by Robert Dilts, Tim Hallbom, and Suzi Smith

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell

Chants of a Lifetime: Searching for a Heart of Gold, by Krishna Das

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga: The Authoritative Presentation Based on 30 Years of Direct Study Under the Legendary Yoga Teacher Krishnamacharya, by Srivatsa Ramaswami

Effortless Wellbeing: The Missing Ingredients for Authentic Wellness, by Evan Finer

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell

Nourishing Destiny: The Inner Tradition of Chinese Medicine, by Lonny S. Jarrett

Transforming #1, by Ron Smothermon, M.D.

Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion, by Diane Eshin Rizzo

Yoga Body: Origins of Modern Posture Yoga, by Mark Singleton

Influential books from my past

The complete works of Carlos Castaneda, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Emptiness Dancing, by Adyashanti

The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul, by Sandra Maitri

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences, by Peter A. Levine

The Healing Triad: Your Liver…Your Lifeline, by Jack Tips

Reference books

Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar

Poems New and Collected, by Wislawa Szymborska

The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, by Cyndi Dale

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar