I’m moving my private practice!

Update: I’ll be seeing people in the new space starting August 16.

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I’m leaving 827 W. 12th Street, where I’ve done my private massage and bodywork practice since October 2012, except for outcalls and occasional work at my trailer.

I’m moving my office to 5524 Bee Cave Road, Suite G1, in Westlake Hills. I’ve been offered an opportunity to relocate to a suite to be shared with two craniosacral therapists whose skills and integrity I greatly admire, Nina Davis and Christian Current.

Workwise, I find myself more drawn toward craniosacral therapy. I start the classical Upledger training in August. I’ve already completed Ryan Hallford’s trainings in classical craniosacral therapy, and the Upledger training will be an expansion on that. I plan to complete Ryan Hallford’s biodynamic training this fall, and I plan to study biodynamic CST with Michael Shea when he returns to Austin next year. Beyond that, there’s more, but my path hasn’t become clear yet. Continue reading

He said, “Why aren’t you a craniosacral therapist?”

Years before I went to massage school, I received monthly craniosacral therapy sessions from Nina Davis for 2-3 years. I didn’t know what craniosacral therapy was, exactly, but I figured that between trauma, head injuries, sacrum injuries, and scoliosis in my spine, that any kind of bodywork that focused on the cranium, sacrum, and points in between was going to be good for me. I asked who was good. Nina was recommended.

And it was good for me! Continue reading

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.

Massage, brainwaves, NLP, work, yoga, women in prison, Gurdjieffian book group, trailer, and more

Life is going pretty well. Knock wood, right?

I’m doing well in massage school. Got in some great practice on three people outside of school this past Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s practical exam. I have a major written test next week and then a week off. It’s hard to believe that I’m about halfway through!

Tomorrow it will be three months since I finished brainwave optimization. I am glad I did it. I feel more centered, my memory is better, and so is my focus. It’s been worth the expense, and I can still go back for individual sessions if I feel the need. It’s been helpful with juggling school/trailer/moving/remodeling/working and so on.

I’m looking forward to doing some gamma wave enhancement when my trainer Gigi Turner at NeuroBeginnings is ready and I have time.

Also, I can have a drink now! You are warned not to drink alcohol during the training and for three months afterward. Kinda makes me wonder what alcohol actually does to the brain. Any drinking I do will be very light — my alcohol tolerance is low.

I did an NLP session with a friend today and picked up a freelance writing/editing job for her website! This is my second recent website writing job. I love doing this for people who have created and are running their small businesses that make the world a better, healthier place, people who are living their passions. I’m looking for more work like that.

I posted my technical writing resume on Monster.com a couple of weeks ago. I’m looking to work 20 hours a week at most, flex-time and telecommuting preferred. Meanwhile, I’m open to doing freelance writing and editing, as well as more yoga and NLP coaching.

I’d love to teach yoga out of my trailer to individuals or small groups (up to 4 max). I’m putting this out there so if you know anyone in South Austin who’d like a small class with more personal attention, you can refer them to me.

I’m considering teaching a donation-only class on Saturday mornings until the weather gets cold. I plan to check out Searight Park in my neighborhood as a possible location. I have Sun Salutations on my mind!

I’ve been attending a weekly class in Anusara yoga at Castle Hill taught by Brigitte Edery or Liz Belile, both great teachers who stimulate and challenge the mind and body. It’s a natural segue from my Iyengar-based training. Love the attention to awareness.

Next week I’m going with Keith Fail into the state prison in Lockhart to teach some basic NLP to women in prison, as part of Truth Be Told‘s Exploring Creativity program. We’ll teach triple description — first, second, and third position, like first, second, and third person in English class, only applying it to your real life. Perceptual flexibility is a fabulous skill to teach, and I’m looking forward to it.

I’m participating in a book group, reading Life in the Labyrinth, by E.J. Gold. This is my first foray into the Gurdjieffian lineage, not counting my longtime interest in the Enneagram. The group has been meeting for a while, and I’m honored to have been invited. We take turns reading aloud, covering a chapter a week, and enjoying some stimulating discussion.

I’ve signed up for a one-day workshop at Lauterstein-Conway later this month on cranio-sacral massage. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I received CST every month for 2-3 years from Nina Davis. It is a fascinating branch on the massage family tree.

Week after next, I’m trading two hours of Swedish massage, with all the extras, for a two-hour lomi lomi (Hawaiian style) massage with James Moore. Really looking forward to that! I haven’t had a lomi lomi massage yet but have read about the Hawaiian healers who have kept this art alive.

Last, the trailer. I’m working on finding the best weatherstripping for the aluminum jalousie windows — something that will last that I can buy in bulk for the 48 windows, which have had the old, melted weatherstripping painstakingly removed.

Then, I hope to replace the nonworking sliding glass doors at the entry with something that works and build an entry deck. I’ve been using the back door to come and go.

Oh, and I must share this! August 2011 was the hottest month in the hottest year on record in Austin. It was also my first full month of having AC in the trailer. Friends have been telling me about their outrageous electric bills — as much as $400.

My AC ran nearly all day every day in August. I worried about my bill being outrageous.

The August bill was $100. Whew! Jon Esquivel at Austin Star Services did a good job getting a good unit in this trailer. For that I am grateful.

Other tasks coming up include plumbing and wiring my shed for a washer and dryer, getting some good window coverings and installing them, and planting more trees and a fall garden with some edible landscaping.

I am really, really loving my life now and the direction it’s going. It’s scary to make a big change in direction like I did, and it is working out well. Knock wood!

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.

Craniosacral therapy, brain waves

Confession: I am a brain geek. I’ve been lucky enough in this lifetime to have worked for 3 years with Nina Davis, craniosacral therapist extraordinaire, and I can’t thank her enough for sharing her work with me.

CST is usually subtle. The one time it wasn’t subtle was when she worked on my locus ceruleus, a “blue spot” in the brain stem that is affected by trauma. When it opened up or unfroze or however it changed, I experienced profound, deep relaxation with no internal images or dialog. Just deep black restful awareness. It was like bliss.

I recommend CST for all trauma survivors. Trauma rewires the brain in a dysfunctional way, and your full recovery depends on you (with whatever help you can get) rewiring it back to a healthy state.

(Besides this, Nina has shown me how acutely a person can develop her sensory acuity, to the point where she’s aware of tiny structures and processes inside her own brain and body and in mine as well, using her fingertips and awareness. She’s just brilliant, like a Bene Gesserit from Dune. I have some perception of my energy body and can feel shifts, but she’s got the detailed inner anatomy down.)

I’ve read articles about scientific studies of long-time meditators that concluded that  meditation affects your brain waves in a positive way. I  believe it, based on 6 months of daily meditation. I experience my energy field differently, although my physical body is feeling pretty good too these days. It’s as if my brain waves are oscillating in more synchrony than before, which is pleasant and self-reinforcing.

I am very curious about brain waves. They are bioelectricity, and there are machines that give you visual feedback of your brain activity. Here’s what I know (from reading A Symphony in the Brain and Wikipedia):

  • Brain waves correspond to mental states, and we usually experience a mixture of states.
  • Delta waves predominate when you’re asleep. They’re at the lowest hertz, 0-4.
  • Next higher, theta waves occur in the hypnogogic state, when you’re falling asleep or waking and your mind feels pleasantly fuzzy and untethered to waking life. When you visualize something, and when you inhibit/repress, you’re in the theta wave range, 4-7 hertz. Associated with relaxed, meditative, creative states. Healing of trauma occurs in this state, where you unrepress traumatic memories by reimagining the trauma as a witness, not a participant, which makes it safe(r).
  • Alpha waves, 8-12 hertz, were discovered first, thus alpha. You can access the alpha state by imagining space inside your body, such as the space between your eyes, or bringing your attention to how your body. Occurs with relaxation. More accessible with your eyes closed; opening your eyes often brings you out of it.
  • Beta state, 13-30 hertz, is often referred to as normal waking consciousness. They’re active when you are mentally aroused, or having a conversation, or feeling anxious. Ask someone to solve a math problem, and they’ll be experiencing beta waves (so will you, probably). Interestingly, people with ADHD have too much theta in proportion to the amount of beta waves that they have. Retraining consists of lowering theta and raising beta from 9:1 to 3:1. Body movement usually takes you out of beta.
  • The new kid on the brain wave block, gamma waves (25-100 hertz) weren’t measured until people began using digital rather than analog EEG equipment to read brain waves. Studies of Tibetan monks with over 10,000 hours of meditation experience conclude that gamma waves correlate to transcendental meditative states. Also occurs during synesthesia (feeling a color, seeing a sound, etc.). Gamma may signify “binding” of neurons into a network. (Hmm, I’ve heard  that neurons that fire together, wire together. Could gamma be where they wire together? If so, it’s prime territory for learning.)

I would love to have a portable EEG machine and electrodes like Ken Wilber uses in the YouTube video where he shuts down his brain waves. It would be fun to play with and learn from. One researcher claims that each hertz is associated with specific mental activity. That would be fun to experiment with!

I wonder what we would see if both Nina and I were hooked up to EEG machines when we were doing craniosacral therapy. What happens when I’m doing yoga, meditating, drawing, petting my cat — what states occur?

I’ve also learned that you can get a “brain tune-up”. A company called Brain States Technology (with three affiliates in Austin at present) uses a new strategy for working with EEG readouts and improving brain functioning. Rather than using a medical model (specifically retraining the brain not to have epileptic seizures or ADHD), they simply show you how to optimize your brain waves, right to left and front to back. So, for instance, you might have less delta and theta when awake, and more beta in the left hemisphere and more alpha in the right.

I’m gathering information and considering doing it.

I’m interested in increasing my gamma waves, which may signify a mental state called “unity of consciousness.” The jury is still out on this (and scientific juries take a notoriously long time to agree on things).

In the meantime, the man who brought us the Delta Sleep System CD has now created one to optimize gamma waves, Gamma Meditation System. I’m ordering it.