If you want to get better at healing others and/or self, read this blog post

My wonderful craniosacral therapy teacher of the past few years, Ryan Hallford, wrote a blog post entitled Soft Mantras for Hard Lesions. Although specific to biodynamic craniosacral work, in my opinion it applies to so much more – all types of healing work with others and all healing work on self.

ryanSubstitute “stuck places” for lesions and consider his statement that this post is about our mindset when encountering them, and you can understand how applicable this is to all realms of life.

Toward the end of the post, he lists three mantras (internal prayers) that a person intending to heal (self or other) might find helpful to ask.

I’ve read this blog post three times now and decided to write down the questions to carry with me at all times. This is a practice I use when I want to integrate something new into my being. The writing of it helps me commit it to memory as my pen moves across the paper letter by letter, word by word, and carrying the written paper with me signals my commitment to integrate it.  Continue reading

“The 5 rhythms are a contemporary shamanic Zen practice” ~ Gabrielle Roth

Okay, so science has recently showed us that dancers have genes for transcendence and social connection. (And if you don’t dance, maybe you have these genes too and don’t know it yet. And consider this: if stress turns on the bad genes, maybe the opposite of stress — joy? contentment? — turns on the good genes! Just sayin’….)

In this interview, Gabrielle Roth explains the connection between ecstatic dance, Zen, and shamanic practices.

The 5Rhythms are a contemporary Zen, Shamanic practice. Zen, in that they are a map to an inner journey for seekers of wisdom and freedom, the wisdom to know who we are and the freedom to get over ourselves. Shamanic, in that they address the Great Divide, the divorce of spirit from flesh that has created the loss of soul, which haunts us. We’ve rendered the soul homeless, it can’t breathe, exist, or move disconnected from the body. The body is the womb of the soul, a begging bowl for spirit, like Aretha when she sings….

The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body. All the profound spiritual teachings in this world don’t mean anything if they’re not embodied. Feeling totally high and connected to the divine mystery while sitting on a meditation pillow is fine, but how do we put the rubber to the road? As Charlie Parker said, If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn. So I take refuge in the 5Rhythms practice to keep my horn in tune.

There are videos of Gabrielle as well on the site. Check ’em out!

Massage: Paying someone to meditate you?

Maybe that’s what massage is to a lot of people, those who don’t have chronic pain or migraines — it’s enforced meditation for those of us too distracted to meditate. You’re paying someone to meditate you. It’s not anything they’re doing, necessarily. It’s that they open a little window. They give you an excuse to lie there in silence and pay a deeper attention to the fact that you exist. The true value of shamanism may be a concealed one, that it holds us in place and says this.

via My Multiday Massage-a-Thon – NYTimes.com.

I admit it. I give massage, and I love helping people move into a state of deep, quiet relaxation. It affects me. Even though I’m being active, I participate.

Massage is something I’m doing (working your circulatory and lymphatic systems, shifting your nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic, calming your brain waves, working knots out of your muscles, loosening you out of your ordinary tension and patterns, touching your flesh with care), and you’re doing. Your part of the experience is you deciding to take time out of your busy life to be present and receive nurturing.

Here’s my experience: I meditate, and I receive massage. When I meditate, I relax my body, breath, and mind, but on my own, I cannot relax as deeply as I can with massage. At least so far I have not been able to do that. I can’t say it’s impossible.

Meditation is a different experience, one I think of as “presence practice”. Relaxation helps but is not an end in itself (usually, unless I’ve been especially agitated). There’s a discipline to meditation: witnessing the mind, inquiring into the nature of reality and identity. I’ve also experienced joy and bliss.

Massage jumpstarts physical and mental relaxation. There’s something about the touch of nurturing hands and surrendering to another person. In my massage training, I learned that there are specific places on the body that when massaged, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the non-“fight-or-flight” nervous system, the one for rest and relaxation. I use that knowledge in massage to help people get out of their heads and into their wholeness more quickly.

The deepest prolonged relaxation states I have experienced so far were through bodywork. I experienced being relaxed so deeply that I skimmed just this side of being asleep for half an hour or more.

One was during a cranio-sacral therapy session that involved the locus ceruleus, a blue spot in the back of the brain.

The other was receiving esoteric acupuncture. Afterwards, I was told that if I had not already been a meditator, I would not have experienced such a deep state.

Both experiences, receiving massage and meditating, have to do with surrender and relaxation and presence. As I understand it, each creates neural pathways that make it easier.

Doing both likely hastens and deepens well-being. `