What clients say about integrative massage

One recipient of an integrative massage (which combines Swedish massage, Lauterstein deep massage, acupressure points, foot reflexology, body mobilization techniques, muscle testing, stretching, trigger point therapy, and craniosacral work, as needed and desired) wrote afterwards:

Just a note to say I really enjoyed our conversation and my massage. The massage you gave me has allowed me to sleep soundly two nights in a row. My stress level also feels much lower than usual. Thank you for enhancing my life with your friendship and magical/healing massages! Sending happiness & blessings & love your way.

Here’s a testimonial for an integrative massage I gave to a dear friend suffering from insomnia.

I sit here at my computer after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks. I am so deeply grateful for your loving energy yesterday. Your integrity, touch, and presence were exactly what I needed to break open the clogged dam of emotions that’s been keeping me from sleep.

All throughout the massage, I could feel and take in your love and healing energy which is abundantly transferred through your hands. When you said ‘How you feel matters,’ my soul got the message that you cared enough to hear, see, and touch me.

When you did the cranial-sacral hold, I felt like I was being cradled by my mother.

You had asked the question, “What happened three weeks ago?” … My insomnia has been “waking me up” to the fact of unfinished business….

Your work allowed me to dive through the opening and swim the turbulent waters on top of a still well. I’m not quite at the still well yet, but I have faith that I’ll get there.

Another client wrote to say:

MaryAnn has a special gift to connect with you and gently nurture your entire being. She is unique in that she offers unconditional love so freely. I highly recommend her massage therapy. ❤

For more about The Well Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Austin, see my home page.

Body self-care tools: the spine aligner and a workbook on trigger points

Aside

My two best self-care friends right now in my career as a bodyworker are a tool and a book that anyone can use. One of them provides daily relief from tight, achy back muscles caused by bending over slightly to massage clients. (I do Swedish and integrative massage, along with Ashiatsu and the biodynamic craniosacral therapy practice sessions I’m doing.)

Ma Roller (aka the spine aligner)

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, and it bears mentioning again: daily use of a spine aligner keeps my back in shape. (Along with yoga, of course — even just a couple of sun salutations a day). I use it in bed, placing the center knobs between two vertebrae, somewhere between my shoulder blades, and lying back on it. When the muscles between those two vertebrae feel stretched and released, I move it down my spine one vertebrae at a time, all the way down to my sacrum.

spine aligner

My back feels so much better when I do this in the morning than when I don’t that I’m motivated to do it nearly every day, especially on days when I’ve got a lot of work.

I hesitate to lend my spine aligner out because once people try it, they want to keep it for themselves!

Plus, it tickles me that the first tool of this type is called the “Ma Roller”. That somehow gives it a worshipful quality to my mind. Ma Roller truly is a divine tool for keeping backs feeling good and flexible. (There are simpler versions without the foot ridges and single end knobs that mine has. You can Google and order the one you prefer online. )

Trigger point therapy

The other bosom buddy, a new one, is a book, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, by Clair Davies with Amber Davies, second edition.

Studying trigger points was not part of my massage school curriculum. (I understand they’re adding it now.) I really didn’t know much about trigger point massage. It’s one of the two techniques (the other being myofascial release) that are considered “deep tissue massage” — commonly considered the kind of massage that “hurts so good” or “hurts now, feels good after the bruises go away”.

After I started giving several massages a day, several days a week, I did know pain: muscle pain, painful tendons, achiness, burning, tightness, a thick hard ropy quality to muscles like I find on clients. And sometimes self-massaging those muscles felt good but didn’t last. The sore places became chronic.

I was traveling with a friend who’s a massage therapist and educator who explained trigger points to me and helped me find one in my neck so I could experience referral: press into a tender Point A and hold it, and pain arises in Point B, often surprisingly distant. (Although some trigger points are just painful at Point A.)

Eventually I got the workbook and started checking my muscles for trigger points. Then a colleague offered to give me a session so I could learn how she does it (and get some relief), and then she had me work on her trigger points. I actually bruised her butt, which she was okay with because she felt so much better.

If you didn’t know, a trigger point is a small knot in the muscle fibers that might even be microscopic. Sometimes a massage therapist — or you — can feel the knot. Experienced practitioners say when no knot is palpable, they can feel a change in muscle density.

The other way of finding them is to systematically press deeply into the muscle, sliding your fingers slowly along the skin, until you — or the client — identifies a tender spot. Then press into it while breathing deeply three times (sometimes the knot releases before then), and then rub the area to increase circulation and carry off toxins.

Now I add trigger point work on request to the Swedish and integrative massages I do. I don’t do sessions that are entirely deep tissue so far. Applying that much pressure is strenuous on my body, and my clients so far don’t want a whole hour of trigger point work.

I’ve ordered a small spiral book of images of muscles, trigger points, and referred pain areas that I can easily use at work in lieu of posters, since I work in multiple locations. It’s The Trail Guide to the Body — Trigger Points.

But back to me! I found dozens of trigger points in my sternocleidomastoid (the long muscle that pops out on the side of your neck when you turn your head) and scalenes (three shorter, entwined muscles on the side of the neck that attach to several cervical vertebrae, like guitar strings). The scalenes flex the neck to the same side.

Trigger points on these muscles produced referred pain at areas on my head, arms, hands, and between my shoulder blades. Finding and releasing these trigger points has made a world of difference. My body feels lighter, looser, freer, more flexible — and I’m already flexible.

I imagine that using the spine aligner regularly releases trigger points in the various layers of spinal muscles. My back is definitely less tender than when I first used the spine aligner. Use it in bed or on a sofa at first. Later you will be able to do it on the floor.

I have a hunch that if I could release all my trigger points, my body would feel like it did when I was 5 years old again. And that would be something I’d like to experience. The wisdom of age plus the energy of youth!

Trigger points do tend to come back but are not as painful, and sometimes they can require repeated work before they fully release. Every 2-3 days, I check those neck muscles and release any trigger points that are still tender. I’ll move onto my shoulder, arm, and upper back muscles next.

Whether you are a bodyworker or a recipient, if you are serious about moving away from muscle pain and toward more ease and lightness in your body, I recommend these tools for self-care.

Fresh magic and massage

My day today was wonderful, after a long phone chat with a friend last night and also finding and releasing trigger points in my neck. I started today with more freedom of movement than I’ve had in a long time and also had gotten to a pretty good place about something that had been troubling me after talking to my friend, whose friendship and listening skills and point of view I value so much.

I had an outcall massage with one of my favorite clients. I know and trust him, he’s willing to pay my travel fee, and he’s got a table set up in his home, which makes it work. It’s a nice change of pace for me.

I appreciate him very much, too. He asked me if I would do chair massage on his martial arts group last summer after I got my license. I didn’t have a chair or know how, but he paid for my massage chair and let me pay him back in trade. I learned chair massage, and they liked it. I’ll do it again.

He’s given me referrals and bought a package of massages.

He loves outcalls so he can stay relaxed after massage and not have to get in his truck and drive. That is ideal. I firmly believe in enjoying the post-massage state as long as you can!

I’ve worked on him 6 or 7 times now. Today for the first time, I brought music (I’m enamored of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports right now) and released some trigger points that had been bothering him before proceeding with the Swedish massage.

One thing that makes working on him such a pleasure is that he is so responsive. He really relaxes! He may fall into delta (sleep) at times, which I hear from his breathing, and he also spends a lot of the time in deep alpha and theta wave states, relaxed and hypnagogic. He just knows how to get the most out of the experience. When a client goes into these deeply relaxed states, it affects me. I can feel an expansiveness in my energy body as I work.

After I left his house, I went to the Daily Juice Cafe, a favorite eatery of mine. I sat outside on this unbelievable 81 degree January day, soaking up as much sun as I could. Couldn’t find my phone and realized I’d left it at my client’s. After eating, I drove back, knocked, and he opened the door with a big smile, holding my phone, and we had another nice conversation.

Then errands and home, driving with the car windows rolled down!

I read and took a little nap. I started making a lamb curry and needed to make a grocery run for ingredients. Stepped out of my trailer at late dusk and was stunned. The western sky was still glowing pink, and a near-full moon was shining bright white light in the east. The air was almost completely still and alive feeling. The temperature felt perfect.

I felt like I had stepped into a universe full of fresh magic.

A day in the life of a massage therapist

I’ve been doing massage since June, but I haven’t posted very much about it on this blog. I’ve been getting my bearings, gaining hands-on experience. I also maintain the confidentiality of my clients.

I’d like to write about my work, as long as my clients remain anonymous. I would have liked to read about what it’s like to work as a massage therapist, so maybe me posting about it will serve that need for someone else.

I massaged a woman who had recently had jaw surgery. She was going to physical therapy, and the PT said her neck muscles were so tight, a massage was in order.

At her request, I just worked on her back, shoulders, and neck, and I persuaded her to let me spend some time working on her feet.

It is incredibly relaxing to have foot reflexology and/or foot massage. I gave her both. There are zones on the feet that correspond to the rest of the body, so working the feet softens tense areas before I even get to them.

If you ever just want to relax and don’t have time for a full body massage, foot massage and reflexology are wonderful.

I allowed plenty of time in our session to work on her neck both when she was face down and after she turned over. I did a combination of Swedish massage and deep massage (Lauterstein method) to work on her circulatory and lymphatic systems and her structure and energy.

She told me she was having difficulty sleeping. She said she had always slept on her stomach with no pillow. Post-surgery, she was having to sleep on her back, propped up on pillows. She found it awkward and uncomfortable.

I shared with her what had helped me after I had had some major chiropractic work on my neck and was told to sleep on my back: hugging a pillow against my body. The weight of it feels comforting to a stomach sleeper.

Afterwards, she said she felt much better.

That’s one of the things I love most about being a massage therapist. What I do makes a tangible difference in people’s quality of life.

I worked on another woman who had been on her feet all weekend at an outdoor music festival. She wanted a lot of attention to her feet and legs as part of her full body massage. She booked a 90 minute massage, which is twice as relaxing as a 60 minute massage!

Truthfully, I don’t know how to quantify how relaxing a massage is. That’s a subjective measure. I just know that when I give a 60 minute massage, if the person is larger than average or has an area that needs extra attention and still wants a full body Swedish massage, the massage feels rushed, to me.

I don’t know if it feels rushed to them. Maybe that’s all they’ve ever known, and they have no idea how much more relaxed they could feel if they had a longer session. It’s their choice — and I’m not beyond suggesting that a client book a longer session next time!

I did Swedish/deep massage and reflexology/foot massage on her and was able to work at a more relaxed and relaxing pace. IMO, she did herself a huge favor by booking 90 minutes. She relaxed very deeply and looked happy when I met with her after the session.

I like using aromatherapy. It adds a nice dimension to a massage both to the client and to me.

I often put the essential oil blend Valor (from Young Living) on the client’s feet before massaging them. The way I see it, everyone needs more valor to face life, and here’s a way to get some!

When clients turn over from being face down, their breathing is often congested. When that’s the case, I like to take a drop of Eucalyptus radiata oil, rub it between my hands, and then place my hands near the client’s nose. Their eyes are covered, so they don’t see it coming. They simply smell the eucalyptus, a pleasant surprise, and it clears their breathing passages.

At the end of a massage, especially when the client has gone into a deep trance or fallen asleep, I like to rub a drop of peppermint or rosemary oil between my palms and allow the scent to help wake the client up in a refreshing way.

Self-care for massage therapists, part 2 (what works for me)

In part 1, I listed various self-care methods that massage therapists use for their own aches and pains from giving massage. In part 2, I want to share what I’ve tried (so far) that works.

First, I want to say that my strength and endurance have increased with practice. I used to be in pain after giving 3 hour-long massages in a row several days in a row. Now I can do 4 hours 5 days a week with just a few twinges and aches afterwards. For several weeks, though, I was hurting and feeling some despair about having upended my life to get trained and start working in this new profession and the possibility of not being physically able to do it.

Key learnings from a newbie:

  • I no longer attempt deep tissue work, sticking to Swedish and reflexology. My Swedish massages are good and getting better. I incorporate some of David Lauterstein’s deep massage strokes into every Swedish massage, and I use pressure points, stretching, techniques from sports massage, body mobilization techniques, and reflexology, depending on the client’s issues and the amount of time I have. I cannot deliver the pressure that some clients (well-informed or not about what “deep tissue” means) seem to want. If I work within my limitations, it’s win-win for everyone.
  • I trained in Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy so that I can deliver deeper pressure using my feet and body weight, controlled by holding onto overhead bars. It’s so much easier on my body and a lot of fun, too.
  • I rock with my feet and leverage my body weight strategically as I deliver Swedish massage so my arms and shoulders do less work.
  • Hydrotherapy totally rocks after a long shift. I fill my double kitchen sinks with hot water (my water heater is set to 130 degrees F. for sanitizing laundry) and cold water that I dump a quart or two of ice into. I immerse my aching forearms and hands in the water, alternating cold-hot-cold-hot-cold, for one minute each. I can barely stand it, and yet it makes a huge difference in just 5 minutes. Seems to flush toxins and swelling and pain right out.
  • I stretch my fingers and wrists, holding each stretch for 15 seconds. Good to do when driving, at red lights.
  • I press into the trigger points for the elbow and wrist (see part 1 for links).
  • I apply magnesium gel with seaweed extract topically. According to Wikipedia, symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, weakness, and fatigue, and fifty-seven percent of the US population does not get enough magnesium from food.
  • I love epsom salts in a bath. (Guess what? They contain magnesium!) When I was feeling a lot of pain all over, I would dump a cup or two of epsom salts into a fairly hot bath and add a few drops of lavender oil, then soak for 15-20 minutes. I felt like a new woman when I came out! I learned this years ago from dancers.
  • I use Young Living’s OrthoEase oil on clients’ painful muscles, and I use it on mine as well. Contains wintergreen, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and more that are analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
  • I keep hydrated and have been avoiding nightshades lately. I’m already gluten-free and eat fairly healthily. I’m interested in following an anti-inflammatory diet but haven’t done the research yet.
  • I take at least a couple of days off per week, not always together, though. I’m still finding my ideal schedule.
  • I do 10-15 minutes of yoga every morning. Sun salutations stretch and strengthen my body. Plus, it’s a great check-in to do something that starts the same every day. I start slowly and really let my hamstrings lengthen in forward bend before I move on to the next pose. I add standing poses, balance poses, and pigeon as I feel the need and to keep it interesting.
  • I get at least a chair massage every week. I’m interested in setting up a weekly trade for a full-body massage with someone, too.
  • I use a foam roller on back when needed, and a tennis ball to my gluteus.
  • I have two tennis balls tied into a sock that I use when driving to massage my back. I’ve also learned to “pop” my own back while giving massage!

Here’s something that just doesn’t fit into any of the categories I’ve seen so far about self-care for MTs. It’s about how you use your attention. I’ve learned to keep some of my attention on my body most of the time.

When I focused exclusively on the client’s body, delivering what I thought they wanted, I hurt and fatigued myself. I listen more to my body now and check in verbally with the client if I am not noticing nonverbal feedback.

If I notice that I feel rigid anywhere in my body, I say to myself, “Soften,” and my body softens.

Sometimes I put my attention on the soles of my feet and their connection to the floor/earth (I massage with bare feet always for Ashiatsu and as much as possible for Swedish), making the movements of giving massage into a soft, fluid dance.

Sometimes I attend to my breath, letting it become easy and relaxing (and audible to the client, as a nonverbal suggestion that they relax too).

All of these techniques activate the inner body, subtle body, energy body, whatever you want to call it. It feels better to give massage with this “soft present alive expanded body” than not. There is definitely an aspect of being “in the flow” that seems somehow related to doing Reiki, but I don’t know how to put it into words (yet).

Another bonus: the sensations of pain and fatigue become distant as peace and love fill my awareness.

I don’t know if clients perceive the difference, but I don’t think it could hurt. I do it for me because I “in-joy” it!

It’s been four months since I got licensed and began working. I look forward to learning even more new things about self-care and sharing them here.

Self-care for massage therapists, part 1

I’ve been doing 16-20 hours of massage per week lately, mostly Swedish but also a little deep tissue work. (I’m still getting up to speed on ashiatsu.)

The up side? I burn a lot of calories so I can really dig in at the table (one of life’s sweet pleasures), and I sleep well, being physically fatigued, another sweet by-product. And of course I’m the richer for it, in money, skill, connections, and making a difference.

The down side is that such physical work can take a toll on my body. I understand why a lot of massage therapists get burned out and leave the profession. From my fingers to my spine, I have felt achiness, inflammation, swelling, tenderness, stiffness.

Luckily, I belong to a group on LinkedIn, the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). I joined to keep up with discussions about the profession. One person not long ago asked the following question:

What do you do for your hands when they ache after giving a series of massages? I am using proper body mechanics. My hands ache. I appreciate your feedback.

There were 55 responses that I’m going to summarize, because I feel so grateful to have this resource. Thanks to all the MTs who responded.

Please note that many of these are new to me; I am just summarizing what people posted. Later I will post what’s worked for me (that I’ve tried so far) along with a few of my own discoveries.

Recovery time

  • scheduling days off to recover
  • taking a 30 minute break after 3 hours (or however long works for you)
  • taking adequate time between clients to recover
  • not scheduling deep tissue sessions back to back

Body mechanics, stretching, strengthening, and recovery

  • paying attention to how you use your hands on your days off
  • doing hand stretching and strengthening exercises
  • resting in semi-supine position to open the brachial plexus (on your back, knees up, feet flat, book under head for 15-20 minutes)
  • paying even more attention to body mechanics as you work
  • getting a colleague to observe you work and give feedback
  • stretching after each client
  • lifting weights to strengthen arms and hands
  • punching a punching bag (with training)

Therapeutic devices

Heat and cold

  • dipping hands into hot wax/paraffin bath
  • applying hot and cold hydrotherapy
  • dipping hands into ice water

Self-massage

  • getting regular massage yourself
  • stripping your own forearm muscles
  • getting Reflexology on your hands or doing it yourself
  • learning Trager self-care movements for the hands
  • getting myofascial release work done on your arms
  • this page describes how to release wrist trigger points
  • this page describes how to release tennis elbow
  • cupping with suction cups

Delivering massage

  • working within your limitations (i.e., telling clients you don’t do full body deep tissue work)
  • reading the book Save Your Hands!
  • switching to Trager
  • learning Reiki so the energy goes only one way
  • learning Bamboossage, Ashiatsu Oriental bar therapy, or floor Ashiatsu to deliver deep tissue work
  • use alternating areas of the hand/forearm/elbow in moderation
  • having a box of tools available (balls, bamboo sticks, knobbers) to use on clients’  tough spots
  • using Art Riggs’ techniques for deep tissue work
  • using your forearms instead of hands whenever possible
  • using cupping
  • applying hot towels to client
  • holding thumbs tight against hand and using body to push for static pressure point work
  • using the edge of your hand or base of palm area instead of thumbs for sweeping or kneading motions

Oils, herbs, creams, gels, minerals

  • applying essential oil of rosemary for warming or peppermint for cooling (add to jojoba oil)
  • applying oils that are anti-inflammatory: helichrysum, frankincense, German chamomile, Cape chamomile, katrafay, and ginger
  • applying oils that are analgesic: lemongrass, clove, litsea cubeba, peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus citriodora
  • combining anti-inflammatory and analgesic oils; applying them to neck, shoulders, forearms, hands, and feet to relieve hands
  • applying St. John’s wort oil, white willow tincture, fresh turmeric tincture, comfrey fomentation, raw apple cider vinegar fomentation
  • using arnica cream
  • applying Biofreeze
  • applying magnesium oil or gel
  • soaking in an Epsom salt bath
  • soaking your hand in lukewarm or cold water with a minimum amount of salt

Diet, teas, supplements

  • staying hydrated
  • changing your diet to lower inflammation (no details given)
  • drinking coconut water
  • drinking a blueberry smoothie
  • eating cucumbers with sea salt
  • avoiding eating sugars, nightshades, baked products with flour and corn
  • avoiding caffeine
  • taking turmeric internally
  • drinking comfrey tea
  • taking supplements for joint health (no details provided)
  • taking MSM with glucosamine

New massage modality coming soon: Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy

New offering: Ashiatsu

This past weekend I went to San Antonio and did four days of training in Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, learning to work on the back, front, and sides of the body with my feet.

Oh, it is so much fun, and painless to give because I’m using my feet and leveraging my body weight to control pressure by holding onto overhead bars. Current weight: 114. May  wear a scuba belt for those who want even more pressure… I usually keep one foot on the table, though, so I’m completely able to deliver lighter pressure.

In case you didn’t know, I have really amazing reiki energy in my feet! Some days I wake up with it just pouring out of them. I haven’t known what to do with it, but this seems like a very good way to put it to work!

I also have “monkey toes” like many yogis with Iyengar training.

I’m looking forward to getting some overhead bars set up and being able to offer it in addition to Swedish, deep, and integrative (an intuitive blend of Swedish, deep, acupressure, reflexology, clinical — whatever is needed) that I already offer.

Because of my size, I was wearing my body out trying to deliver the deep tissue pressure that so many people like. A lot of people don’t realize how taxing massage is on the therapist’s body and what a high burnout rate this profession has. I didn’t. Self-care is essential to be and give your best. I’m working now on giving as much as I can give without hurting myself.

Learning Ashiatsu will allow me to make a difference on those who like medium to firm pressure and those who want to try something different. The long strokes are very relaxing. My practice client at training, Don, a big biker who practices reiki himself, fell asleep!

Photos from training (I’m the one with the short hair):

Image

The power of asking questions

I was working in the student clinic, doing another intern massage. The client assigned to me was someone I had worked on previously. She works at a desk job.

The first time, she had complained of neck pain, and she had said she didn’t want to be poked with fingers or knuckles. So I rubbed and kneaded her neck quite a bit and didn’t do any of the deep massage strokes that I felt could have been so helpful had she not had this aversion because many involve “poking”.

On the client evaluation, she said I didn’t spend enough time on her neck!

So when I got her again, I was determined to get a better result. I brought her back to the bay and asked her if her neck was still bothering her. She said yes.

I asked her to show me where her neck was hurting and gave a little demo by putting my hand on the back of my neck and asking, “Is it about here?”

She said, “No, more like here,” and she ran her hands across the tops of her shoulders.

Whoa.

Just to clarify, I said, “So you’re not feeling any pain or tightness here?” again with my hand on the back of my neck.

She said no.

And of course, I was professional, but meanwhile I was thinking,

Girlfriend, that’s totally your upper trapezius — the top of your shoulder — and not your neck.

Many people’s knowledge of their own anatomy has big blank areas.

I asked if there was anywhere else she desired special attention. She said her lower back was bothering her. She also said not to work on her abs or her hands.

So I went to work. I spent a lot of time on her back, with focus on her tight upper traps and her sacrum/lumbar area. When I thought I had probably done enough, I leaned down and asked her if that was enough or if she wanted me to work some more on her back.

She said to do what I needed to do. I guessed from that that she assumed that the students in the massage clinic have to follow a routine, and that if she wanted more back work, it was out of the question. Not so.

I told her I could work on her back some more if she liked. I told her I could spend most of our hour together on her back if she liked.

She said she’d love some more back work.

So I worked on her back for about 40-45 minutes of our hour together. I palpated and explored. I repeated strokes, did them slowly, and emulated deep massage with my palms to avoid the poking of knuckles and fingertips.

I pulled her scapula in and up to shorten her tight upper trap and asked her if that gave her some relief. She said it did.

I wrung, lifted and rolled, and kneaded. I rocked her torso. I came at areas from many directions. I even gave her tapotement (like drumming) after asking if she’d like it, which I think is the first time I’ve done it as an intern.

When I finished her back, I redraped it with sheet and blanket and just pressed her glutes and backs of legs and feet. I rocked her body from the heels and had her turn over, asking how she was doing. “Fine,” she said, with a look of bliss on her face.

I like that look.

I pressed the fronts of her legs and tops of feet and rolled her legs, just to loosen up the hips and make the legs feel included as parts of the whole body.

I skipped her abs as requested and just worked on her pecs, giving pressure to her arms so they felt included, avoiding her hands as requested.

Then I did some more upper back work from underneath, rubbed and kneaded her neck, and stretched her neck.

I ended with massaging her scalp and a fulcrum/stretch of the back of her head.

(So okay, I know some of this is massage geek talk, but I’m sure you get the big picture. If not, come get a student massage and see for yourself. $35, no tipping.)

That massage was so off the books from the routines I’ve learned and yet so rewarding because I used my resources to clarify what she really wanted, and then I got to be creative, continuing to ask for feedback and giving her more of what she wanted.

She was very, very happy with it. She gave me a fabulous evaluation, especially for taking the time to really find out what she needed.

The upshot is that questions are very, very powerful tools. If you know what you want but aren’t getting the results you want, ask questions. It’s all in the communication, baby.

There is great personal power to be had literally just for the asking, especially if you ask the right questions, to get the results you want, to get another person to open up to you, to get insight into someone else’s map of reality, to create something that’s satisfying.

It’s so simple, yet almost like a secret. Have you asked anyone a real good question today?

Now offering bodywork & changework

I offer bodywork and changework sessions in my Spartan Carousel trailer in the Manchaca area of Austin, Texas.

These sessions combine massage (mostly Swedish and deep massage with a few enhancements, more as I learn new skills) and changework (NLP, EFT, Byron Katie’s The Work, and more as I learn new skills).

If you are a new client, I’ll do an intake on your first visit, and we’ll talk about the changes you might wish to manifest in your life. We’ll decide up front how best to spend our two hours together each time you visit.

I offer two-hour morning, afternoon, evening, and weekend sessions.

While I complete my internship in massage school, there is no charge for massage/bodywork, and you may pay what you wish for changework. After I receive my massage license in February, sessions will be $108 for two hours.

Please email (mareynolds27 @ gmail.com), phone, or text me (512 507 4184) to set up an appointment.

You may view an FAQ on the Bodywork & Changework page of this blog.

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.