I use the word so frequently that I forget that it might be new to some… indeed to most! A friend of a friend asked what I do. When I said “I’m a bodyworker”, she showed a quizzical look and asked, “What is that?” You might want to know, too.
While it falls under the auspices of massage and may include massage, most bodywork is not at all like a massage. It is also never “rote”, as in exercises a physical therapist might send you home with, and it’s never harsh (I hope) or abrupt like a chiropractic adjustment. All of these things have their place in facilitating healing, but bodywork is...different. How? Most bodywork works with your entire structural system, not just one or two parts. Sometimes I’ve felt like people wished they could leave their shoulder or hip with me, have me “fix” it, and give it back to them at the end of the day. It just doesn’t work that way...ever! Indeed, your entire being is involved in any injury or long-term deviation of your structure.
Bodywork is available in many forms. It can go from you (the recipient) being totally still and in receiving mode (as in Cranial Sacral Therapy), to you being active and involved (as in Pilates or The Wallace Method). All bodywork modalities have one important thing in common: the practitioner gives you, your body, and what it is manifesting close, personal attention with the express purpose of helping you work through what is manifesting in a safe and gentle way.
Structural bodyworkers like Rolfers, Feldenkrais and Trager practitioners, Myofascial release and Rosen Method Practitioners, Wallace Method Practitioners, and Rhythmic Movement Training Practitioners (oh there are more!), all use different approaches to help you “unwind” stuck patterns that have caused disorganization of the skeletal structure, and therefore discomfort.
Why would I use Bodywork?
According to the CDC, the most common pain reported is low back pain, with 25% of adults reporting in with this in the last 3 months. Guess what’s prescribed for it, despite lack of evidence supporting its efficacy? Opioids.
Can bodywork help? It helped me and many others.
Our skeletons have a particular geometry. If one of our “angles” or a joint or a bone (or multiples) gets too far off of its alignment, we will most likely experience discomfort and eventually pain from the postural deviation. This can happen over time, even since childhood, or be the result of a more recent fall, accident, or arthritis. Bodyworkers can help people with paralysis, cerebral palsy, MS, and other maladies. They cannot cure these issues, but they can help to increase movement and decrease discomfort over time, and sometimes there is great relief in just one session.
All of us are fighting gravity in every minute of the day (unless you’re an astronaut and actually in space – who knows! Maybe an astronaut in space is reading my little article!). It’s more important than we know to put the effort in and take good care of our biological vehicles. The longer we are in the gravitational field, the more effort we may need to apply. The Wallace Method and all other modalities have helped countless people learn how to keep their bodies healthy and balanced as they journey through life and navigate the aging process.
Give your local bodyworker a call, have a conversation, and see if it feels right for you. Thanks for reading.
Don't know why, don't know how it happened, really...so sudden, so...embarrassing!! Why? I feel as if I "should know better." Uh-oh, sounds like a parent shaming me. Not into it. Let's take a different road.
When it "appeared" "suddenly" I thought, "What's this? Wow. Well, should work itself through once I get moving today." Four months, two chiropractors, and a massage therapist later it was barely any better!
I am again and again reminded of the value and benefit of the work I do. Gentle, eeeasy, supported and very slow movements that allow me to feel - I mean feeeel - what's actually happening as I move. I'm not bypassing a thing. It's like it all needs to be felt to be released. It insists! It's just not going to release until it's felt, heard, given loving attention...it's the voice within saying "Look! Look! Look! This is how we heal. Enough bypassing, enough ignoring and thinking I will "go away. You may think I've gone away, but I'm still here and I'm thinking of a way to get you to hear and see and feel me SO I'LL BE BACK"!!!
And so, I listen. And I feel, even thought it's uncomfortable to do it. Then I breathe, integrate it, and let it go. I get support from friends in the healing world. They help so very much.
I learned what I already know; that the Wallace Method is one effective way to address and heal my structural compensations and to go deeper into body awareness as well as emotional awareness.
I learned that I had the tools the whole time to heal myself. I just needed to be reminded. I feel a little like Dorothy.
I learned that when we're in pain our nervous systems can flip into fear so that even when we know what to do for another, we may not have enough access to know what to do for ourselves.
I learned that sometimes, there's nothing more important than taking the time for self-healing, self-soothing, and loving attention to ourselves.
Then, we can really be there for others.
Thanks for reading.
Healing Doesn’t Have to Hurt
They all want to rip my pain away from me.
Do it this way.
I can fix you.
But slow and steady wins the race,
leaves me intact.
No need to disrespect
the barriers that grew with good intentions
to protect or compensate
for what was already rather short on respect.
It doesn’t have to hurt to heal.
I don’t have to hurt to heal.
Healing moves in gentle ways, the obstacle
not masked or extracted
or even seen as an obstacle,
rather as an ally,
a potential portal to more space
in the body to move without pain,
more freedom in my choices
to live with joy.
The last thing I need is one more enemy,
when I learn to hate myself for all the ways
I fall short of being whole,
when I must worry about being invaded
by the helper I have enlisted to support me.
Slow and steady wins the race.
One twist, one turn,
a little more movement, a little more freedom,
often gives way to an avalanche of living
falling right onto my plate,
more for me to enjoy
by Jennifer Arenson, 2005
Tea. Gym. Move/Stretch. Strove. Mretch. I decided I wanted to listen for guidance directly this morning. Sooooo…. I’m listeniiiiiiiinnnnnnnng!!!
Here’s what comes:
Surrender. Continually. Surrender is a moment to moment practice. Once I think I’ve surrendered, I have to go back and do it again! And again!
But wait. I just DID that!
So far it’s quite an effort to maintain a “surrender”. I want to hold on. I want control. But to what am I holding on to? Of what do I want control? Everything! I want everything to go MY way! I want my body to do what I want it to do, to look different. I want it to remain thin and fit while I eat everything I want to eat! I want winter to be summer. Yeah, surrender is a good one for today.
No fear. What’s “no fear” in positive language? That would be...trust? TOTAL TRUST. Whoa! Can I do that?
Not yet, my friends. Not yet.
I mean, what would that feel like? To totally trust in life, that everything will be ok? I think that’s the rub. Even if everything (or most things) are ok right now, right in this moment, today, lately, and have been for a while, can I trust that they will be ok? No, I can’t.
It will be what it will be. I can trust that. It will be what it will be. Like a slingshot, I’m back to surrender.
All the things on my mind. How’s that for a non-sequitur! All the things on my mind. All the things that I don’t get to during the day. And so what? I’m the only one who really cares about these particular things! Everyone else is worrying about what they’re not getting to and it won’t affect them in least what I haven’t gotten to! Unless it’s those who rely on me for something, for dinner, for a phone call, for my companionship or presence, whether at work or in friendship or family-ship. Or for food and walks, play-time and nap time, in the case if my beloved canine. I like being relied upon for these things. For my clients, help in relieving physical and emotional discomfort, as it relates to the physical being, my specialty. I love the gift I’ve been given and I’m so grateful for it. Interestingly, it’s not the most revered gift in our culture. It’s kind of a quiet gift, kind of “in the background”. People are so very grateful when they are out of a pattern of discomfort, as am I when I know how to get free of mine. It’s a deep internal gratitude, ever present.
Gratitude. Do you think gratitude is the “highest” emotion? The one with the highest frequency?
That’s My Three Words for today.
OK, so I wrote this one on a Monday, and today is Friday. And I'm sure I'll post some entries on a Monday that I wrote on a Friday! Or on a Saturday that I wrote on a Tuesday -- doesn't matter. Just read and enjoy!
Mondays are hard, for some reason. Especially when I don’t have a busy day to keep me distracted and cheerful. Why am I not cheerful if I’m not engaged with others or working? I have the time to write and just be, something that many people just crave to have, yet it doesn’t make me happy. “Make” me happy. I want to be out in the world, engaged in working to make the world a better place. I’ve wanted this for a while. However, I am getting a different message (from where?) ummm... my higher Self (is that who it is?) is guiding (is that what it’s doing?!) me and outright telling me to sit down and write!
A few days ago – oh my gosh it was a week ago already! -a neighbor knocked on our door in her pajamas. She lives in a group home up the block and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. We have gotten to know her as the years go by and have become friends. She said she just had to get out of her house for a while. I invited her in and offered her a cup of tea. She chatted for a few minutes, then started to go down a path that I knew I couldn’t let her go down. I could just see her spiraling into depression just from her thoughts.
I had just written my first journal entry to share. (The next one here, if you click on BLOG in the menu above). I asked her if she would like if I read it to her. She said yes. As I was reading, I could see and feel her relax. I think it may have helped her to know that she is not alone in her struggling in this world. I don’t really know the reason, but I do know that when I finished reading, she said, “I think I can go home and get dressed now. This was really nice.”
My ADD self just flicked on a video by Eckhart Tolle. In this short video he is talking about how we have an addiction to thinking. That it actually is an addiction, like a drug! It creates a pseudo sense of self, so we have a great reluctance to let go of it. That what we need is Presence.
Yes. The purpose of my trio of words is to help me to stop the incessant thinking, especially if it’s negative. Reading something positive to my neighbor that was something other than what she was thinking brought us both into more presence with ourselves and one another. The secondary purpose is to instill these virtues and values and ways of being into my nervous system, into my beingness.
So what are my words today? Ha! I’m finally getting there. It’s also 4:12 in the afternoon, so yes, I’m finally getting there! I am so happy that I am sitting here, writing this to you, to me. So even though I do endeavor to do my writing each morning, I am succeeding in not judging myself for not getting to it until now! I feel really happy that I am writing, no matter what time it is.
So, my trio today:
Non-Judgement/Acceptance (same thing today)
Self Love. I’m OK! Then I extend that out! And you’re OK!
You know, this self love exercise is an interesting one. It’s a tough one, because it’s like self love is a selfish thing. That’s what the ego would have us think. “Who are you to love yourself? What makes you so special?”
But you know, it’s a different kind of love. I feel like we have to get there, to the place where we can honor our very selves in almost a holy kind of way. Does that resonate at all? Do you know what I mean? It took me long time to get to this place, and I’m still grappling with it. Try saying “I love myself” or “I love you, _____ (your name)”. Try it a few times each day for a week. See what comes up. Does the opposite thought come up? Do you feel a feeling close to, “well yeah, I do love myself”! That’s awesome! And does that feeling last? Does it shift at all?
I say that I feel like we have to get there, each of us, because that’s the only way we will truly be able to love others. When we have no negative feelings about ourselves, we won’t project any of that out onto others.
That’s it for today – gotta go to dance class, keep the body in good working order!
Love to you all,
Today I really need
I woke up needing something. But what? Sometimes I feel as if there is a void that I can’t quite put my finger on. I have been asking Spirit for guidance. As always, the voice is soft. The voice that may, perhaps, be guiding, gently urging me to write. I’ve been hearing it, “sit down and write...sit down and write...sit down and write...” Really? Me? Write?
Alright, I’ll do it!!
I finally sat down to write. Today marks my first “entry”. They all come with a photo that I took (in most cases) and My Three Words for that day written somewhere on the photo. This is a work in progress, so please bear with me! Sometimes I write directly about what arises from my words and sometimes rather indirectly.
Here’s how My Three Words came about:
Have you ever found yourself obsessing about something? Do your thoughts ever just “loop”, with no resolution to what you’re looping about? And does that drive you crazy?!! Well it does me!
I needed a way to stop this, so I asked Spirit for help. I ended up coming up with a practice to get me out of the stuck place in my mind. It works! Well, most of the time!
I need this tool for the times when I’m feeling “lost” in my own mind; those times when I’m heading down a negative path that I can’t seem to help. Sometimes it seems like it’s through no fault of my own, like there is some power greater than me, greater than my WILL to overcome it or to just change it. Yet my will persists, thank goodness, and my seeking is ceaseless.
My seeking has given birth to this little practice that I would like to share with you on the chance that it may help you, too. It's this: repeating three positive words that are values, qualities or attributes helps me to bring focus back to myself. And when I can feel what they really mean in my heart, I can sometimes reverse or change the path enough to change my frequency. Then this happens: my inner experience changes. Once my inner experience changes, so does my “projector”, which in turn changes my interpretation of what I’m seeing outside of me.
Here’s what came up within the three words that came for me today:
Tranquility. I’m going to cook a healthy lunch. This helps me feel tranquil in 3 ways: 1) the experience of cooking is relaxing for me, 2) knowing I’m eating healthy food gives me a positive jolt, and 3) the result of eating the healthy food: once the nutritious food is digested and absorbed, I actually do feel more relaxed. I notice this every time!
Steadfastness. I’m going to do what I set out to do today and organize all of my notes so I can move forward with at least a bit of organization.
Perseverance. I will persevere with this activity.
I’ll let you know how it went!
Thanks for reading.
Assurance. What can I be assured of? Man, I just don’t know, yet!
Devotion. What am I truly devoted to? There is one creature that we can surely learn devotion from!
Honesty. Ooo. I realize...and I had to actually realize or get in touch with this...that I don’t quite know if I am actually being honest with myself. I mean if I really ask myself and really explore that, I run into some uncomfortable places. A friend and I were commenting on how we feel like two different people sometimes; the one on the inside and the one projected on the outside. The great thing is that many of us are waking up to this, as uncomfortable as it may be.
If I’m not being honest with myself, I’m not being honest with others. Ugh. And THEN I realized that I’d been covered with some kind of veil that prevented me from seeing that! Ugh again! A veil that was created by me, for me, to protect me from something I perceived as danger. Behind the veil I told myself that I didn’t have to be honest, that it was ok to not be honest – as long as no one else knew – and I hid that pretty well too! It’s all because of fear. We are taught that this is a fearful world and we need to look out for ourselves and trust no one – not even ourselves?!? But I must trust myself in order to stay or be sane. The more I “wake up”, the more the veil(s) lift, the more I realize how un-sane I was and probably am. I don’t want to say “insane”, just un-sane! Because on some level we are all innocent because we are so programmed from birth, from culture, from society, from specific people, from advertising, etc. We are beginning to wake up from our programming. The more I become conscious, the more I can be assured of my inner capacity for self-love, the more I feel into the awakening process, the more devotion I feel toward going deeper, because it gives me a feeling of assurance that if I keep looking, feeling, and seeing, I might just find myself somewhere in here.
One thing I know for sure, my dog (in today’s photo) is the most adorable canine in the world!! She teaches us unconditional love and devotion.
With Love and Devotion to Awakening,
The most unique aspect of this work is that it follows a set of principles, as opposed to imposing or following any external pre-scribed movements. We learn to move from within, to follow our own structure, and to use our structure in a way that is unique to us. Sounds simple, but not so easy. In our culture, we are taught to do as we are told, not as we intuit. Here, we relearn how to intuit.
The method is systematic. Underlying fascial twists in the body move the bones out of place, causing discomfort and pain. This is what we are addressing. The objective is to allow the bones to be in right relationship with each other.
Use what's free to free what's not free. Instead of fighting discomfort, use your body's free parts as tools to help you access and release the stuck parts.
Attention facilitates healing.
Support precedes movement.
Your body is different today than it is any other day. From session to session we observe subtle differences. You may have some discomfort, but you can get to different places to facilitate unwinding.
Your movements are unique to you. Your path is totally unique. Another person's movements are movements that your structure may not be able to duplicate. Comparison is the thief of joy! This is one method where you are encouraged to stay focused on yourself!
Do your best to not download from another method like yoga or linear stretching. We are not striving for postures. We are not striving at all.
All parts are interdependent on all other parts. Sometimes we are required to be present with each piece. Sometimes that may mean each fiber! Each fiber may elicit a different response within our nervous system. In order to find and stay with them, you must go s-l-o-w.
Listen for what wants to emerge.
Observe your markers of progress. Your practitioner can help you identify them.
Work just at the edges of movement and pain. The place of the most potential is the place where you don't push to move past or through your stuck-point. It occurs when you allow, when you slow down and feel, and then act on the subtle information you are given by your tissue. Ask, "where does it want to go here?"
Part of the process looks like this:
Connect (one part to another, such as an arm to an arm, arm to hip, arm to leg, foot to knee). Trace the part along what you've connected it to until you come to the end and have taken up all the slack. See what you notice as you follow this path. Twist or turn or tuck the connecting piece. Allow it to follow it's new path. Rest. Feel. Allow. What emerges? Trace, follow, don't push! Allow. What relaxes? What does your nervous system do? If you take a spontaneous deep breath, you are on the right path.
After about 30 minutes of practice, you may notice some unwinding has taken place. You will feel lighter!
Elements that we use and explore:
connect (one bone to another)
take up slack
Come learn more with us!
After having attended the most recent Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group conference (October 22, 2016), I have a renewed inspiration and appreciation for my “alternative” profession. I am in deep gratitude for this wonderful group of MD’s, ND’s, DO’s, chiropractors, homeopaths, bodyworkers, healers, mental health professionals, business advisers, natural health advocates, and more, for their acknowledgement of the value of each and every form of healing.
As a younger person in deep physical pain after an accident, I naturally sought relief. Options were few in 1982. I struggled on and off for twelve years before being serendipitously introduced to The Wallace Method of Bodywork. Its gifts are invaluable, and I have since become a practitioner and teacher. Bodywork is a very important addition to my whole life care. In fact, it is essential to my well-being. Whether it be yoga, dance, massage therapy or, my favorite, The Wallace Method (which I practice daily), all require a little self-reflection and self-awareness. They help me to go within, so I can live more balanced without. There are many other methods available that can help you achieve your goal of moving with greater ease and less or no pain. I encourage you to explore and discover what works best for you.
Earlier today, I read an interesting statement in an AARP Bulletin (May, 2016), made by personal trainer Jonathan Ross. He said that whether you are sedentary or active, you will have pain. AARP paraphrased him: “If you don’t exercise or if you do exercise, you’ll experience discomfort either way. But if you move often and move well, you’ll have less pain.” It makes me wonder what his experience is personally and with his clients that they all experience pain. I ask that because in the experience of both myself and my clients (many of whom are seniors), we can live our lives free of pain. We are not relegated to a life of pain or discomfort just because we are a certain age! Ask my clients! If you do not have a pathological condition that is causing your pain (and in some cases, even if you do), we can work together to find the best movement path for you to practice.
Through a lot of trial and error and experimentation with different movement methods, forms of exercise, and dietary and nutritional changes, my colleagues and I have been successful with minimizing and even eliminating physical pain.
Whether you are new to bodywork or are looking for that perfect fit, I welcome you to call and find out if The Wallace Method is right for you. Many blessings to you along your path, and here’s to a life of ease and comfort!
What, exactly, does "true healing" mean to you? I've been thinking about this for quite some time now. Healing occurs on many levels. Is all healing ultimately spiritual healing? If so, what does that mean? It would be interesting to hear your comments!
About the Author
Some of my posts are inspired by the wonderful questions my clients ask and the inspiration I receive from them. Some are inspired from a simple practice I've discovered recently that helps in my daily life. I thought by creating beautiful photos and sharing My Three Words, it might be able to help others too. I hope you enjoy reading.