A Solstice Blessing

Blessings to you on this winter solstice

Day of shortest sunlight and longest night

Outbreath between dark and light.

To the seeds dreaming beneath the ground

And those buried in our hearts,

To that first renewed spark of sun on the horizon

Hope re-ignited

That out of dark comes light

Out of death comes life

And out of the confusion and pain of our times, come the seeds for a brighter tomorrow.

~ VBW                                   

Thank you to all of my readers and clients for the gifts of your attention, presence, and patronage this year. I am grateful to you and honored by all those who allow me to walk with them on their healing journeys.

Blessings and happy holidays! Here’s to the return of the light.

Quiet Healing Miracles We Overlook

Today I want to take some time to acknowledge the quiet healing miracles that take place inside us, mostly unseen and unsung. All of the times that our health wins out, sometimes against great odds…while we barely notice.

Most people think of health as something static, as a state of being, a noun. We think we are in a state of good health—or not. But health isn’t static, it’s active. It’s an action hero, a verb. Health is a living, breathing process, guided by innate intelligence. And that process is constantly in flux, monitoring all of our bits and pieces that go out of whack and bringing them back into balance.  

This constant, gentle return to homeostasis is an ongoing miracle.

Day in, day out, your health is there, repelling invaders, repairing cuts, rebuilding tissues, rebalancing hormones and emotions. It’s all of the times we didn’t get cancer, or fought off the latest virus, because our immune system roared to our defense. It’s all of the times we took an emotional gut punch and then felt better the next morning because our dreams did emotion repair. 

Does our health get overwhelmed at times? Of course it does. We’re mortal. We have limits. And our health needs sustenance and support. But it’s always there, trying to return us to balance. As a craniosacral therapist, my job is to support and stimulate your body’s own self-healing ability—its health. And I’ve felt that health do wonders. 

There’s the quiet miracle of the client who comes in stressed out and frazzled. They may not know it, but their brain and nerves are literally buzzing and sparking with heat. And for them, the session may just be deeply relaxing. But I know the health has managed to cool all that heat and do a huge nervous system and hormonal reset.

Or there’s the client whose arthritic neck is killing them. They may feel immediate relief after the session or that may take a couple days. But I feel joints that start out hot, dry, and irritated. And then the health manages to pump in fluids, discharge the heat, and realign the bones to relieve pressure. All while the client dreams.

We so often want healing to be instant and dramatic. And sometimes it is. But more often, healing is so gentle and organic over time that you hardly notice it’s happening, like a paper cut healing. It just feels like things have always been that way.

So, if you’re looking for healing, give more attention to the things that are slowly and gently—without any fanfare—going right. And remember, your health is always there.

Some Favorite Relaxation Techniques

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You reach the end of a long, stressful day and finally get to relax in front of the TV. But when you go to bed, your mind’s still racing and your body’s keyed up. That blue light from the screen—and most shows—is stimulating. So your body never actually gets to relax.

To reduce the toxic effects of chronic stress, and actually relax, you’ve got to elicit your body’s relaxation response. This restful state slows your breathing and heart rate, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure.

But what relaxes you may differ from what relaxes somebody else, so it pays to try different techniques. Here are some of my favorites.

World’s Most Relaxing Song

Dubbed the “world’s most relaxing song,” Weightless by Marconi Union was engineered to be relaxing. Collaborating with sound therapists, the musicians chose non-repeating melodies that let the brain switch off and an underlying beat that slows from 60 beats per minute to 50 over eight minutes, letting your heart entrain and slow down.

Learn more and listen here.

Relaxing Acupressure Points

Acupressure involves massaging specific points along energy meridians. Several of these can relieve stress. I rub central points on the soles of my feet whenever I need to draw energy out of my head and calm down. And the point between my eyebrows really helps with anxiety (and draining my sinuses!).

For simple guidance with diagrams, see this post.

Restorative Yoga: Legs-up-the-Wall

Yoga offers several wonderful poses for relaxing and restoring mind and body. One of my favorites is legs-up-the-wall pose. I often do this to relax and relieve back tension. It’s also great to do right before bed, as it can leave you feeling deeply still and sleepy.

To learn this and other restorative poses, see this article.

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

Long revered by yoga practitioners, alternate nostril breathing is a great way to relax and reduce stress. This simple breathing technique helps calm the nervous system and balance the mind and emotions. I use it to settle my mind before morning meditation. But it’s also a good sleep aid, helping ease stress and anxiety.

See this article to learn it.

And if you missed them, here’s a look back at some of my past articles offering more techniques:

When a technique’s working, your body will slowly shift into rest-and-digest. So, if you feel relaxed or your tummy starts gurgling…you’ve got a winner.

What Is Somatic Bodywork?

Most people have a clear idea of what therapeutic bodywork is—it helps relax and heal the body. And most have at least a basic understanding of talk therapy—it treats the mind. But what about this thing that works with the whole of you: somatic bodywork?

What is it?

Somatic bodywork is any type of bodywork—whether it’s massage, reiki, or craniosacral therapy—where you and your practitioner consciously work with your inner perceptions. It combines bodywork with verbal skills, and it works with a lot more than muscles.

Somatics works with the whole of you: your physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts; your intuition and imagery; your spiritual insights. It can facilitate deep healing of old wounds and trauma, but it is definitively not talk therapy.

A comparison to massage

If you’ve had a therapeutic massage, your practitioner probably checked in on pressure and hopefully checked you were OK during work on painful spots. But most exploration of your inner state stops there. If the massage brings up feelings or memories, these may be managed skillfully, but the focus is on releasing tissues.

But bodywork can bring up a lot. Our body stores unhealed experiences for a safer time, and then nonverbally brings them up for healing—as sensations, symptoms, feelings, and more. So what if those were the focus? That’s somatic bodywork.

How does this work in practice?

To start a session, I often ask clients to get comfortable and turn inwards. I’ll ask: What do you notice?

You might say my shoulders are tight…or I feel revved up. This is just an initial sense of the terrain, an invitation to turn inward. I’ll do a craniosacral therapy hold somewhere comforting, like your feet. And we’ll wait for settling.

Once your body slows, it generally brings up an issue. Perhaps pressure arises in your chest. I may hold your shoulders to help track and we’ll be curious: Is it like a weight? A squeezing? Is there a color? An emotion? As we keep noticing, the sensation will usually change. It may decrease, you may sweat as heat discharges, or you may grow sad and cry.

Do you know why you’re crying? Not always. You don’t have to know to heal. But you may get an insight: I felt unloved as a child. I won’t analyze why—I’m not a therapist. We’ll acknowledge what’s here now. How is it for you to realize that? Perhaps you feel sad but relieved.  

Constantly seeking health

The body is constantly bringing up old issues in an effort to heal—but it needs our attention. If we can speak its language, and truly listen, the body will heal itself.

Why My Practice Is Staying Online

As the country reopens for business, I’m staying closed. Well, more accurately, I’m staying closed to in-person work and keeping my practice online—probably indefinitely. Why? There are some obvious reasons and advantages. And then there’s the real underlying reason.  

Let me start with some obvious…

When my state locked down last spring, we had no idea how long quarantine would last. So I kept paying my office rent for months. Repeated openings and re-closure orders—not to mention a deadly virus—made that unworkable. So I closed my office and rebuilt my practice online.

Could I go rent a new office now that things are open? Sure, probably…with a lot of expense and practice re-rebuilding. Do I know what’s going to happen in the fall and winter, especially with these new variants? No. Do I ever again want to be in a position where a pandemic can shut down my business? An emphatic no.

And truthfully, my quality of life is so much better now. My commute is ten feet long. I can be at home with my cat—rather than leave her alone for 10+ hours a day. And my expenses are down to, well…Internet. No office rent, no supplies, no costly permitting.

On top of that…

My client base just went global. I can work with anyone, anywhere, provided we can communicate. In other words, I just went from a city worth of potential clients…to a planet. And I’m unfettered now, too. Before, my practice was tied to San Diego; moving would have meant rebuilding from scratch. Now, I can take my clients with me.

But none of that gets to the heart of it. The real underlying reason is…

From my very first distance session, I knew deep down this was it for me. In the midst of syncing up with that client, of sensing their body in a more expansive and comprehensive way than I’d ever imagined, I knew there was no turning back.

It was like that moment in the fourth grade when I’d finally gotten glasses. Suddenly, the trees had leaves! What had been nothing but a green blur came into sharp and breathtaking focus. The world was so alive, and I’d been missing so much.  

So, basically I’m saying…

This is my work.

I know it’s not for everyone—I love receiving hands-on bodywork, too. And I loved giving it. But this…this is my thing. It’s where I fit best and sense most. It’s where I see the strongest results. And it’s where I can be of most service.

Working With Liquid Light

Last month, I wrote about the body’s liquid light nature, about the tides and energy that move through our inner ocean. This month, I want to talk about the intelligence within the tide, the “spark” in the fluids that guides healing processes.

In the beginning…there can be chaos

People often show up for sessions in either highly activated or shutdown places. They’re stressed or in pain. They’re running on empty or stuck in their heads. There’s fragmentation in the body-mind, disorganization in the subtle biorhythms. 

As a craniosacral therapist, I can feel this chaos. Tidal motions through fluids are disorganized. Tissues buzz, lit up by stress in the nervous system. Or I have a sense of the client’s head or upper body, but no connection to legs or feet.

Letting it settle

Healing processes can’t arise from chaos, so first I support the body to slow down, gather resources, and cohere. To do this, I focus on my own grounding and calmness, and on feeling my own tidal rhythms or stillness. Through resonance, the client’s body will start to follow mine into settling.

I also focus on the health in the client’s body, because what we focus on grows. I pay particular attention to signs of slowing and softening, of rhythms organizing, of vitality. Soon, I may start to feel their body down to their feet. Tidal motions, or deep stillness, will clarify. And health energy—that “spark”—will often gather in an area to work.  

The self-healing ability awakens

That gathering energy is powerful. Let’s say a client comes in with sciatica, and I’ve been holding their low back. Now I feel energy gathering around two compressed vertebrae. This can feel like a balloon expanding…or champagne bubbles.

Soon, a healing process engages. The joint pulses as fluids hydrate and wiggle the bones. Heat builds, followed by an energy discharge. Finally, a vertebra gently rotates and, with a small pop, decompresses off its neighbor. Space enters the joint, relieving pressure on a sciatic nerve root. Afterwards, the body rests and integrates.

This process describes a physical blockage, but the energy works in the same way to heal mental, emotional, and spiritual blockages and wounds.

The power of witnessing

I didn’t choose the treatment plan and I didn’t heal. The body did. I facilitated by holding space and witnessing.

Witnessing wakes up our self-healing ability. In the mirror of my awareness, the body notices an area of dysfunction. And with more resources now than before, it heals it.

As for why witnessing is powerful…. We live in a quantum reality in which just the act of observation changes the experiment. Is it so hard to believe that awareness has powerful effects?