Full session description
I take people on journeys, using Breath Work, Traumatic Incident Reduction, Energy Work, and Shamanic Bodywork, to a place, often in the past, where they lost a piece of their soul. Then, they take it back.
This work, based on my training in Hawaiian Temple LomiLomi, Breath Work and Trauma Resolution has been influenced by my own journey, is a delight to the senses and an opportunity for deep healing on many levels. Shamanic Bodywork helps to resolve embodied physiological triggers, soothe hyperactive Sympathetic Nervous System responses and treat dissociation to help reconnect individuals with their body and resolve lingering shame, guilt and animosity they may associate with their body as a result of prior traumatic events, particularly sexual trauma and early childhood abuse in various forms. Often clients experience powerfully healing altered states, created by their body's own endocrine chemistry acting upon the nervous system, and journey internally to resolve old traumas or reorder dysfunctional attitudes or beliefs. The work incorporates loving, nurturing massage techniques, and indeed Lomi Lomi means loving touch. It also incorporates energy work and awareness, focused breath work, and prayer. As a functional bridge between the energy work, breath and massage, I have incorporated toning or vocalization as well. Anticipate 2.5 hours or more, do not plan anything immediately afterward as you will want quiet time to process.
The session begins as you stand, wrapped only in a sarong, on a mat on the floor. After some initial instruction on breathing, several energy centers where we frequently block or resist our experience are described, as well as an understanding with regard to each. Next, in connection with the throat chakra, the practice of toning or vocalization is begun to use throughout the session. Then a prayer opens the sacred space and sets any specific intention for the session. Prior to getting on the table the anointing ritual begins.
Controlling our breath is the principal way that we manage our endocrine responses to emotions. There is a biochemical connection between the state of our central nervous system and the pattern of our breathing in the current moment. Breath work is one of the oldest health and wellness practices in existence. Western medicine is now able to examine it scientifically. This expanding body of knowledge is in part due to scanning technologies that observe brain activity, and tests that can monitor endocrine activity in the brain, body and bloodstream. Thus researchers are creating a better understanding of the connections between breath patterns and nervous system and/or endocrine responses. Psychiatrists and neurologists are using this new information to develop or apply breath practice to treat a variety of conditions. Breath is also deeply enmeshed with energy work, and how we resist or allow emotional response to our experience. You could refer to this as "the way we feel our lives."
If you aren't familiar with energy work, or you have a healthy skepticism, you should know that essentially, energy work is performed through an intuitive connection between the facilitator and the recipient. It revolves around the movement, or lack of movement of energy through the major and minor energy centers, or chakras. These are eastern concepts that arise from a functional understanding of the complex body and its supporting energy fields. Much of what happens in energy work is not fully understood by western science, mostly due to a lack of study, but the structures in the nervous system I am about to describe can account for many of the observed effects of energy work.
Western ideas tend more toward the structural. If you are more comfortable with the structural approach, it should be noted that branches of the nervous system correlate with the major and minor chakras, and that the Vagus nerve in particular runs through nearly all of the major chakras. The Vagus nerve, in recent western research, is highly implicated in emotional states and moods, as well as the regulation of many of the systems of the body. Thus there are active and dynamic physical structures supporting the movement of energy through the body, as well as the connection between individuals and the facilitator. Mirror neurons, a well studied phenomena in western neurology, respond in the body, to observations of others, firing in the same way as if the individual were actually experiencing what they are observing in another.
Guidance to the facilitator flows through this connection, sometimes as a clear image, as specific direction, or as a sympathetic mirroring of the sensations in the body of the recipient. The guidance I get is most often the latter, a sympathetic mirroring, I seldom try to put it into words as this takes me out of that portion of my brain that is making the connection and receiving the guidance. Energy work can be performed on all levels: spiritual, emotional, physical, or mental. In the shamanic bodywork I do, this most typically arises in the form of emotions attached to experience we have resisted in one or more energy centers, or chakras. In creating a space of tremendous vulnerability and safety, I encourage the recipient to breathe through the rising emotions, allowing that energy, and the underlying experience to continue it’s processing.
The incomplete processing of resisted experience, and it’s continuing unconsciousness, is at the root of traumatic memory, resulting from a temporary disengagement of the hippocampus, yet our nervous and energy systems run throughout our entire body, and resisted experience can also create state or context dependent memory that can be triggered by sensations in the body, most often around the major energy centers we used, consciously or unconsciously to resist them.
In energy work, we restore the free movement of energy, experience and the emotion our amygdala has paired with that experience. Then physical energy is no longer tied up in that resistance, and inappropriate, or even harmful endocrine responses associated with that resistance cease. Likewise, often the memory of that experience may be triggered and process fully to consciousness in the safety of the session, allowing us to understand the impact it has had as well as to consciously alter the decisions and coping mechanisms we employed to resist it.
While all aspects of shamanic bodywork are necessary and supportive to the process, understand that they all work in support of restoring the movement of energy, as that supports our Parasympathetic Nervous System which is responsible for healing and regenerating our body, mind and spirit.
There are many paradigms by which we can understand what prayer means to each of us. A very useful one, which is completely independent of your religion or beliefs about the divine, is that prayer is a way of setting and internalizing an intention. It is a way of engaging the sum of our consciousness(whatever you believe or understand that to be), toward a certain accomplishment or state of being. In work such as this, when we are freeing energy and emotion from the past and altering the way we resist or allow it in the future, prayer helps to set the template for what we want to accomplish. It is also about creating safety during the process. You may call this creating a sacred space. It is essentially a container to give shape and purpose to the freed energy. As a practical matter, the difference between the sacred and profane is the care and consciousness with which we undertake something.
Oil is applied while you are still standing. Organic Coconut or sometimes Jojoba is used, both are excellent for the skin and absorb readily. A good bit of oil is used to facilitate the over and under body strokes. Then you are guided to the table, face down.
On the Table
There are no sheets, only the vinyl tabletop. The room is quite warm for your comfort. Your body is then arranged on the table, feet extending off the edges on either side. The feet are then wiped to remove any dirt or sand. The sarong is grasped near the feet and fanned, billowing up the body several times. The sarong is pulled very slowly toward the feet and off the body altogether. This process is repeated in several directions, with the soft, light sarong gliding over the skin and again defining its contours. On the last pass, the sarong is removed and more oil is poured, defining the length of the arms, legs, hips and back.
The massage techniques employed are largely gentle, but powerful, stimulating the body to change rather than trying to force changes on the body. The pressure varies considerably however, and changes moment by moment to whatever that part of the body finds most satisfying in that particular moment. This intuitive flow prevents the mind from anticipating, predicting or following what's happening, which frees our thought from the compulsion to try. Our mind is then free to participate in healing in various other ways. Strokes cover the entire body, often in the form of full body-length strokes, they go over and under the undraped body, connecting and expanding our awareness of our body.
The massage begins with full handed long forearm strokes, spreading the oil, further defining the shape of the body, over, under and around. The massage continues, speed and pressure varying moment by moment. This style of massage releases deeply relaxing endocrine chemistry in the body, likely a source of the visions and lucid dreams that often accompany the work. As the massage proceeds, you continue the deep, full breaths, toning or vocalizing, on the exhale. Your mind is cut loose into a simultaneous, meditative state and you are free to follow, or disregard the thoughts that arise. The vocalizing, as it continues, serves as a guide to the shaman’s intuitive work on the body. Thus a direct dialog ensues between the body and the person playing it, like a musical instrument, deepening the sensation and awareness within the body. Finally, the sarong is drawn across you, much as it was in the beginning, several times, leaving you draped.