Bodywork for the Whole Being By Denise LaBarre
We are complex beings. Complete healing must involve body, mind, spirit and the emotion that connects them. Bodywork can help heal on many levels and keep us healthy throughout our lives. Your area probably has alternative healers who combine various modalities into their own signature style. Learning a little more about the terms and the processes involved can help you find a bodyworker that suits you, now.
Massage feels good and meets our basic need for touch. Beyond that, it increases circulation and offers a host of other physical benefits. Fall/winter is a great time to slow down a bit, turn inward, and receive bodywork. There are so many options: deep pressure, lymphatic drainage, hot rocks, sound, yogic stretching, lights, crystals… You can find just about any kind of style, focus and combination if you look.
I recommend asking your body what it wants to move or change and how much. Do you need subtle, gentle movement or do you want to move big, intense energy? Do you want to address stuck emotional energy or avoid it for now? Are you open to integrating all levels at once? Can the bodyworker hold space for what you want to move? Some bodyworkers have a wide range. Others specialize deeply. Your body will let you know where to start.
For example, the therapeutic work I do combines massage (body), a background in psychotherapy (mind), and shamanic journey (intuition/spirit) with an emphasis on moving emotional energy through the whole system. What does all that mean? That means at the least, you get a great massage. We can talk – a lot or not. The energy of your “issues” arises as you talk and my work helps to move it through and out. We might talk about your childhood, write down the destructive messages that constantly play in the background of your mind, and set them on fire (shamanic play). I have a trampoline in my back yard that I use to shake things up, get energy moving, and invite in fun!
Most of all, I listen to the intuitive guidance, from your body, through my hands. No two sessions look or feel the same, even for the same person. The emphasis is on experiencing the emotional energy physically. Once you feel it, it can move out – forever, if you so choose. Feeling the energy sadness or anger you carry is usually much less awful than your fear of it. It’s the resistance that feels like suffering.
Whatever the techniques used, breathing is always your portal inward. Whether or not the bodyworker reminds you, make sure to breathe deeply when you’re on the table. Your breath is the greatest energy mover.
The field of bodywork is expanding and evolving at an exponential rate. We need it to help shift our bodies along with the planet. However, our vocabulary to express working with the complex and subtle energies of the human body haven’t expanded as widely as our intuitive understanding.
Don’t get hung up on the terms
All bodywork moves energy but the term “energy work” implies a focus on more subtle energy, sometimes with very light or no touch at all. When people ask me “Do you do energy work?” I ask what they mean by that. The way I see it, it’s all energy work, just on various levels.
I call myself Healing Catalyst rather than a “healer” because I catalyze – set in motion – healing without being the one who does the healing. I feel that is up to the client, and the divine. I also call myself a “Body Whisperer” because I communicate with the body intuitively the way a “Horse Whisperer” communicates with horses to learn what they need. But these are just names. The proof is in the work.
Bodyworkers use terms in different combinations – bio-energetics refers to the energy flowing through a living system; somatic means “of the body.” “Integrative” and “transformative” are great words but you may need to ask what they mean to the bodyworker that uses them. Look up copyrighted modalities to see if they offer what you think they do. Individuals tend to add their own flourishes the more experience they get with a technique. When in doubt, ask.
How to find a bodywork match:
Ask your friends, colleagues, and family. They will know if someone they’ve worked with is a potential match for you.
- Look online. You can get a feel for someone from a website, but realize that the proof is in their touch, not in their graphics and layout.
- Use your intuition to feel it out. Then, as with any health provider, you ultimately have to meet the person to see if the style and energies match.
- Timing – Sometimes it’s a matter of timing. An approach that may not work for you now might be a match in the future. A bodyworker’s offerings may change, as will your needs.
- Books/workshops – If they’ve written a book or give workshops, check those out. You can see if the work fits you – often for a fraction of the cost of private sessions.
- Hotel Spas/Healing establishments – Booking a massage at a hotel or healing office usually assures you that the bodyworker has all the proper credentials and (usually) a certain level of professionalism. If you are relatively new to bodywork, going to a larger establishment is probably worth the additional cost. Plus, they often have a hot tub, sauna, or other goodies to round out your bodily indulgence.
- Ask questions/communicate. At a establishment with many massage therapists, you can ask about the therapists’ experience. Keep in mind that the skill level and experience of the front desk staff can be very different from the person who will ultimately touch you. Ask questions, go with an open mind, and communicate what you do and don’t want. Even highly intuitive people can’t read your mind – and it’s your
You may not find and exact match every time you try a new bodyworker but sometimes going to someone who doesn’t help you catalyzes clarity about what you do need, instead.
So with all these variables, how do you find the right match for what you need, now? Ask questions and use your intuition! The list in the back of this magazine is a great place to start. Enjoy!
*This article originally appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of Living Aloha Magazine
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