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Energy Coaching: A Perfect Blend of Stress Reduction & Personal Growth

Energy Coaching Liver Meridian_Zenbrio House

Can you think of a time in your life when you had a challenge or problem that made you feel stuck…and then you went to visit a good friend. In the midst of a fun visit with your friend, you end up having a meaty discussion about your problem and somehow miraculously solve the issue. Your stress level drops significantly. It’s like everything “clicks” and the situation feels so much easier.

That’s essentially what Energy Coaching feels like.  Of course it’s a bit more complicated than that, but to describe in overly simplistic terms – it’s basically a fun, productive and stress reducing conversation with some energy work thrown in.  

Maybe you have fun and productive, problem-solving conversations all the time. (Lucky you! Can I meet your friend?) Or, maybe you don’t.

If that’s the case, might I suggest Energy Coaching? It helps relieve stress, work through problems, and bring more clarity to your goals.

Energy Coaching is basically two things: #1 – A fun, productive conversation #2 – Energy balancing.

Together they bring about something amazing…which is…#3 – YOU FEELING GREAT and aligned on all levels (physically, emotionally and energetically) with what you want.

Allow me to explain this more fully:

#1 – A Fun and Productive Conversation

The first thing you’ll do in an Energy Coaching session is sit down and talk with your coach for a bit. She will introduce you to the energy kinesiology/muscle testing we use in Coaching so you have a mini education on what it’s like and how it works. Then she’ll ask you something like, “What could be better about your life?” And you’ll respond by sharing a stressful aspect of your life that you’d like to improve. No matter how big or small the issue, it’s all welcome in Energy Coaching. Perhaps the hardest part is figuring out what aspect of life you’d like to work on. In that case, here’s a list of some of the struggles that can be tackled with Energy Coaching:

  • Feel more confident about speaking in front of groups – save your shirts from armpit sweat!
  • Cure the laziness that sets in every time you say your going to organize your garage.
  • Allow the grief of a loss or failure to pass through, instead of sinking you.
  • End your obsession with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
  • Let go of anger and resentment toward someone who has wronged you.
  • Find the courage or clarity you need to leave or find peace with a job or relationship that isn’t working anymore.
  • Reduce negative self talk – blaming and shaming yourself for everything.
  • Insert your idea here!!

Who doesn’t want to clear stuff like that?

Once you’ve shared the stressful topic you want to work on, your coach will ask you lots of questions about the stress, such as: What is most stressful? How is the issue affecting different areas of your life? How would you feel if the stressful issue were resolved? etc. Once you’ve talked for a while (maybe 20-40 minutes) your coach will start to guide you toward setting a goal that you would like to reach. The goal is stated in the positive and present tense and will relate directly to the stress you’ve been talking about. Example: “Other people’s driving irritates me so much” could lead to this goal statement: “I feel calm and safe when I’m driving.”

It’s very likely that your goal will feel untrue. That means it’s a good goal because there’s stress to be balanced!

To be clear. Energy Coaching is different from advice, counseling or therapy, although it does incorporate some of those aspects. It’s not a psychic reading. We can’t tell you anything about other people (e.g. Is my ex husband gay?).  We do not have an agenda. We don’t know what is best for your life. We believe that you know what is best for you, and we want to help you tap into that knowing.

#2 – Energy Balancing

Now that your goal is set, your coach will use energy kinesiology (muscle testing) to find which energy meridians (from traditional Chinese medicine) are affected by the stress you just discussed.

During this part of the session, you might be laying down on a massage table, sitting in a chair, or standing. It’s completely up to you and your comfort level.

Your coach will test many different muscles (a minimum of 14 on both sides of the body). Some muscles will lock/hold easily and others will unlock/not hold. The ones that don’t hold are an indication of where stress is being held in the body. We will use some energy/touch techniques, questions or metaphors that will “balance” or clear the stress around the issue.

Once your energy is “balanced,” the session is complete. (Balancing means that the muscles and meridians are brought to a more optimal or homeostatic state). Your coach will recheck all the unlocked muscles to make sure that all muscles are locked and all energy circuits are clear. A coaching session is 90 minutes, so there is enough time for talking and energy balancing.

#3 –  You Feeling Great

Typically, when the session ends, you feel better about the stressful topic you came in with. You may also have new insights about your behavior & attitudes related to the topic, as well as a new perspective on how to proceed. As you return to your daily activities, you may notice that your feelings on the subject have shifted and more possibilities are open to you.

Some people notice that they feel better about the stressful topic immediately. Others notice it more as they return to their day to day activities because they feel less emotionally triggered by the stress.

A Real Life Example

Once I received a coaching session from Sara while I was a caregiver for someone post hip replacement. He was very cranky those first weeks after surgery and often said and did things that would trigger me emotionally. His tone, behavior and actions would make me freeze up, unable to respond. I felt scared, confused, and all of my communication skills would fly out the window. I shared my situation and feelings with Sara and eventually we set a goal and balanced the energy around my stress. From the session, I gained new insight that I was taking on his suffering more than necessary. 

Right after the coaching session I had to get back to my patient. As soon as I walked in the room, his tone, expressions and words told the story of his anger at my lateness and apparent disregard for his hunger. I briefly paused, then threw my hands in the air, smiled big and said matter-of-factly “Well, nothing we can do about that now! What would you like to eat?” While fixing food in the kitchen, I was taken aback by my new response. Normally, I would have been standing there, frozen, no words to say, apologizing or making excuses, feeling guilty and angry at the same time. My thoughts ran something like this: “Wow. What a difference! It had to be from the Energy Coaching session. That crap really works! How does it do that? It was so easy! I just talked about it and set a goal and poof!”

In the days and weeks after that I noticed other changes. I felt different about certain things and I reacted differently. I felt more confident about how to navigate my challenges.

Since then I have had many more coaching sessions, and I have noticed over and over again the post-session changes in myself. I have come to expect it. A commonplace miracle if you will. On my morning walks I notice how much lighter my thoughts are than they were a year ago. I wonder, what will I be like next year? In five years?

What About Your Growth

What about you? Do you like the trajectory you are on?

If you are looking for real growth and change, Sara, Joyce and I look forward to becoming the friend you visit from time to time to bring clarity and stress relief to the challenges of your life.

FOOTNOTE: So now you have a sense of what happens in an Energy Coaching session, but you might be confused or curious about what energy kinesiology is and how it works. If so, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post What the Heck is Energy Kinesiology? coming February 20th!

Blog post by Mandy Baucum, Yoga and Energy Coach
Photo by Joyce Bunner
More About Mandy

New Year, New Goals; Tools To Fight Off Anxiety-Induced Tension

Lily Brunner Massage Therapist

It’s that time of year again where we often set goals and intentions for the year- and that’s great! However, change often doesn’t happen overnight, and there can be a lot of stress around achieving those goals.

When we are stressed, it causes a variety of other issues; headache, sore back, poor sleep, to name a few.

I am here to offer 6 tips and tricks to fight off stress so you can continue to conquer your goals. These are simple, yet very effective!

  1. RELAXATION RITUAL. Find a place in or near your home where you can go to relax. Set aside at least 10 minutes of your day for this ritual, more if you have time. Preferably, have this time set aside around the same time every day. This could be anything from lighting a candle and setting an intention, to enjoying your favorite cup of tea. It has been proven that just the thought of relaxing effects the body and mind, which is why creating a DAILY ritual is key!

  2. MEDITATION. If you can sit quietly and meditate, then great! You might be able to combine the above tip with this one. Meditation is different for everyone- for me personally, I have found that I need to be hiking to meditate. I count deep breaths in and out, matching them with my steps. Or perhaps you prefer to meditate while taking a shower/bath. The important thing to remember is that it needs to be right for you- otherwise you will have a very hard time getting into habit! An easy self-reminder to practice meditation is to stick a sticky note with a short message (about meditation) and stick it somewhere you pass by often.

  3. CREATE RELAXING PLAYLISTS and radio stations on Spotify/Pandora/YouTube, whichever music source you use. Find some down time and search through your music, discover new tunes, and fill those playlists until they are overflowing! Preferably, find music that is generally less than 60bpm- that is to say, songs that do not make your heart beat quicker! This way when you are feeling out of sorts you have pre-selected music to throw on, to help calm and reset. I like to find new artists and save them for when I am feeling anxious. Focusing my mind on new information/music can help ground me. I dive into new songs, focusing intently on the words and music.

  4. RE-ASSESS YOUR BOUNDARIES. It is never a bad time to sit down with yourself and ask some important questions. What are your boundaries in relationships- family, work, personal? Are there any areas where you feel like your boundaries have been crossed? Re-affirming and strengthening your personal boundaries will protect you from lots of unnecessary stress, both physically and mentally. I prefer to draw tarot cards and reflect in journaling- of course however there are many ways to assess your own personal boundaries. Once you have reflected, check in on those boundaries every so often. When negative emotions start to rise in your life, try to reflect on where/if any boundaries were crossed. Keeping in check with personal boundaries, and over time you will see improvement in communication with both you and others!

  5. CREATE TO-DO LISTS. This is SO simple and yet so effective! The important part to remember about this tip, is that you need to add EASY check-offs to your list! That’s right! For every 3 harder/more important items on your list, throw in one fun/easy tasks. This helps so much when anxiety kicks in about not getting enough done. Another helpful thing is to think of a few easy things you have already done, add them to the list, and immediately check them off! It feels really good to get the list started and helps motivate you to continue.

  6. Lastly, my personal favorite, MONTHLY MASSAGE. Budget monthly for a massage and you won’t regret it! Massage helps reduce pain and stiffness, by resetting neurotransmitters and reducing the stress hormone cortisol through therapeutic touch. In addition, massage decreases heart rate, increases blood circulation, and improves sleep! A monthly session helps keep your body performing at its optimal- and helps you keep attuned to your body and its needs!

    My favorite part about being a Licensed Massage Therapist is that I get to offer an outside view into someone’s health and help clients reach their goals!

I hope these tips and tricks offered some inspiration! To read more content on health and wellness, visit the Zenbrio House Blog!

-Lily Brunner, LMT #24477

Blog post by Lily Brunner, Licensed Massage Therapist
Photo by Lily Brunner
More About Lily

Astrologer Predicts Massage Therapist Turns Woo Woo

Marco Xu Galaxy Massage Therapist

Please take a moment to read my personal story of how local astrologer, Johanna Mitchell impacted my life as an evolving massage therapist. ,Johanna has been diagnosed with ALS, causing her to lose her mobility and eventually she will lose her voice.

There will be an all-day benefit for Johanna at Tsunami Books on September 15 from 10am to 9pm. There will be a silent auction, flea market, readings and more. Please donate or attend! Here is a link to the Facebook Page with more detail about the benefit:

Benefit for Johanna Mitchell


Listen to Johanna’s 2018 Astrological Reading

“If you like hard work, you’re going to love this year” says Johanna Mitchell, local astrologer at her annual astrology reading at Tsunami Books.

Seriously! Of all the years to miss her reading, I miss it this year!

Well, of course I missed it, because at the turn of the year my year was already hard. I was too busy working too hard to have any fun. In fact, this entire year has been the hardest year for me since 2009.

I was originally thinking that I must have sorely wronged someone and they put a spell on me to have lots of challenges and a difficult time this year. My other theory was that I have been really blessed and happy for the past several years that I was just “due” for a reminder of how hard life can be. In that cycle I would become re-grounded in the whole “life is hard” experience and my therapeutic work with people would deepen again, as I am refreshed in my understanding of stress and pain.

Both of those theories are undoubtedly wrong and just stories I tell myself in my head. It’s more likely that this year is just “hard” and Johanna Mitchell, as usual, knows what she is talking about.

It breaks my heart to learn that Johanna  is losing her ability to speak. If you have ever had the pleasure to meet her you know that she has the most cheerful voice and the way she talks is like joy rising. She is such a fun person to listen to!

Here is a link to an article on KLCC about how Johanna is doing, and the article includes a voice recording of her 2018 annual astrology reading. Scroll down to where it says, “LISTEN TO JOHANNA MITCHELL’S 2018 ASTROLOGICAL PREVIEW.” Listen and enjoy!

KLCC Astrologer Feels Blessed Despite Terminal Diagnosis

Now, let’s go back in time. Here is my story about how I met Johanna.

Astrologer Predicts Massage Therapist Turns Woo Woo

In 2014 I had my first astrology reading with Johanna Mitchell. I was skeptical and excited to hear what she would have to say about me and my life, according to the stars. After all I had heard about how wonderful she was by eavesdropping on a couple of coworkers, but I knew essentially nothing about astrology.

They were right.  Johanna was wonderful and full of insight. It was like talking to a wise friend who has your best interest at heart, with a dash of funny and a sprinkle of magic. She told me all sorts of things about my personality that were true like, “the Gemini in you loves change, like completely rearrange your furniture, but you only actually do that every several years, not all the time, because the Taurus in you is really strong and likes to keep things the same.” People, the conflict is REAL. It was like she knew me.

It was a lovely session and she said all sorts of interesting things to me including predictions about the following year. I tuned into certain things, like the bit about my partner having a big challenge in the fall (which he did) and that it would be smart of me to avoid any sort of contractual agreements.

I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed having someone talk to me, about me, for over an hour. Fascinated by how well she articulated details of my personality just by looking at my chart, I learned that astrology had a lot more detail than just the month you were born. I didn’t know how it worked, but it was seemingly on-point.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Johanna said something during that session that seemed minor at the time. In fact, I didn’t even remember she had said it. Only after it happened and I listened back to the CD recording of our session a year later did all of my skepticism fly out the window.

She told me that the late winter would be an excellent time for me to travel, especially for education. She said, “Look for a class at a convenient time in a place you would like to go. You’ll be glad you did. It will change the course of your career.”

It is true that changing courses and being adaptable is a classic Gemini trait, but I was enjoying my career as a massage therapist and had no reason to want to change. So, in the course of my astrology reading when she said that, I must have dismissed it. I was more enthralled with the other juicer things she was telling me.

So what happened? I did exactly what she said without even knowing she said it. It just happened.

I was looking for some continuing education for my massage therapist’s practice. Specifically I was seeking something that had to do with Chinese Medicine. I thought integrating some acupressure into my massage sessions might be a great idea. I found a week-long class in Malibu, CA that was at a beautiful Franciscan Monk retreat center. There was a mediation labyrinth, and the place looked serene. It would be held on the perfect week, when my partner was also out of town. It had to do with a book I had thumbed through a couple of times, Touch For Health. Done! I didn’t hesitate, I just signed up for it.

How It Changed My Career

Taking that class and it not only changed my career, it changed my life. In the first few hours, my stress was gone. By the third day all of my long-standing chronic pain was gone. I learned how to work with meridians to eliminate pain, how to use touch points to improve range of motion and get function back into body parts that were not working right.  This stuff is liquid gold for a massage therapist.

It showed me that energy is not some mystical thing that only people with a “gift” can work with. That healing is practical and simple, and we can completely change our response to stress by getting an energy balance.

I had signed up to take the class with Matthew Thie, son of the founder of the system, and had no idea that that was who I was learning from. I was just taking a random class I found online at a place I wanted to go. Only later did I understand how fortunate I was that I had landed on his website.

Touch For Health was magic, and it brought magic to my work. As a very manual massage therapist, I had never worked with energy before. I didn’t even know what a meridian was when I took that class. I had no idea you could release a tight muscle by tracing your hand across the body and not even touching the person! It was woo woo but it worked! I was in complete awe.

As a massage therapist I was used to working and working, and working the body some more to get results. It was music to my ears to learn that there were simpler gentler techniques, which were much more effective and long-lasting.

Touch For Health answered all of my inner prayers about what I wanted to be able to do for my own self-care, as well as bring depth and meaning to my work with clients. I was so inspired that I began using it in my massage practice right away. In a short time I was doing more kinesiology than I was focusing on being a massage therapist. Later that year I became a Touch For Health instructor passionate about teaching others!

I had fallen in love.

When I listened back to the CD of my reading with Johanna the following year, I was blown away. Briefly mentioned, among all of the other things that seemed so much more interesting, was a very clear prediction about what actually happened. That was when I knew there was something to astrology.  Johanna herself was a goddess!

She called it. That one random class did change my life. It changed it ways that I can’t even begin to explain to you. I’ve had rapid growth from the inside out and the outside in. I became a totally different type of massage therapist. It is the foundation from which Zenbrio House was born.

Get Your Own Astrology Info

There is so much more to astrology than the daily horoscope in the paper. What I once thought was just for entertainment, like so many things, runs much deeper than what initially meets the eye. Master astrologers like Johanna Mitchell spend a lifetime studying and perfecting the science and art of interpreting the stars and planets as they relate to our charts. Giving us information in a way that we can understand and integrate and experience how it impacts our lives.

Johanna has touched countless lives and I can only imagine the positive ripple effect she has had on our community. I am blessed to have enjoyed her company on several occasions and grateful for the many subtle and significant ways she has impacted my life. Join me in celebration of her work by attending her benefit on September 15 at Tsunami Bookstore in Eugene.

If you are curious about astrology, Johanna makes a personal recommendation to someone she trusts for astrology readings on her website: http://johannamitchell.com and if you haven’t read your own natal chart, check this out and see if a more in-depth description of you, according to astrology, resonates: Free Natal Chart on Cafe Astrology

Blog post by Sara McRae, Licensed Massage Therapist
Photo by Marco Xu

Decorating for Courage: Why You’ll Want a Massage in Our Metal Room

Our vision for a larger wellness center includes beautifully decorated rooms representing the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood.

As a center specializing in Touch For Health Kinesiology, a huge influence on what we do is the Chinese Five Element Theory. Just like with acupuncture, we use the acupressure points and meridian channels to move the energy from an element of excess to an element that needs more energy in order to create balance in the system and jump start the bodies self-healing process.

I chose to decorate one of the initial rooms in our new center as the Metal element room, namely because metal was the most challenging element for me to envision as a nurturing, peaceful treatment room. Metal can be cold, hard, clean and simple.

Metal represents the energy of purity, preciseness, freshness, discipline and clarity. In classic Feng Shui metal is white, gray and all metallic colors, comes in the form of minerals, crystals, stones and gems, and is represented with round forms and polished surfaces. Decorating with the metal element emphasizes the attitudes of determination, courage and inner strength.

I’ll admit, decorating this room was a challenge. The beauty of the room eventually came together as we found a few key pieces such as the art-deco credenza with a stone top, Mandy’s metal monkey bowl (say that ten times fast!), and some key Chinese Bronze hardware to bring our re-purposed St. Vinnie’s armoire to life.

We chose to paint the walls of our metal treatment room a metallic “Bronze” and a pearl color called “Astute,” both very fitting color names for metal. To emphasize the essence of the metal element, the room has simple decor, plenty of white, and clean simple lines. You’ll find the room to be spacious with a “grand” feeling with large furniture and plenty of gold and bronze accents. To warm the room we’ve added velvet chocolate curtains and some plush blankets. Additional decor includes a stone coffee table, white leather chairs, and a few strategically placed gems and rocks. It is an interesting mix of stone and art deco, subtly lit by the paper lanterns, and a funky gold spiral lamp.

“The metal room feels very clean, calm and grounding with just a touch of aged glam.”

Our intention to decorate the rooms at Zenbrio House as the 5-elements, is not only to emphasize the root of our treatments in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but to provide balance to our clients by immersing them in the energy of a specifically decorated space.

When do you need more metal in your life?

Increasing the metal element in your life may be very balancing for you if you feel overwhelmed, depleted in energy, or worrisome, and when you desire clarity of purpose or direction in life.

Metal element can help with the following:
• Increase productivity and efficiency
• Emphasize precision
• Enhance ability to simplify and organize
• Decrease scattered, un-grounded behavior
• Help you connect with helpful people and timely opportunities
• Increase ability to articulate and communicate with clarity
• Increase discipline, determination, courage and drive towards goals
• Bring feelings of lightness, calm, and clarity

Clearly, Metal Rocks!

How do I know if my metal element is out of balance?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the metal element correlates to the Lung and Large Intestine organs and a handful of muscles such as Anterior Serratus, Diaphragm, Deltoid, Hamstrings and Fascia Lata (the IT band). If the metal element is out of balance an individual may experience dysfunction or pain in the corresponding muscles and symptoms of the organs themselves.

For example an individual may experience pain, weakness, diminished range of motion, tightness, and inability to “fire” properly in the corresponding muscles. If the imbalance lasts long enough the individual may experience complications with the lung or large intestine such as nose problems, colds or other repiratory problems, asthma, breathing problems, intestine-related problems, constipation, or lack of energy and inspiration in life.

When the metal element is out of balance the person may feel guilt, grief, difficulty letting go of the past, difficulty letting go of people or things, and they may be jealous, or worrisome. They may be forceful, rigid or controlling.

A person who is in balance in the metal element will exhibit courage, determination, leadership, minimalism, and will be able to make decisions easily. They are organized, clean and decisive.

Check out this excerpt about the metal element from the Touch For Health Kinesiology textbook. This is the book we use to balance our clients at Zenbrio House.

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When we test a muscle correlating to a particular element, it gives us an indication of the energy flow in that element and the specific meridian within the element. For example, testing the Deltoid gives us an indication of Lung Meridian within the metal element.

If it’s depleted the muscle will not function properly. To bring the meridian back to balance we may use acupressure, touch reflexes such as rubbing certain points, or work with the muscle itself to create harmony in the system.

When we balance a meridian the proper muscle function returns, muscles relax, and the body falls back into postural alignment. Since these muscles and meridians correlate to organ function, we know it is gives the person a boost and initiates self-healing on the inside as well. Our physiological functions, our horomones, and emotions, come back into balance and this harmony in the system feels extremely good. It’s often described as a lightness, a feeling of peace, and a release of physical and emotional stress.

The more frequently you experience balance, the more your body becomes efficient, vibrant and healthy.

Check out those metaphors! Isn’t it absolutely fascinating how the muscle function or dysfunction correlates to what may be going on in our lives? That is what makes working with the 5-Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine holistic.

“Holistic is integrating all of the aspects of the person in the context of their life, not just treating their symptoms or treating a broken part.”

Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years because it is extremely effective in helping people recover from illness and heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. The 5-Element theory is the most fascinating and eerily accurate healing system I have had the pleasure of learning about. If you are curious about how we balance the 5-Elements, join us for a Community Balance Circle or treat yourself to a Kinesiology Balance session. A balance will align your posture, enhance your energy and improve your mental outlook.

Through Traditional Chinese Medicine and Touch For Health balancing, a person can experience a lot more ease and a lot less disease.

I hope you will visit our center and that you find the metal room to be luxurious and balancing. We are excited to share this beautiful space with you and hope that it will inspire you to get organized, get clear, and bring forth the calm and courageous energies within you to achieve what your heart desires.

Book a massage or kinesiology session with one of our amazing holistic therapists!

BOOK A MASSAGE

Blog post by Sara McRae, LMT
Photo by Sara McRae, LMT

How to Get the Best Massage of Your Life

Best Massage of Your Life

How to Get the Best Massage

Do you want the best massage of your life? Let me give you an insider’s secret. When you have a massage or therapeutic appointment, there is one thing that you can do that will guarantee you have the best experience.

It’s to be open.

Let me explain.

Helping people feel better, get out of pain, and become more self-aware is both a science and an art. There are certain things that your therapist has learned throughout his or her training that are meant to help with specific issues. Let’s call those recipes, and some practitioners really like to follow recipes, and can get good results that way. That’s the science part.

How do you get even better results? How do you have a blow your mind, awesome massage experience? How do you access the real healing potential?

It’s simple, ask for the artist within your therapist to show up.

Ask for the part of your therapist that goes rogue, that doesn’t follow recipes, is willing to connect with you on a deeper level, and to work with you from a place of creativity and intuition. That’s when the real healing work begins.

If you walk into to your massage therapist’s studio and say, “I have this back pain so I want you to work only on my back for an hour and I want really deep work.” You have essentially committed bodywork suicide.

First, you have just put your therapist in a box. You have smothered their creativity.  You have closed so many doors on your healing it’s not even funny.

Presence, creativity, nurturing, and healing are all feminine energies. You can’t access those qualities by forcing a protocol.

It’s like going to a really amazing top chef and saying, “I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread but I want you to use only Skippy and strawberry Smuckers and I want it to taste like a gourmet meal. I want it to fill me up and melt in my mouth like the best meal I’ve ever had.”

Even if the chef tries to make you the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and gets the best white bread and the freshest Skippy and loads it all on there, he’s still completely limited. You are totally missing out on what that chef has to offer.

As a consumer, you have more choices than you think. You can demand exactly what you want and have the top chef make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That is, if the top chef is willing to do that. Just because the chef is a chef doesn’t mean he makes PB&J, and just because your massage therapist is a massage therapist it doesn’t mean he does deep work on backs.

If you want them to provide something they are good at, at the very least you could ask for the menu and order off of that. You could even ask for the chef’s recommendations!

But there is an even MORE exciting option. Why not ask the chef to make you whatever she wants? After all, you are seeing a top chef. This person knows how to cook a meal. You are paying good money for it, so why not get the best of the best instead of the same old peanut butter & jelly? I’m telling you, if choose the latter she’s going to create something for you that is “blow your mind” delicious.

You have that same choice when you see your massage therapist or healing arts practitioner. How you interact in the first couple of minutes is going to set the tone for what you will get. I’m not saying don’t speak up about what you love or what is important to you. I mean if you are feeling like steak today, by all means mention that steak sounds great. But there is a way you can ask for what you want and still get the best treatment.

Try this next time you see your massage therapist:

“I have this back pain, and its important to me that gets addressed, but I want you to do whatever it is that you think would help me feel better. I am wide open to whatever techniques you use.”

Guess what?  Instead of closing doors, you just opened them. You just started a conversation and a good therapist is going to ask more questions and begin creating a strategy on how best to help you. You have communicated a huge amount of respect for their area of expertise.

By honoring the inner-artist in your therapist, and asking for him/her to show up, you have stepped into the realm of healing.  Your therapist is not “stuck” in any way. They are excited to do their best work and pull from all of their experience. They get to be creative. They get to use their intuition.

You are now their favorite client because they are free to help you in the very best way they know how.

You are about to have one of the best sessions of your life.

Now, let’s clarify one more thing. You won’t get a top chef meal if you go to Taco Bell. They have a strict protocol on how they make their tacos. Don’t be fooled by the chain restaurants either, they will be pulling your meal out of the freezer, so chances are you won’t get something fresh, healthy, creative and made with love.

Make sure you go to a therapist who has the freedom to run his or her practice as he chooses. Then tap into the very best of that freedom by asking for the best of what they have to offer. You may never complain about that back pain again.

Blog post by Sara McRae, LMT
Photo by Rosie Kerr

Book a massage or kinesiology session with one of our amazing holistic therapists!

BOOK A MASSAGE

How “Touch Anxiety” Nudged Me Into Massage Therapy

Most people get into massage therapy or the healing arts because they have a deep desire to “help people,” to nurture, or to be of service.

I got into massage therapy because I desperately wanted to feel better.  I was in pain, stressed out, and unhappy. My decision to look into massage training was logical, practical and completely about me.

Ultimately I got into massage therapy because of contrast. My twenties showed me how I did NOT want to feel in my body, and what I did NOT want in a career.

I was sitting too many hours at a desk and very stressed out at my job. At 23, I knew that I was too young to be feeling so uncomfortable, awkward and overwhelmed. Massage school appealed to me as a smart way to learn about the body and how to feel better.

In addition, I was embarrassed and disappointed in my overwhelming anxiety around touching people. Yep! Touching people was terrifying to me.

I was extremely uncomfortable touching anyone who was not in my very inner circle. If you were a coworker, acquaintance, friend, etc. it was very difficult for me to reach out a hand or offer a hug.  I admired people who were free with their affection, who were able to effortlessly touch someone with confidence and in a nurturing safe way, such as touching someone’s shoulder as you talk to them.

Massage Therapy training seemed to be a logical solution to the areas in my life that I was “stuck.”

In 2003 I quit my job and started looking into massage schools. I was drawn to Oregon School of Massage in Portland/Salem. I lived in Eugene but commuting to the right school seemed worthwhile. I ended up being wooed back to my employer before I even started the massage program, but I made arrangements to work part-time while I went to school.

Oregon School of massage was wonderful, but I almost walked out of orientation because of my touch anxiety. I remember the administrator talking about the program and how much touching was involved. He had us stand up and touch the arm of the person next to us, and give some brief massage-type touch. It reminded me of that dreaded moment in church when I would be forced to shake hands and greet the people around me. Absolutely terrifying! I would go through the motions, feel like I wanted to crawl out of my skin, dissociate from my body and emotionally shut down.

I knew I was going to have to face a lot more touching than that, but I was determined that massage school was the right choice for me for many reasons. I deeply wanted my life to change.

Massage school was fascinating. I learned so much about the body, how to care for myself better, and I very quickly got over my touch anxiety. I would look forward to a job that was healthier for me, with more movement, more peace and calm, and above all not at a desk.

Then, more life happened.

When I finished massage school I did not start my new career. I got a high-stress desk job in a competitive corporate environment. It was round two of life showing me what I didn’t want.

In 2009 I quit that job. I was overweight, had swelling feet, stomach problems, sleep problems, hormone problems, and anxiety. It was all due to stress and a sedentary lifestyle.

I started walking and I started to study massage therapy again. After two months walking on a treadmill I began running outside and feeling healthier. It was time to sit for my license exam and start a massage therapy practice.

I took a part-time job and was transparent with my employer about my desire to grow a massage practice. I found a wonderful room to rent downtown Eugene and it happens to be the same room I still practice in today. I was eventually able to transition to massage therapy full time.

What fascinates me, looking back, is that I didn’t get into massage because I was driven to help people. Pain was my great motivator. Overcoming anxiety and becoming comfortable in my own skin was my goal. I believe that my experiences helped me be a more compassionate therapist. I understand pain. I understand not taking care of yourself. I understand obligation, stress and being stuck.

I could write for days about all of the reasons I am so grateful that I chose massage therapy as a career. I have evolved so much with it. My life is richer for it in meaning, connection, and purpose.

I get to laugh a lot. I get to wake up every day excited to go to work. I get to be a witness to people growing, changing and feeling better. I get to help people and be of service.

Best of all, I am able to give hugs freely and they come from a place of joy. If you see me for a session, it’s highly likely you will get a hug. Unless that would cause you anxiety, in which case I totally get it, and would respectfully not engage in awkward hugging. I am also pretty good at smiles, high-fives, and winks these days.

Blog Post by Sara McRae, LMT
Photo by Photo by Drew Hays