It’s not your average sight…. seeing people twisted and contorted, sat on like lazy-boys, kneeled on, walked on and elbowed DEEPLY. Together with my awesome friend, event coordinator and cousin Kylie, this is the 4th time I have helped host Maori healers in my town Gainesville Florida. Last week Atarangi, Bill and Manu whipped out 50 healing’s in a day and a half. Their Elders tell them when it is time to tour, their Elders let them know which country needs healing next.
I want to write and share what is like to be present for all this healing (except of course when I was on frozen yogurt duty).
When folks arrive they bring their towel or sheet, their water bottle and they bring their pain; heart pain, soul pain, body pain. Most folks who make it to these sessions have searched for relief for a while, and are willing to step out of the “normal” idea of healing.
When people walked through my garden gate and they heard bellowing laughter, screams from the people who were on the table before them, and tears of gratitude for the gigantic pain that was just lifted off of them (even those who came in “chronically” affected), I sense strong emotions are a’swirling. I smell fear mixed with hope on the face of a small framed woman burdened with consistent panic attacks, humility mixed with awe from the man who had a broken neck who is ready for anything to help his suffering. Excitement, curiosity, and reverence are layered with varying degrees of surrender and resistance.
The Maori work together, in synchronicity. They believe it is the community that needs healing, and so it is community that gives healing. Often with a quick nod or a slight look, they switch healers, or maybe join each other in a double elbow move up the spine. I have been told that at home, in New Zealand, they set up in a cafeteria, or large hall, children and dogs running freely, half of the community starts on the tables, and when they finish they hop up and trade places with the ones who were just offering.
This year, when the Maori arrived we were gifted with sunny, cool, exquisite October days, and were able to work outside. Three people arrive for their healing at once and my Maori friends begin. The prayers they chant as the bottoms of their feet touch the bottoms of the person receiving feet is powerful, sometimes out loud and sometimes silent as they sit for varying times soul to soul, foot to foot, listening, transmitting, releasing.
The thing that happens next looks like some bizarre mixture of bondage/comedy as the 300 pound Manu sits atop women and men, directly on their sacrum (the base of their spine), grabs his guitar and plays! He belts out love songs and jazz ballads, songs about break ups and hope, all sprinkled with jokes and words of wisdom. Ata lifts legs and shoulders in what appears to be extreme angles, digging her elbows deep into closed muscles, soft bellies, and can crack bones like nothing I have ever seen. Bill, Ata’s husband can kneel into thighs, step on calf muscles and dig through the muscles on the throat all while sweetly calming them down to relax, making people laugh, and of course sing along in harmony with Manu and Ata.
People laugh, cry, and they scream, and I do mean blood curdling screams (I wonder how far my neighbors could hear us?). There is much swearing as people get angry, and convulse, shaking out emotions that got wedged deep into their body long, long ago, and now is exiting. One woman who had her heart and throat deeply cleared said she could taste stale bread; old, crusty, moldy energy that she felt kept her from singing was now out, gone. I once had a session with Ata’s son Terrance, where I imagined it looked as if I was cursing Terrance to the depths of darkness (he was standing full weight on my calf), with me flopping around like a fish out of water, but truth be told, I wasn’t even thinking about Terrance, I was letting the full strength of my anger toward my father come ripping out my mouth, and let down a massive heavy guilt for never having made it to Wimbledon, as he had wanted of me.
The Maori don’t ask “Is this is too deep?”, they don’t lighten up if you ask. They tend to find your edge and cross it….just the right amount. When they are done, the smiles on the recipient face speaks louder than their screams. They truly are radiant, glowing, tear streaked and fresh. Afterword, we had them lay on a rug in the lawn, or walk down to the garden, where some people stay for hours, crying, meditating, or sleeping.
I am moved with the level of gratitude people express as they leave, gratitude for the Maori, for the experience, but mostly for their selves; they faced their pain, and made it through to the other side.
I wish to thank you Atarangi, Bill and Manu for blessing this home, this land, and the people here in my village. Thank you to your Elders of your village who sent you, and taught you (since you were three) of these healing arts, thank you for angels of safe travels and protection as you cross oceans again to go home.
Until next time,
Aroha Nui (love big)
For more information:
When people come to me for massage, I ask them, “Where are you needing assistance?”.
90% of the time they speak of low back or upper back/neck tightness. And almost 90% of the time, when I touch on their forearms people are shocked with how much pain, tension and tightness they are experiencing. Our forearms are our finger muscles. This is an amazing gauge of how our body is dealing with the amount of time we are spending on the computer. (Driving, delicate work with our hands, and stress show up in this area as well.)
The following 13 tones on health and your computer consist of 13 easy, efficient steps that can be comfortably integrated into your computer time. Enjoy!
1. Breath….into your heart. Often with the computer we are thinking and translating…head /hands /head /hands. The simple act of breathing deep breaths, allows oxygen to fill our heart- which relaxes the shoulders- which relaxes the arms-which relaxes the fingers. Regardless of what we are thinking, processing,writing or reading about, we all will benefit from including our heart.
2.Give thanks for your fingers. Our hands are an amazing tool that often goes unnoticed. One simple chi gung technique for hand health: rub the back of your hand, soft and vigorously. Start at the tip of your fingers and rub back and forth, taking easy deep breaths as you do. Keeping your wrist straight, continue to caress your arms up to your elbows. There is no wrong way to do this, but relax your shoulders, soften your jaw and let your eyebrows release as you proceed. Here you are warming up the blood, muscles and lymphatic fluid. 5 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes….so next time you are reading a few paragraphs, go ahead and multi task.
3.Roll those shoulders! Set your body up so that you are balanced, hips square, spine erect. Letting your shoulders direct the speed, roll away. Personally I think the slower the better. We are aiming for blood circulation here. UP, back, forward…..and breathing…. all of this should be done nice and easy.
4. Hand circles. Pick a hand, pick a direction and roll, switch directions, and then switch hands. If you hear or feel a pop, kink, snap, twinge, or click continue to roll, only slower. Let your breath deepen, as you continue to circle your hand. The idea is that you can rotate until all is smooth and free from clicks.
5. Do the above exercise while holding your wrist, tightly. (This can be a fun exercise with someone else as well.) Gripping the wrist, firm but not pinching, roll the wrist in one direction, and then the next. Try also: hand all the way down, all the way up, all the way right, all the way left, tight fist, full open wide, and then relax. I find it nice to end this series with a gentle wrist shake.
6. Without moving from where you sit right now, notice your knees. Are they higher than your hips, equal to your hips, lower than your hips? This is key information if you find yourself sitting or driving a lot. The psoas is an amazing part of human anatomy. Please do yourself a favor and search “psoas” if you are not familiar with where it is in your body. When we are sitting, we engage the psoas more that ever. When the knees are higher than the hips we are OVEREXTENDING our psoas, which you may notice by deep low back pain, trouble standing tall, and some unconformability laying down. If you can, raise your chair, sit on a phonebook, or pillow, and get those knees an inch or two lower that your hip level.
7. Touch the top of your head. Touch your third eye. Rub your hands together and wash your face with your own Chi (energy,Qi). Our hands hold our own energy and when we fortify our eyes, mouth, ears, nose with our own hands, we can disconnect from some of the electromagnetic static which comes from our computers. Spend 1 minute warming your face, your scalp, rubbing your eyelids gently. Your brain and your body will thank you.
8.Boost your immune system! It is simple as rubbing your heart. In the middle of your chest, just below the neck, you have your Thymus. The act of moving your skin back and forth over this area, immediately helps your lymphatic fluid flow easier. Start with placing your hand on your chest, notice what you feel; cold, warm, tight, contracted? Rub in the direction of your shoulders, up and easy. If you rub too hard, you will be accessing muscle, which is fine, but missing the lymphatic fluid, which is just right below the surface, (Check out my lymphatic self-care video for more on this technique).
9.Take one finger in your hand, and hold it tightly. AND breath…… Continue with all of your fingers. Try to hold each finger anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute each. This is a form of Shiatsu, and greatly regenerates the meridians connected with each finger.
10.Utilize essential oils: Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Vertiver or whatever oil strikes your fancy. Take some time to find an oil that resonates with you, (you know it’s good for you when you like how it smells!). Inhale before you begin to work on the computer, or place one drop on your forehead. Breath deep and carry on!
11.STAND UP! Take 1 minute …. stand up and shake it off! Shake your hands, stomp your feet, shake your head “YES” shake your head “NO”. Breath deep as you raise your arms to the sky, and thank yourself for taking one minute for yourself.
12.Remember what is around you. Sitting squarely, feet uncrossed, slowly rotate your head to the right, be sure to keep your chin level. Slowly rotate your head to the left, eyes softly focused on the horizon. Notice where you are… Notice your breathing…. Notice the larger pattern of which you are connected too. Let this perspective support you, nourish you. It is always good to notice where you are.
13.Close your eyes….. breath…. notice how you feel. Ask your self do you need water? Do you need fresh air? Your body will ALWAYS communicate with you what it needs for health and balance. The question is, would you like to listen?
I am turning off the computer now, and going for a walk in the rain.
With an open heart,
may you be in radiant health…
A large number of people I encounter in my healing practice have a jaw that is extremely tight. Take a minute now to notice yours… is it sore? Locked? Clenched? If you touch your jaw with your fingers is it tender to the touch? Noticing the tension in our jaw can be an amazing tracking device for our stress level.
Actually, full body tension begins to release by simply bringing focus on our jaw. I find that breath naturally increases, deepening into our belly when the jaw softens. The eyebrows (which is another place that can hold hidden tension) can drop down once the jaw unclenches, which again, allows breath to deepen, especially behind the eyes.
Your jaw – also called your temporo-mandibular joints are two of the most powerful and most delicate joints in your entire body. If there is clenching, this can be felt in the neck, the base of the skull, the face. A tight jaw can create headaches, teeth grinding, even add to your stress level. Our jaw is connected with our throat chakra. What we speak, and what we withhold from expressing, is broadcasted in our voice, our body language and our breath.
Relaxing the jaw can begin as simple as with your breath: soften your lips, soften your tongue, and allow your breath to come deep into your belly. You can massage your face and ears to warm the area if you like, yet just bringing your awareness to the area is the most powerful of tools. Notice, breath, allow. Notice the tension, breath deeply into your belly, allow your jaw to soften. Allow any feelings to come to the surface as your jaw unleashes its clench. Most often there is some emotion jammed into this joint. Notice if you have any emotions which arise..anger, grief, feeling overwhelmed? Breath into this emotion, let it get larger…having it lodged into your jaw is not really helping the situation now is it? Notice, breath, and allow.
We have within each one of us our own stressometor. By paying attention to our jaw, we can stay more connected to our breath, our expression, and remain in choice about how much stress we allow to take hold of us.