Spectator or Participant?

Of course, we are all participants in our own lives. But sometimes we live life from a distance, watching it go by without making any vigorous moves to keep from getting stuck, or to reach a goal that requires some extra effort. It is almost like we are a spectator of our own lives, just thinking or talking about ourselves, but not being aware of the physical connection to our issues. To be a full participant in our lives, we need to include the body. There is a physical root to most concerns, even if they may seem to be mostly on the emotional, mental, or spiritual level. We can use our intellect to make choices that take our body in new directions, but the body needs to move to get to a new place.

There are many ways to move the body, such as yoga, tai chi, walking, or other forms of exercise. But often we reach limitations, such as lack of energy or motivation, or soreness or inflexibility. Massage can be a great way to overcome such problems. Massage of the skeletal muscles has benefit on many levels, but massage focused on abdominal organs (Chi Nei Tsang) is often a very powerful way to get energy moving and to address our limitations. The abdomen is where the five phases of Chinese medicine originate, a source of all meridians and energy channels. The center of our physical body is in the abdomen. Before birth, we are nourished and connected to our mothers through the umbilicus, and the navel is the remnant of that connection. Many issues, especially emotional issues, have a physical base in our bellies. More information about Chi Nei Tsang see Dennis Lewis’s article “Taoist Healing & Chi Nei Tsang.

My goal is to find the priority for working with a particular issue. Possibilities include bodywork, dietary changes, supplements, remedies, or medications, talking about feelings, beliefs or life changes, or a combination of all the above. Careful attention to the body’s condition in the present moment, and a gentle approach are necessary for effectiveness.

My basic training includes a Master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. I offer psychotherapy and counseling, but often find that bodywork can be an effective way to support such therapy. It creates a movement of energy that is helpful for those who are anxious or depressed. Frozen anger or fear can be thawed, and a solid grounding can be established, without disconnection or distortion.

Since graduation from UNC in 1999, I have studied bodywork with several teachers, including Mantak Chia, Dirk Oellibrandt, and Karin Sorvik. I have taken the Chi Nei Tsang courses taught in the Healing Tao tradition, and became certified in 2009. A free initial session can combine psychotherapy with homeopathic remedies and bodywork in whatever combination is most appropriate for the current priority.

I am convinced that we must “be present to win” in life. Meditation and practices such as those taught by Eckhart Tolle can help develop the skill of being present. In my own experience, working directly with the body can be another way to connect with the embodied presence that is our birthright.