Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2019

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Landing at about midnight, we had another leg to endure. We boarded a bus that was missing most of its floorboards and took off for our hotel. The builders must have run out of money before completing the hotel, as every room lacked the upper third of its concrete walls. Not only could mosquitos buzz their way into our abodes with great zeal, but the roosters, which cheerily announced dawn from about 2:00 a.m. onward, didn't grow silent until about a minute past the sunrise. The next morning, we embarked on the Amazon, carefully seated on a long wooden canoe powered by one small motor and several men with long oars. After a few hours, we pulled up on the bank of a village, the face of which consisted of a tiny store selling cigarettes, flour, and Coca-Cola products. I surmised that the 100 or so people who lived in this area either grew or raised their own food or went hungry. The shaman's assistants unloaded the live chickens and sacks of rice that would become our basic sustenance, while village boys tossed our backpacks on their shoulders. Off we went, trekking the two hours through the jungle to the shaman's headquarters, bugs as thick as the overhead canopies, which were replete with chattering parrots and monkeys. We then met the shaman. The small, 80-year-old man grinned at us, a large carved pipe in his mouth. Over the next two weeks, we participated in ceremony while he danced and prayed. As do most shamans in their natural habitats, he began our midnight sessions by first entering a trance state, employing tools like drumming, dancing, herbs, and plant medicine. While in this altered consciousness, he was able to perceive the truth of our souls, employing his "spirit eyes" in a transcendent manner. We all sat in a circle around him, and he would stop, one person at a time, and relay the cause of our negativity, no matter the presenting symptom. To obtain his insights, he discussed matters with various otherworldly beings from among the three domains, but always brought his diagnoses down to our soul. He would then make recommendations, including changing diet, trying a new medicine, or working through spiritual issues. Everyone on that trip experienced intense transformation, including myself. What did the shaman suggest was the root of my unhappiness? He stated that my soul remembered living on the "Blue Planet," a place of brilliant blue and white light. There, I swam with other beings in a sort of liquid light. All was goodness. The shaman said many of my this-life issues were caused by the fact that I missed this once-experienced bliss. Ultimately, my shaman said, I had to alter my outlook. If I experienced connectivity once, I could do so again. After taking responsibility for my present-day attitude, my business took off, and now I'm nearly always joyful. KARMA AND DHARMA Whoa, you might be thinking. How am I going to bring up past life issues with a client? You don't have to. You don't even have to believe in past lives. What's important is to realize the nature of the soul is of a universal essence that connects to anywhere and anything. That's true of your soul but also your client's soul. When working with the soul, a shaman basically reduces issues into two main types. They figure out what might be karmic rather than dharmic. Karma and dharma are Hindu terms that describe philosophies that appear in most cultures; as such, these principles are imbedded deeply within each of us. They also reflect normal therapeutic and medical concepts. Karma describes events that enable us to learn a lesson about love. Most typically, our karmic issues are the result of harmful experiences that have become the basis for physical pain, dysfunctional beliefs, and frustrating emotions. Don't I sound like a therapist talking? Physicians also understand that underneath many presenting symptoms and disease processes is stress; between 75 and 90 percent of all medical office visits are stress-related. 1 The bottom line is anything that a client hasn't fully embraced and dealt with is stored in the bodily tissue. It is often these challenges you are addressing during a bodywork session. Even those of us who believe in past lives assert that problems carried in from other time periods land within today's body, which is the vehicle for not only physical but also spiritual improvement. The soul isn't only a carrier of karma; it also conveys dharma, which is the affirmation of truth. Fundamentally, dharma is the intelligence of goodness we already carry and express. Dharma reflects the highest principles of love. Just as karma is carried within the soul, so is dharma. In fact, dharmic wisdoms are continually available to the corporeal or mundane self and should be the determinant of our beliefs, emotions, and activities. Some dharma-based knowledge comes naturally to our soul. Other aspects are acquired through what we learn when dealing with our karma, or life's hard-knock lessons. Optimally, when interacting with a client, we want to assist them in finding the place of love within a challenge, as my jungle shaman did for me. By helping me recall a dharmic or near-perfect experience of love, he revealed my bottom-line karma or problem— my attitude. I was left empowered, however, once I understood I was able to choose how to better approach my life, regardless of what I'd gone through in this lifetime—or any other, for that matter. Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 99

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