Policies, Promotions & Particulars

Tip It Forward

Art by Emily Perelman with

Starting in September 2021, Bevin will be putting any money given in excess of her stated fees into a “Tip it Forward” fund. This money will then be used to make her work accessible to folks across a broader economic spectrum through very low-cost or gifted bodywork. Inspired by this practitioner in Kentucky and by the reality that many folks have been systematically deprived of the wealth building tools her own family has enjoyed, she hopes that small acts of generosity will make it possible to provide healing work to people who really need it no matter what their financial situation.

Another Way to Pay

In the interest of making touchless payments easier but not having to pay in advance of your session, here are some quick links so you can pay after your session but on your own device.

Gift certificates should be purchased through the booking site.

Here’s how you can pay Bevin:

Bodywork 30 minutes
Bodywork 60 minutes
Bodywork 75 minutes
Bodywork 90 minutes
Open Amount (choose the “units” at $1/ea. that correspond to the amount you wish to send)

Venmo: @Bevin-Keely
PayPal: @bevinkeely
CashApp: $BevinKeely

Here’s how you can pay Jennifer:

Massage 60 minutes
Massage 90 minutes
Open Amount

Venmo: @Jennifer-Keller-17
PayPal: @jenniferkeller1554
CashApp: $jenkel1125


Health Insurance, L&I, PIP

At this time Bevin is taking new clients within the First Choice Health Network (Kaiser’s extended network). All insurance sessions can be booked from the regular service menu,  including L&I and PIP claims.

For all clients billing insurance of any kind, we ask that you have a prescription for massage from your doctor, regardless of whether your plan says you need one. Your prescription must include the proper ICD-10 diagnosis code/s and the number of sessions prescribed. Please note: our correspondence address is not our physical location address, and we do not have a fax machine. For correspondence address please ask your bodywork practitioner.

If your health insurance offers out-of-network massage benefits we can furnish you with the proper paperwork to get our work reimbursed at the out-of-network rate if you wish.

PIP and L & I claims will require that we send along our treatment notes with billing. We will ask you to sign this form:

Authorization for Use or Disclosure of Protected Health Information Required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Insurance Paperwork

Here are some resources for those of you wanting to submit claims to your insurance companies for out-of-network reimbursement:

Premera’s Claim Form

Aetna’s Claim Form Menu

Cigna Claim Form

You will need a billing statement from us to submit along with the form from your insurance company, and many times they will want us to put the ICD-10 code from your prescription on our statement. Again, we require a prescription even if your plan does not, because diagnosis is outside our scope of practice.

Health Savings Account/Flexible Spending Account

One of the trends we have noticed over the past couple of years is the rise in Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s). More companies seem to be choosing high-deductible insurance plans and contributing some money to attached HSA’s for their employees as health care costs rise and insurance premiums become unwieldy.

Massage therapy and bodywork is not specifically listed as an “eligible expense” on IRS Publication 502 describing tax deductible Medical and Dental expenses, but neither is it listed as “ineligible”. From what we can gather, a “letter of medical necessity” or a prescription from your physician would push our services into the “eligible” category.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA’s) work in the same way.

If you use your HSA/FSA without the safeguard of a prescription or a letter of medical necessity and are audited by the IRS, they could decide that your treatment was not properly documented as a qualified medical expense and that the money you spent is subject to income taxes and a 20% penalty.

The good news is that the threshold for determining medical necessity seems to be relatively low– your physician simply needs to explain it, and that should be sufficient. Here is a sample letter of medical necessity from one HSA. Check the website from your HSA manager to find the form they prefer.

Medical Necessity

To get your massage covered by your insurance, you will need a prescription from your doctor, even if your insurance plan says you don’t. This ensures that your massage is “Medically Necessary”, which keeps us out of trouble. It is outside of our scope of practice to diagnose your injury, and yet we must have a diagnosis code to bill with– thus, a prescription.

Additionally, you should be aware that insurance companies are pretty rigid in their definition of “Medical Necessity”:

“Benefits for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation therapy services (such as massage therapy) are provided when such services are medically necessary to either restore and improve a bodily or cognitive function that was previously normal but was lost as a result of injury, illness or surgery.

Loss of function generally means a joint that doesn’t have full range of motion or full strength, or pain that prevents you from your activities of daily living.

Insurance companies are less interested in treating chronic pain syndromes; in our experience, they want to see results. If the treatment isn’t working within 6 -10 sessions, then it must be the wrong treatment. (See previous post.)



Healing Resources - Who else to see

Everybody needs help. As a quick reference to the people and places we go to get ourselves taken care of, or have heard great things about from trusted sources, we offer you this list. We are so grateful to have these excellent practitioners to turn to, and always interested to hear who you go to when you need it!

Christina Pappas– Craniosacral Therapy, deep tissue Swedish massage
Eve DeRooy– Craniosacral Therapy, Swedish massage, Somatic Experiencing/Organic Intelligence
The team at Banya 5– for sooner-rather-than-later needs

Kate Bradfield– Certified Advanced Rolfer
Michael Hahn– Visceral Manipulation, distance healing
Lisa Torrison O’Neil– Structural Integration Practitioner

Chiropractic Care
Lauri Webb– does very specific atlas/axis work
Michael Ross– Active Release Technique and more traditional cracking
Sarah Deam– on Capitol Hill

Nan Schwarz– on Capitol Hill
Eric Spivack– also does Thai massage, on Beacon Hill
Don Andre– Renton and Columbia City, also works with apitherapy

Yoga on Beacon
Motion Sense Movement Education Becci Parsons does amazing Feldenkrais work in north Seattle
Karen Clay is a multifaceted movement wizard, Somatic Unwinding and Feldenkrais in central Seattle
Kinesia Pilates Classical Pilates in Pioneer Square
Vitality Pilates Pilates in multiple locations around Seattle.
Kahoutek Coaching personal training

Physical Therapy
Renew Physical Therapy in Hillman City (South End)
Heidi Gans works out of her home office in Columbia City
Footworks Physical Therapy fine tuned bike fitting and PT in Pioneer Square
Movement Systems Physical Therapy by Lake Union
Cascade Dizziness and Balance Clinic in Madrona

Talk Therapy
Kathi Buchanan (206) 931-4256 Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Counseling
Charlotte House counseling from a bodywork background, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
Alexandra Onno ‭(206) 949-4520‬
Robin Held, Grief Coach

Primary Care
Dean Chier, MD– Seattle Healing Arts Center has a great reputation.

Sarah MacLean Bicknell
Eric Thorton
Katie Poinier


Trauma Healing Reading List

Wendell and Wild
For starters, a little something to prime your system. Embedded within this movie are themes of trauma recovery and triumph over systemic oppression. There is a scene towards the end that beautifully illustrates the compassion and space required to integrate one’s trauma, and there are the goofballs Key and Peele– what more do you want from a film?

Reading list for those interested in how our bodies hold trauma:

What Happened to You
by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey
This is great to listen to as an audiobook, a conversation between Oprah and Dr. Perry about how trauma acts in the body and what we can do about it. Probably the most accessible and least triggering of the books on this list (except maybe My Grandmother’s Hands) “What happened to you?” is the question they wish we would ask instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
by Peter A. Levine and Gabor Mate
Peter Levine is the developer of Somatic Experiencing. This is a comprehensive look at the theories behind his work.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel van der Kolk
Though this book was not written for the general public, it has clearly struck a chord. Folks with complex PTSD may find this book difficult to get through, but it does help explain a lot of what is going on.

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts
by Resmaa Menakem
This is a wonderful book that takes the Somatic Experiencing lens and points it towards racialized trauma, for people of all races. There are many exercises along the way, I highly recommend actually doing them.

Somatic Experiencing

With Somatic Experiencing, we nurture health by assisting an inherent physiological process, slowly building awareness in the felt sense of the body, thereby fostering resilience and a sense of well-being.

Our bodies have a naturally rhythmic arousal/completion cycle in response to the normal stresses and joys of everyday life. When we are able to ride those waves of excitement and relaxation without resistance, we maintain a sense of coherence and flow in our lives. This flow can be interrupted when sustained activation or overwhelming events or feelings fix us in an activated state on a physiological level. Somatically this can surface as chronic tension, deep inflexibility, a persistent knot, or a sense of unease, anxiety or depression.

Those fixations can be gently encouraged to move by attending to what is happening in the felt sense of the body and allowing physiological completion of the initiated stress response cycle, freeing us to be more energized and connected to the present moment. “Completion” may be allowing your body to direct resolution through imagination; it could be a little bit of movement, some trembling, or an emotional release, and is often a combination of a few things.

Because fixed sensations are often uncomfortable and sometimes challenging, it is important to work incrementally, in very manageable pieces, gradually building resilience and draining off charge until a sense of coherence is restored. In this process we give our unconscious mind a little time and attention to express what it has been trying to accomplish, which ultimately brings us some peace.

We have found it useful to weave Somatic Experiencing into regular massage and Structural Integration practices, though it can also be helpful to get off the table and use S.E. work to structure the session entirely as well. If you would like to work some Somatic Experiencing into your regular bodywork session, just ask when you arrive and we’ll point our intention towards deeper healing.

For a more technical explanation of S. E. theory, the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute has many good articles, and the Wikipedia entry is instructive.

The Dr. Ida P. Rolf Method of Structural Integration and Rolf Movement Integration®

Structural Integration and Rolf Movement Integration invite positive change into your body. Offered as a series of unique sessions, we seek to deepen your sense of well-being through gradual and balanced release of habitual tension and to expand your options for movement by broadening your perceptive field.

If you are seeking change, you are likely dealing with discomfort; or, at the very least, curiosity is nibbling at you. This work offers some time and tools to explore where mechanical issues of structure and limitations of awareness are inhibiting your potential. Reduced pain, increased adaptability, and an embodied sense of self are our ultimate goals.

Sometimes all we need to facilitate change is a little attention, given through physical or verbal contact in the right places. Pressure, movement and appropriate cues can bring awareness and animation into places where we were otherwise unconscious or strained.

At other times, the restriction is bound in the unwitting need to contain unpleasant feelings—physical, sensory, or emotional—and we can offer support to help make those feelings more tolerable, so that your body can let go.

The hands-on work is usually done with the client in their underwear and starts and ends with a postural analysis. You will be on a treatment table much of the time, but we will also work in the seated position and sometimes standing. Sessions are usually between 60-75 minutes.

We recommend that you set up Structural Integration as a series of three sessions to begin with. At that point, if you are getting what you need, seven more sessions completes the classic series. A weekly pace is ideal, but not absolutely necessary. At the end of ten sessions, we will generally suggest that you let your body continue to process for six months without further structural intervention. If you are craving more, a few Rolf Movement Integration® sessions would allow us some time to refine the functional aspects of integration.

Our work together is a collaboration, a dynamic learning process. As such, we like to work within your tolerance for the occasional discomfort that comes with change. You are always welcome to request a lighter touch or a little space when you need it, and we cultivate sensitivity in that regard.

Please check our blog for video links to help you visualize the work and for some tips for personal comfort and care during a series of Structural Integration. Also there, my original Client Handbook, which goes into much greater detail.

For the Movement work, here are a couple of Ida Rolf’s classic recommendations for freeing the pelvic and shoulder girdles, as drawn by the lovely and talented Ellen Forney:
Dr. Rolf’s Leg Repatterning Excercise
Dr. Rolf’s Arm Repatterning Exercise (1 of 2)
Dr. Rolf’s Arm Repatterning Exercise (2 of 2)

Pain Scale

If you are dealing with persistent pain, it’s useful to be on the same page when we discuss it. Please use this chart to help us understand how you are or have been feeling when it comes to your pain and discomfort, and we will do our best to help you feel better.


Added by BK 12/6/2022:

I want to put this one at the top, because it’s what I am currently absorbing. You likely know the metaphor of the fish who doesn’t know what water is… well, here’s the water we’ve been swimming in: White Supremacy Culture Characteristics. This will take me some time to read, to follow the threads (so many just from this one website), to ponder and reflect and attempt to see in day to day life. I also found this quick and entertaining explainer playlist on TikTok for those of you who want the immediate download:  Is it yt supremacy??? This particular piece of work, recognizing the dominant culture for its particulars, is SUPER CHALLENGING. I am immediately aware that I have attachments to WSC that I am not sure I want to give up, or am afraid to give up, or… I don’t know, still chewing.

Pulled from the (Please Avoid) Weaponizing This Tool section: “This website, the article, the information offered here is a tool, an analytical tool designed to help us better understand white supremacy culture. The intention is to help us understand the water in which we are all swimming so that we can collaboratively work together to build and sustain cultures that help us thrive as communities and individuals. Cultures that are not based on abuse of power and accumulation of profit. Cultures that are based on interdependence, justice, and respect for each other and the earth and wind and sun and stars. Cultures that embody the belief that we all do better when we all do better.”

When I factor in a vision for what it COULD be like, it helps me loosen my grip on what it IS like. The paragraph above sounds way better to me than the current situation, and expresses my own priorities in my work and my life. Thrive Together, right? Yes, please.

This post was written by Bevin Keely in June of 2020

***If you are a person of color, you are welcome to read this, but this isn’t written to you. This is written for you, however, in an attempt to take on the burden of understanding and bringing my white friends and family along with me.***

Art by Chip Thomas for

For interested white folks I offer this peek into my ongoing quest to educate myself, and invite you to join me. I am a student in this space, bumbling along trying not to hurt anyone and aware that living here and not doing anything is actively hurting people. It is long past time to do something to change the fundamental realities of life in America for our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) neighbors.

First, we have to understand the problem. Let’s start with a bit of humor, because it helps to see the absurdity in any difficult situation. Thank you, Michael Che.

I began tackling the Me and White Supremacy Workbook last year (before it was a book) and got stuck. I didn’t know enough, really, to answer the prompts honestly. So I spent a several weeks with the 11 Step Guide to Understanding Race, Racism, and White Privilege, digesting concepts as I ate my lunch or took a break between clients. It’s thorough and engaging and by the end I felt like I knew more. Not enough, but more, so…

Here are some of my favorite podcasts, an easy way to keep learning while cooking, cleaning, commuting.:

Code Switch

Justice in America

The 1619 Project (also a series of articles in the New York Times Magazine)

Ear Hustle

White Lies

What’s Ray Saying?

The Third Season of Serial

Robin D’Angelo is a white lady who coined the term and literally wrote the book on White Fragility. I haven’t read her book yet, but I have used her resources page, which is packed with tons of good links.

Ava DuVernay’s excellent Netflix documentary The 13th is a primer for understanding the racism at the core of our criminal justice system. I have not yet had the courage to face her film When They See Us, which takes that understanding to a personal level, but I will be watching that ASAP.

Ijeoma Oluo is a local treasure. A self-described “internet yeller”, her words sometimes feel like a slap in the face, but always illuminate. I recently read her book So You Wanna Talk About Race, and I have a copy to give you (at this moment) if you want it. Check out the “writing” page on her website for linked articles.

I bought My Grandmother’s Hands last year and it’s next on my list to read, seeing as it is directly linked to the Somatic Experiencing work I do.

On Instagram I am following Rachel Cargle who also does thegreatunlearn, and the #meandwhitesupremacy hashtag, which has led me to follow #shecolorsnature and privtoprog among others. It has been really helpful to get those messengers into my feed to hear what they are saying on an ongoing basis, and I add more as I find them.

There are so many threads in this fabric- the deep and inherent flaws in our criminal justice system, the long-term effects of discriminatory lending for housing which then cascades into issues around environmental exposure (like Flint) and therefore health outcomes, with schooling and job opportunities, etc. It’s pretty overwhelming and hard to know what to do as an individual.

One very easy thing to do that helps break down implicit bias is to enjoy media that shows the full spectrum of black life in America. I LOVE the HBO show Insecure and have really enjoyed the Netflix show Dear White People. In one of the “extras” the creator of DWP talks about how growing up he was well aware of all facets of white culture in America because all of the TV and movies are about us, and in this show he is attempting to fill the substantial gaps between common black stereotypes and turn the tables on us. I appreciate that!

I am only just figuring out how to tangibly contribute to change beyond educating myself. It seems like we can have the strongest impact by taking action in our own communities, so this week I wrote to our mayor, Jenny Durkan and asked that she take the pledge that the Obama Foundation is recommending to address police use of force policies. I also made a donation to the Persist PAC to help women of color get a seat at the legislative table in our state, where their voices are sorely needed. And I am sharing my process with you, so that you and I can work together to figure out what to do next.

Please feel free to reach out, to collaborate, to educate, to tell me what you are doing that feels useful. I am always up for a compassionate conversation about white privilege and what we can do to dismantle it.

***UPDATE 6/24/20:

Changes to entrenched and inherently racist systems will be driven at the local level. In my community there are people of color already telling us what they think will make the biggest difference, so I have subscribed to the Black Joy newsletter put out by the folks at King County Equity Now. They have outlined several actionable requests and are asking for support in the form of money, calls, emails, and petitions.

I spent the weekend listening to this excellent series from 2017 about whiteness, what it is, where it came from, how it persists: Scene on Radio Season 2: Seeing White. We also watched the first half of When They See Us, and it was unsurprisingly difficult. My son at one point said, “Why did you think I would enjoy this?” and I replied, “I didn’t think you would enjoy this at all, I just think it’s important for us to know.” I look forward to the second half, where I believe the men are exonerated.

I’m interested in what you are learning as well, so feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading!

Links for further Research and Information
S.I. Client Handbook, circa 1997

This PDF is the Client Handbook I wrote while completing basic training at the Guild for Structural Integration. It’s very thorough in its explanation of the process, and very earnest in tone. The file had to be broken into two pieces because it was BIG:
Client Handbook Part 1
Client Handbook Part 2


COVID-19: Masking Policy

Illustration courtesy of King County Public Health

Masking Policy April 2023

Effective April 3, 2023 the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will end the Secretary of Health Mask Order, which currently requires universal masking in healthcare facilities for people age 5 and older. You are always welcome to wear a mask or request that we wear masks, and we may default to mask wearing ourselves for the time being.
We will be checking in with you the day before your appointment to make sure you are in good health and to discuss any circumstantial issues that might put us or you at risk and we’ll make a plan together for masking at that time.

Please refer to our Coronavirus/COVID-19 Policies and Practices for more details about how we are keeping each other safe at this time.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Policies and Practices

We make this agreement with you, and ask that you make it with us: We are following current CDC and local government guidelines regarding masking and social distancing.  We wash or sanitize our hands frequently when outside our own homes. Within 5 days of your appointment we will not have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a doctor or local public health official, nor will we have experienced any of the common symptoms of COVID-19 or knowingly come into prolonged contact with anyone who has without being tested. These statements are also true for people who are in our households.

We screen ourselves daily. Using the same questions we ask you, we will make sure we have a high probability of health before we work with you.

Please update your intake and waiver when you get the email prompting you to do so, whether you are a new or existing client.

We will text you the day before your appointment to make sure you are in good health and to discuss any potential exposures or illnesses being managed on either end. If there is any question about your health or the health of your household we will either reschedule with no cancellation fee or suggest wearing a high quality mask to your session.

At the building, we need you to wait until at least 10 minutes before your appointment to call up, as we are cleaning everything and it takes time. If you are on foot/bike, you can enter the lobby with code 07743; if you are driving, please wait in your car until the designated time (within 10 minutes of your scheduled appointment start).

When you get off the elevator please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer at the door of our office.

At our door: Shoes come off at the door and we will show you where to put your things. Please bring your own water.

We may request that you wear a mask. As of April 3, 2023 Washington state has lifted the mask requirement in healthcare settings. You are always welcome to wear a mask or request that we wear masks, and we may default to mask wearing ourselves for the time being. There is a nifty workaround for face-down droplet capture if wearing a mask in the face cradle seems suffocating.

Between sessions We clean everything we use or come into contact with, and run a powerful fan that pulls the air out of the office to clear the room of aerosolized droplets.

It is our hope that with all of these precautions in place we won’t get sick, but if or when we test positive for the Coronavirus we will let you know as soon as possible so that you may take appropriate action.

To read our detailed COVID-19 EXPOSURE CONTROL, MITIGATION, AND RECOVERY PLAN just click on the link.


Screening Questions in the time of COVID-19

Update, February 2023
We still reach out the day before your appointment to make sure you are in good health and to disclose any exposures or illnesses we are managing . Our policy is to make sure everyone has the information they need to make the right decision for themselves and their families in this dynamic time.

In 2020, 2021, and much of 2022, this was true:
The day before your scheduled session we will reach out with these screening questions.

Please tell me, have you recently had
-a fever of 100+
-any difficulty breathing
-new cough
-sustained loss of smell, taste, or appetite
-sore throat
-vomiting or diarrhea
-aching throughout the body
-unexplained fatigue
-been in close contact with anyone who has had these symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
-have you, or has anyone in your household, traveled or been in any large crowds in the past 14 days?
-have you seen any new marks, rashes, spots, bumps or other lesions on your skin?
-have you been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19?
-are you able to exercise and get your heart rate up without any problem?

News & Updates

Introducing Jennifer Keller, LMT

Jennifer works with Shannon in her chair.

Beginning in July 2021, Jennifer Keller will join me here at Thrive Together Healing Arts. Here’s a little Q & A to help you get to know her:

What draws you to bodywork as a career?

I’ve always enjoyed helping people and being of service. After a lot of customer service jobs, I needed to find a way to serve people that fed my soul and kept me engaged and excited. The body is such a beautiful, complex machine and the opportunities for learning are endless. I also love working one-on-one to achieve goals and having an ongoing therapeutic relationship with clients.

Where did you do your training, and what kinds of continuing education have you integrated into your practice?

I completed the 750 hour Professional Massage Practitioner program at Discoverypoint School of Massage in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Since then, I’ve taken continuing ed in Thai massage, cupping, and a 6-month mentorship in neuro-myofascial, unwinding, and structural decompression techniques which has been my favorite and given me a new way to perceive working with the body.

Has there been a bodywork experience you have had, either giving or receiving, that has felt transformational in some way?

There are a few things that come to mind. I remember the first time I received a massage and experienced an emotional release. This was a lightbulb moment for me about how trauma can be stored in the body *for years*, and how powerful touch can be as a modality that helps shift that stored energy, bringing a person into greater presence and awareness.

The second experience was when I was working with a client who’d had multiple massages for injury treatment, but was still experiencing constant pain. They were willing to give my myofascial technique a try even though it was a departure from the deep-tissue they’d been used to.  As we were working, I could feel their tissue shifting and asked the client what, if anything, they were experiencing. They reported feeling more space in their body, and despite lying still on the table, having a sensation of their arm feeling raised into the air. At the end of that first session, they had greater range of motion and ease of movement and it is so exciting to witness people experiencing these kinds of feelings in their bodies.

When do you know that you are in the zone with someone on your table?

When I feel the most in the zone is when my client’s body softens, and I am aware that I am working at a depth that is sinking in to where their tissue allows me to go, rather than trying to plow through their resistance.

What was it about my practice that felt like a potential fit?

I’d been envisioning becoming my own boss and had a list of desired characteristics for my new office. When I saw your offering, it ticked all the boxes: mentorship, start-up support, trades, hydraulic table, COVID precautions, location. I really loved the Structural Integration class I had at school and thought your experience could further inform my work. We share an interest in working with the effects of trauma and I think we have similar attitudes about helping and supporting people.

What are some areas of curiosity for further training?

I am very interested in Somatic Experiencing and Craniosacral therapy. These are my next two certification goals. I am also interested in pursuing training in massage for cancer care, and exploring the use of sound as an adjunct to massage.

What are you excited about in this new venture?

I am excited to form relationships with clients and discover how I can help folks from all walks of life achieve their goals for greater health and wellbeing. I am always exited for opportunities to grow as a person and a massage therapist.

Welcome, Jennifer, I am so thrilled to have you on my team! To take advantage of her introductory special please book yourself a session at Thrive Together Healing Arts.

Tips, Tricks & Things You Can Do

I'm sensitive

Original post from September 2015:

I am late to the game on this, but after talking with one of my clients recently about being extra-sensitive to the feelings of others, among other things, I finally did a little search online about it.

I have never identified as a “Highly Sensitive” person because (according to my therapist) I have excellent coping skills, and (it’s my feeling that) I’m not THAT sensitive. I’m lucky enough to be able to dial it in and dial it out most of the time, but there are times when I have to do a little self defense in the empathic realm, and my education about how to do that has been piecemeal.

There are a lot of us out there who get stronger signals from the world, which many of us read as ANXIETY, dreadful inexplicable anxiety. Somatic Experiencing has helped me tremendously with that, making it possible for me to experience anxiety as a felt-sense phenomenon that may or may not have a real issue it is trying to help me with. My discernment skills around that have gotten pretty good, and I may be able to teach you some of those skills if you like.

But–in big energy situations where my senses tend to get weirdly overwhelmed (a great example for me is festivals, where lots of crazy energy is running rampant) I have found it necessary to to a little self-care up front with little practices I’ve made up on my own. If the message about how to take care of oneself in this way has had a hard time reaching me, a person who has been surrounded by resources for over 20 years of working in the healing arts, then maybe it’s having a hard time reaching you, too.

Here’s a local class for you sensitive peeps out there that might prove helpful:

I’ve been clicking around on this website, too:
Something about the language of this site speaks to me less (I don’t identify with it), but I appreciate her focus on research, and have her book reserved at the library.

UPDATE, August 2021:

I never did read that book, because it didn’t really speak to me. Here are some practical ways I work with being sensitive on a daily basis:

  • If I am feeling something hard and it’s not obviously attached to the moment, I ask, “Is this mine?” Sometimes it is, and then I will use my SE tools to help me through it. Sometimes it’s not, and just asking that question helps dispel it. If it’s not mine and simply identifying it doesn’t allow it to move on, I will encourage it to keep *moving through me and consciously try not to attach myself to it, no matter how fascinating it is. It is a choice, then, and it makes less sense to hold other people’s stuff (off the clock) when I have my own to work with.
  • *My teachers have counseled letting things move through rather than resisting. Resistance creates stickiness; allowing things to move through–well, they just keep moving. If there is inherent stickiness, I sometimes use a visualization to help it along. My metaphor is star energy that sweeps from the top of my head through my whole body (and whatever I am touching) into the ground, but you do you.
  • When I know that I will be working with something challenging- a situation, a client’s particular issues, just a lot of stuff all at once- I place myself firmly in the context of my little piece of being. I bow in gratitude to the archetypal energies of the four directions, acknowledging my ancestors and the borrowed bit of the earth that my spirit animates right now, and in this way I feel more connected to all that is. No need to shoulder this stuff alone, especially since I didn’t create it all myself.
  • When I have agreed to hold someone else’s psychic, physical, or emotional stuff for a while, I purposefully set it down once we have finished. I have a little ritual around it, takes about 15 seconds. I do this better in a professional setting, could benefit from remembering to do it when it’s less formal.

In my cosmology, I have agreed to walk the earth and do some amount of the work that needs doing. Discerning what is mine, asking for help, and cleaning up when done are all ways that keep me working without exhausting myself or burning out.


The Rolf Pelvic Lift

The Rolf Pelvic Lift is a classic piece of self-care. I often recommend this for people, usually with more emphasis on allowing the weight of the body to pour through the feet into the table and a lot more cues about letting your butt kind of go along for the ride, but if we have done that in the office together already this is a nice little reminder for you. Benefits of this nice slow movement increase with patience and a little practice, and can include a settled nervous system and a spine with a little more space and ease at the base.

Tummy Time for Adults!

In my own adventures of owning and maintaining a human body I have (re?)discovered the joys of “tummy time”. Parents will be familiar with tummy time as a thing we have our babies do to develop their back and neck muscles that eventually becomes rolling over, crawling, and the like. We basically plop them down on a blanket on their bellies and try to entertain them while they work for that strength and coordination, and they automagically know what to do.

Well, guess what? All the sitting, slouching, forward leaning posture we spend our lives in means that as adults we begin to lose that lovely back extension we worked so hard for in our earliest days, and we don’t seem to automagically know how to fix it. I am finding that a few minutes on my belly on the floor each day goes a long way toward making me feel more balanced, strong, and coordinated. I credit Vitality Pilates and Heidi Gans, PT, for having me do this regularly, and my own silly brain for connecting it to the thing we all did as babies quite naturally.

I found a nice little video from Bex Burton on YouTube with some basic Pilates-inspired tummy time exercises that is a great place to start. IMPORTANT: Supporting your spine by lifting the navel off the ground is the foundation of this exercise. If you are sacrificing that lifted navel to accomplish any of those other moves, back up, hug it up, and make the gesture smaller. When my back is really mad or I have been bent over gardening or working for awhile sometimes simply laying face down and hugging my spine with my navel and just thinking about extending is enough work.

Remember that the intent here is to counteract a deep and enduring slouch and that even if all you do is lay stretched out on the ground on your belly you will be accomplishing some of that. Lifting your navel makes it safer for your low back, and the other moves she throws in there make it more challenging and effective.

See you on the rug!

Stack Your Bones

I just found this little gem, an embodiment/movement practice in app and book form put together by fellow Guild graduate Ruthie Fraser. I have downloaded the app and am itching to explore!

Help for the Rotator Cuff

Awhile back I had a whole rash of people coming in with the same kind of rotator cuff issues. It inspired me to look for something they could do themselves to help with what is clearly a common problem.

These “most famous on the internet” physical therapists have some basic tests for you to see if you are dealing with an Impingement issue here. If you ARE, then you can do these exercises for making space around the impingement, and these for strengthening and stabilizing.

It is my experience that doing nothing and hoping that a persistent rotator cuff issue will just go away on its own is not likely to work. Massage/bodywork can sometimes help get things back on track, but truly doing something about it on the regular– like, really really regular–has a tendency to help. I have a funky shoulder that pretty much needs me to do a set of simple exercises three times a week on an ongoing basis to be happy. It helps! Not doing them makes my shoulder hurt again after not too long.

I recommend that people with sharp pains in their shoulder joints get themselves a good PT and then do what they are told!

Help for the neck

A client just asked me if there was something he could do to help his chronically stiff and achey neck on his own. Of course! I made a short playlist of YouTube videos to help this goal.

First, my Somatic Experiencing training tells me that orienting is hugely important for the neck, as the desire to point our most-used information-gathering tools at objects and scenes of interest is crucial to our sense of safety, and that desire can help unlock movement potential.

Next, from Mary Bond, a Rolfing Movement teacher, some physical cues to help ease the subtle movements at the top of the spine.

Finally, if you are looking for a slightly longer exploration, a short neck-releasing Awareness Through Movement class by David Zemach-Bersin of the Feldenkrais Institute.

Movement is life! When it comes to the neck, the more subtle the release, the more powerful– if you can get the strong muscular ribbons on all sides of your spine to let go, even just a little bit, the big movers will have more freedom to let go, too.

Self-massage for foot mobility

I just did this nice little self-care ritual of Mary Bond’s. I spend a lot of time in my bare or socked feet at work, but as she points out, that flat surface isn’t particularly interesting to my feet, and just threading my fingers through the toes as she suggests was a revelation.

This past weekend I was up by the Hamma Hamma river on the Olympic Peninsula and was walking barefoot on the sun-warmed river rocks, massaging my feet on the old logs, and allowing the forest floor to stimulate all of the receptors on the bottoms of my feet. So good! It makes me appreciate how my son Huck has toughened up his feet with a mostly barefoot summer and now his steps don’t have to be so tender and tentative when he walks the earth that way.

Connecting body to Earth and energy

Dr. James Oschman has been a friend of the Rolfing community for a long time. He has theorized that fascia is the primary energy conductor of the body, and written a couple of books explaining how “energy medicine” is a real thing and not just an airy-fairy new-age wish.
This article is about receiving positive electrons, which are powerful antioxidants, from the surface of the Earth by walking barefoot outside, a practice called “Earthing”.
One of the primary goals of a Structural Integration series is to help people find support from the earth– or the ground– so that they can find the length that comes from having a nicely rooted foundation. Waking up the soles of the feet to sensation and discovering their inherent ability to adapt to the varied surfaces of the earth gives us an all-over feeling of greater security and lightness of movement.
Here, Mary Bond, a wonderful Rolf Movement teacher, has several exercises designed to wake up the feet and lower leg.

Movement Cues from Mary Bond

Mary Bond is the Chair of the Rolf Institute’s Rolf Movement program. She has authored two books, Balancing Your Body and The New Rules of Posture, and numerous magazine articles on bodywork and movement. Her teaching emphasis is on the practical sensory and movement awareness that contributes to sustainable improvements in mind and body functioning.

Here is a preview for a DVD that should be available November 1, 2011 that shows how to do a regular household chore with less strain:

Rolf Movement® Videos

Here’s a video of Caryn McHose doing Hubert Godard’s “Flight of the Eagle” exercise– which looks like regular yoga, but takes on a lot more meaning when you receive some Rolf Movement® work.

John Barton in Dallas, TX has made quite a few videos demonstrating the Movement work, which he calls Rolfing® Functional Movement. Check out his Functional Breath video and his Rolfing® Spinal Six video.