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Spoken Words can Nurture
Spoken Words can Destroy Life
"Aia ke ola i ka waha; aia ka make i
Life is in the mouth, death is in the mouth."
Part 1 ~
Communication Stories from my Early Life ~
When I was about 12 years old,
my parents instituted family meetings on
Sunday evenings to give us a new way to explore open communication. I
intentionally say instituted
; I experienced these
meetings as forced and institutional and I hated them.
We were a Quaker family, and as such I grew up believing that all
violence is bad, that fighting and war never
problems but in fact always
create more problems,
and that every
person contains a spark of God which
be able to connect with if I just try
hard enough. This is not necessarily exactly what Quakerism teaches,
but rather how as a child I subconsciously internalized the teachings.
Our family meetings were designed to help us learn to use our words to
nip potential problems in the bud before they developed, or to resolve
problems that had already developed. With four girls approaching
adolescence, what a fabulous idea! What a marvelous skill to have!!!
We opened our family meetings with a few moments of Quaker silence. The
intent of Quaker silence is to listen in gathered silence for the still,
small and quiet
voice of God.
During that period in my life I
was often so preoccupied during Quaker silence with studying everyone
in the room and privately assigning demerits to anyone who coughed or
squirmed that I wonder if I might have missed hearing the voice of God
even if She had spoken directly to me in a clear, loud voice
Here is a painting I pained of a Quaker meeting for worship.
After opening our family meeting with Quaker silence during
which time I quaked with anxiety knowing I’d be called upon
my three younger sisters and I were each invited to say ANYTHING we
wished while the rest of us listened. The implication I remember was
being specifically invited to talk about things that bothered us. I
don’t remember one single subject we ever discussed; instead
dreading being put on the spot, and I remember my throat feeling
painfully frozen with no words! I longed to be outside playing like everyone
During the same period of my life I must have spoken critical
words to my girlfriend about someone else. My girlfriend replied,
never heard you say anything bad about anyone before!
remember feeling both surprised and really proud that I was seen as
someone who never said anything “bad
My father, an English teacher and text book editor by trade,
consistently and lovingly corrected our grammar and our pronunciation.
I can still hear the gentle laughter in his voice as he taught us the
difference between the words bring
When we repeatedly mixed them up, he’d say with a twinkle in
don’t know if you are coming or going!
His kind corrections
never come across as criticism. Thank you Dad!
None the less, while I gradually learned to speak Standard
English, I remained shaky using my words if conflict was involved. As I
mentioned above, in my loving family and Quaker community, I grew up
believing that all violence – whether mild or intense,
or aggressive, and whether physical or verbal – was wrong and
subconscious mind gave me lots of reasons to avoid saying anything
critical to anyone – it saw criticism as BAD! Unfortunately I
developing a clear understanding of alternate ways to resolve conflict.
I GOT ALONG OK
For decades I did my best to connect with that of God
in each person, to expect the best in everyone, to be nice to
everybody, and to generally live peacefully. Though my life had a few
rough spots and I lived with vague underlying anxiety, I also
experienced many successes and I got along OK.
I got married and had two children.
I worked for ten years during my thirties and early forties in
corporate America as a computer programmer. Math has always come easily
to me and I am blessed with naturally and easily recognizing visual and
logic patterns. I also speak and write acceptable Standard English.
These gifts and abilities allowed me to do a decent job writing
computer code. However, sometimes interpersonal communication was
painted this picture of my son YiAn and friend Tony playing chess
around that time. I intentionally painted into the background
experience at that time that life was one big chess game - fun
somewhat adversarial with winners and loosers, and with lots of rules.
MY LACK OF
TACT CAUSES PROBLEMS
During my annual performance appraisals I was repeatedly surprised to
hear that one individual or another had difficulty with me. I was
accused of having a lack of tact. Do those of you who know me recognize
my straightforward communication style here?? Until my performance
appraisals I had NO idea that these individuals had difficulty with me;
I certainly wished they would have spoken directly to me instead of to
my boss! Perhaps they had tried to their words! I thought I was a nice
person!! Why was this happening? Again!!!?
In any case, at that time I felt frustrated, dismayed and
helpless because I thought to myself “This is the
way I talk!!
This is how I was raised!!
” I was totally unaware
communication style might have limitations or that learning new ways to
speak as an adult was even possible.
I realize now that when I needed to say anything which could possibly
be perceived as critical, my voice frequently became tense. So people
would have difficulty not with what I said, but with how I said it. And
I was mystified – what to do????
I was eventually given a termination offer from my computer programming
job. This was a painful and difficult episode for me, made more so by
my superiors’ request that I not talk with my co-workers
offer. I interpreted the whole situation as an indication my work
wasn’t good enough. In addition, the prospect of loosing my
job while being the primary provider for my two half grown children was
In the end, this termination offer was the tremendous gift which
cleared the way for me to attend massage school. In 1995, after having
done massage as a hobby for 25 years, I began the next chapter of my
life as a professional massage therapist. Since then, along with
learning the manual therapy used in massage, step by step
new ways to say things and new ways to listen. Learning to speak and
listen with my heart has led to marvelous healing and painted rainbows
of JOY in my life.
In my training to be a lomilomi massage practitioner, much emphasis has
been placed on living pono
– a Hawaiian
meaning to live in right relationship with all living things, with
nature and with Spirit. Pono
means to live in a way
that supports the highest good.
When I heard Kumu Maka’ala Yates, currently my primary mentor
developer of Mana Lomi®, say one day that he strives to live
free, I caught my breath in surprise. CONFLICT FREE!!!! I thought
conflict was a natural part of life! I thought that my challenge in
this life was to learn to not avoid
rather to handle conflict openly and gracefully! I was startled by the
concept of living conflict free.
Kumu Maka’ala further explained that he strives to live
starting within his own self. Ah….. to be conflict free
within my own heart, mind, body and Spirit!! To know in the depths of
my soul that I am living pono
thing, and to know that I am OK
way I am!!!
To be clear like this!! To be clear like this
even if someone is annoyed, irritated or angry at me!!! WOW! What a
To live conflict free is now my vision. For me, living conflict free is
both a daily and an eternal healing journey without an attainable
destination. On this healing journey there’s always more for
learn! And believe me, I have lots more to learn!!
MAHALO ~ THANK YOU
Thank you Spirit and thank you Mom and Dad - Virginia
& Robert Hillegass
- for giving me life and for
setting me on this life path.
Thank you to my Quaker community, the
community of my spiritual roots, for planting in me the belief that the
spark of Spirit exists in all people and that cooperative and
diplomatic ways exist to resolve conflict.
Thank you Nana
and Claude Branque
for loving me in such a way to
help me realize how lovable I am, just the way I am.
Thank you friends Kim
for helping me
learn to speak from
you all my teachers of Hawaiian spirituality, and most especially Kumu
, for helping me develop spiritual
you for inspiring me, for challenging me, and for awakening me to see
that the time for protest is past and that the time for working
together in harmony has arrived.
Thank you Gary Lynn Heard
, my beloved husband, and
thank you my cherished children Rose and YiAn Quach
for teaching me so much, and for learning along side of me.
Thank you all my dear readers. I send you my love.
Barbara Helynn Heard
Please read part two
to learn many of the
life giving words, phrases
and expressions I’ve learned since graduating from massage
help me live in grace. Read part three
learn about the resources
that have helped me to learn these wonderful communication skills.
2010 Barbara Helynn
For more information visit www.lomilomi-massage
at msn dot com
Phone 1-206-323-5871 Seattle, Washington
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