can Nurture Life,
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 2: Words
An important component of my life as a lomilomi massage
therapist has been to learn new ways to speak and to listen in my
healing massage sessions, in my classes, and in my private life. I now
use many new-to-me listening, thinking and speaking patterns that open
wide opportunities to support unlimited healing potential.
I share with
you here many of my favorite, most effective life affirming
expressions. These word tools don’t belong to me; they are
communication tools I’ve learned from other people, from
books and from
classes. See chapter 3 for descriptions of these resources.
I LOVE YOU
I often pray while giving massage; “I
” is one form that my
prayers commonly take. When I silently think “I love
you” or even
simply “I love
my hands, my heart and my voice all soften, I connect
with the best in both myself and in my recipient, and I become present
in the work. When I encounter stiffness or tight muscles in the
receiver, the words “I
frequently and automatically run
through my mind and the receiver’s tissue seems to magically
“I love you
is also a compelling expression for me to use anytime I’m
having a hard time with someone. In the same way that some people train
themselves to take a breath or count to ten when they are upset, the
key for me is to think “I
”. When I use the “I love
you” key, I
immediately connect either with the tender, childlike part of myself or
with the tender, childlike part of the person I’m feeling
pissed at. My
irritation usually dissipates quickly.
(By the way, I respond in the same way when I think the word god
tool came to me from
the Foundation of I and the
article by Joe Vitalie.
Choose the attitude of gratitude! Both saying and hearing “thank you
is another phrase that softens me and helps me connect with others.
I’ve recently changed my phone answering message from
the massage practice of Barbara Helynn Heard”
you for calling
the massage practice of Barbara Helynn Heard”.
message after hearing a “thank
you for calling
” phone message of one of
my student’s answering machines and noticing how really good
when I heard her phone message. (Thank you Renee
I also continually look for opportunities to thank people. Each time I
thank someone, I strengthen loving relationship in my life and my joy
tool came to me from the Foundation
The word “good
is another key word I use in giving massage. Sometimes
when I move a person’s arm or leg to stretch their joint or
to test its
range of motion, the recipient instinctively either tightens their
muscles or begins to move their limb themselves.
This is rather like
when in partner dancing the follower stiffens because they feel
nervousness or because they don’t know the dance. Flow is
this happens in massage sessions I sometimes hear massage therapists
say with a mild scolding and condescending tone of voice,” You’re
is the response I find works
miracles in this situation. When my client internalizes the message
often than not they immediately let their guard down, and
their limbs immediately allow themselves to be moved. I murmur,
Good, good, good
” just barely loud enough for
recipient to hear.
tool came to me from John
POSSESSIVES WHEN REFERRING TO BODY PARTS
Please read these two sentences out loud and feel their energy.
back is bothering me today.”
back is bothering me today.”
Did you feel a difference in energy? In my practice I frequently hear
the first pattern “the
”, and so on. I
find that when my clients and I identify our hurting parts as belonging
to us by using the possessive language “my leg
” that pain decreases.
Try it out. Does it work
for you too?
the use of possessives came to me from Mastery Systems
YOU BELONG TO
Similarly, I find that when I talk to my injured body part saying,
” or “Shoulder,
you are part of me
tension and pain decreases. I’ve noticed that when I say
these words my
core muscles engage to give my shoulder more support which allows my
shoulder to relax.
Try it out, please. Does it work for you too?
MY BAD LEG vs
MY SPECIAL LEG
More on the subject of injured body parts….. Oftentimes
people refer to
an injured part of their body as “bad
They say “my
back is bad
” or “my
”. In fact, these parts of our bodies may
doing a miraculous job of either healing or of functioning within
I suggest that these parts of our bodies are truly
marvelous! We’d be in big trouble without them!!
I find that using neutral or positive wording supports healing. Here
are some possibilities:
YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME
leg that was injured
leg that needs extra TLC
Sometimes my massage patients comment “Ooh, I’m really tight
they ask me “Can
feel how tight my back is?
” When they comment on
tension in their muscles I reply “Yes,I
feel it. Let it go.
” or “Let’s
help these muscles to soften up
response I acknowledge the
tightness and then immediately verbalize a picture of the desired
I learned this lesson years ago by being on the receiving end. Noticing
the soreness in my buttock muscles I exclaimed,
“Wow! I am so
When my experienced massage therapist
mildly replied, “just
let it go
” my muscles softened as if he had
flipped their on and off switch. This was an important lesson for me.
I’ve found that whether spoken by the therapist or the
observations highlighting tight muscles which are not immediately
followed with a description of the desired change make those muscles
tighten even more.
Observations of tension are like red lights; they
can make us stop and pay attention. Sometimes such comments are useful;
they make a person aware of the situation. However, I find it critical
to consistently follow “red light comments” with
“green light comments”
in which we tell those tight muscles to soften or let go.
While giving massage I talk with body parts and tissue. I especially
talk with tissue that is tight or restricted in someway. When I feel
knots in muscles or when a limb I’m moving feels stuck I say,
” or “Hello
Why do I talk to body tissues, and why does it
work? I verbally greet body parts because of the potent energy the word
holds for me. For over 50 years I’ve said hello with
others. My body reacts at a very deep level to the word hello
creating an energetic connection between us.
So when I say “hello
I immediately connect with that hip. This quality of presence helps
tissue to feel supported, paid attention to and safe, and hence to
relax and heal.
is an extraordinary word. You may have noticed that I
often greet you with aloha
when we meet in person or when I answer my
phone. I also open letters with this greeting.
is a common
greeting in Hawaii and is used for both hello and goodbye. Aloha also
means love. The word aloha
literally means “to
face to face with
”. I experience aloha
me greets the
spirit/breath in you
.” What an extraordinary way
connect with each
this word tool from many Hawaiian resources.
PERSON BY NAME
Frequently while giving longer massage sessions my mind wanders. When I
realize that my mind is only partially present, I simply recall my
recipient’s name and my attention immediately returns to our
I’ve noticed that when I forget the name of persons
I’m talking with I
feel vaguely nervous and energetically separated. Then when I remember
their name our conversation immediately flows more easily.
This is why
in my classes I frequently ask my students, “Please remind me of your
” and why we frequently play name games.
Do you feel an energetic difference in these two sentences?
- We must take
care of the earth.
must take care of our
Using possessives creates the energy of ownership, and the privileges
and responsibilities associated with ownership. I use possessives to
intentionally highlight relationship.
Sometimes I intentionally avoid using possessives in order to reduce
potentially blaming or negative energy.
Do you sense a slight energetic
difference in these sentences?
comment bothered me.
comment you made bothered me.
Insight into the use of possessives came to me from Mastery
OWNERSHIP OF YOUR FEELINGS
Avoid assigning ownership of your feelings to others to prevent living
For me, taking ownership for my own feelings is an even better choice
than either of the above two sentences. Here’s the example:
was bothered by the comment you made.
Other people can not bother me or make me mad. Rather, being bothered
or getting mad is my response to what someone has done. Other
individuals may have different emotional responses in the same
situation. Some may feel amused, others sad, others determined, others
Using language patterns in which I take responsibility
for my own feelings rather than attributing them to others takes me out
of victim language and gives me more control and choices in my own
Center for Non Violent Communication
teaches this concept.
NEGATIVE DECLARATIONS BY USING PAST TENSE
Notice your breath as you read these sentences. Do you breathe more
freely reading some of them? Which versions make positive change more
likely in your life? Which make you feel better?
- I am lazy.
- In the past, I’ve been lazy.
- I get upset when….
- In the past, I’ve gotten upset
- I always forget to…..
- In the past, I’ve always forgotten
Deliberately choosing what we declare about ourselves can helps us to
change our lives for the better.
In the past I’ve found it easy to
declare negative things about myself using absolute language like that
in the first sentences in the pairs above. Somehow using these negative
declarations helped me feel either humble or self righteously honest.
This can be dangerous! Repeating negative declarations in absolute
language reinforces negative patterns and makes change difficult.
tool came to me from Mastery
OBSERVATION AND EVALUATION
This is a big one! English contains a myriad of words that
simultaneously refer to an action or behavior while also expressing a
basic emotional state with an underlying connection to a universal met
or unmet human need.
Please, what does this mean??? Here is an example:
Here the neutrally stated situation is : "You left
think you should have stayed
". The neutrally stated emotions might be sadness, fear,
anger, loneliness. I might have an unmet universal human need
for support and companionship. People can experience deep healing when
they stop saying things
and say instead something like:
left our family when I was 5 and this was very hard for me.”
language shift can move a person out victimhood and can increase the
potential for forgiveness, for healing, and for embracing
Now let’s look at the opposite side of the coin. Perhaps I
daughter say “My
emotionally abandoned me when I was young and
spent her time on other people and activities.
When I listen under the
surface of her words and differentiate the actions, her feelings and
her universal human needs I can hear simply that she really wished I
had given her more attention. I may guess that perhaps she felt lonely
and resentful and that she longed for more support when she was
younger, and perhaps she still does.
Listening under the surface this
way helps relieve the sting of being accused of abandonment (a loaded
term), and allows me to open healing conversation first with myself,
and then with her. I might begin the conversation with her
“Oh, did you feel lost and wish for more support when you
Skill is needed not only to start conversations like this, but to
keep them going when pain or anger comes up. Skill is needed
descriptions of actions, the basic emotions and the universal human
needs expressed in words like abandon, manipulate, degrade, humiliate,
deride, and many more like them took me a lot! of practice to learn.
This skill ican be learned! This learning has truly
I still use expressive and
juicy emotionally loaded words. I find that using them consciously is
much different than using them unconsciously, as I did for years. And
certainly having the skill to listen below the surface makes being on
the receiving end of emotionally loaded words a much less overwhelming
and disempowering experience.
This is a very brief summary of the foundation of NVC – non
communication as taught by the Center for Non Violent
Hmmmm, “no” has sometimes been a
difficult word for me to say
Most of us feel wonderful warmth or even thrill when we
contribute to other people’s well being. And we also often
if we suspect something we say or do might contribute to another's
feeling disappointed or thinking negatively about us.
In the past if
someone asked for my help, or if I simply thought that they needing
help, I have easily been tempted to play the role of helper or even the
rescuer. For me, helping has sometimes been the path of least
resistance; it has come naturally and has made me feel good about
While sometimes lending a helping hand is absolutely the best
thing to do, at other times a better choice is either (1) to take care
of my other responsibilities and not spreading myself too thin or (2)
to let the “helpee” find a different solution and
One graceful, though admittedly wordy, way to say “no
” is to
thank the person for the invitation to offer help, then tell them what
prevents me from saying yes, and then if possible suggest another
resource and/or let them know I’m confident that
they’ll find a
Here’s a recent true example from my life.
- The request: “How
much can I pay you to code 4
or 5 pages of my
website for me? I’m tearing my hair out trying to use this
building program and I’m in over my head.”
(I could easily
pages, and I’m immediately temped to say yes to her because
of the way
she asked. My rescuer is stimulated!)
- My response: “Thank
you for asking for my
help. My work time and
energy is now committed to supporting my clients and my Mana
students and teaching colleagues. You’ve got a good start on
website and I know you’ll succeed in the end.
Here’s another resource
you might try…(list the resource). Best wishes, Barbara
I now consider the ability to say “no” as a true
this word pattern from the Center for Non Violent
I find that specifically stating what I would like the another person
to do is far more effective than telling them what I don’t
course, the energy with which these things are said is more important
than the words.
Here are a couple of examples:
instead of “You’re
talking too loud
instead of “that’s
At the end of bodywork practice trades in my classes I ask students to
give feedback by first sharing with their parter something they liked
about the session – something that worked well. Then they can
specific ideas of ways to improve the session.
Here are a couple examples:
learned this pattern from Dr.
developer of Mana Lomi®.
WHAT WOULD IT
BE LIKE IF?
body really relaxed during this session. I felt safe because you
kept your hands on me the whole time. Next time you might work on going
like the way you hum while you work. It’s soothing. Next time
might be a little gentler when you rotate a person’s shoulder.”
I often use this language pattern when I teach and also when I give
massage. Here are some examples:
To my massage clients/patients:
- What might
it be like if you could freely move your arm in this
- What would
be like if your body could trust just a little bit more?
- What might
it feel like if your back were pain-free?
might it be like to breath gently and easily?
To students giving massage in my workshops:
pattern came to me from Karen Clay of Somatic
vs PASSIVE VOICE
- What would
it be like if you positioned your hips this way?
- What would
it be like if you relaxed your eyes?
- What would
it be like if you slowed down a bit?
- What would
it be like if you had x-ray vision in your hands and could
specifically feel every muscle fiber, vein, nerve and bone?
would it be like to touch with love
I find suggestions made in a direct voice are easier to follow that
those made in passive voice. Here are some examples:
your back and open your eyes” VS “breathing
gently into your back, open your eyes”
came to me from Dr. Maka’ala Yates,
HEALING CHANTS & OTHER INSPIRATIONAL SINGING
Chanting and singing is a wonderful way to settle messages into our
bodies. The settling becomes deeper and deeper with repetition.
Expressing words and their associated messages using tone and rhythm is
a full body experience which physically embeds the words and messages
into our tissues.
Chanting and singing makes words easier to remember,
and it certainly is FUN!
Here’s one of my favorite Mana Lomi® chants in
Hawaiian with the
English translation on the right:
many Hawaiian healing chants from Dr. Maka’ala Yates,
developer of Mana Lomi®.
We are loving
We are caring
We are prepared
We are energetic
We are happy
E pono kakou
We are rightly aligned.
Intentionally repeating affirmations helps create their reality. They
remind us of who we are and of our chosen truth for ourselves.
Trust is the direction I have chosen for myself this year (2010).
Modeled on the format of the Mana Lomi® healing chants, this is
affirmation song I wrote and which I sing to myself to remind me to
Mai ka la hiki a ka la kau,
No na kau a kau.
Ke lelepau nei au.
My heart is
From sunrise to sunset,
from sunset to sunrise,
fsrom winter to springtime,
from springtime to summer,
from summer to autumn,
from autumn to winter.
I trust, I trust, I trust.
Learning the word tools I shared above has transformed my life, and
helps me live joyfully. These are only a few of the many healing word
patterns available; this is certainly not an all inclusive list!
learn more about the sources from which I learned these language
patterns, I invite you to check out the resources listed in part 3
of this article.
E malama pono ~ take good care.
Barbara Helynn Heard
PS: To read more about
how our language affects our bodies, check out this webpage: www.the-unscripted-self.com:
awakening to your higher self
Copyrighted 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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