a short spiritual biography of my own inner work
which has affected my bodywork practice

I’m certainly a living miracle, made so by my roots and wings. In spite of visions of pain suffered by people, animals and our earth when we experience a myriad of horrific events  such as cruelty and abuse, acts of torture and war, and ravages of natural disasters, nonetheless, I live with the gift of a "life-is-beautiful" attitude.    That my life, and the lives of countless other people, is somehow primarily guided by love, light and beauty in spite of the many horrors which exist in our world is totally amazing to me! 

bhh heart tree

I’m grateful for the spiritual roots developed during my childhood in a Quaker home.  The most significant, spiritual belief I internalized growing up is "the Light, love and goodness of God dwells within everyone, and if you look for it, you can find it.”   I remember in high school feeling curious just what the word sin meant; the idea that people are born sinners still feels foreign to me.  Now, at 59 years young, I’m grateful for my Quaker spiritual foundation which continues to consistently influence me to see life’s glass as half full.  

How does goodness grow?  Having our goodness witnessed by others nurtures its development.  Focusing on goodness and Light, even while remaining aware of evil events, helps us to see the best in other people. What other people?  For me, it’s everyone in my life, of course including people I work with in my bodywork practice.  

When I work with pain, contraction and restrictions in people’s tissues, I discipline myself to actively focus on whatever signs of health I can find in their bodies while remaining aware of the problem.  I particularly focus on signs of health in the very same areas where they are experiencing problems. I’ll gently and carefully touch or move their body in a way that elicits pain or restriction, and while doing so I’ll begin to coach them through the process of refocusing their attention to look for whatever bit of ease and health in their tissue we can find together.  

I might guide people like this, “Do you feel pain here?” I tap or rub a spot.  “Notice how your body is tightening up here.”  I’ll reassure them, “tightening and guarding is our body’s natural response to pain” and then open a door for healing, “Let’s see if we can shift this experience.”  As I continue to gently move or massage the tissue, I continue to guide them, “Let’s look for ease in your body right here where you feel pain… breathe into this area….notice how your tissue is shifting…. Tell me what you notice…”  As they shift their focus from guarding against the pain to actively seeking ease, the pain generally begins to diminish.  As we pay more attention to whatever ease we can find, this ease begins to increase and expand. Success! Indeed, energy flows where attention goes.

bhh friend's meeting

Another facet of my Quaker background is that the most common form our worship services take is one in which we sit together in silence to listen for the “still, small voice of God”.  In silence we open to experience divine connection and guidance. Sometimes, when moved by Spirit to do so, we concisely share aloud the message which has come through us. Having attended Quaker worship services for almost 60 years now, experiencing quiet togetherness with another person in which divinely inspired truths are shared both silently and aloud is second nature to me. I often experience a similar connection while giving massage.

In addition to being grateful for my Quaker spiritual roots, I’m also grateful for the spiritual wings I’ve developed by immersing myself in Hawaiian healing arts for close to two decades.  

Significant cultural ideas I’ve adopted begin with knowing that our bodies, minds & spirits are interconnected, and that Nature, Humanity & Spirit are equally divine.  The idea that we each bear the responsibility of being the connecting link between our ancestors and our descendants rings true in my life. What a privilege and honor this is! As a link between the past and the future, we each have the capacity to both maintain loving power that comes through our lineages and also to cut the cords to current and ancestral memories or energies that may be causing harm to ourselves and others.  In cutting the cords to memories that elicit contraction, shame, despair, terror and so on, we support healing for ourselves and others.  With these negative cords cut, we can focus our full attention on cultivating truly loving and peaceful relationships.

Memories live within bones and souls reside in bones; these are traditional Hawaiian, cultural beliefs that I use in my work.  “What is a soul, anyway?”  I ponder, “Is it even possible to answer this question?”  Relying on my intuition, I answer to the best of my ability, “More vast than the confines of our body, our mind, our personality and our current, single lifetime, the soul is our real and eternal self which connects us with God, and which, like God, is palpable yet undefinable.”   In my life, God is palpable; I receive support from God; my prayers are answered; God is wonderfully real to me.  I need only silently think the word “God” and anxiety dissipates; I become calm.   For me, the experience of connecting with people on a soul level is likewise palpable and real.  I recognize soul connection with others via my feelings and via the results of our connection.

The Mana Lomi® Hawaiian healing tradition I practice affirms that we can communicate with the soul of the person we are touching, if so desired, by intentionally connecting with the depth of their bones.  This has certainly been my experience; in attentively touching people with special awareness of their bones, I connect with far more than just their physical tissues; whole worlds can open up in the experience.

sky light

I'm grateful for the trust people extend to me as they open themselves to receive bone deep touch of massage from me. It's quite marvelous for me when people welcome my touch with trust, delight and openness. I don't take this trust lightly! 

My way of being in the world organically creates an invitation for others to develop or deepen personal connection with Spirit and with Nature. It’s not that I directly teach these concepts to my clients and students; rather for many people this is a natural result of being around me.  In the same way, of course, I grow and develop spiritually by being around people by whom I am inspired and with whom I share life’s journey.

I am grateful to be alive in my body, in my family, in our shared world community during this amazing time in the history of the world in which our global systems of transportation and communication create extensive opportunities for people from different cultures to come together.  

I am indeed grateful for my Quaker spiritual roots which provide nurture and stability in my life and also for my Hawaiian inspired spiritual wings which truly allow me to soar.

Copyrighted 2014 Barbara Helynn Heard

For more information visit www.lomilomi-massage
Email barbaraheard at msn dot com
Olympia, Washington  All materials are copyrighted. If you would like to post articles on your website or use it as training material, permission is granted as long as all contact and credit information remains intact. Thank you.