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Sifting through, to deeper layers of my own healing

Hello everyone!

I've been meaning to write to you for some time about this journey we're all on of healing our bodies, releasing stress and emotional pain, and overall becoming the best versions of ourselves we can be. My hope is that as I share my own experiences they may illustrate aspects of the many layers of something as simple as therapeutic touch and being a human with a body. I believe everyone deserves to see what they are capable of in all areas of life. But first, a tremendous THANK YOU to the entire staff at the Guild, as well as all the wonderful clients who have helped us get to where we are, and especially to Tara 'earth' Murphy, my amazing partner in life, healing, business, and making dreams come true!

All of you have, through your participation, given life to things that less than 5 years ago I was only imagining as I day dreamed about what would happen once I finally became a professional in the world of Massage & Bodywork. Without all of you, this dream of a community healing center I have been holding would never have come this far. I'm sometimes amazed to see just how quickly we have come and just how far.

I have been on hiatus from performing Bodywork as I made November a month of Spiritual Pilgrimage to the tomb of my Indian Spiritual Master, Meher Baba, in Maharashtra, India. This trip served a few purposes, one of which was to stop working so hard for a few weeks to address my own body, its lingering injuries and issues; to really tend to myself after 3 years of non stop entrepreneurial hustle and service to the bodyworkers of the Guild and our clients.

I am sorry to those of you who are waiting eagerly for me to come back, but I'll be extending my hiatus until 2020 and then limiting the number of clients I'll be seeing to only a few each week. I'm looking forward to creating more engaging content, writing, educating, and sharing tools of empowerment for you to take your healing off the massage table and into every day life.

Even though I am a bodyworker, I still seek my own healing of some long held issues, running the whole gamut from physical to mental and emotional. I expect this is the same for many of us in the healing arts. As we begin to experience the effects of our own personal transformation through our experiences and training, we then long to give that gift to others, but we're not perfect nor are we fully healed ourselves as we walk this path. The tight rope as a professional becomes balancing the needs of our clients and continuing to walk the talk ourselves. I haven't yet met anyone who has mastered that walk in a way that is perfectly balanced in each moment, and many of us tend to err on the side of putting our clients first in order to meet our financial needs to a point where we let our own healing fall by the way side.

Being a massage therapist is not exactly a glamorous high earning profession, not to mention the amount of hustle it requires to stay afloat here in Asheville, the City Full of Massage Therapists. We do it for the love of what we do and to be of service to others. (Tara and I had less than $800 between us when we took the leap of faith, and for most of the first year and a half I was living in my van in her driveway as well as cleaning AirBnB's in exchange for a place to sleep!) Three years of hustle has definitely caught up to me in spite of everything we have accomplished, and now my body is talking - loudly. Would I have it any other way? Absolutely not, but it is time to work smarter instead of harder. And its a great reminder to emphasize the power of focusing on prioritizing our self-healing so that we can be of greater service to others.

Some of my regular clients know, I was born with a benign bone tumor called an 'osteochondroma' that, for 2/3 of my life

went unaddressed and caused a lot of postural imbalances, body image issues, chronic pain, and limitations to my physical ability and my life. Though I did have it finally removed in my 20's, it wasn't until after it had caused me to break my collar bone in an accident - on top of a lifetime of irregular development of the musculature in my left arm, shoulder, and torso. Its all because of this strange malady manifesting in my life that inspired me to be inquisitive towards body awareness. Having awareness of this extra boney mass in a place it never should have been means I could compare it with the feeling of its absence once removed. Rather than slow daily change to my body through yoga or exercise, I had an opportunity to make a rapid shift, and to play with the sensation of 'space' the vacuum of the newly removed tumor created. So really, I'm thankful for this bizarre condition even though the experience continues to challenge me to this day.

I knew I would take my fascination with my own body and eventually work on others after one of my mentors, an experienced Rolfer from Maine by the name of Larch Hanson, opened my injured shoulder for the first time. The experience I had while working with him was like instantly learning that I had been living in a box two sizes too small and in the next moment finally being let out in one, big, expansive inhalation. It was an emotional experience for me as tears streamed down my face in a moment of transformation and I 'took back my space' from the holding pattern that had claimed it.

Even though the tumor had been gone for a few years, my body still recognized the only pattern it knew. The 'ghost' of this bone mass was still there in the way I carried myself, my movement patterns, flexibility, and range of motion.

From that initial experience, I was all-in and 100% devoted to learning to be a bodyworker myself. As an amateur and with some of Larch's instruction, I bought a massage table and started working on whatever friends and family would let me to hone my own skills. So now, I say I've been a bodyworker for six years and a professional for four. Those of you who have worked with me know, I don't mess around and always try to find the deepest accessible layer of the body to the source of the issue. I apply 150% of my whole intent in every session. Its because of my experience of realizing my own transformation that I have the passion to give that same realization to you. It is almost less about transferring the physical results and benefits to you and more so about helping you to realize the potential that you carry to transcend your limitations. The physical release of your body's holding patterns is simply the tangible "AHA!" moment that can prove to your mind that change is possible! And in reality, the power of the techniques we use may be witnessed and realized in the physical action of tissue release, but it is all happening subtly in the nervous system.

What I've learned through experience is that body awareness comes from the proprioceptive nervous system; but thats a topic for another day! If you want to read about how the proprioceptive nervous system impacts our body awareness you can read about it >>here<<

What I've learned through experience is that body awareness comes from the proprioceptive nervous system; the part of your nervous system that helps you orient your body in space and sends information to the central nervous system (CNS) so that the CNS can respond appropriately with the correct impulses based on the input. 99% of the time with chronic holding patterns we are dealing with a nervous system that is conditioned not to break through the boundaries it has set for your own safety after repetitive strain or injury. My tumor had been with me my entire life, and so my proprioceptive awareness knew nothing else than having a giant extra bone sticking out from my left armpit.

Your nervous system has a purpose for everything it does to limit you; ultimately its just trying to protect you from further damaging yourself. The problem becomes when we don't make efforts to expand back into our fullness and reclaim the territory on our 'mental map'; areas of restriction become like 'dead zones' that don't activate or send signals back to the CNS, blood flow gets restricted, and inflammation runs rampant slowly calcifying tissue into harder and harder mass. For example, I had areas of inflexibility and muscle weakness where the bone tumor had compromised my ability to engage those tissues. Part of the rehabilitation for me was to create engagement, sensation, and blood flow back into those areas so that they could come 'fully online.' Unfortunately I'm realizing I still have some deeper layers to attend to, and I'm surprised the western medical model never recommended me to go to physical therapy, which would have done wonders since I was on my own, in my prime years of naivety, and stubbornly convinced that I could figure it all out myself without any help (which may still yet be my best and worst quality!) This is why, now that I have a platform to bring this awareness to our clients, that our studio focuses on encouraging you to experience alternative therapies beyond massage & bodywork; ones that have more connection with the nervous system than with just tissue manipulation. Its important to us that you understand the deeper aspect of even simple massage therapy. Relaxing your nervous system does all of the heavy lifting that pounding away on your sore spots with endless 'Deep Tissue' pressure will never actually accomplish. Less is more. Release is antithetical to the application of force. It is never the leverage of force that makes changes but where and how force is applied to get your own awareness to reconnect the stuck parts of yourself back into the rest of you through stimulating your own ability to perceive the sensation. Those of you who have worked with earth & I in CranioSacral sessions are aware of how the lightest touch in the right place will start to unravel deep bands of tension from within.

As I turn my gaze inward to walk my own talk and address my own healing, I realize there are many more ways to support myself, and you, than just spending our one on one time on the table. In 2020, I'm going to be pursuing some really amazing trainings that will open me to be able to coach and train clients remotely from anywhere in the world. It also allows me to transfer skills to you that you can apply in your daily life, rather than being tethered to the massage table to achieve the results that get you back into action. This also helps to minimize the amount of 'effort-ing' I do to create the same transformation in your life, which gives me the space to go deeper into my own rehabilitation of these sticky issues that have chased me around for decades. If there's finally taking your own medicine, then I believe this is it. All in all, I'm not going anywhere. Just transforming from one moment to the next right along side y'all. I'm excited to share more knowledge and inspiration you need to take your own journey to new heights and expand past your limitations so we can all give our best to ourselves, our families, communities, and the world.

Blessings to all

walking the path

home to ourselves,

Daniel James

#structuralbodywork #asheville #ourstory #transform #proprioception #NervousSystem

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Appalachia Guild of Healing Arts is a public service division of Healing Arts Ministries Trust based locally in Asheville and greater WNC.