Q: You do a lot of stuff. Which one should I start with?
A: My practice includes massage therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, reiki, medical qi gong, Body Code, Emotion Code, medical intuition, intuition about all kinds of other things, and elements of polarity therapy and Zero Balancing, which I’m studying in certification programs.

Unfortunately, my massage practice is currently full, so I’m not taking new clients. (That does narrow it down a little, though!)

The truth is, you don’t have to choose in advance, unless you’re really looking for something specifically. When you come in, we’ll talk about how you’re feeling and go from there. It’s almost always a blend.

Q: What is massage good for?
A: All kinds of things. I’m not currently taking new massage clients, but, just for education: The variety of conditions that respond to massage is immense, from general stress and insomnia, to muscle and nerve pain, to chronic degenerative diseases, to recovering from injuries and surgery. Basically, stress and rigidity inhibit healing. Massage reduces stress and increases flexibility. Voila! That’s most of it.

Massage relieves pain both by releasing the tension and adhesions that create pain – either by pressing on nerves, or holding the body in uncomfortable postures and yanking on muscles and joints – and by giving the brain new sensations to play with. The brain, wisely, tries to protect us from hurting ourselves by creating triggers of pain that flare up as a warning every time we move muscles around an injured area. However, it doesn’t always trust that it’s safe to take those triggers off once an injury has healed. The experience of massage is an opportunity to subconsciously re-evaluate if there is still a need for that pain, and if not, let it go.

This works on an emotional level as well. We might intellectually understand that traumas are over – that we are not vulnerable children, in danger at war, or in a terrible relationship anymore – but do our bodies really believe that? The physical, tangible experience of safety and comfort in a massage redefines what it feels like to live in our own bodies. After stress, abuse, or trauma, it helps provide proof that times have changed. And if the stress can’t end just yet, it creates a touchpoint back into the inner peace that is always available inside you – even if circumstances make it hard to keep in touch with it. Promising research has shown that massage enhances the effectiveness of counseling and psychotherapy.

Massage is also an excellent compliment to a variety of other therapies. It can help scars heal pliably after surgery, provide comfort during serious medical interventions, and reduce stress that inhibits healing, making all therapies more effective.

Insomnia can create a vicious cycle: You can’t sleep. When you’re tired, you feel more pain. The pain makes it harder to sleep. You get less sleep, you get even tireder, it all hurts worse, repeat. The more quality sleep you lose, the fewer the chances your body has to properly repair your tissues. But during a massage, trance-like states of theta waves are often induced, and in that state of relaxation, the body is able to release restorative growth hormone that is otherwise released during deep sleep. It’s a fantastic intervention to help stop the insomnia tailspin.

The research that’s most exciting for me is showing that massage affects epigenetic expression. We’re born with the genes we’re born with, but the real situation is less fatalistic than that: our lifestyles determine which of those multitudes of genes are turned on and operating at any given time. Massage appears to stimulate genes that accelerate healing. The effect is specific enough that, when several volunteers were tested after a run, the leg that received massage had signs of beneficial genes activated, and the other leg – on the same person – lacked them. (This is great news if you’ve ever been afraid that you’re destined to turn out just like your mom, dad, or weird Uncle Lenny. Science has shown that only the parts that don’t get massaged will turn out that way.)

You don’t have to feel bad to get a massage, though – it’s even better to use as a preventative to keep you feeling well, and just to enjoy yourself.

Q: Are there times when I shouldn’t get a massage?
A: Massage is generally benign and almost always helpful. However, there are certain conditions that should not be massaged. Circulatory problems involving the heart, vascular (circulatory) system, and kidneys are the most dangerous, because if the body is too sick to handle its normal circulation load, increasing circulation with massage may overwhelm it. People with kidney disease, congestive heart failure, a history of stroke or thrombosis (blood clots), or high blood pressure treated with blood thinning medications should consult their doctor before receiving massage.

Bruises and vericose veins should not be massaged over because of the small risk of dislodging a blood clot and initiating a stroke, so it’s very important to warn me about where you have these; likewise, acute injuries with swelling and raw, broken skin would not benefit from being rubbed on directly. (Vericose veins are dark blue to purple and puff out from the skin. The common small, flat “spider veins” can be similarly colored but are not a health risk.)

Massaging the abdomen, heels, shins, and certain acupressure points during pregnancy can induce a miscarriage. Always be sure to let your therapist know if you are in an early stage of pregnancy. However, the idea that pregnant women should not get massage is a myth.

Anyone with an active internal infection, such as a cold, flu, urinary tract infection, significant infected wound, etc, should wait until it has cleared to be massaged because massage may spread the infection by encouraging increased circulation of lymph. (And to avoid giving your beloved massage therapist a cold.) If you are recovering from lingering stages of a cold or flu, you may find that a massage accelerates your symptoms because it moves lymph fluid: you might feel worse the day after your massage, but much better than you would have the day after that.

And obviously, if you have or suspect you may have contagious skin conditions, such as ringworm, scabies, impetigo, or headlice, even if the infection seems to be in only one body area, you cannot receive massage because of the risk of infecting the therapist and other clients. (Localized skin infections such as athlete’s foot and warts can be worked around, but please let me know that you have them.)

Q: What is Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and what is it good for?
A: Cranio Sacral therapy is a versatile, gentle technique that works by freeing and healing the central nervous system. Because the central nervous system controls everything in the body and mind, and because this therapy typically causes no side effects, it can be used to treatment or complimentary therapy for all kinds of physical, emotional, and psychological conditions.

The most obvious applications of Cranial work are traumatic injuries to the head or pelvis. My clients have had great success relieving pain, regaining their range of motion, and healing restrictions after car accidents, concussions, blows to the face, and childbirth. Some of these were recent, but even childhood injuries responded positively.

Similarly, long-term, non-traumatic stressors like running, sitting in office chairs, sinus infections and septum problems also improved or resolved with CST.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy feels different for everyone. For some, it’s like a supervised nap, and for others, a magic carpet ride. On the physical level, most of the contact is very light and very still – cranial practitioners practice our touch by feeling the surface of a cork floating in a bowl of water without sinking the cork at all.

A few of the maneuvers involve deeper pressure, held for a longer period of time (usually three to fifteen minutes, depending on how the body is responding,) which can feel a bit like a deep-tissue massage on pause. Internally, people often become deeply relaxed or enter a trance-like state with dreaming. Often sensations arise all over the body as it settles and re-orients.

Decompressing the bones in the cranium releases pressure and can create a feeling of freedom, expansion, and relief physically and emotionally. More so than with massage, there is a feeling that the receiver is sorting things out on their own, which is why I find the effects are often longer-lasting. My all-time favorite response was when a client opened her eyes after a cranial session and said, in an awestruck tone, “Wow! It’s like meditating…with a buddy.”

Cranio-sacral therapy recognizes what Italian and Chinese medicine have always taught: that the twenty-two bones of the head are flexible, distinct, and move in response to the pulsing circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. (The English classic Gray’s Anatomy, the basis of most anatomical understanding for centuries in the West, is based on studies of dead bodies, in which the cranial sutures are dried up and immobile.) These bones all need to do their own little dances, called motility, although their motions are so small – about forty microns – that they are easily overlooked.

By relieving pressure on nerves and the brain, the brain and nerves can “reach” places in itself and the body that have been diseased or degenerating. What happens then is beyond prediction.

Q: Are there times when I shouldn’t receive Cranio-Sacral Therapy? 
A: Not really. Unlike massage, cranial work does not pose major risks to the circulatory system. It is so gentle and non-invasive that it can be used at any stage of injury. There are only two major concerns: first, that like massage, you should not arrive with contagious diseases. Please wait until your cold, flu, skin infections, and other germs have cleared, in the interest of not infecting me and other clients. (The one exception would be in the case of emergency with life-threateningly high fevers, which certain cranial techniques can sometimes lower.)

The other is that a few specific cranial holds work by compressing the cranial bones. Normally, this stimulates the inner processes, and is very helpful and invigorating. However, in people who have any kind of brain swelling, whether from a recent concussion (within three weeks, usually,) neuroinflammation due to diseases like Lyme, brain lesions from herpes viruses, or other problems, more compression is not helpful and possibly dangerous. It is very important to let me know if you have brain swelling of any kind.

Cranial work is mostly expansive, decompressing the brain and relieving painful symptoms of neuroinflammation, and very much recommended for those conditions. It’s just important to be specific and careful with treatment.

The product sold as a “Still-Point Inducer” works by compression. Do not use it if you have had a recent concussion, have any neuroinflammatory condition, or are uncertain whether or not you have diseases or conditions that might cause brain swelling.

Q: What is “integration after psychedelic-assisted therapy”?
A: We are in the middle of a revival of many psychedelic substances being used, ceremonially or in therapeutic settings, for emotional healing, especially in the treatment of PTSD. After a long hiatus because of Drug War legal restrictions, research has resumed, with promising results. (For example, 83% of traumatized combat veterans tested negative for PTSD after treatment in a recent MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trial, a higher rate of recovery than any other available therapy.) Natural substances like ayahuasca, iboga, and psilocybin mushrooms, and chemicals like MDMA and LSD, are being widely used, in contexts supervised or improvised, to spur rapid emotional growth, create shifts of consciousness, and resolve trauma.

Unfortunately, in our society much of that growth happens on a weekend retreat, or in subcultures apart from therapeutic support, leaving people to navigate the unfolding psychological changes on their own. People often describe MDMA-assisted psychotherapy or an ayahuasca ceremony as being “like five years” (or ten, or twenty) “of therapy in one go.” Which is great – but figuring yourself out after a super-concentrated transformation can be daunting.

Facing this alone can leave a person feeling disoriented, pensive, or unsure of how these changes can even integrate into their life. The desire to allow change and growth can be overshadowed by the unfamiliarity of it all, or the fact that although they have changed, the stress in their life hasn’t.

At Soul Space, we are interested in offering support for all kinds of personal growth and exploration of consciousness. As a float center, wellness through consciousness is our focus. (We consider floatation therapy to be a “substance-free psychedelic.”) As bodyworkers, we want to help clients have a comfortable, relaxed, and respectful relationship with their own bodies, free of pain, and responding to the present moment, not shadows of the past held in the nervous system. And we are especially concerned with helping people recover from PTSD and the related anxiety, body pains, and risk of suicide that come with it, which is why we work in cooperation with local nonprofits supporting veterans and other survivors of trauma.

Body-level therapies have long been understood to calm deep parts of the mind where psychedelics also stir all kinds of things up – those same unconscious, reactive, sensation-based habit patterns where the intellect is not in charge, but where plenty of the pain that torments the conscious mind originates.

With intuitive counseling, bodywork and energetic healing, these rapid growth experiences can be processed, understood, and guided in a positive direction. Cranio-sacral therapy settles the nervous system and restores a sense of vitality and calm. Reiki and other energy healing clear the emotional debris brought to the surface by profound psychedelic experiences. And floating afterward gives you a quiet, peaceful space to be with yourself and let everything integrate.

If you are feeling like you need support after psychedelic-assisted therapy, know that you are welcome, and that nothing you’re experiencing is going to seem weird to me.

However, please note that we don’t actually do psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions at Soul Space. We simply don’t have the kind of facility for the time and attention that it requires. Please don’t be high in the float tanks or while receiving bodywork, because we don’t want to put our staff in an uncomfortable position, or intimidate other clients in the space.

Q: How soon after an injury should I see you?
Injuries at all stages can benefit from the services I offer, from the same day, to years afterward – it’s only that the techniques used are very different. Fresh injuries respond wonderfully to Reiki, Body Code and Cranio-Sacral Therapy, which are all very gentle, and can also benefit from short massage treatments involving lymphatic drainage to help reduce secondary swelling, gentle massage of surrounding areas, and relaxation techniques to calm trauma. Ice is recommended afterward.

Injured areas should not be massaged until swelling has subsided. Once an injury has recovered to this “subacute” phase, corrective massage can be applied to encourage circulation, restore of healthy posture, relieve tension, and discourage injured areas from losing range of motion by developing adhesions or stiffening due to “guarding.” These guarding patterns and adhesions can last until they’re corrected, however, so it can be useful to treat them even years after an accident, and it can be helpful to tell me about injuries and surgeries even if they happened a long time ago, because they may be relevant to current problems.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy is particularly effective for bringing the nervous system’s attention to old guarding habits, and allowing it to recognize that such patterns, both physically and emotionally, are no longer necessary.

Q: Do you take insurance?
A: No. But I can give you receipts if your insurance company reimburses you for sessions with “out-of-network” providers. I also offer a sliding scale of $40-80/hr to make sessions more affordable to low-income clients who need access, and offer a standard 40% discount for children.

The one exception would be, on a case-by-case basis, cranio-sacral therapy paid for with PIP insurance for car accidents for whiplash and head injuries, simply because I really, really like helping with traumatic head injuries.

Q: Do you see children? 
A: Yes, for everything except massage (simply because my massage practice is currently full.) However, experience has taught me that sessions with children are only productive if the following things are true:

  •  They must be older than “screaming age,” whatever that is for you, because my office is in a float center with massage and counseling neighbors, and has to stay quiet.
  •  One child with one parent (or other trusted adult.) Squirmy siblings sabotage each other’s sessions, every single time. If the sibling is old enough to read quietly on the couch outside of my office, that’s fine, but there can’t be more than three people in the room.
  • They must have their own reasons for wanting to be there. If they feel forced, or don’t see the value in coming, no one will get much out of it. Much of the work also happens on an intuitive or spirit level, and a kid who feels forced to be there by people who want to “fix” them will simply refuse, if not physically, then energetically, to let anyone touch them.
  • They must be able to lay down and hold still on the table at least for increments of time. Cranio-sacral therapy in particular is helpful for ADHD and autism, but requires holding bones in light tractions several minutes at a time. It’s okay to need breaks to wiggle between these holds, but for someone who can’t hold still at all, it’s just not going to work.

I want to be very clear about these limits up front so that families aren’t disappointed or wasting resources. Another option are intuitive readings with parents with distance energy healing for the child, which can shed light on what may be happening to create difficult behavior in a child, without the child having to be there in person.

Q: Can you accommodate my allergies?
A: It depends. I use only natural, unscented detergents and cleaning products, but I regularly use essential oil aromatherapy, so my office is not a completely scent-free environment.  I use pure organic coconut oil, which is generally hypoallergenic, and you are always welcome to bring your own oils and lotions, as long as they are free of chemical perfumes, dyes and THC cannabis (because of my own sensitivities.) Cranio-sacral therapy and energy work require no massage oil at all. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I am always contaminated with trace amounts of cat hair.

Q: Can I take you to dinner sometime?
A:  No, thank you. Engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with clients is a serious ethical breach and illegal. I like this law because it keeps the focus on healing, prevents abuse of power by practitioners, and protects practitioners from inappropriate advances. Even if it were not a law, I would still observe this policy. Also, you’re probably great, but my partner is way more amazing than you.

Incidentally, sexual advances, sexual innuendos, comments, or suggestions, and inappropriate requests toward a massage therapist are grounds for the immediate ending of a session, at full cost. Remaining sessions in a package of session or gift certificate may be transferred or donated to another person, but not refunded.

Q: How do you pronounce Zabohne?
A:  Zah-BAW-nee. Aw like in “awesome.”

Please send questions to mandy@intuitivebeing.org