Cover Story: A Healing Orgy

Eight therapies, three days, one improved body

Jymi Bolden

Looking for "big love" in all the right places, the author (on mat) works with Dana Pilolli of Light Touch Physical Therapy.

I spent 2002 feeling diagonally parked in a parallel universe. I tried to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attacked me at once. Maybe it's juggling three jobs, two teen-agers, one boyfriend and a zero-balance checkbook.

It seemed as if every time I opened my mouth last year it was just to change feet. I was anxious and angry, reduced to arguing with the cat because everyone else left the room a long time ago.

The stray eyebrows growing on my chin didn't help my mood either, and my "wild oats" have turned to shredded wheat. What's happened? Saturday nights used to consist of five hours of Sex Olympics followed by a 3 a.m. feast, then more sex. In 2002, Saturday evenings consisted of watching Dogs with Jobs on cable, a quick game of Spin the Mylanta Bottle and in bed by 11:00; any groans were a result of body aches.

According to my personal shaman — Big Mama Earth Love from the Self Healing Angst Mind Exfoliating Center — I had disconnected from my inner child.

So I checked my numerology chart, did some self-parenting and a past-life regression, then rebirthed myself and ate an organic tea tree flower raw food muffin. I wasn't feeling nurtured yet, so I geared up for psycho-calisthentics and a harmonic brain wave synergy session, which was a preliminary for Gestalt-Jungian-Freudian Behavioral Transpersonal Channeling.

All of this turned my aura a putrid yellow color and left me astral-traveling way out of my body — somewhere over Iowa. Now I was really pissed. What I needed was to get grounded!

"The issues are in the tissues," my yoga friend Summer Moon reminds me. "What you need is some intensive bodywork. Your body is seriously whacked out. You need to get some big love goin', girl."

Even though I'm a yoga practitioner and Thai Yoga therapist, I'd completely absorbed a year of emotional stress into my body and then duly ignored it. I made several appointments with some of the best body and energy workers in town and then asked my editor if he'd pay for a three-day healing orgy.

His only concern was whether I'd be able to write about it when I was done.

First on the menu was Reiki with Marion Corbin-Mayer. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning "universal life energy" and is a system for channeling that energy to someone for the purpose of healing.

In its simplest form, Reiki is simply the practitioner placing his or her hands in various positions on the recipient with the intent of bringing healing and allowing themselves to be a conduit for energy to flow.

Marion puts you at ease immediately with big sister warmth and a quirky sense of humor. On her massage table I melted under her hot hands and felt relaxed, calm and centered when the hour session was finished. It carried throughout the day, which impressed my children enough to freely donate leftover Christmas money for another session.

The next day I stopped by to see Alan Hundley for some Trager Therapy and Watsu (aquatic bodywork). Trager bodywork, named after Milton Trager, M.D., is a mind/body approach using light touch, movement and open meditative state for improved mobility and relaxation.

Alan gently rocked, rolled, stretched and pressed my body on his table that communicated such a quality of feeling to my nervous system I wanted to cry out with joy. In fact, I think I did.

But it was in his 95-degree pool for some Watsu that I really let go and felt truly free. Watsu is a combination of Zen Shiatsu with aquatic therapy — sort of massage and sensory deprivation at the same time.

Alan gently supports you as you float on your back, eyes closed and ears submerged, using the resistance of the water to stretch and massage tissues. Gravity and weight become irrelevant and I barely noticed any "work" being done. I entered an altered state, literally a primitive life experience where I no longer had any sense of having a human body — more like a tadpole. It was incredible freedom. I left Alan with an overwhelming urge to call my mother — or anyone's mother.

Two hours later I floated into Essence in Movement with Dana Pilolli for a Feldenkrais session and Pilates training. Dana is well-known in Cincinnati for his high level of expertise in rehabilitation, fitness and holistic health.

We began with a short Feldenkrais session, a melding of motor-development, bio-mechanics and martial arts recognized for its ability to improve posture, flexibility and coordination. "Elegant movement" is the phrase that most impressed me as Dana took me through some applications of core integration.

I was equally impressed with his vast knowledge, attention to detail and sense of fun during our Pilates session. He insisted on elegant movement and mindfulness so that it became a conscious, meditative approach to fitness. My awareness level peaked. Maybe I was stirrin' up some big love.

I was quite excited about Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy with Renee Groenemann because of my interest in yoga. Phoenix Rising Therapy is a combination of psychotherapy and assisted yoga postures. The therapist gently assists in accessing sensory, emotional, spiritual and historical information believed to be stored in the body through guided exploration, dialogue, stretches and yoga postures.

I arrived with an open intention to the experience, but it proved to be the most challenging work for me during the "healingfest," as I was used to yoga postures as a form of meditation without dialogue. Renee's genuine care and acceptance enabled a trust that allowed me to relax, gaining some clarity, perspective and a willingness to work with some self-imposed limitations. I was struck by how valuable this work would be for those diagnosed with ADHD or victims of sexual abuse.

Thai Yoga Therapy, also known as Thai Yoga Massage, is one of the most popular bodyworks in spas on both coasts and recently gaining a reputation here. I've had lots of such therapy by a number of practitioners around the country, and Mike Burgasser, co-owner of It's Yoga, is one of my favorites.

Thai Yoga Therapy is an ancient practice, combining reflexology, acupressure, gentle rocking movements and applied stretches that open, exercise and tone systems of the body. I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd seen Mike and how many "issues" were stored up in my body by the time I laid supine on his mat.

I let out so many groans, sighs and squeals of delight during our 90-minute session that I was certain the yoga students leaving the class next door were curious as to what was happening in Studio C. Our CityBeat photographer, who was along to record the session on film, felt like a voyeur as I writhed in what appeared to be orgasmic joy. Maybe the big love was on its way.

After seven energy and bodywork sessions in two days, I left Thai Yoga Therapy in a near manic state, phoning my boyfriend at his office to suggest that he leave his patients for a little "afternoon delight." I still had one more bodywork to go, so I decided that a little Merlot Therapy and dinner with friends was in order first.

I told my friends that I needed to get to my Rolfing session. "You're going to a Ralphing session?" they queried. No guys. It's Rolfing, a deep tissue manipulation designed to realign bodies that are out of balance.

If Watsu is the gentlest body therapy I've ever experienced, Rolfing is the most intense — and Wanda Sucher, a full-time Rolfer for the past 10 years, goes right for the jugular in this work. Using the strongest fingers I've ever encountered — and her elbows where needed — Wanda penetrated the myofascial tissue along my back, hips and hamstrings, releasing the pain of an old injury and returning the tissue to its normal strength and consistency.

The Rolfing belief is that you can't change your behavior in a permanent way without changing your body. I left Wanda feeling so open — and exhausted after eight body therapies — that I welcomed and was committed to change.

Before I fell into bed, I called Summer to tell her I'd found the big love — and that I was now two inches taller. ©

Reader, Heal Thyself

Here's how to get involved

· Reiki

Marion Corbin-Mayer: 513-561-0338

Janet Berg: 513-680-1875

FourWinds Academy: 513-542-4400

Inner Peace Holistic: 513-784-0403

TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion: 513-985-6736

· Trager Therapy and Watsu

Alan Hundley: 513-281-8606

· Feldenkrais and Pilates

Dana Pilolli: 513-792-2300

· Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

Renee Groenemann: 513-831-1357

· Thai Yoga Massage

Mike Burgasser: 513-961-9642

Donna Covrett: 513-238-3841

· Rolfing

Wanda Sucher: 513-791-7022, ext. 14 or 606-341-8907

James E. Reischman: 513-731-3194