I recently picked up a copy of Ted Andrew’s Animal Wise- the extended edition that has a lot more species of animals and lesser known archetypes.

For those unfamiliar with Shamanic healing work, I talk about Animal medicine here: Core Shamanism

This book includes mythical animals, such as the Dragon, Unicorn, and Phoenix-as powerful archetypes. In China these mythical animals are the guardians of the Four directions, and the Unicorn is actually the highest ranking animal. This changed in the Qin dynasty for reasons that I haven’t researched quite yet!

My interest in the unicorn is that they are incredibly gentle animals, and powerful healers. According to Ted Andrews “Unicorns remind us to be gentle- healing should come softly and gently- if it is to be permanent. Trust in the strength of gentleness to heal and bless.”

This was a powerful confirmation that the way in which I work-to not force things but have them be easy gentle and pleasurable-is truly making a difference by shifting things in the way they need to be shifted. This came synchronistically after my last client referrred to Daoist Medicine as “a gentle release method” when describing his experience.

I contrast this with a more forceful method of healing but which has remained popular in the U.S.- the path of instant gratification or instant results. I find it no mystery that chiropractic work is more often and universally insured than massage therapy! Yet Chiropractors themselves admit that an adjustment needs to happen often-usually three times a week for a month or two-before any real shift takes place. Yeah one may feel awesome, but the second you get into your car or in front of your desk the old posture comes back!

Freedom Bodywork and Trager’s approach is about how the real tension and healing power comes from within our mind. In this way the catalyst for healing creates a space in which you can relax into the restorative power that is already within you. This empowerment creates a true shift and leads you to being able to reliably care for yourself! Given our capitalist society and Health care model…you can see why any system that leads to being self-reliant would be underappreciated: its not profitable! I want to make a stand against this type of greed and model-the level of pain in the world seems endless. The addicon to opiates is widespread, and it weighs heavily on my heart that our ancient wisdom and connection to healing has been lost.

On a wider scope, this week encouraged me to write this post and raise awareness about the power of gentleness not only in massage therapy (changing the paradigm of what deep tissue and efffective massage means) but as it applies to gradual change in all areas of life.

Let’s take a pretty standard attachment I have and I imagine most of us have:

Cars. Now for plenty this is a true necessity to navigate our country and to live the kinds of lives we enjoy. But let’s say one day we feel a deep calling to let go of this as our primary ways of transportation and rely more on alternative forms and public transit.

The “harsh” method of change would be to sell the car immediately-perhaps even to a dealership for the most instant method-and begin to try living out life without a car.

The problem of this harsh method is we did not have a time to really process what this change would mean and all the implications of it. Suddenly I realize that going to my friend’s house in the middle of the night is no longer feasible or safe-running to the store for an emergency supply fix has triggered resentment at my impulsive change. This bitterness also translates into other areas-now I am wary of my “inner knowing” telling me to eat healthier or make other changes-how do I know I’ll like them? I may even end up backsliding and getting another car because I am unable to deal with how much changed from losing this way of being from my life.

Compared to the gradual path-say keeping the car but slowly adding in a day biking to work here-buying a bus pass and learning the routes, making friends in the neighborhood who would love to carpool for various necessities like grocery runs or trips to Target. Now a few months to a year later I realize that I use my car only in certain ways. Day trips, out of town visits to family, and for moving apartments.

Well, now I can research options for that-and I find a service like Turo or some equivalent which allows for pretty cheap car rental/sharing when needed. I sell my car with the spirit of gratitude and gentle releasing it as I ease into my new car-free way of life. This allows the change to be permanent and one that I have had time to accept and process.

Again to bring this back to personal transformation and healing- how often have ultimatums or strict changes been able to motivate us? How many New Year’s resolutions fade away? I personally returned from my Northwest trip ready to workout every day for 30 minutes in addition to my Qi Gong routine-start the day right. This has happened maybe 2-3 times in the past month I’ve been back!

Now I can commit to once a week, and from there as I appreciate and enjoy how smoothly the day goes after a good healthy start I figure I’ll naturally want to have more days like that. Enough talk! Time to apply this wisdom to my own life, see you in the next post!