How are you doing bodywise? At the start of this evening’s class, Angie Clark shared, “I’ve been feeling low energy — got any suggestions?” Then, after a half hour of qigong in the park, she said, “Thanks, that helped. I feel much better.”
As Angie and I walked back from the park, she reflected: “I felt the qigong working on my liver this time. What do you recommend for the liver?” I gave her some of my favorite dietary approaches for supporting the liver: leafy greens, the master cleanse lemonade diet, etc. Angie took in my suggestions, smiled, and told me, “BTI has made my recovery go twice as fast!”
In our eight months together as teacher/director and student at the Body Therapy Institute (BTI), our time has been focused on her bodywork training. Tonight, Angie opened up to me about her journey in recovery from addiction. Angie has been a yearlong resident at Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Bethel House, and is currently a student in our 550-hour massage therapist program. She is now assisting me in our Swedish massage class, with entry-level students. Angie’s openness and confidence with her recovery has been amazing to witness. I asked Angie if she would be willing to share her story, and she did.
“I was a heroin addict and trashing my body. I attempted serious recovery five times before,” she began. “This is the first time I have been able to stick with the program. BTI has transformed my life. Receiving access [treatment], Swedish, and deep tissue [massage]; learning how to eat right, and detoxing my body gave me the tools.”
If you met Angie, you’d never guess what she has grappled with. Her happy-go-lucky nature and light, buoyant attitude defy the nightmare she once lived. I asked her to tell me more about what made a difference for her in recovery this time around.
“One of my big shifts occurred during my first session receiving bars [access energy]. I fell asleep and I woke up a better person. Something new came around me. I let go of something inside that was holding me down,” she said. I asked her to say more. “It felt like a demon. I was having nightmares every night where I was battling with this demon. I felt like crap all the time. After that first access energy session, the nightmares stopped. They never came back.” I asked her to tell me more about the changes that came around her. “I’m different. I’m now taking action to better myself.”
Angie’s story is remarkable. Her yearlong recovery program included 20 women — four died during the course of their recovery program. Angie had the good fortune of mentoring with a 1,000-hour BTI graduate. During her mentorship, she received bodywork and encouragement to develop her talents and receive training. She entered the state-funded vocational rehabilitation program, which is now funding her education. Angie is now a poised, self-motivated young woman about to start her work in our clinics. How can it get any better than that? And what else is possible?
One of the tools of access energy is to stay open to possibility. Asking the question, “How does it get any better than that? “What else is possible?” invites differences to show up in our experiences. If you look to the past, each of Angie’s five previous attempts at recovery, plus the challenges incurred by her peers, diminishes hopes for lasting recovery; they create pretty low odds. But if you look to what is possible in the essence of Angie, the sky is the limit.
Angie’s access energy teacher, Audrey Lynette, understands this principle very well. Audrey is a transformation generator. She embodies transformation. Her journey with access energy took her from 500 pounds, and relieved her obsessive-compulsive disorder, degenerating knees (that landed her in a wheelchair in her twenties), depression, constant pain, and cancer. It also took her from Australia to Santa Barbara, where she lives as a dynamic woman and international facilitator. Audrey is an irreverent, hilarious, compassionate, brilliant powerhouse of healing energy.
Listening to Audrey is a treat. After the 20th time you hear Audrey ask, “How does it get any better than that? What else is possible?” one starts to wonder, “Gosh, what was I so distressed about anyway? Maybe things aren’t so bad … Gosh, I’m feeling pretty great. What else IS POSSIBLE?”
According to my own experiences and those I hear from my students, change does happen — and it happens when we change our thinking. Changing our thinking doesn’t have to be a knock-down-drag-out process wrestling with your monkey mind. Changing your thinking can be as easy as having someone gently placing their hands on your head.
The gentleness and indirectness of this approach to change fly in the face of the no-pain-no-gain, tackle-your-demons-straight-on attitude so prevalent in Western culture. Elena Arguello, a 550-hour program student, is a living expression of this gentleness and indirectness. She exudes calm and ease. Elena immediately applies what she learns in the classroom at home with her fiancé.
Recently I asked Elena to share what she noticed with access energy, distinct from the variety of bodywork approaches she has studied in our curriculum. “Ever since I started working on my fiancé with access energy, I noticed that his lifestyle choices have changed. I haven’t had to push him or argue with him — they’ve just fallen by the wayside. He hasn’t needed to smoke or drink, as he used to — he’s just let them go. I’ve given him access energy sessions a couple times a month since February. After work, I set up the massage table. We’d have dinner and then I’ll work on him before bed. It’s a really nice transition; we are both so relaxed from the giving and receiving.” How does it get any better than this? And what else is possible?
Does access energy help with other forms of addiction? A couple months ago, I asked Melissa to give me feedback on BTI’s newsletter. In it, I mentioned Audrey Lynette’s former problems with OCD (the 85 things she had to do before leaving the bathroom each day). Melissa laughed at the description. Her laughter turned to recognition. She became very animated. “Oh, that sounds familiar. I don’t do that anymore. I let that go,” she began. “It never occurred to me until this moment that that bars [access energy] session I had last year at the free intro was when I stopped having the OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] thoughts and compulsions!”
Melissa had been working for me for close to a year and had been a student off and on for over 14 years. “Melissa, I didn’t know you had OCD,” I told her. “Ýeah, I used to have all these rituals that I would do each day,” said Melissa. “I had OCD really badly. I let the rituals take over my day. When I got the session, I wasn’t even thinking ‘I’m here to let go of my OCD.’ [The compulsions] just started to fall away. I got my job here at BTI the very next day. Access energy allowed me to make room to do what I had to do. I didn’t even realize until now that that was when it all started to change.”
“I had been seeing a therapist for 14 years,” she continued. “We tried a lot of different things and medications to help me get over the OCD. Nothing ever worked. Recently my therapist asked about my OCD, and I said, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for that.’ Now that I am reflecting on what occurred, I realize I made the shift with my bars session.”
Imagine that: dropping a 14-year OCD habit and barely remembering when and how it happened. How does it get any better than this? And what else is possible?
One aspect of the power of access energy is that it taps into a level of who we are that is beyond the conscious mind. Access originator Gary Douglas, also a Santa Barbara resident, who spends the better part of his year teaching access energy therapy all over the planet, calls this level beyond the conscious mind our “infinite being state.” Recipients often drop into an altered state that may resemble sleep, but is quite different in that the body and mind are actively releasing.
Hector Vejar, a student in SBI’s 1,000-hour program, described this well when asked about his experience with access energy sessions. “It’s extremely relaxing and energizing. Every bars session is different,” he began. “The most intense one that I’ve had was when my body was relaxing and my heart was really pumping, and my mind was having several short dreams at the same time. At the end of the session, my body and mind were very relaxed and rested.”
Whether you are grappling with a long-standing addiction or simply want to drop into the “zone” and experience a heightened state of mental clarity, access energy is worth checking out. To learn more we invite you to check out our access energy session with a local practitioner or attend an access energy training. This Friday, September 9, Audrey will give a free introduction to access energy with free mini bars sessions at the Body Therapy Institute. Instructors and practitioners like Audrey can be found online at Audreylynette.com, or sbbti.com. How does it get any better than that? And what else is possible?
Katie Mickey, CMT, HHP, director of the Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute, has been teaching classes in Holistic Health and Wellness for the past 21 years. Her Institute offers Access Energy and various forms of bodywork training, professional bodywork, a low-cost student clinic, and a free Holistic Speakers Forum. For more information visit sbbti.com or call 966-5802.