lotus zen spiritual healingA friend of mine and I met the other day at an EVP Coffee®. We were joking about similar circumstances we are both facing in our lives while her 18 month-old played with his food. I’ve always admired her for her sense of humor, unique insight and strength, all of which make her not only a great friend but, an excellent mom. While commenting on our frustrations, at one point she turned the conversation and asked, “So, tell me about CranioSacral. What is it exactly?”

I had just finished a 4-day course through the Upledger Institute®.  “I push your bones around and make you feel better,” I say with a smile. “Seriously, it’s using cranio-fluid within your body – the stuff that lubes your spine, for instance – to help release places where your joints or bones are ‘stuck.’” I emphasis it is a simple, gentle movement that is almost imperceptible.

Osteopathic Physician, John E. Upledger, pioneered CranioSacral therapy (cranial osteopathy, cranial therapy). Upledger served as Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University where he tested and researched what the cranio-fluid does within the body. Through his evaluation he developed this gentle-touch therapy, which releases tension and relieves pain through the process. “The pressure,” I add, “is about ‘this much.’” To demonstrate I lightly touch the top of her hand with the “weight of a nickel.” Clients go through a range of sensations from not feeling anything (which usually means they are not in tune with their body yet) to actually feeling the bones move as they release.   

“What does it help with?,” she prompts. Here is where my memory freezes and I trip over trying to remember all the incredible things it helps with. “Memory. It could help with my memory if I got a treatment…” We start laughing. “Oh!” I say. “Now I remember: It can help with a range of symptoms from chronic neck pain, brain or spinal cord injuries, ADD, Learning Disorders…” and several other physical or mental issues. Almost anyone can be treated from babies to the elderly, minus those with contraindicated symptoms. 

I describe the student in our class who had a shoulder injury from, which she was not able to lift her arm up above shouldersacral chakra height. The teacher, Michael Morgan, CST-D, asked her to come to the front of the class to demonstrate. She told him it had been that way for several years. Morgan worked on her for about 5-8 minutes then asked her to sit down after, which we broke for lunch. Upon returning Morgan invited the student back up to the front of the class and asked her to raise both arms. When she did she was able to raise her bad arm above her head to almost full height.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known physician and author, supports the work of cranio therapy as well. “Dr. Weil… recommend[s] cranial osteopathy therapy for many conditions including colic in babies, earaches and hyperactivity in children, for infants who are not sucking well during breast feeding, … [and] migraine headaches, disturbed sleep cycles, asthma, neck pain, sinus infections, TMJ syndrome, Ménière’s disease and ear problems in adults.”2 

CranioSacral Therapy, though around since the late 70’s to early 80’s, is just now beginning to come into mainstream society. Medical Doctors, Pediatricians, Physical Therapists and Chiropractors are a just a few of those learning this valuable healing modality. If you haven’t tried it, take the advice of another friend who said, “What have I got to lose but some aches and pains?” ‘Zactly.

Kathy Reiki Master crystal bowl therapy SedonaKathy Bryant contracts with Renu Massage, Energy and Body Work. She helps clients develop the best healing “prescription” through the use of CranioSacral Therapy, Reiki, Acupressure and Crystal Therapy. For more information go to http://renumadison.com or call (608) 438-5342 .


  1. Upledger Institute International: CST FAQ’s.     http://www.upledger.com/therapies/faq.php
  2. WEIL™, Wellness Therapies:Cranial Osteopathy http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03223/Cranial-Osteopathy-Craniosacral-Therapy.html 

Smile Your Way to a Healthier Heartheart chakra reiki energy healing

In the center of our own body, there is a small shrine in the form of a lotus flower

And within it can be found a small space.

The heavens and the earth are there: the sun, the moon, and the stars, fire and lightning and winds    the whole universe dwells within our heart.

~ Adapted from the Upanishads, M. Shimoff

What does it take to have a healthy heart? Exercise? Friends? A loving partner?
Loving our self.
A healthy anything starts with a desire to take care of our self and, most importantly, our heart. For eons people all over the world have known that the heart is the seat of our emotions. We recognize this when we suffer “heartbreak.”
Healing from such pain can take days, months or ever years. How do we do it? Marcia Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason, writes, “Happy people let love lead in their lives.” Just as much as we feel the pain of heartache, we can feel the joy of happiness in its place. I know, I suffered from a heartbreak for years until I learned her secret.

chakras meditation reiki balance“All of our emotions can be divided into two basic categories: Love and Fear,”(2). When we love with an open heart, we are literally, opening up the energy field for love to flow out and to come into our hearts. When we reside in fear our hearts “contract” and close off to any heart-healthy emotion: gratitiude, forgiveness, lovingkindness, etc.

Of course we know this but, do we know this? When we are angry or sad we give in to the emotion – which is healthy initially (as long as we don’t harm ourselves or another). It’s when we stay stuck that it becomes unhealthy and can be debilitating. One way to get out of this is to “force” your self to think about the positive. Our brains are not “cemented” to a certain way of thinking. We train our brains to think certain things by ignoring the subtle signs we are headed down that path. But, we can retrain them to go down the path of uplifting and loving thoughts as well.

Daniel G. Amen, of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, offers similar advice, “Focus on what you love about your life and those around you, and your heart will be healthier and happier.” It will also help you live longer.

I can tell you from experience this sometimes seems impossible but, just try these few steps listed below the next time you find yourself “stuck in a rut” over something and see if it helps – even a tiny bit. After all, you didn’t get in that habit overnight. Doesn’t it make sense to try to change it back to “Happy” one thought at a time?

  1. Laughter – Laughter can influence our whole bodies, uplift our moods, reduce levels of stress hormones (i.e., cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine) and increase the love-your-body hormones, endorphins.
  2. Gratitude – You don’t need more of anything in your life to be happy – just simply be grateful for what you do have. Look around you. Think of ten things right now that you can be grateful for: a wonderful spouse/significant other, kids who laugh (they’re a natural at this!) for silly reasons, cool socks with funky designs – make a list! 

Having a hard time with that? Commit yourself to this then: Every time you think a negative thought, force yourself to come up with 5 positive things about that one negative situation. However, remotely connected push through the negative to think positive thoughts. It may truly be a struggle sometimes but, you CAN do it!

  1. Meditation and Yoga – Both are proven stress reducers, which leads to opening our hearts.
  2. Warm hands – Yes, I said, warm your hands. Not just blowing your breath on your hands but, using biofeedback techniques to increase the blood flow from your brain to your hands will help your body relax (think of placing your hands in warm mittens or, “seeing” the blood flow from your brain to your hands, etc.). Or, grab the hand of your partner. A study done at the University of Colorado at Boulder, “…found that holding warm things may actually make people view others more favorably and may also make people more generous.” (1)
  3. Get some body work done: soothe your heart with some Reiki energy, an acupressure treatment, an overall body massage – anything to help relax you and aid in releasing the stress and emotions you’ve been carrying around.

There are lots more ways to take care of our hearts and lead happier lives. Start with these simple steps and you’re on your way to more “healthy and happy” overall.

  1. Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Amen, Daniel G. 2010, Harmony Books, New York, NY.
  2. Happy For No Reason, Shimoff, Marci 2008 Free Press, New York, NY. 

Kathy reiki master teacher

Kathy Bryant contracts with Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork, is a Reiki Master Teacher, a Certified Crystal Therapist, trained in acupressure and is currently working towards certification in Cranio Sacral Therapy. She is a native Madisonian and enjoys helping people achieve overall body wellness.

Several months ago, I shared with readers how Reiki is helping my chronic pain – it was the beginning of my journey with chakra stones energy servicesthat particular method of emotional and spiritual healing.  I recapped my history with lingering chronic pain and shared how Reiki was helping to release another layer, and how wonderful it felt!  I promised an update when I felt my journey was complete, and though I can’t know with certainty if completeness has occurred, I do feel enough changes have occurred to provide that update.

What exactly is Reiki?  I find a whole lot of people have no idea.  It is spiritual; it works with the energetic forces in our bodies similar to acupressure and acupuncture, and it helps release and resolve areas that get “stuck” with various baggage we’ve been carrying around from old injuries, traumas, and stressors.  Stuckness creates an environment for pain to thrive, and it literally keeps us from moving forward when it is time to let go.  A gifted Reiki practitioner can assist us in letting go on levels we are not aware of, like a therapy for your subconscious and spiritual self.  A am so thankful for the very gifted therapist at my place of business who has done wonderful work with me!

I do have to be honest – I slacked a bit on consistency with Reiki after giving it a solid go in the Spring.  But over those slacking months, my emotions were also in a stuck place and weren’t yet ready to move.  That’s the thing with Reiki – as with most any type of therapy, you have to be ready for it and be willing to partner with your therapist to see results.  I began regular Reiki treatments in March for my chronic pain, then in April a bunch of things got shaken up in my world, and it took several months for my attitude to be okay with the changes.  Coincidence?  I’m thinking not.  It seems when we open ourselves up to a treatment to help us change, move on, or move through any type of stuck pattern, we should not be surprised when our world gets shaken up a bit.  I took a break from Reiki while my attitude decided it wanted to stay in an unhappy place for awhile. 

As I started to accept and embrace the changes, I saw that these changes really were good for me, and it seemed to be confirmation that the Universe was giving me wonderful gifts despite my begrudging attitude at my inconvenience and things not happening the way I had planned or envisioned.  Then I noticed something else… I had not felt my back pain in quite some time!  It had been getting pretty bad there for awhile, and though the Reiki did provide some relief, it wasn’t going away entirely.  Somewhere in that span of time when I decided to catch the wave of change and ride it instead of fighting it, I also let go of my pain. 

reiki energy bodywork sessionWhen I went back to Reiki, I felt some amazing sensations during the session, which seemed to be getting deeper into areas I have felt were holding onto past pain.  I was told my energy is much smoother than it had been several months prior.  It was such a beautiful experience!  And as before, it seemed to stir things up again for awhile as things shift within me (this time internal, not with my external surroundings as had happened before).  And now I feel more in tune with what I’m feeling and experiencing, like I can tell we’re getting to some really good things. 

I know I’m not complete and done with Reiki, but as I was feeling some deeply held sadness over the holidays (that I still marvel can hide out within me for so long), it actually felt like I was reaching the bottom of it.  I was letting it out, letting it go, and replacing it with wonderful love and security now that I now feel so strongly. 

Reference:  http://renumadison.com/how-reiki-is-helping-my-chronic-pain/

massage therapist certified cupping therapistHeidi Aschenbrenner, LMBT, CCT, BCTMB, and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork specializing in Eastern bodywork therapies and the healing arts. Heidi and her team of bodywork therapists, a Reiki master, and a Certified Personal Trainer, all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies and have all been trained in Eastern healing techniques and cupping therapy.  Renu also offers an infrared sauna from Sunlighten Saunas for deeper healing and detoxification after your session. For more information or to contact Heidi, please visit renumadison.com.

Reiki Acupressure CranialAs a bodyworker and certified cupping therapist, I am familiar with chronic pain. I’ve also experienced a significant amount of chronic pain personally over the years, which has led me to the work I do. Since becoming a therapist, I’ve been slowly unraveling what has built up in me all these years, including injuries, internalized stress, and the resulting emotional connections to those things. I learned in studying the body that emotions stay in our tissues, associated with the originating event that caused trauma or stress, until it is released through various forms of bodywork that I have been trained in. What I didn’t fully realize was how helpful Reiki can be in moving that process along and clearing up energetic blockages that keep the body in its same patterns of chronic pain.

I’ve worked with multiple chiropractors and physical therapists over the years, and I’ve had regular massage for the last decade both to keep my back pain in check and also because I can see the positive changes it has made for the rest of my body. After a herniated disc and all the melodrama associated with that for a good portion of a year, I have worked diligently and consistently to get my movement back so I can do the activities I so enjoy. Yet that chronic stiffness and pain still linger — even after my sacrum is back where it’s supposed to be, and the surrounding low back tissue feels soft and movable like it’s supposed to. There doesn’t seem to be any physical cause for the pain and stiffness that lingers and resurfaces from time to time. My current chiropractor suggested Reiki or another type of energy work as the next step. I had not considered this! I have two Reiki practitioners at my business, and my acupuncturist also does Reiki along with other energetic and spiritual work. It was high time I gave it a try.

I’ve been seeing one of the practitioners who works with me, and I was amazed how much I felt during the first session. Reiki works with your chakras and your energetic forces to help bring balance and healing on an energetic and spiritual level. I could literally feel energy move through my body, and my practitioner could see and feel various things happening on an energetic level as well. (Some practitioners are gifted with that, and I am fortunate to be working with one!) I have felt like I am purging deep emotions that have been buried a long time, and I am feeling lighter, more energetic, and yes, my back pain and stiffness are improving. I am going to stick with this a while. Stay tuned for another article after I feel the journey is complete! I knew several of my chakras needed work, but I am pleasantly surprised to find yet another layer of healing that can happen with the types of chronic pain issues I see so frequently with massage clients.

The body is a wondrous and complex system; we truly need to heal not just the body, but also the mind and the spirit if we want to experience complete and full healing. If there has been any physical or emotional trauma that has resulted in any kind of chronic pain over the years and you are ready to let it go, perhaps Reiki is something that can help. I’ve been very much enjoying the beginning of my journey and am so happy I was directed that way.

Reiki Acupressure

The healing benefits of reiki

By Kathy Bryant

More people are becoming familiar with reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) and its many benefits. A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children received one or more sessions of energy healing therapy such as reiki in the previous year. Reiki works to heal the body, mind and the spirit on a holistic level. It has been proven to help minimize pain in chronically ill patients and heal depression and stress among other things. 

Mikao Usui, Sensei of Tokyo, founded reiki in the early 1900s. One of his students was Mrs. Hawayo Takata. In 1935, Takata was diagnosed with several serious illnesses. She was referred to a reiki clinic where she returned to health in two months and was completely healed after eight. In 1937, she brought reiki to the U.S. where she continued to teach it until her passing in 1980. 

Reiki is traditionally defined as the universal life-force energy. This energy, which flows through a practitioner’s hands, can feel like many things to a client. As the practitioner begins, you may feel a slight tingling sensation, feel heat radiating from her hands; you may see colors or sense waves of energy going through your body among other sensations. Many clients fall asleep or into a deeply relaxed state while receiving treatment. This is your body’s way of allowing the healing to take place. 

It is in this state that the ego steps aside and allows our higher self to guide the healing process for our bodies. Many times, we overwork and abuse our bodies with food, alcohol, sugar and caffeine saturated drinks and lack of exercise. All of this can tune us out from our body’s signals. Reiki bypasses the ego’s will to keep control and works with the part of you that is ready to heal. Important ways you can begin to assist yourself in this process are focusing on your breathing, especially when you are stressed, some form of exercise such as yoga, walking or riding your bike, and meditation. 

Reiki’s benefits extend beyond just healing your physical body. It heals the emotional aspect also. Sometimes a healing crisis can occur where you experience what feels like an overwhelming amount of emotions arising or get physically sick. More often than not, though, you notice thoughts coming up about events, or have feelings surface you’d forgotten about. If you do experience a lot of emotions coming up, contact a trusted friend or adviser, and ask them to help you through it. Always know that reiki is about helping you release what is no longer serving you and your greatest good. 

Reiki can be used in conjunction with other modalities and works very well with body work such as massage or acupressure. Practitioners can assist anyone, even animals, in the healing process. As more people are becoming aware of energy healing and its benefits, a shift is taking place where we are seeing energy work integrated into more mainstream society. Even large hospitals such as NYP/Weill Cornell, are using guided imagery and reiki in palliative care for patients.

If you are wondering whether or not reiki is right for you, consider finding a practitioner who offers a half-hour introduction session, or offers a percentage off the first full session. Reiki is for everyone because it is non-invasive and always healing. It is even something you can do on yourself, if you so choose. 

Kathy Bryant is a registered Reiki Master Practitioner and acupressurist. She has studied with teachers both in Madison and Sedona, AZ. She has been helping clients heal for over two and a half years. She owns Adi Shakti’s Center for Sacred Healing, a web-based business and, works at Renu Massage and Day Spa on Madison’s west side. To set up an appointment, visit www.renumadison.com or call Kathy at 608-217-8249. 

References: The Center for Reiki Research. www.centerforreikiresearch.org.

“Does the Reiki Touchstone Process Show Support for Reiki?” The Center for Reiki Research. www.centerforreikiresearch.org/RRConclusion.aspx.

“A Modern Reiki Method For Healing (Revised Edition).” Hiroshi Doi. Vision Publications. 2014. 

“Comfort Zone.” Anna Sobkowski. www.weill.cornell.edu/news/publications/pdf/medicine2/2010-03.pdf.