New experiences aren’t always found in exciting places or have to include nature or a unique adventure. I recently had an experience that’s hard to describe, but I walked away a relaxed and renewed.
In April, we stayed close to family at Huggy Bear Campground, near Van Wert, Ohio. I was born and raised in the farm country of Ohio and had the opportunity to meet up with friends. They invited me for lunch at Brewed Expressions Cafe in the quaint little town of Van Wert. Over a bowl of the most delicious chicken enchilada soup I’ve ever eaten, flavorful sandwich, and cup of piping hot coffee, I spent hours talking with Pam and Ann (sisters I’ve known since I was sixteen).
Pam works at Van Wert Massotherapy and Salt Cave and is a Reiki healer (her site is here), which is something unfamiliar to me. Ann told me of a technique Pam performed on her called craniosacral therapy. Ann said she cried throughout the procedure, and the feeling of emotional healing was profound. Pam stated people have different reactions during the therapy as it depended on their individual needs. It intrigued me, so I made an appointment for the upcoming week for a personal experience. I didn’t research the therapy so I could discover the benefits firsthand and as objectively as possible.
I walked into the Van Wert Massotherapy and Salt Cave building and experienced a feeling of peace and relaxation. It’s spacious, quiet, and welcoming.
Pam escorted me into luxurious dimly lit room with a light, calming scent and relaxing music. The only clothing I needed to remove was my shoes. She asked me to lie down on a thick, comfy table. She covered me with a blanket and suggested taking slow, deep breaths to relax while she left for a few moments to prepare for the craniosacral therapy.
I concentrated on slow breathing to calm my fast-beating heart and self-conscious anxiety over the upcoming procedure. I began to feel completely safe and cocooned as my heart beat slowed and anxiety eased. My mind drifted into the ‘in-between’–the place between sleep and awake–and I literally imagined myself flying on the magical comfy bed over beaches and mountains and all the beautiful places I dearly love. I was in a relaxed state and Pam wasn’t even in the room.
When she returned, Pam explained she’d start at my feet, areas along my spine, and work her way to the top of my head using only light touch (no more than the weight of a quarter, as it turned out). She cupped my heels in her palms in complete silence for a few moments. The muscles in my feet, ankles, calves, and thighs gradually relaxed.
She then put one hand beneath me at my lower spine and one lightly above on my lower stomach for many long, quiet minutes. People can choose to believe it or not, but the muscles in my hips loosened and the joints ‘gave’ slightly. I had a dislocated hip as a teenager, which required crutches for months. It’s caused quite a bit of pain and gait issues as I’ve gotten older, requiring physical therapy and hip muscle strengthening. This has always been (and always will be) a problematic issue for me. To feel those muscles relax in a manner I’ve never experienced before was a unique, relieving surprise. I was hyper-aware of my organs and muscles releasing their tensed hold. The gentle touch of Pam’s hands focused my mind in relaxing that specific area.
Pam repositioned one hand to the mid-spinal area and the other above on my midsection for several long moments. Many different sensations occurred at the same time. It sounds odd even to myself, but I could feel my organs sort of ‘release’ as I relaxed the area and digestive juices became audible. I’ve had stomach surgery in the past, and for months had problems with food getting ‘stuck’ leading to regurgitation. I could visualize my intestines loosening and relaxing and contents sliding through.
Pam moved to my chest, neck, and throat area, spending several quiet moments at each location. I felt my muscles unclenching and joints loosening. I can’t adequately explain the depth of relief from the tension I’d been holding in my muscles, tissues, and joints. She advanced to my face and placed her hand lightly over my sinuses. There was a crisp audible sound of fluid loosening and my sinus pressure eased. My jaw relaxed with a ‘give’ of the muscles. Clenching my jaw is my go-to reaction to any and all stress, and this release was a particular relief. My eye muscles even relaxed, and I’ve never experienced THAT before.
Pam explained what she was doing from movement to movement. Besides the sweet release of tension of taut muscles, the depth of relaxation was consistent throughout. She gave me a few moments to gather my thoughts before asking me to sit slowly to avoid feeling lightheaded or dizzy before standing and walking. She advised taking it easy for the next few hours while my body adjusted to the therapy.
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND RESULTS: Since the procedure, I’ve done research and found the results of craniosacral therapy to be somewhat controversial. I can only share my experience in why I think it was of benefit to me and may be to others.
Please note: I’m not a medical professional. I’m only sharing personal experience. Always consult a physician.
I have moderate to severe rheumatoid disease. It’s an autoimmune medical condition that cannot be ‘cured’ from this type of procedure, herbal, or other natural therapies. It can only be treated and/or controlled by a qualified rheumatologist. However, I believe a deep relaxation experience can improve a person’s spiritual and mental strength to deal with difficult pain from chronic conditions. I’m unable to use pain medications because of possible kidney and liver damage when combined with my rheumatoid disease treatments, and I hold all stress and pain as tension inside my body. This has affected my mental outlook and ability to deal with flares and stress (and may cause some of them). Seeing someone like Pam can possibly ease pent-up muscle and tissue rigidity and provide relaxation/release to better equip me to mentally handle the effects of RA and painful flares. It could definitely be viewed as a mind over matter situation, and it’s a new tool in my arsenal of RA survival–not to ‘cure’ it, but to better cope with it. I’m curious to try craniosacral treatment mid-flare to see the results. Craniosacral therapy is not a painful, harmful, or invasive therapy, so I believe it’s an acceptable treatment for anyone.
The most important takeaway was a memorable revelation of areas I subconsciously hold tension and where I obtained the greatest relief. One of the long-term benefits enjoyed from the therapy is near resolution of my stomach issue. I’ve had few problems with obstruction since Pam’s healing hands touched the area. I honestly think she has a God-given gift of healing. All the way around, the experience was a win for me. Some self indulgent relaxation is a win for anybody.
Pam gave me a tour of the Van Wert Massotherapy facility, especially the Salt Cave. It’s a beautiful room, and a few quiet moments in the Cave would be a heavenly experience. Sadly, our visit to the area was ending and I didn’t get to spend time surrounded by the pink salt. Here’s a couple photos of the calming space.
Van Wert Massotherapy also gives traditional and deep tissue massages, facials, and other spa relaxation services. They sell a variety of aroma therapy and relaxation aides for home use.
Below is Pam’s contact information. I highly recommend a visit to experience her sweet spirit, gentle and healing hands, and a strong sense of well being throughout and after the deeply relaxing therapy.
Have YOU had craniosacral therapy? Would you explore it as a way to reduce pain and stress? I’d love to hear your experience and/or thoughts in the comments below.
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