Why do some people miraculously turn around after suffering from life threatening illnesses, emotional trauma, and spiritual despair?
Dr. Ronan Kisch has documented twenty-seven bodywork/massage therapists whose clients-despite grave medical prognoses or life trauma-had unusual, if not miraculous recoveries after having bodywork with these practitioners. Who are these practitioners that have had these successes? What transpired in their sessions that allowed for such miraculous events? What is it that you could do to create these possibilities for yourself and others? Dr. Kisch, who brought to light the psycho-behavioral aspects confronting bodywork practitioners in Beyond Technique: The Hidden Dimensions of Bodywork, now examines the spiritual domain of bodywork.
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The Miraculous Achievements of BodyworkHow Touch Can Provide Healing for the Mind, Body, and Spirit
By Ronan M. Kisch
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Ronan M. Kisch
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE QUEST
During the night of September 10, 2001 I was in bed with my wife, Elizabeth, in a hypnagogic state, half awake half asleep, when I heard a horrific explosion and sensed evil was tearing the fabric of reality—injecting venom from the dark other side. Fully awake, I was struck with a sense of impending disaster. I turned to Elizabeth and asked, "Did you hear that?" She said, "No, I didn't hear anything." I bolted out of bed and searched the house for intruders. All the doors were locked and the windows closed. I went outside to the front yard to see if I could see or hear anything in the neighborhood. All was quiet. I came back to bed and told Elizabeth about the "horrific explosion" and the intense feeling of evil and impending doom. This experience was unlike anything that had ever happened to me.
The next morning my step-daughter, Valerie, called from Atlanta, "Turn on the TV! Turn on the TV," she repeated. I turned on the television and there saw the video of a jet smashing into the World Trade Tower. Minutes later there was the second jet flying into the other tower. One jet flying into the tower could have been an unimaginable accident. There being two such accidents was beyond belief. This was an attack.
I was hard pressed to fathom how anyone could knowingly murder so many innocent civilians and simultaneously create trauma and suffering in countless others, suffering that would rage on and ripple with time, instigating yet more trauma and tragedy. This was beyond my comprehension. In the back of my mind, there was also the issue of my experience the night before. I had never encountered such a phenomenon and I did not know how to go about coming to grips with or understanding it. The contents and intensity of my state of being on September 10, 2001 were alien to me. On September 11, 2001 they appeared to be prophetic.
That something in my unconscious could have predicted such an event was beyond my belief, nor could I believe this was a genuine premonition. I have been a skeptic of such experiences since childhood. I understood the laws of cause and effect before I could read. As a child, I intuitively knew there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I knew that Santa Claus was either part of a mechanism to control children's behavior or a ploy for marketing toys. Likewise, I knew there was no such thing as God. After all, if there was a God, a man in the sky with a long white robe, and a long beard who was supposedly all knowing, all powerful, and ever present, and if he was really guiding the actions of humanity for the good—could there have been anything such as crime, murder, the Holocaust, or world wars?
As I matured I believed that my skepticism was what gave me an edge as a student and as a psychologist. Left-brain objectivity detached from prejudice or bias was my major tool for approaching life and clients. I disbelieved what appeared to be obvious on the surface and instead searched for what was significant though latent. But this experience of evil on September 11, 2001 and several other fortuitous events began my broaching life and questioning in a new and different direction. Three of these events also involved death.
When I first arrived in Dayton, Ohio I worked in a hospital as a health psychologist. There, I was told by several nurses "not to be surprised if I saw patients after their death." They explained that these people might have had unfinished business and, before moving on, they would often return to share final messages. I never saw any ghosts in the hospital halls; but, over the years I did hear of such sightings from anxiety-ridden or embarrassed patients. Did I believe these stories? Let's say I filed this information away as hospital folk lore and kept it for future reference.
I had cause to remember this hospital folk lore on the day after my mother died. I was on my way to Covenant House, where my mother died, to pick up her belongings. It was dusk as I was traveling on I–75 in Dayton when I saw a shooting star which had a northwestern trajectory over the nursing home. It was the first shooting star that I had seen in the state of Ohio. The hospital lore came back to me and I wondered, is this my mother sending me a message? Could this be her on the other side letting me know that she is okay? To the best of my knowledge, my mother would have been a skeptic, too. But, I just had to wonder because of the coincidence of the event and the timing.
The night of the day I buried my mother, my wife Elizabeth and I were again driving when a second shooting star crossed our path—is she knocking on her disbelieving son's door again? This time it felt like a different message. She was not letting me know that she was all right. I had a sense that my mother was telling her anxious youngest son that she was now privy to a greater picture and that I could calm my neurotic anxieties. I would be all right. This was just an awareness. I did not necessarily believe it. But, this marked the first limbic chink in my scientific armor.
In March, a year and a half later, my step-son Eric died. He was tragically killed along with his fiancé and her mother by a drunk driver. Jennifer, my step-daughter, and her husband had flown into town from Atlanta to spend the night with us before the funeral the following day. I was on my way to the grocery store with my son-in-law when there, just around the corner, on a snowy night, in the middle of the road, appeared a white dove. It was not doing anything. It was just standing in the middle of the road. Well, I've never seen a bird at night before, let alone a white dove. Maybe this was a hallucination. I turned to my son-in-law and asked, "Do you see that white dove?" In his characteristic Southern style he said in amazement, "Yeah, Dude!" I could not help but to believe that Eric was sending me a message. He was blessing my marriage to his mother and expressing his appreciation for my taking care of her. I have never seen a bird at night since.
Two years later my father died. The night I buried him I had a very unusual dream. I saw a figure ascending a ladder into the heavens. As the figure went higher, an opening in the clouds formed, like the aperture of a lens opening. Then figures, ancestral figures, came out from behind the clouds like a celestial greeting committee. The figure then rose into the opening and it, the opening, and the other figures disappeared. I have been trained in science. I had not had celestial dreams. (At least, I didn't have celestial dreams until that night.) I instantly woke and turned to tell Elizabeth what I had just dreamed. She was awake and sitting up in bed. After I told her of my experience she said, "That's what I just saw." That has never happened before, or since.
There were three other events that further opened the door to an alternative mode of perception, understanding, and belief. These had nothing to do with death. These, however, were not events that happened to me. They were stories that I recorded in my first book, Beyond Technique: The Hidden Dimensions of Bodywork. As a student of Milton Trager's technique of psychophysical reeducation, at trainings I would routinely hear massage therapists talking about their work experiences with clients. Many of these experiences were puzzling, troubling, and even traumatizing for them. They related to the psychosocial aspects of their relationships with their clients. I decided that I would write a book to help them understand some of these psychological phenomena that arise as part of working with people.
I hoped the book would normalize some of the troubling experiences they encountered,helpthemtogrowpersonallyandprofessionally,andhelpprepare them for future unexpected occurrences. Three of these stories involved unexpected events which preceded phenomenal outcomes. These occurrences did not follow the customary laws of cause and effect. What happened in these stories can be called unusual, extraordinary, or even miraculous.
The first of these stories involved a woman named Margaret. Margaret was in a car accident that left her with chronic pain from whiplash. Because of her own traumatic experience and her emotionally vulnerable personality she feared doing neck work with her clients. At a training she was asked to perform a neck lift. Margaret, after suffering a dozen years of cervical pain herself from an auto accident, was terrified to perform the neck lift lest she inflict damage or pain on another or be rejected by her client. Margaret was serendipitously paired up with a man approximately her own age. When it came time to do the neck lift, Margaret froze. She was so bound up in wanting to be acceptable, not making a mistake, and not inflicting pain on another that she could not respond. Instead, she timidly worked with her partner's neck. Margaret continues the story:
Without being aware of what was going on inside of me, my partner said, "You can lift more." I told him, I'm afraid I'll hurt you." Then I heard him say, "I am confident in you! You will do fine." That freaked me out! Whether no one had ever said that to me before or I was just unable to accept it, I don't know, but I had never heard that before. I never had anyone confident in me about anything. I not only heard what he said, I took in both his words and his feeling of confidence. I was really touched by this. My self-confidence was boosted by the confidence he felt in me. My muscular holding and tension released. Suddenly, I was aware of feeling the sensations of this man's neck resting in my hands. It was as if someone had suddenly turned on an electric switch. I suddenly could feel the flexibility of his muscles as they arched in my cupped hands and I watched his head tilt back. I could feel the weight; I could feel the skin. I continued to lift his neck muscles, reaching the full extent of their range. Then I just stopped lifting. I not only understood how to do the technique safely, but I had found the confidence to perform it.
Margaret explains that this occurrence was not the end of her story. After returning home, her first client was a thirty year old woman who suffered from spina bifida. She had three malformed vertebrae in her neck, causing pinched nerves and chronic pain. Again, Margaret's panic of failure returned and she felt immobilized. But, so did her memory of the man at the training and his confidence in her and her experience of that confidence. "I was doing it again!" Margaret performed the neck lift and her client's chronic shoulder pain disappeared. Margaret concluded after the session, that not only did her client's deep ingrained look of gloom turn into a "broad, beaming smile, but she had been deeply touched by the session and was no longer the same."
The second story was that of Sherry. Sherry suffered from cancer when she was 26. She said that she was ignorant about her condition. "A woman prayed for me. I had no pain, no discomfort." A scar was the only physical aftermath of surgery, but she perpetually lived with the anxiety of recurrence. Sherry devoted her career to working with clients she could identify with—young, hospitalized, cancer patients in excruciating pain. She chose to do polarity therapy bodywork with terminally ill patients.
Sherry was frequently able to help her patients with their pain, but, was dismayed that they seemed to die faster. She then told the story of Dory. Dory was the closest to her age of all the patients with whom she worked. Dory, a woman with metastatic colon cancer, had just returned from an operation. Her surgeons were so sure that she would not survive that they had left a surgical wire protruding through her abdomen. Her condition was expected to deteriorate rapidly. She was in constant pain—clutching for her meds every few hours. Dory asked Sherry if there was anything she could do to "remove her from her body."
Sherry had a particularly strong identification with her patient Dory because of the similarity in their ages. Dory was in extreme pain and her death was imminent. When Dory asked Sherry if there was anything Sherry could do to "remove her from her body," Sherry replied, "Yes." Sherry was aware of a procedure that would shift focus out of a person's body, but it hastened death. As Sherry explains:
I was prepared to work with Dory. But the first thing I did was to knock over a coffee table with drinking water on it. That's not me. I was extremely embarrassed. After cleaning up the mess, I gathered myself together to begin again. "Kaboom!" Just as I started there was a tremendous clap of lightning that came down outside of the window. Dory and I laughed together over being startled by the thunder. I began again. "Kaboom!" There was no storm outside and no storm in sight. It was as if someone was sending a metaphysical sign. We agreed to stop. After that, I continued to work with Dory in a gentle manner to help manage her pain.
To her doctors' disbelief and bewilderment Dory lived for another four months. Sherry described the time as a romantic passage for Dory and her husband during which they were able to part without agony.
The third story involved Patricia, a practitioner who also experienced an extraordinary shift in her client. Patricia, an earnest, gentle woman had been in practice for fifteen years without ever having a terminal cancer patient. Georgia, a sixty-seven year old woman with breast cancer, came to her and told Patricia that she wanted to beat her cancer. Yet, in spite of Patricia's coaxing, Georgia was unwilling to explore the emotional stress issues in her life. Patricia did everything she could to try to help her client—to no avail. After Georgia's death, Patricia said, "No more cancer patients." That is when her friend Gina came in wearing a wig.
Gina had a rare form of ovarian cancer "that had spread all over her inside ... to everywhere." She hadn't eaten anything for three weeks. Patricia tells what happened in the session:
Well, here she was in my office ... so sick ... and I had no idea what to do for her. She was in a lot of pain. I asked her, "Where do you hurt the most?" She said, "Over my liver. I just had a CT scan. They were trying to see if the chemotherapy had done anything, but, it hasn't. Now I have cysts in my liver, like about a dozen or so." So ... I sat down beside the table, and put one hand underneath her liver and one hand on top of it, and I started to pray ... silently. I said, "God, why are you doing this to me again? You know I don't do well with this. I didn't do well with the last one. I want to help her though, Lord, she's my friend." And I just sat there holding her liver between my hands. I just said to God, "Well just help me to be with her Lord, and help me to know what to say."
By the time Patricia was through with her prayer, the two women were crying. Patricia reported that she could tell that her client had been touched. The entire room was filled with love. Continuing she added:
Then I felt her liver just sort of rotate, and it felt like something released, and it got lighter. I said, "Gina, it feels like something eased up ... did your pain get easier?" She said, "Yes, it feels different ... it feels better."
Excerpted from The Miraculous Achievements of Bodywork by Ronan M. Kisch Copyright © 2011 by Ronan M. Kisch. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I Prelude....................1
Chapter 1 The Quest....................3
Chapter 2 Miracles....................13
Chapter 3 The Wisdom of Bodyworks....................21
Chapter 4 Overture....................27
Part II The Play....................31
Act I Fortuitous/Chance Motivation....................33
Chapter 5 Glorious Mysteries....................35
Chapter 6 Always, Always, Always Always Open with a Prayer....................47
Chapter 7 Doing My Part....................53
Chapter 8 Divine Appointment....................61
Act II Intuitive Inspiration....................71
Chapter 9 Almost Makes Me Cry....................73
Chapter 10 In Attendance....................79
Chapter 11 The Universe Works....................85
Chapter 12 Walking This Hill....................95
Chapter 13 That Miracle Happened to Me, Too....................101
Chapter 14 Bring a Healing Spirit Into the World....................107
Chapter 15 Miracles Happen Every Day....................113
Act III Inspirational Encounter with A Bodywork Professional....................119
Chapter 16 This Is Going to Work....................121
Chapter 17 Ask For Guidance From God....................129
Chapter 18 Be the Dalai Lama....................133
Chapter 19 The Smile and Laughter Were Miraculous....................137
Chapter 20 Just Do Nothing....................143
Chapter 21 More Than One Way to Get to Cleveland, Ohio....................149
Chapter 22 I Saw "The Tunnel"....................153
Chapter 23 Believe in the Power of Miracles....................159
Chapter 24 Remember This Bliss....................165
Act IV Remarkable Recovery Resulting from Bodywork Intervention....................171
Chapter 25 An Instrument of Healing....................173
Chapter 26 A New Direction....................179
Chapter 27 God, Thank You Man....................189
Chapter 28 Feel Better After Giving....................199
Chapter 29 Nature's Way....................207
Chapter 30 Dance With the Deepest Love....................215
Chapter 31 Let's Try....................223
Part III Finalé....................233
Chapter 32 Wisdom Revisited....................235
Chapter 33 The Other Science....................245
Chapter 34 Working From Spirit And Soul....................269
Chapter 35 Conclusion....................285
Appendix A Client Expectations....................297
Appendix B Practitioner Expectations....................319