When I decided to reclaim my health about 2 years ago (Oh, the irony of this situation!), I began getting massages. I would sooner part with my automatic dishwasher than give up this weekly luxury. My husband (Monty) and I go together every Tuesday. Monty sees Valerie and I see Robert.
Monty use to be a marathon runner before he wrecked his knees (now its racquet ball and golf) and he likes a deep sports massage (ouch!). I get a Russian Sports Massage which is more lymphatic and therapeutic. Neither is for the faint-hearted, but we both feel relaxed and conditioned afterward. We are also gluttons and have 2 hour sessions. It’s absolutely physically and mentally therapeutic.
My “Massage Therapist” (I was gently instructed to use this term after once innocently referring to Robert as a “masseuse”) is a terrific fellow who was once a social worker who went on wilderness treks to help facilitate troubled teens. This is where he learned about the Shaman ways. There were other counselors with the program that were Shaman practitioners and he was drawn to the meditative ways and the relationship to nature. We’ve had many interesting conversations about his meditation practices and devotion to the healing arts. I found some of the practices a little weird, but I know Robert is sincere and I appreciate his dedication to helping others. Even though he had already graduated college and was working, he went back to school again to learn to be a massage therapist and has a great intuitive gift for it. He has a lovely, caring heart and speaks often of wanting to be of service with his life. Even though we were introduced through his work, he feels like a friend.
Recently, I showed up for my usual Tuesday night message but had to explain to Robert that I had been diagnosed with cancer. My doctor had given me a letter of permission for the front desk saying it was OK for me to receive a massage. Anyway, I thought I should explain why I had this huge lump on my collarbone (the “port”) and give him a chance to back out in case he thought working on a cancer patient was going to be a challenge. He immediately signed on for the duration and showed great sensitivity.
He rather politely asks if I would like to do a little “energy” work after my massage. He said he would use crystals and I could meditate. I had to think about this for a minute. It doesn’t exactly match my spiritual construct, but I enjoy prayer and mediation already so this didn’t seem like a huge stretch. He said everything in the universe has a vibration and that these crystals each had specific vibrations the body could use for healing. This is a big notion and sounded a little goofy, but I thought it would be an interesting experience so I said sure… I have since come to the conclusion that what is given and received with good intention and in the spirit of love is OK with me. Although my own spiritual construct includes a religious discipline; I have come to see that truth is truth and it is found in many places. I see all truth as God’s handiwork and it fits nicely under the umbrella of my faith.
So there I was (fully dressed again if you’re wondering) lying on the massage table with all these very pretty rocks placed on strategic “chakra” points all over my body. I decided to allow myself to enjoy this caring gesture from my friend and therapist; I also thought I could use a moment for silent prayer and meditation. I was acutely aware that my life was in danger from this cancer and I thought I could use this moment to emotionally relax a little.
I closed my eyes and began to pray. I asked God to honor the healing intent of my friend and bless him for his kindness. I asked God to bless me as well with a healing and the wisdom to know what to do for myself. What happened next was so amazing to me and so unexplainable. I share it simply for what it is.
I felt myself drift into the most wonderful calm. It quickly grew to an unspeakable peace and the most real visual perception came to me. I was in this tranquil grove with a clearing of soft grass. The grove was on a bluff and overlooked this breath-taking landscape of valley, hills and meadows. To the right was a shallow creek.
One of my beloved grandmothers was there; and she laid one of her hand-made quilts on the ground and told me to rest – so I lay down. It was like I was there! She said this would be a healing place I could come to anytime.
I was enjoying this comforting little vision when I started to feel my body relax more and more. My fascia began to release all through my body – every muscle snapped and popped as it gave up stress and tension. I must have been a sight – jerking on the table like that, but Robert seemed to think all was well, so I just let it happen. My body jerked and released every ounce of tension in it and I felt like I was sinking into the table. I’ve never felt such complete relaxation in my life. An amazing woman showed up in my little vision and said my body was just energy and she moved her hand from my head to my toes and I experienced a fuzzy feeling and imagined my body as a mass of agitating atoms and cells. She said my cancer was just energy too.
Then a rather shocking thing happened; two gray and white wolves approached. They truly frightened me. I seemed to be fully conscious of the experience and I said to Robert; “I’m frightened right now and I see wolves, is this OK?”
“Ask them why they came” is all he said.
I asked, and they immediately attacked me! They bit this black tissue from my body in the area where the cancer was. I wanted to sit up and shake the frightening images off, but I felt compelled to experience it. More of my friends and relatives entered the grove and they didn’t seem afraid for me which had a calming effect. Then I perceived the wolves as benevolent and my fear left. My family and the wise woman comforted me but it was clear I should stick this out. After the wolves bit me they went to the stream and spit the black tissue into the water. The tissue turned to white in the water and drifted downstream. Then the wolves came back to me and literally nudged and dragged me to the stream.
The water in the creek was warm and the small river rocks on the bottom were very smooth and easy to walk on. The wolves jumped at me and I knew I was to lie down in the creek. One of the wolves stationed itself under my arm and I put my arm around its neck. The other wolf stationed itself on the other side in the same way. The water just flowed over me and the wolves supported me. It was warm and relaxing and soothing after such a frightening experience. The wise woman stood with my grandmother by the water and she said it was important that I remember this feeling and that I allow the chemo to do its work and then let it wash from me. I just lay there and absorbed the sensation of letting warm water wash over me, and of feeling safe and supported.
I decided when I had enough and the wolves seemed to respect my wishes and guided me back to the grove. I was glad to lay down on my grandma’s blanket and rest. I felt so much love from my grandma and she said one last thing to me. She said this cancer wasn’t all mine. I could see generations of women from my family behind her. She asked me to do the work for all of them “forwards and backwards” for the mothers and daughters. I hit the overwhelm point here and she said I would understand more later on. I loved her with all my heart at that moment. She’s been a wonderful grandmother to me always.
I knew the experience was ending. For a millisecond I experienced a light behind my eyes which flashed from blue to brilliant white and flooded my body with warmth. I felt myself naturally leave the experience. I could feel the weight of my body again and just before I opened my eyes, I told God thanks for this unusual experience; thanks for my grandmothers and for my precious daughter; for the wolves and Robert and so on…
At the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I shared the experience with Robert. He was most appreciative and deeply respectful – didn’t seem to surprise him at all. I met Monty in the lobby and he noticed my calm. We got in the car and I shared the experience with him. I’ve never thought about animals as spiritual representatives before, so the whole experience was out-of-the-ordinary for me, but it was definitely peaceful and meaningful…very unusual. I can’t begin to explain why I would think about wolves! I asked Monty if he thought it was wrong to experience spirituality in this way. He said the wisest thing to me…he said “was the lesson true?” I said I believed it was – and he said “then it’s OK”. I don’t know why I worry about it. I don’t want to offend the Source I suppose. This experience has given me so much to consider.