Updated: May 3
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I have people ask me frequently how I ended up in this line of work. They don’t usually expect someone to talk about emotions and energy when they go to physical therapy. Typically they think, “My back hurts, maybe I’ll get a massage if I’m lucky but I don’t want to do all the exercises.” Or, “I’ve done PT before, it’s all the same.” Let me tell you, all PT is not created equal. We all have the same background from PT school but once we finish the schooling, our lives as PTs can take very different directions.
I didn’t start incorporating shamanic healing into my PT practice all at once. It was more of an organic growth where new information showed up in my life when I needed it to take me to the next step. Believe it or not, this story does not begin with PT school. It doesn’t begin with childhood aspirations of what I want to be when I grow up. I never really knew what I wanted to be, I just became it. My early years were certainly important in influencing my path but that is a story for another time.
When I graduated high school I thought I knew what I wanted but like many 18 year olds, I had no idea. I was interested in electricity so I started the engineering program at GVSU. I was good at math and logical operations so it went well for the first couple of years. Year 3 was the end of the prerequisites and the beginning of the professional training. I hated it! I sat by the Grand River and had a long think about what I really wanted. All I decided was I wasn’t going to be an electrical engineer for the rest of my life; at least in the traditional sense.
After much consideration I realized that I was still interested in electricity but more about biologic electricity; the nervous system. I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly but, in my mind, I narrowed it down to psychology, physical therapy or internal medicine. I didn’t fully understand why I chose PT at the time but I thought I’ll do neurologic rehab. I was accepted to U of M-Flint and the next phase of my life began.
PT school was a new adventure that showed me, again, that I really don’t know what I want but continued to push me toward my purpose. We started our neurologic rehab courses and...I hated it! I expected it to be SO interesting but it was SO boring! Luckily at the same time we were learning manual therapies in our orthopedic rehab classes and I really enjoyed that so I thought maybe that would do outpatient orthopedic work like most PTs do (spoiler alert: I was wrong again but we will get to that!).
PT school progressed relatively uneventfully for a while until another life changer. I learned about meditation! We read the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor where she describes her experience with a cerebrovascular accident from her perspective as a neuroscientist. At the end of the book she describes functional MRI studies done on Tibetan monks while meditating that show meditation normalizes neural processes. I thought I’d give it a try and when I did, my mind emptied, my body relaxed and I went on a little journey through my unconscious mind. I’ll spare you the details but I was intrigued. I would try to meditate every day but my practice was spotty at best. PT school wasn’t going to pause and wait for me to develop my meditative practice, so I continued trudging along until my next life changing event.
At the end of PT school I was hospitalized for 3 days. I constantly felt like I was going to pass out and was seeing auras. The doctors told me they couldn’t find anything wrong but my blood pressure and heart rate were dropping very low and the feeling of passing out didn’t change. It was very disheartening to hear that they couldn’t help me so I sucked it up and finished school while trying to figure out what these sensations were.
I didn’t have much help. There were allopathic physicians trying to get me on a regimen of pills, naturopaths and osteopaths trying to sell me on all of the modalities insurance won’t cover, it was a lot and I realized how few health care providers are actually interested in healing. But, there are true healers out there and soon I met mine.
One came in the form of a future mentor who introduced me to energy medicine. During the time leading up to PT school and throughout PT school I had a girlfriend who was getting progressively more ill. Random passing out (she was still alert but unable to move), convulsions, widespread pain and fatigue. No one could figure out what was going on with her and the lead Neurologist and U of M told her to think happy thoughts. We knew there had to be more because we had accidentally figured out a way to wake her up when she was “passed out” by mobilizing her cervical spine gently. She would take a big deep breath and all of the sudden could move again! It was crazy but it gave us hope that there were answers out there although answers were lacking from the Western medical system. We went to the aforementioned future mentor of mine and told him what was going on and showed him how we wake her up when she inevitably passed out during the evaluation. Later in the evaluation she passed out again and this future mentor said, “If what her body is telling me is accurate, this will wake her up.” He proceeds to pull her right leg and hold it. She takes a big deep breath and is able to move again! I was blown away and had to learn more!
I began learning acupressure which led to craniosacral therapy and then to dry needling all the while I was beginning to develop my ability to perceive energy. The more I practiced the more I noticed that I could feel dense energy lift out of a person’s body and then be replaced with light energy. I didn’t understand what I was experiencing but it worked! My patients felt better and would have emotional experiences during treatment. Then I was given another life changing book, “Shaman, Healer, Sage” by Alberto Villoldo. It described the shamanic healing process and I was again blown away by how exactly it described what I experienced during my treatments. It’s a big leap in thought to go from Western medicine to spiritual healing so it took me a few years and a lot of education from Shamanic teachers to be able to accept for myself that my gift was not in my hands or my mind but within my essence. My soul, my spirit is on this planet to facilitate spiritual growth for others. I am combining my scientific education with my spiritual purpose to help bridge the chasm of thought between the two for others.
I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life but thankfully life presented my purpose to me. All I needed to do was say yes! If you aren’t sure of your purpose...sign up, step forward and say YES!