Intuitive Massage and Bodywork: The Winding Road to healing

Intuitive Massage and Bodywork: A Winding Road to Healing
Intuitive Massage and Bodywork: A Winding Road in Auburn CA

“Well, that was a hoot!” *Joan said as we wrapped up her first session with me.  She gave no other indication of how she felt about the work before she paid my fee and left. She did not reschedule and I did not know if she had gotten much out of the treatment.

Intuitive massage and bodywork sessions often take surprising twists and turns. My role is to help facilitate the client’s inner journey. My intention is to support their connection with their own inner wisdom, in whatever form that may take. I see this process as a winding road that I follow alongside my client, but neither of us can see around the next bend or knows what will happen next. I often don’t know the result of a session until much later;  sometimes never.

The practice is to be completely present with what is happening without attachment to the outcome. This isn’t always a comfortable situation for the mind, as we humans tend to think in linear terms of cause and effect. But the magic in healing usually comes, as it does in life, when we let go and surrender to the present moment.

Joan was referred to me for CranioSacral Therapy by one of my other clients.  She was suffering from anxiety, lack of energy, moodiness and an explosive temper. Seeking stability for her mood and reactivity, she suspected there may be a hormonal component. She also wanted to advance her small business but wasn’t feeling energetic enough to achieve her goals. CranioSacral Therapy is indicated for hormone balancing and relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression and I felt it could help Joan.

Intuitive Massage and Bodywork: A Winding Road in Auburn CAI began the session with gentle touch and deep listening. I let my hands find the places of tension and resistance in Joan’s body and enlisted her help to identify what might be holding her body in those tension patterns. I asked her to describe any sensations, images, thoughts and feelings that were arising as I employed gentle CranioSacral Therapy techniques beginning at her feet and traveling up her spinal column to her occiput and head. Although dialogue is not always part of each session, in Joan’s case it was clearly part of her healing process. In other cases the  body asks for and needs silence and stillness.

Joan described a rock wall which seemed to be holding back a great deal of water, although it was seeping through the cracks in many places. As the session progressed, the images she described became more vivid. She seemed to be uncovering many symbols and archetypes that to me suggested emotional patterns that may be limiting hIntuitive Massage and Bodywork: A Winding Road in Auburn CAer capacity to connect with other people. I kept my interpretations to myself out of respect for Joan’s inner wisdom and in recognition of scope of practice as a bodyworker and not a psychotherapist.

Although it seemed like Joan got a lot of information from her session,  I wasn’t sure how she felt about it. When I followed up with her a few days later she sounded busy and said she would  get back to me later. Finally, about a month after her visit  she texted to ask for another session and mentioned she wanted to fill me on some changes in her life. Upon hearing from Joan again I felt relieved, curious and intrigued and was eager to see her again and hear what had happened.

When Joan walked in the door I almost didn’t recognize her. Her eyes were sparkling and her energy was vibrant, playful and very alive. She excitedly shared about going to a work related conference and taking with her the rich imagery she had seen during her session.  She told me she did something different this time: she gave herself permission to take time alone in the midst of a busy socializing and networking schedule, and as a result had the energy reserves to form a new friendship which would turn out to be meaningful for her on many deep levels, including professional, spiritual and personal.  In fact, she told me she was leaving on a plane for a remote, exotic island the next day, where she would be meeting that very same friend and taking steps to advance her work in a new and exciting direction that she hadn’t considered up until that point.

Intuitive Massage and Bodywork: A Winding Road in Auburn CAJoan’s wall had been transformed from an isolating barrier to a beautiful, nourishing protective sanctuary where she could come and go as she wished. It was a deep honor to accompany her on that winding pathway to healing, and for me, a poignant reminder of the power of presence.

*The client’s name has been changed and the details of the session have been edited to protect “Joan’s” privacy.

Schedule Massage and Bodywork Auburn CA

Loving up the Ladies

women's health auburn CABreast Cancer, Breast Love, and everything in between

I’m considered high risk for breast cancer and a few weeks ago I (reluctantly) heeded my doctors advise to finally go and get a mammogram for the first time in over five years.  As I imagine many women are, I was absolutely terrified about this decision. Having your breasts squished flat as a pancake while a beam of radiation is directed through your delicate breast tissue is uncomfortable at best and (in my mind at least) potentially risky. Before, during and after the appointment I wrestled with intense fear bordering on panic. Fear of cancer, fear of surgery, fear of hospitals, fear of medication, fear of illness, fear of death.

I also had the blessed experience of facing all those fears, diving through and under them and looking deeper, and finding a soft, tender, grief – a profound and bittersweet empathy with the hundreds of thousands of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. It broke my heart wide open.

After two weeks (TWO WEEKS!) of waiting, fearing, worrying grieving, waiting some more, empathizing yet again, feeling my heart break over and over and finally realizing I would ultimately have to just TRUST my body, that even I DID HAVE CANCER I could still TRUST MY BODY and it would somehow all be okay (thank you mindfulness practice, thank you healing practitioners who teach me these things) I got an email from my doctor at 9:30 on a Tuesday night. Surely, I thought, she would not email me at 9:30 on a Tuesday night if there was something to worry about. Or would she? Turns out, when I gathered the courage to open the email, my doctor’s one-line message was “Your mammogram looks good.” And that should have been the end of that. But it wasn’t.

I was overwhelmingly relieved. I felt so grateful for my health. But I also felt traumatized. All of that fear focused on my breasts. The squishing. The radiation. The incessant searching for lumps. The wondering if every little sensation could be a sign of something. My breasts have changed from a soft, beautiful and wonderfully feminine part of me to a risky anatomical anomaly that must be inspected and screened if I am to avoid being killed by them. And I know I’m not alone in this with mammograms routinely scheduled every year or two for many women.

Now, it is October, and I see there are pink ribbons all around and scary and terrible statistics are easier than ever to find.  1 in 8 of us women will get breast cancer. How is this possible?! Why our beautiful breasts?  My heart aches for all my sisters who have suffered and lost their lives. How can we live with this knowing, these numbers, these  mammograms, and not be overwhelmed and immobilized by fear and grief?
women's health auburn ca

My answer, for myself at least, is to make October not only “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, but also, and at least equally if not more importantly,  “LOVE MY BREASTS MONTH”. When facing mammograms and fear I will pay less attention to looking for lumps and more attention to selecting a lovely herbal massage oil (Susun weed has some suggestions here)  and using them for health and life promoting self breast massage (Some instructions are here).  I can’t take breast cancer out of the world (I would if I could and I pray that it will be gone someday) but I can stop allowing it to create panic in my mind.

Ladies if you’re in Auburn California or in the surrounding areas and would like some support around breast health, I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned. I also have some herbal oils I made for self breast massage and would really love to share them with you. I have more than I could ever use, so please let me know! A wonderful benefit of regular breast massage is that you will become so familiar with your own breasts by doing this for yourself that you will notice any significant changes before your doctors or even a mammogram would.  May we all be blessed with healthy breasts and learn to love them well!

September is my Favorite Month

Why is September my favorite month in Auburn?

I love sleeping with the windows open and it’s chilly enough for a comforter.

I love returning to the rhythm of the school year.

I love that fun events start happening at Live Oak Waldorf school 

I love that clients come back to their regular bodywork schedules after their busy summers.

I love that it’s time for Burning Man and seeing all the adventurers traveling on I80! It’s so much fun!

I love that I start thinking about crafting, baking and Christmas (whether or not I actually bake or craft is another story!).

I also love September because it is the month of the Sapphire.

I bet you haven’t heard all these fun facts and speculations about the beautiful Sapphire birthstone.

(I now have a wonderful hot stone massage gift certificate offer available for all those with the Sapphire birthstone, available here )

September Birthday Massage Auburn

September is for Sapphires!

Sapphire is composed of the mineral _corundum_, an aluminum oxide. Other minerals such as iron, chromium and copper help determine it’s various colors, which can range from vibrant blues to brilliant golds.

Sapphire is the traditional gift for a 45th wedding anniversary.

I have not verified this information, but the stone is also rumored to have been one of 12 precious stones set in the breastplate of the high priest of Israel.

Wikipedia reports that some linguists propose that it derives from Sanskrit, Shanipriya (शनिप्रिय), from “shani” (शनि) meaning “Saturn” and “priya” (प्रिय), dear, i.e. literally “dear to Saturn”

There are so many myths and legends associated with September’s birthstone, as well as some healing properties. Just for fun, and definitely not for science, here are a few!

* Sapphire is said to be the stone of wisdom, worn by spiritual leaders to symbolize a connection to divine wisdom.

* Worn close to the throat it was considered to help with communication by opening the throat chakra

* Helps relieve depression

* Guards against evil and poisoning

* Symbolizes purity, wisdom, dignity, loyalty, serenity faith.

* Treats blood disorders and heart conditions

* Is said to help insomnia if you place it under your pillow

Do you know anyone with a September birthday?  Though I can’t give them a precious sapphire, I’d love to give them some luxurious pampering with my special birthday hot stone massage offer! Gift certificates are available or scheduling is available online! This offer is for a a relaxing, luxurious 75-minute massage including hot stones, hot towels and essential oils for only $75 ($100 value).

Happy September!

Craniosacral Work

I am honored to now offer Craniosacral work in Auburn CACraniosacral work Auburn CA

By witnessing the healing journeys  of my clients and myself, I am learning that being fully present with what is happening is the fastest road to recovery.

CranioSacral Therapy is a very gentle form of bodywork known for it’s deeply relaxing effects. It is said to calm the nervous system, decrease inflammation, and is used to treat many physical, emotional, mental and spiritual conditions.  Read Joan’s story for an example of one of our CST sessions. CranioSacral Therapy influences the rhythm of the cerebrospinal that surrounds your brain and spinal cord, helping to restore a natural rhythm of ease and flow.  For an incredible MRI of the cerebrospinal fluid and it’s movement, visit this page.

Please read a small sampling of the direct feedback I have received so far:

Healing and Nurturing are the descriptive words that first come to mind when reviewing a cranio-sacral session with Jessica. Using her empathic gifts, Jess and her healing hands have a ‘knack’ for tapping into the root of the problem whether it be physical, emotional, energetic, or spiritual. I can confidently recommend bodywork with Jessica as a responsibly wonderful good choice in self-care. In an hour, the release and relief I felt in my back was most definitely noticeable. Thank you, Jessica!” ~Deborah N.

“I want to share that I had the most incredible hour-long massage and cranio sacral session at Awaken Integrative Bodywork today, and feeling more balanced, stress-free and present than I have in months! So very grateful to you, Jessica, you have healing gifts!” ~Theresa H.

“…Finally figured out how to listen to my body!…” ~Jessica L.

“Jessica provided a deep and subtle relief that eased my pain. Her space was a calm,safe welcoming sanctuary and felt quite removed from the hurry and hustle of life; timeless and soulful . I felt deeply heard and respected. Very peaceful experience. I will be back!!!” Laura W.

“My experience with Jessica is that she is a highly skilled intuitive healer. I recommend her for anyone looking for a relaxing rejuvenating healing experience for mind body and soul.”~Nicky M.

Happy Birthday Leos!


“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire” ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardinbirthday massage gift

During this special month of your birth I’d like to give you a special massage reserved only for birthdays!

Any time in August you may purchase one relaxing, luxurious 75-minute massage including hot stones, hot towels and essential oils for only $75 ($100 value).

You can book your Birthday Massage online now!

Pregnancy Massage in Auburn

Pregnancy Massage in AuburnBirds, Bees & Babies!

Planning a little Spring Fling? Or perhaps you or someone you know had a extra warm and cozy winter! In any case, I’m excited to announce this Spring’s special offer, designed to celebrate the birds, the bees and the  babies!

This spring enjoy a relaxing, rejuvenating 75 minute pregnancy massage in Auburn,  including a luxurious hot stone foot treatment, at a special $75 rate. Makes a great baby shower gift too! Purchase a gift or schedule online through Mother’s Day, 2016.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than running into mamas and babies in Auburn California and knowing I was a part of such a sacred time in both their lives! Pregnancy Massage can enhance the overall health of mother and baby during and after pregnancy. The nurturing touch of massage can provide ease and comfort during this transformational time in a woman’s life. By reducing stress hormones massage can reduce birth complications, ease labor and improve infant health.

I will hold a sacred space for you to relax into a peaceful experience of pregnancy and birth. During a pregnancy massage, many women Pregnancy Massage in Auburnexperience relief from stress and pain and a deeper connection with their babies.

Please click here for more information about Pregnancy Massage and Benefits


Why Choose Board Certified?

Board Certified Massage Therapist in Auburn California

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential attainable in the massage therapy and bodywork profession with a distinct level of achievement beyond entry-level licensure—including completing more education, hands-on experience, and a background check. I’ve met the following requirements for national board certification.

  • Pass the BCETMB exam
  • 750 hours of education
  • 250 hours of professional, hands-on experience
  • Pass a national background check
  • Current CPR certification
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Agree to oppose Human Trafficking

Board Certified Massage Therapist in Auburn CA

Can I get a Witness?


Lake Tahoe at Sunset in September 2015

My first glimpse of Lake Tahoe at sunset took my breath away. Although I live relatively close by, I’d never before approached the lake from the East and it was stunning. On this particular day, I was driving home from a craniosacral training near Reno, Nevada and was excited to see Lake Tahoe on my way. I expected the drive to be pretty as it wound through the Carson Mountain Range, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the incredible views as I crossed the summit of Mt Rose at nearly 9,000 feet.

As the crisp light of sunset  gave way to the muted tones of dusk, my mind began to wander. I remembered how my parents had cautioned me in my youth about driving in the changing light conditions. “It’s harder to see at dusk and dawn”, they told me, “You need to slow down and be more careful on the road.”

Sue Lowndes

Photo by Sue Lowndes

A little research quickly revealed why. In 1819, while observing blossoms in Bohemian fields during his dawn meditations, Czech anatomist and physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkyně observed that colors appeared markedly different in low light conditions.  This phenomena was later named The Purkinje Effect, defined as *”the changes in perception of the relative lightness and darkness of different colors as illumination changes from daylight to twilight”.

In other words, the human eye tends to shift towards the blue end of the spectrum at low illumination levels. A red rose, for example, appears increasingly blue as light fades, and green foliage appears brighter.  This is because the human retina has two types of cells; cone cells and rod cells. Cone cells are responsible for color vision and are most sensitive to yellow light. Rod cells work at very low light and cannot distinguish between colors, but are more sensitive to the blue or green end of the spectrum.

As beautiful as the scenery was, when dusk deepened to dark my nervous system went into high alert. I felt the tension in my body increase as my senses worked harder to perceive potential road hazards ahead.  The brilliant colors blended into muted shades of blue and grey with little contrast to separate the roadway from the horizon.

The light continued to change and my mental train chugged along, on a track largely  influenced by the craniosacral work I was learning.  In part, this phenomenal bodywork modality asks the practitioner to develop extrasensory perceptions; new ways of seeing and feeling our inner and outer worlds. My learning was feeding my curiosity about how our vision works, and how it is similar and different to how we comprehend or “see”our lives and it’s stages. I’m especially interested in how we experience transitions, and what factors allow us to gracefully transition from one stage of life to another.

Image Credit Joseph Ma. Rosell

It occurred to me, as I drove home that weekend, that just as our vision is so dramatically transformed by changing light conditions,  maybe we “see” the world differently during times of transition, and that just as we need the headlights on our vehicles to see the road clearly, we also need the illumination of another human being’s awareness when life changes. We naturally reach out and draw people close to us during these times, and it is powerfully healing to have them there with us.

As I write my phone rings. It is the Hospice of the Foothills calling to check if my paperwork is completed so I can begin volunteer training.  Yes, my paperwork is completed, and I tell them I will fax it tomorrow. The phone immediately rings again, and I talk to a woman asking if I have room in my schedule to give a massage to her friend who dying of cancer. I can’t fit the client in today, but the woman says that’s okay, because he is entering Hospice where a volunteer will be able to massage him once a week.


Photo by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

These phone calls don’t feel coincidental. They feel like an affirmation of my growing conclusion. Transitions call for a witness; the conscious, spacious presence of another human being.  But why?

I’ve had many transitions in my life that were confusing or scary for me. Divorce, t, moving, illness, addiction and traumatic events, to name a few, and even marriage or becoming a parent can be difficult times.  I wasn’t aware enough to reach out for help during many of those vulnerable, transitional moments, although sometimes I was clearly guided by “angels” in the form of human characters (another story entirely). Most often, though, I thought I had to do it alone, and I still live with the consequences of the days, months, or even years I spent wandering lost in the dark, not knowing how to ask for help.  Eventually I learned how to reach out, either to a clear-headed friend, professional therapist, coach or bodyworker and when I began to do that, transitions became an opportunity for rich spiritual growth.

AnnCam on Flickr

Photo by AnnCam on Flickr

As I try to sum up these mental meanderings, what comes to mind is something a client recently shared with me about hummingbirds. While talking before her session we had a chance to observe a gorgeous hummingbird as it drank from a nearby feeder. Surprisingly, from her vantage point a few feet away she didn’t perceive it’s colors, but from my perspective, the hummingbird was clearly a brilliant green. She explained to me that the colors of a hummingbird depend not on pigmentation but on the way that light reflects from it’s feathers. I won’t go into the science of iridescence here, but what this means to me is that how we “see” things has more to do with where we’re sitting than what is actually happening. We are not meant to experience life alone, because we can’t see things clearly by ourselves. We need the presence of others to experience and know the full, dynamic complexity of our lives.

My bodywork experiences have time and time again shown me the power of simply witnessing what is happening with another human being. Amazingly and beautifully,  there are palpable differences in the body even with just the gentlest contact with a loving presence or touch, especially if the intention is to simply witness what is there without judging, fixing or evaluating.  This kind of witnessing can serve as a clear light for the sometimes confusing state of transition we all experience in our lives. It is a blessing to be called to witness in this way, just as it is a blessing to be deeply seen, truly heard and sincerely acknowledged in the conscious, loving presence of another human being.

* Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary definition

What length of Massage do you Need?

One of the questions I hear most often is, “How long should my massage be?

There are several factors to consider when deciding how much long your next massage should be. I encourage you to take a few minutes and just tune into your body with the following questions in mind.

How does your Body & Mind feel?

Are you feeling pain anywhere? Limited movement? Do you feel wound up, tight or anxious? Have a hard time sleeping or relaxing?

What does your self care routine look like?

Do you get regular bodywork,  or is this your first massage in a year or more? Are you physically active, or have a regular meditation or yoga practice?  If it’s been a long time since you had a massage and you don’t regularly feel connected to your body, you may be surprised by how long it takes to relax.

Standard Session Lengths

30 Minutes: Recommended for specific work on an area of injury or concern.

1 Hour:  Recommended for clients receiving regular treatments on an ongoing basis, and can either address specific areas of injury or concern, or provide a full body treatment for relaxation purposes.  

90 Minutes: Recommended for your first session. 90 minutes is sufficient to include the full body and address specific areas of injury or concern. Includes hot stones and hot towels. 90 Minute sessions are 15% off during the entire month of October, 2015.

2 Hours:  Recommended for deep relaxation. Length allows for a full body treatment, including hot towels, hot stones and energy work.

More details about session lengths and rates can be found here


Awaken your Senses Today

Today, of all days, is a day to awaken your senses. Drop whatever you are doing and go outside, and feel what you feel.  Transitions are potent and rich.  Something has changed, and our bodies respond intensely,  if we are paying Delight in your Sensesattention.

Today, the weather has changed. The air has cleared. A deep, full breath feels fresh and cool, a healing balm after the smoke and heat. There is water in that air, and as you stand outdoors you may feel tiny droplets floating onto your skin. What else do you feel, hear or sense?

When you return indoors you may put on a pair of socks, and maybe you haven’t worn socks all summer. The fabric feels soft, a welcome warmth after the cool outdoors. There is so much to notice.

Today, in this transition day between warm and cool, dry and wet,  there is an easy awareness, a doorway into presence that is open wider than it is when things are the same day after day. I invite you to take advantage of this time. Invite your senses to delight you, to awaken you to all the wonder in this amazing day.