Greetings Friends,

I hope you are enjoying this sunny season. It's hard to believe this summer marks my 30th year in private practice in bodywork!  As I continue to heal from my car accident, I've been reflecting over big lessons I've learned during my career. The following story is about a turning point in my work and life which still guides me today. The bottom of this newsletter has information on new audio releases, my practice hours, etc.  

Medicine Story:

"Nudged toward Inner Guidance"

After several years of practice and teaching massage therapy, I was bored with "relaxation" massage and began specializing in advanced clinical techniques for injuries and difficult cases. In the late 1980s, there were few massage practitioners working at this level on the west coast in United States. I felt I had quickly climbed near the top of my field as a clinical massage teacher.  As much as I tried to be humble, I thought I was pretty hot stuff back then-- with many tricks and techniques in my medicine bag.

One day a new client came into my office for a massage for his back pain. He was a soft-spoken, lean-built man in his early 60s. He showed me where his pain was and how he felt he needed to relax and have a healing massage.  His eyes looked fatigued, but held a gentle and caring quality.  I nodded confidently and assessed his posture, leg length and other details to come up with a "treatment plan." I'd recently taught these techniques to my clinical students and felt so pleased to have a client who could benefit from this treatment. He obediently followed my instructions as I positioned him in various ways on the massage table to treat his asymmetries, muscle tension and complaints. I felt confident I would help him with my broad range of techniques. My well-trained hands mechanically kneaded and criss-crossed over the familiar terrority of muscles, tendons and joints I could identify by name, origin and insertion.

After fifteen minutes, I sensed something wasn't quite right.  The man's back didn't seem to relax or respond the way most clients had. I tried other techniques with him: each one with little effect. Even though I worked with his breathing, he hadn't deepened his breath or softened his chest. My mind knew the next steps to take with this client, but I couldn't seem to find or feel a connection to this man.  Even though I was performing my techniques perfectly, he wasn't relaxing or responding to my work.  I felt a creeping insecurity building by the end of the massage, as if all my skill, technical knowledge and accomplishments were useless.  When the massage was over, I felt anxious as I met him after he dressed. His face drooped with disappointment.  I braced myself.

"How do you feel?"  I asked with my most positive voice,  "Do you have some feedback for me?" 

There was a long pause. His face held a look of concern for me, as if something was terribly wrong, like I was bleeding all over myself and didn't realize it. Or the sad dread of a father discovering his child neglected to feed his pet fish. But, his look went even deeper than chastising me in my performance as a healing practitioner. He looked pointed to my humanity.  

He took a breath and spoke in a soft, even voice, 
"Well, since you asked..."  

He paused as his eyes connecting with mine.  He continued carefully, "I didn't feel like this was a healing experience... I didn't feel like you were even in your hands when you worked with me...  Like you were just doing a technique to my body.  I was hoping for a healing massage and I felt I wasn't touched in a healing way."

His gentle words broke through the thin veil of my professional demeanor. I lowered my head as tears overflowed and ran down my cheeks as I replayed the massage in my mind along with my insecurities and adjustments I made during the session. I had "treated" his body but did not connect with him as a person. I could see his point. I had been entirely working from my "head" instead of my heart. My advanced expertise and clinical techniques felt like dry, empty husks compared to connecting from the rich field of compassion he was pointing to. 

I looked up at him, holding back more tears. "Yes, You are right," I nodded and apologized for the disappointing experience.

I said, "It's true I've been teaching this technique-oriented work and have lost my connection as you have said. Please, let me give you your money back or come back for a free massage."

He sat quietly and shook his head.  

My heart kept opening as the tears ran down my cheeks. "Are you sure?" I asked, gulping back a sob.

"No," he insisted.  "It's OK. I can see you have just veered a little off the path, and if I have helped a little then it's worth it to me."  

He reached out his hand and held my arm in comfort.  
"I'm so sorry," he said.

His tenderness anchored me in an expansive field. Kindness. Healing. My heart. My whole body shook. I trembled and mustered all my strength to not completely start bawling in front of him.  How could I have strayed so far from this connection to my heart in my work?

As if he heard my thought, he pointed to his heart and added, "Just remember to use your intuition in the future."  I nodded through my tears.

I put my hands together and bowed to him as he left.  I vowed that day to always work with my heart and intuition with my clients, no matter what my head thought might be "the right technique" or approach.  

With all the information, techniques and GPS-like gadgets available in our culture today, it's easy to get swept up in following the advice of experts versus checking with your heart and gut feelings from your body.  I continue to learn about inner guidance while healing from this recent car accident.  Sometimes it takes time and gentle reminders to clear old mental patterns and habits to find clear intuitive guidance. I'm so grateful to this man for his kindness with me.

What has steered you back to your heart and inner guidance?  I'd love to hear your story or thoughts about this one. Thanks for reading and sharing my work with friends, family and colleagues. I have more stories to come and appreciate your comments.  

Blessings and Happy Summer!

Private Lessons: or 206-271-4270
Mondays in Woodinville; Tues, Thurs & Fridays in Seattle

I have 9 Feldenkrais lessons - 2nd Edition available in single format with short tracks (4-8 minutes) designed to break the lessons over a 50 minute lesson.  Very Affordable! - only $6.99 each.  Each single audio lesson is available for download. You'll find this new format very convenient for work breaks or a short pick-me-up at home. Check them out to sample, purchase and please pass this on to friends:

Open the flow of creativity.

Relax your neck, shoulders and entire spine.
Receive healing from your heart.

Feel feather-light in your chest.

Great for all activities affecting shoulders: work, sports or hobbies.

Order Here for $6.99

One of my all time favorite lessons for balance and alignment.

Improve your connection to your core.
Helpful to improve yoga, sports, and back strength.
Learn to use your bones for support.

Great for centering yourself and posture support. 

Order Here for $6.99

Get Centered!  Find powerful alignment in your spine for walking, running and all kinds of balance activities.

Use your arms and legs to help find the core, center of yourself.  Align your spine and entire body.  Useful for mental clarity as well.

Order Here for $6.99

Uplift your head and emotional outlook (I've used this lesson many times!)

Lighten your head, eyes and breathing
Helpful for upright posture (especially at the computer, sitting, horseback riding)
Let go of unnecessary weight and stress

Refine the Executive Functions of your brain.

Order Here for $6.99

Deeply Relax, Find Ease in all Activities, Energize yourself

This lesson improves your ability to take in more air, expand your rib cage, loosen your back and spine.  Feel more connected to life and your spirit.

Order Here for $6.99

Calm Your Mind and Expand Your Breath

This lesson improves your inhale and exhale, releasing tension for deep relaxation and mental clarity.  Expand your rib cage, loosen your back and spine.  Feel more connected to the rhythm of life.

Order Here for $6.99

Find Support, Tone and Power in your low back and spine.  

This lesson improves your ability to connect your legs, hips and spine for bridging your back. Helpful for toning and aligning your spine.

Order Here for $6.99

Coordinate your Head & Hips for smooth, fluid movement.  

This lesson improves your ability to move your legs, hips and spine with great ease. Helpful for relieving back pain and aligning your spine.

Order Here for $6.99

Improve your vision for reading as well as deep relaxation and surprising ease in movement.

This lesson improves peripheral vision and focusing ability.  Great for reading, clarity and helps all movement of the body improve with ease.

Order Here for $6.99

More Audio lessons coming this month!  Check my site or on CDBaby.
Thanks for your Purchase and for sharing this with your friends.  
Free Video Lessons are available on my
Youtube Channel:  Sensing Vitality  
Subscribe to receive free videos


Feldenkrais Private Lessons for Summer!

Ready for a Private Lesson?  

Call me or email to schedule either for Seattle, Woodinville or Skype. or 206-271-2470

I've cancelled my Fall Shapeshifting Retreat to give myself more time for healing this summer- If you'd like to join me in future nature retreats where you'll learn how to attune yourself and connect with the natural world for guidance, insight and healing-- please contact me at with your nature topic interests:  i.e., Birds, Trees, Water, Stones, etc.

Copyright © 2016 Sensing Vitality - Annie Thoe All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
PO 75671, Seattle, WA  98175

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