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National Holistic Institute’s Massage Therapy Foundation Fundraiser Clinic

You may know that the Massage Therapy Foundation advances the massage therapy profession by supporting scientific research but did you know they also provide Community Service Grants, Student Case Report Contests, and Practitioner Case Report Contests – Pretty cool, right?

Through their Community Service Grants they have been able to provide massage therapy to survivors of torture and trauma, survivors of human trafficking, veterans, and they have helped incorporate massage as a part of rehabilitation for paralyzed patients. 

At NHI, our massage therapy students and instructors are supporting the Massage Therapy Foundation by giving massages in our student clinics and donating all of the proceeds to the Massage Therapy Foundation. The President of the Massage Therapy Foundation, Jerrilyn Cambron, who is also the author of Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology is a respected leader in the massage therapy industry and has visited NHI on several occasions; our students and staff are happy to find a way to give back and show our appreciation for all that she has done for the massage therapy profession.

The Massage Therapy Foundation is very important to NHI, in fact NHI President, Tim Veitzer serves on the Executive Committee of the foundation. 


A big thank you to this group of NHI Students and Instructors who donated massages for the Massage Therapy Foundation

You can contribute to our efforts in supporting the Massage therapy Foundation by getting a massage at one of our student massage clinics on the following dates :

  • December 9th at NHI Sacramento
  • December 11th at NHI San Francisco
  • December 15th at NHI Santa Ana
  • December 18th at NHI San Jose, and Petaluma

You can easily book an appointment to get a massage here!


NHI Student, Torriano meeting with his first client of the day.

The Massage Therapy Foundations commitment to promoting scientific research and evidence-informed practice has helped foster the public acceptance of the benefits of massage therapy.


NHI Faculty Instructor, Melissa Wheeler donating massage to NHI’s V.P of Education, Linda Rikli.

Last year NHI raised approximately $6,000 for the Massage Therapy Foundation! Check out our cool video to learn more about our efforts in supporting the Massage Therapy Foundation.

December 15, 2014   No Comments

6 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Massage Practice in 2015

With the new year quickly approaching, you’re probably thinking about what you can do to take your massage practice to the next level in 2015!  NHI’s massage therapy instructor, Dr. Jeff Rockwell, provides some great tips to rejuvenate your private practice.

1. Improve Your Social Media Presence
Optimizing your social media presence is critical for any business looking to standout in their field, and this absolutely stands true for massage therapists.  Determine which social media platforms are most important for you to get your message out there to your potential clients.  There are different ways to boost your social media presence.  You can ask your clients to review you on Yelp or you can respond to your Yelp reviews, post pictures of your private practice on Instagram or participate in Twitter Chats about the massage therapy profession.


2. Start Blogging on a Weekly Basis
As an expert in massage therapy, you understand the body in ways that your clients might not. Use your blog as a platform to help your clients understand their bodies better while also teaching them more about the benefits of massage. Blogging regularly helps to position you as a resource for clients to learn from you which helps you build better customer relationships.  Your blog can also help drive traffic to your website, increase search engine optimization, and position you as a leader in the industry.


3. Host Lectures and Workshops
Lectures and workshops are great opportunities for self-expression on topics of interest to you and are also great occasions for you to collaborate with other outside experts. Consider conducting or sponsoring an evening lecture.  Here are some possible topics:

-training tips and sports injuries
-growing “better”—not just older
-aromatherapy for the seasons
-the difference between health and wellness
-how to thrive because of your stress, and other important topics.

If your interests lean toward working with post-whiplashed clients or work-related health problems, put a program together for local business groups, legal associations and other people who could influence the lives of prospective clients. Public speaking is simply the least expensive way to share your story, improve your communication skills, increase your self-confidence and attract high quality clients.

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4. Send Birthday Cards to Clients
Your clients are most likely to naturally think about their health and taking care of themselves on their birthday. Be sure to remind active and inactive clients to reward their body, mind and spirit by scheduling a massage therapy appointment with you.

5. Send a New Year’s Resolution Letter
The start of a new year is another key time your clients are most likely to think about their health. In fact, health clubs and workout gyms get 80% of their annual business in January following New Year’s resolution time. Remind your inactive clients of the importance of a massage therapy “checkup” before they start a slimming and toning program so they don’t put unnecessary wear and tear on pre-symptomatic, malfunctioning muscles and joints. It’s a natural fit.

6. Send Bi-Weekly Newsletters to Your Clients
Newsletters are a proven way to keep in touch with active and inactive clients, spur referrals and stimulate reactivations. Commit to sending your clients a bi-weekly newsletter. You can include your latest blog post, testimonials, pictures of your practice, links to your social media platforms and special offers.

Pro Tip: Remember those Research and Development classes you took when you were in school? Be on the lookout for abstracts of the latest research affirming some aspect of massage therapy. Send an email announcing the latest findings and what they mean to a typical client.

The above techniques can all work together to project a positive image of your practice while providing additional value to your clients. The key to following these suggestions is to create an implementation calendar so everything is scheduled in advance.

What do you plan to do in 2015 to rejuvenate your practice?


December 11, 2014   2 Comments

10 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

With the last minute gift shopping, the overwhelmingly large crowds, and back-to-back diet busting holiday parties – we understand how easy it is to not feel so wonderful during the holidays. In fact, a survey by the American Psychological Association found that more women than men feel stressed during the holidays and have a harder time relaxing and enjoying the season – which really defeats the whole point. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to help you dodge the seasonal blues and stay happy, healthy, and energized.

1. Boost your mood with sunlight
Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which impacts millions of Americans each year – Between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women.

Winter Sun

2. Get a massage
Stress relief is one of the first benefits that comes to mind when thinking of massage therapy. It’s also a key component for anyone trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Clinical studies show that even a singe half hour session can significantly lower your heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels — all of which explains why massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand.


3. Take a whiff of citrus
Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances, such as grapefruit, boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.


4. Take a walk
Going for a walk in the park could actually shift your brain into a calmer state, according to recent research. A UK study found that walking through green spaces can put the brain into a meditative state. The act is found to trigger “involuntary attention,”meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection. Try following a walking meditation practice in one of your favorite parks to enjoy the health benefits of moderate physical activity while also quieting the mind and increasing awareness.


5. Squeeze here
In traditional Chinese medicine, the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku point. Applying firm pressure there for only 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body.


6. Laugh out Loud 
Laughing like crazy reduces stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.


7. Forget perfection
Don’t obsess over making everything perfect. It’s okay if your house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable.


8. Go tech-free
Did you know that constant cell phone buzzes and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline? Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women. Holiday get-togethers are the perfect time to turn off your gadgets and spend time with friends and family without worry.


9. Make time to exercise
Working out may be the last thing you want to do when you are stressed out, but going for a run or hitting the gym can actually make you feel better. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.


10. Don’t over schedule
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, don’t over schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. Remember: It’s OK to slow down a bit.


What do you do to reduce holiday stress?

December 8, 2014   1 Comment

Give the Gift of Massage this Holiday

It’s that time of year again when you probably start stressing out about finding the perfect gift for your significant other, relatives, children, friends, and anyone else that you’re planning on spreading the holiday cheer to! We know that lugging around big packages can be a hassle and finding a versatile gift that is sure to be a crowd pleaser is not always easy. That’s why we recommend giving the gift of massage this holiday.


Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift to bring to your holiday gift exchange or you’re participating as a secret Santa, giving a massage gift certificate demonstrates an investment in caring and health.

At NHI, we offer our Holiday Gift Card Sale to make the gift of massage an affordable option. Buy 5 gift cards, get 1 additional gift card free! Buy 10 gift cards, get 3 additional gift cards free!

To get more information about this offer contact your local NHI campus. We have seven California locations including: Emeryville, San Francisco, Sacramento, Petaluma, San Jose, Orange County, and Studio City.



December 1, 2014   No Comments

NHI Students Provide Massage to the UCLA Football Team

At NHI, many of us are cheering on the UCLA Football team as they work to defeat Stanford University this Friday! Behind the scenes NHI students are providing sports massage to help the UCLA Bruins reach their full potential on the field. We have interviewed one of our graduates, John Paulsen, who is working with the athletes to get the inside scoop on what it’s like being a sports massage therapist. Keep reading to find out if sports massage would be a good fit for you!


Q: How did you become interested in sports massage?
A: I became interested in sports massage because I’ve always loved sports and I was very active as a child and throughout high school. It wasn’t until college that I considered a career path that could keep me involved in sports and working with athletes. 

Q: What makes working with athletes different from working with other clients?
A: These athletes are different from other clients because they’re very in tune with their body and they train hard. Their musculature is dense and defined and quite visible which makes it easy to locate and tends to respond positively to soft tissue manipulation. I’ve always had a vague understanding of the origin and insertion of the major muscle groups, but after the extensive anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology classes at NHI, I know exactly what muscle I’m feeling tension in and all of that muscle’s actions. This knowledge maximizes the effectiveness my bodywork.


Q: How do you build rapport with the athletes?
A: I build rapport with the athletes by talking to them how I would talk to a friend. I asked them questions like “how are you feeling today?” and I give them feedback on their answers. I tell them what they should expect for the bodywork session and ask them if that is okay and does that meet their expectation’s. I make sure that I address their specific issues first and to their satisfaction. I will check-in with them periodically during the session regarding pressure and comfortability. After the session, I like to offer a brief summary of what I felt during the bodywork and compare with them on what they felt. Those brief interaction before, during and after all help to build rapport. Working with them multiple times is also helpful.

Q: What has been your biggest takeaway working with the UCLA Football team?
A: My biggest Takeaway of working with the UCLA football team has been the confidence to know that I can work with an elite athlete and effectively make a difference in how they are feeling. It’s amazingly rewarding when the athlete gets up off of the table and shows a genuine appreciation for your work.


Q: What was the most challenging part about the experience for you?
A: The most challenging part about this experience for me has been the general size of some of these athletes. Many of them are twice my size and can handle a lot of pressure. It has definitely been a learning experience for me to give effective pressure with proper body mechanics and without hurting myself. This is an area where I can thank the NHI instructors for their dedication to making body mechanics a priority each and every day. This information will give longevity to my career as a therapist.

Q: Are there specific traits that helped you be successful while working with the team?
A: I would have to say that what helped me the most with working with the UCLA football team has been the extensive curriculum of massage modalities that NHI has taught me. I typically use almost all of the modalities that I have learned in each of my sessions. From Swedish, deep tissue and sports massage to shiatsu, MFT and Thai massage… I use it all. Each modality that I learned in the 900 hour core program is a tool and I’ve got to say that my toolbox of moves and techniques feels pretty good right now.

Q: What advice would you offer other massage therapists looking to specialize in sports massage?
A: If I had to advise another massage therapist who is just starting out and looking to specialize in sports massage, I would stress the importance of choosing the right education and training. For me, the 900 hour core program at NHI was the best choice. Not only was the education thorough and the experience enjoyable, but the closeness to all of the instructors and the sense of family that I felt had a positive affect on me and made me feel good about myself everyday. For a therapist who already has training, the Neuromuscular Therapy Program will give you the edge that you need, especially in the sports realm. This month at NHI, I will be taking advantage of the monthly NMT Sampler – the sampler classes cover great information, are good for CEUs and most importantly continue to add to my toolbox of moves and techniques, while increasing my confidence in my ability as a massage therapist and health educator.

If sports massage sounds like something you would be interested in then schedule a time to visit a campus. During your visit you will get a personal tour of our campus while learning more about our program and a career path in sports massage.


November 24, 2014   No Comments

NHI Expert Panel Discussion

At NHI, our massage therapy ambassadors have a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn from a panel of massage therapy experts. This month’s panel at our Emeryville campus included Teacher/Mentors Julie True, Frankie Menzel, Sabrinia Italia, Curriculum Coordinator, Sharlene Philips and NHI’s Training Manager, Melissa Wheeler. The discussion was so in-depth that those who participated got the full benefits of attending the panel but we wanted to share a few highlights with everyone. 


Massage Therapy Ambassador, Felicia Cursi, asked: Can I live on a private practice as my only source of income? Is that realistic?

Melissa: Yes, it is absolutely possible to support yourself with a private practice. I supported myself for five years with my private practice before I started teaching at NHI. What I recommend is that you get a position as a massage therapist while you build a small private practice – this way you are getting an income while working up to having a successful private practice. 

Sharlene: With my private practice what I did first was decide what I would like my schedule to be like, since I am a mother and wife it was important for me to have flexibility. I would allow my clients to schedule appointments for up to three months in advance. I would not allow my clients to book past three months but I would put them on a waiting list. With this set up I was able to feel financially secure. You have to decide for yourself what would make you feel financially secure then base your practice around that. 

Julie: What I love about massage therapy is that you don’t have to stick to one schedule and you can get income from clients you have regularly or corporate gigs. What I liked to do was have something that I relied on for income such as my corporate gig where I provided massage at Google and have my classes at NHI where I taught massage then if I had free time I would take clients. I liked that I could take a month off if I wanted to and not take any clients then they would always be there for me next month. It’s really cool because I moved from San Francisco to the East Bay and my clients still followed me! The same thing will happen to you – your clients will follow you. 


Massage Therapy Ambassador, Keiko Hamano, asked: A private practice is similar to the nature of a startup; do you need to have Facebook, Twitter, Google +, a website, and a blog? 

Julie: The most important thing is to have a website with online booking. My close friend saves up to 4 hours a week with online booking. For me I had enough clients with my private practice that I didn’t need more clients so it worked out that I didn’t need to use social media. 

Sharlene: Don’t lose sight of the power of word of mouth! First work on gaining that client base and then let it expand. What I liked to do to gain more clients was to offer them a free massage if they referred three new people to me. I found that referral based promotions worked great!

Massage Therapy Ambassador, Cat Gardere, asked: Am I devaluing my work by giving specials?

Julie: I’ve found that if you offer a deal someone will take the deal and they may not become a regular client but they will refer other people who can afford you. The person who got your deal will end up telling coworkers, friends and family members about their experience. Another thing I’ve done is run specials when I want to get more practice. I would send an email out telling my clients that I would like to introduce them to Thai massage so I offered them specials. Doing this helped give me practice while getting paid and it introduced my clients to a new modality of massage. During tax season I would send out an email that said It’s Tax Season – Who has tension in their shoulders? I would offer a special and then get extra practice massaging shoulders. 

Melissa: Be judicial about offering deals. You only need to give deals about one time a year. Instead of offering deals what I like to do is offer a free massage to someone in related professions such as chiropractors, yoga instructors, personal trainers, Pilates instructors or spin class instructors. They will spread the word fast about you and will single handedly build your private practice. Since the holidays are coming up this is a great time to sell massage gift certificates just make sure you add time frames.


Massage Therapy Ambassador, Cat Gardere, asked: Were the majority of your clients requesting specific modalities? If you wanted to specialize in a certain modality should you do it?

Sabrina: If you have something that you want to specialize in go for it! There will always be people out there who want what you are specializing in. Don’t dabble in anything that you want to specialize in because the more you know the more you will be able to help and educate your clients and the more you can market yourself. 

Massage Therapy Ambassador, Bobbi Knowlesasked: What do you think about continuing education?

Melissa: Continuing education is vital! I have thousands of hours of continuing education. From continuing education classes I was able to learn more about the body in a new way. I was able to slow down and apply what I learned to my clients. 

The panel also offered the massage therapy ambassadors insight to networking, marketing yourself, and what it means to take care of yourself as a massage therapist. 

Networking tips from the panel: 

Frankie: When I was a student at NHI, I knew immediately that I wanted to work at the school so what I did to help make that happen was introduce myself to key people that I knew could make that happened. It’s important to identify who you need to rub elbows with and introduce yourself to people. If people don’t know you then you have to approach them and let them know who you are. Join LinkedIn groups for massage therapists and don’t wait to start networking. 

Tips on marketing yourself from the panel: 

Sharlene: Start marketing yourself before you graduate. You can start taking clients and offering them Swedish massage. Just be honest with your clients and let them know that you are a student. Use every opportunity you have to tell people what you do and why you do it. If you are in line at the grocery and you see someone rubbing their neck use that opportunity to share with that person that you are a massage therapist. 

Tips on taking care of yourself as a massage therapist: 

Melissa: In order to be a successful massage therapist you must take care of yourself. The more massage you get the more clients you will get. Once your private practice starts taking off and you are able to afford massage therapy regularly get it! You must practice what you preach. You can’t tell your clients to get massage if you don’t. You can come to the massage clinics here or you can partner with another massage therapist to trade, but take care of yourself. Plan meals, get exercise and don’t over-book! No one wants a sleep deprived massage therapist. You must take care of yourself. 

NHI Massage Therapy Ambassadors -Felicia, Keiko, Patrick & Cat

Our Massage Therapy Ambassadors are an elite group of NHI alumni volunteers who are committed to supporting the integrity and positive growth of the Massage Therapy profession. If you want to join this special community, obtain leadership experience and professional exposure though Massage Therapy networking events, actives, and training then Apply now!

November 17, 2014   No Comments

NHI Hosts Live Twitter Chat discussing Massage Therapy & Cancer

LTC-Square No Shave November is in full swing! If you haven’t noticed men rocking longer beards and mustaches then maybe you’ve seen #Letitgrow in your newsfeed. This annual tradition is a unique way to raise cancer awareness. Men can get involved by starting a team and raising funds together and see who can grow the longest, silliest beard. Ladies can show your support by picking up some limited edition N0-Shave November gear. Not only do you get some sweet merchandise, the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society.

At NHI, we want to help raise awareness of cancer and offer insight as to how cancer patients can benefit from massage therapy. We are excited to host a live Twitter Chat where we will discuss Massage Therapy and Cancer on Thursday, November 13th from 1:30pm – 2:30pm PST. Follow us @NHI_Massage and use #NHIChat to join in on the conversation. Phil Okazaki and Julie Porter will be leading the conversation and answering your questions.


Julie Porter

Phil Okazaki

Phil Okazaki







Phil and Julie are both instructors at National Holistic Institute in San Jose. Phil graduated from NHI Emeryville in 2002 and began working as a therapist immediately afterwards. Phil has focused his practice within the health and fitness industry, working with the Western Athletic Club franchise and Club One Fitness. Additionally, he has had the opportunity to work with athletes of every level and currently works with NFL, NHL, and MLB professionals. Julie has been a registered nurse since 1991 and a massage therapist since 2006. She has a private practice in Campbell, continues to work at the hospital, and teaches at National Holistic Institute.

Here are a few things that Phil & Julie will be covering during the chat:

1. Benefits of massage for cancer patients

2. Massage during chemotherapy

3. How to get training

4. How to find a therapist

5. How to advocate for these services

Are you on Twitter? Leave your Twitter handle in the comments & NHI will start following you!


November 11, 2014   No Comments

Massage Therapy: It’s a Holistic Thing!

The Seven Gifts of the Nervous System

By Dr. Jeff Rockwell

Massage therapy seems to be the thing right now. Up from 10% in 2004, massage therapists now see 20% of the American population. Clients appreciate the time therapists spend with them and the caring attention to detail they receive in each session.

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Massage therapy is also a holistic thing, for the very same reason that it is THE thing: it targets the nervous system which, of course, controls and regulates all of our physiology, and helps us to heal ourselves. Whether we are performing a deep tissue or neuromuscular session, shiatsu or myofascial therapy, we touch skin, and skin is the “outer covering” of the nervous system. During embryological development, we grew from three distinct stem cell layers: endoderm, which became our organs; mesoderm, which formed our muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments; and ectoderm, which turned into our skin and nervous system. That intimate relationship is maintained throughout our lives: touch the skin, touch the brain.

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In order to help others better appreciate their innate healing genius, I have defined “seven gifts of the nervous system.” I believe that anyone can apply these principles to their existing style of practice and reap rewards.

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These “gifts” are:

1)      Physiological function

2)      Self-regulation

3)      Emotional literacy

4)      Self-awareness

5)      Embodiment

6)      Perception

7)      Behavior


Bear in mind that the nervous system is the first to develop in the embryo and rapidly develops to adulthood. Given the right stimulus, or the right touch, the nervous system can continue to develop and improve. If all seven of these gifts are acknowledged and engaged, wellness and human and social potential become unlimited.


The brain and nervous system are essential to all vital functions in the body, unconsciously and automatically coordinating diverse functions such as breathing, digestion, heart-rate, immunity and so much more. To ensure optimal function, we can begin to take better care of our nervous system by receiving regular massage therapy. Nothing “touches” us as deeply as…well, touch itself.


Given no interference from stress, poor diet, or trauma, the nervous system makes it possible for us to “dance with” a fast-paced society. It helps us to bounce back from setbacks and, given proper care (i.e. read: massage therapy), to actually turn our stress into fuel for attaining our goals.


Emotions are “Energy in Motion.” They are feelings and sensations that move through our nervous systems. They are the key to the actions that we take, or don’t take, in life. As hinted at in the first sentence, emotions involve—require, in fact—motion to properly feel and act upon. We respond to stress through versions of fleeing, fighting, or freezing. The brain is hard-wired to first respond through a freezing response that we carry around as our posture. When our posture has us “frozen in time,” we are often unable to feel our emotions accurately and run the risk of leaping into (or avoiding) action that later causes regret.

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Picking up from where we just left off, when we look at someone’s posture or body language, we are looking at a “snapshot” of their nervous system, of who and what, in fact, we think we are. As we connect with undiscovered (or forgotten) aspects of our humanity, our posture changes. So do our lives.



The age we live in has earned many nicknames.  It’s been referred to as The Consumer Age, The Information Age and The Digital Age, among others.  Philosopher Richard Kearney has another take on it that to me seems not just descriptive, but actually diagnostic.  He refers to our modern era as The Age of Excarnation.  Literally, the “out of body” age.  The phrase perfectly captures the unexamined normal in which our culture conducts its affairs: 24/7/365, we predominantly live in a mode of being in which we are out of touch with our bodies; as a result, the world exists for us more often as an idea than as a felt reality.  We are preoccupied elsewhere. We are not awe, but distracted. Massage therapy and movement not only help get us back in touch with our bodies, but with the world as well.

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Cutting-edge research in epigenetics shows that how we perceive ourselves, our lives—even the world, plays a large role in determining our expression of health. Once believed to be at the effect of our genetic blueprint, science now tells us that our health is the genetic expression of our lifestyle choices, starting with our perceptions. Massage helps us to see the best in life, because it relaxes the part of the brain that is stressed out and wanting to fight, flee from, or freeze because of a perceived threat to our well-being.


Massage therapy is “consciousness medicine.” We are sentient beings, even when we don’t act like it. Through the function of our nervous system we experience our life. Increasing awareness through therapeutic touch, consciousness expands, as does our ability to engage the world with embodied clarity and compassion.

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Touch is the original medicine. It helped humans evolve to where we are today. Yes, the world has serious problems. Serious. Problems. But imagine how different this world would be if every world leader received a massage each day? If every person received healing touch once a week? Call me a blind optimist, but this is doable. We just need a lot of hands on deck, no pun intended, and a willingness to serve. As Gandhi said, “May your hands be a sign of reverence and gratitude to the human condition.”

September 22, 2014   2 Comments

NHI: Where Leaders Create Leaders!

By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell


Next month, NHI’s very own Jim O’Hara and Cynthia Ribiero will be presenting at the American Massage Therapy Association annual convention in Denver. Both Cynthia and Jim are “rock stars” in the field of massage therapy. Cynthia is a recent president of the AMTA and the developer of NHI’s Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy program. Jim not only has been at the forefront of developing educational programs for the profession for the past twenty years, but his book In The Land Of Shiva: A Memoir was recently released to rave reviews.

NHI is home to many of the best teachers in the field of massage therapy—by design. One of the most gratifying aspects of being part of this community is observing the number of students who go on to become leaders in their communities and in the profession. And two of the most prominent “leaders creating leaders” are Jim and Cynthia.

For this blog, Jim O’Hara was interviewed. I’m sure you’ll find his comments enlightening!




Jeff Rockwell: Jim, you and Cynthia Ribeiro are giving a (sold-out) workshop at the National AMTA convention this September on “Instructional Design” for massage teachers.

What’s the backstory on this?  Why is this topic so crucial and so in-demand?

Jim O’Hara: Teachers the world over really want to do a good job in the classroom, but are not always given the tools they need.  It’s unfortunate that in some massage schools, the eager teacher is simply handed a text book and told to teach from it.

While some publishers now offer lesson plans for teachers using their books, seldom do those lesson plans exactly fit the needs of the particular school.  Teachers are left wondering how to take a lengthy chapter and put the material into 4-hour classes.

JR:  So, why is NHI leading this training?

JOH: At NHI, we have a long, successful history of designing classes.  Part of the reason is that we have been in business for 30+ years, and have had to create effective classes long before the relatively recent explosion of textbooks geared to massage schools! It may surprise you, but many schools do not have a full-time Curriculum Coordinator, nor a full-time Teacher Trainer on their staff as NHI does, and has had for many years.  Put simply, I believe we really do know what we are doing in the area of curriculum and training.

JR: Why you and Cynthia?

JOH: My 20+ years at NHI both as instructor and the former Curriculum Coordinator are the background I bring to this, as well as my own graduate studies in education. Cynthia had run her own 1000-hour school for 20 years previous to coming to NHI, and has long taken a leadership role in the AMTA, so she knows well the needs of massage schools in the country. Also, both Cynthia and myself recently spent over 2 years on a nationally-selected panel of experts who created a blueprint for what the core pieces of massage education are.

JR: Can you give us some key ideas from the workshop you are presenting at the Denver convention?

JOH: Two of the most important concepts in designing a class are these: Scaffolding and Anchoring. “Scaffolding” means to structure each piece of information or skill-training in “bite-sized” pieces that build on each other.

A simple example of this would be how we teach our Swedish sequence. One Swedish massage class is just practice on learning moves like effleurage.  The next class applies those strokes to the back.  The following class reviews the back, and applies the strokes to the legs, and so on until we have a “full body” Swedish massage!  This is clear scaffolding, and is obvious for learning a sequence. Perhaps not so clear is the importance of scaffolding to learn physiology, or business practices, or customer service.

JR: Tell us about “anchoring.”

JOH: “Anchoring” is making sure there is an activity that solidifies the concept or skill in our minds and/or bodies. For example, the instructor may explain the characteristics that differentiate between muscle Origins and Insertions.  An anchoring activity could be to have students partner up and explain these distinctions to the other person – perhaps multiple times if that’s what it takes Jeff. Again, the instructor might talk about the importance of “weight transfer” for proper body mechanics, demonstrate it, and then have everyone stand and do it even though they are not actually doing massage at the moment.

JR: Aren’t these concepts pretty basic? Don’t all teachers automatically do them?

JOH: The “anchoring” activity is often forgotten, or left until the end of the class, because the teachers feel they must “cover” so much material. The most powerful anchoring activities, interactive exercises, are short, and done “in the moment.”

I like to think that NHI instructors do see these concepts as basic, because they are so often already built into our lesson plans and are part of our teaching culture. Come to the convention!


Thank you Jim!




Look for our next interview with Cynthia Ribiero. And remember: Be. Here. Wow!

jim book


August 29, 2014   1 Comment

A Movie Review ~ “Boyhood”

By Dr. Jeff Rockwell


Last week I saw one of greatest films of my life. You may have already read or heard about this movie, how it was filmed over twelve years, how you can see the characters age during this time. But have you heard about the magic it exudes?


Boyhood is another masterwork from Richard Linklater who has already gifted us with his Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) about the complications, joys, and perils of intimate relationships in our times. His new, nearly three-hour film probes the childhood of an East Texas boy from elementary school through his arrival at college. Boyhood is an invitation to lighten up, notice the world around you, and master the art of improvisation. Welcome to a new world of possibilities and a portal into the magic inherent in life.

Seven-year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) lives in East Texas with his single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Linklater’s daughter Lorelei), who outshines him in every way with her high grades, verbal dexterity, and energetic spirit. Mason hangs out with his buddies spraying graffiti on walls, collecting arrow heads, and such. Olivia has taken stock of her life and found it lacking. She decides to move the family to Houston where she can enroll in college while her mother takes care of the kids.

Mason’s teacher is upset with his behavior and bad habits at school. The boy is a daydreamer who spends a lot of time looking out the window. In addition, he does odd things like try to sharpen rocks in the pencil sharpener. Mason seems destined to live a life outside the prescribed standards of school and culture. Even at six, he is a “thinker,” marching tentatively to the beat of his own drum.

Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), his father, has returned from a trip to Alaska where he did a variety of odd jobs. He’s a laid-back man who is fun to be with. He regales his son and daughter with stories and has gifts for them. They go bowling and then pig out on junk food. Both kids are glad when he says he’ll be sticking around and they will see more of him. They’d like their parents to get back together again, but they know in their hearts that they won’t.

  boyhood 2

Bullied at his new school, Mason finds solace in video games, but also is attracted to animals, his collections, and elves. He shocks his father one day by asking, “There’s no such thing as real magic in the world, right?” His dad struggles to respond to the question and finally says that in the real world there are not things like elves. Mason, who has experienced plenty of magic in the natural world, wrestles with this answer. We sense that something precious is lost when magic and the more-than-human world that spiritually sensitive people honor is not acknowledged.

While attending college, Olivia meets and marries a professor who has two children of his own. Mason and Samantha get along with their new brother and sister but are deeply shaken when their stepfather turns out to be a raging alcoholic with a violent streak. Watching him explode at dinner, we are reminded that many children, like these four, have to come up with ways of winging it in the face of abuse and violence in their own homes.

In contrast to the professor and the Iraq War veteran Olivia marries next, Mason Sr. turns out to be a lovable companion, taking his children to purchase Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and treating them to an Astros baseball game. Over the years, he shares folk songs he’s written and on Mason’s fifteenth birthday gives him a mixtape of tracks from the Beatles’ solo albums. This playfulness cements a bond between father and son that is a boon to this adolescent as he begins to blossom into his own person.

The art of creating a life is a path and not a system, one we all hope to be successful at. But the world is filled with responsible people who label those who walk this path as “slackers” and “losers” who lack discipline and perseverance.

Mason picks up an interest in photography and stands out from others in terms of his talent. A teacher compliments him on his photographs but criticizes him for not working hard enough: “It’s hard to make art.” This is the same message Mason has gotten his entire life. Even the manager at the restaurant where he buses tables joins the chorus of those who are disappointed with what they see as his “easy come, easy go” attitude.

By the time Mason comes of age, however, he is ready to fall in love with a beautiful young woman, to handle a break-up, to try and console the emptiness his mother feels thinking about her empty nest, and to savor a moment with a girl he goes hiking with on his first day at college. When Mason asks his father how to deal with all the mysteries and all the challenges of life, he’s told, “We’re all just winging it.” Mason, however, has discovered this path on his own and is now ready to let it take him where he is meant to go. He has become a jazz musician of life, a stellar improviser, and a whole-hearted, heart-felt young man.

boyhood 3

Boyhood is one of the Best Films of the last 10 years. I cannot imagine it not winning the Oscar this year. Filmed in sequence across 12 years with the same actors, it is a creative drama that captures and conveys the everyday lives of children as they grow, change, and struggle with events they cannot foresee or control. Best of all, Boyhood is one of the most memorable films ever made about the art of improvisation and spontaneity as a path of wisdom, creativity, and personal transformation.



Watch the trailer here!

August 11, 2014   No Comments

NHI Believes: Take Ten – The Final Step

…Continued from 10 Steps to Having a Life You Love


Step 10 of 10: Embracing Tiger

By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell

tiger 3

Many people are afraid of change. I know I often am. Instead of feeling and naming the emotion of fear, I merge it with the state called worry or anxiety and—wham!—I’m off to the races, going in the wrong direction. Instead of going from head to heart, I run in the opposite direction. It’s no fun, and not a bit productive.

We all have our own examples of how fear can seem such a huge, impenetrable barrier. Fear: some would rather bury it, walk around it, build bridges over it, cover it with medication or a substance, stay busy to not feel it; anything rather than name it, or even embrace it.

Al Huang is a Chinese philosopher, dancer, and Tai Chi master of great note. He is also a friend of National Holistic Institute College of Massage Therapy, having gifted the college with our famous “Whoosh!” ritual. He is also the author of the 1973 classic “Embrace Tiger, Return To Mountain.” Tiger 2

“Embracing Tiger” is another core belief and ritual that we live at NHI. We create space safe enough to embrace what scares us, to be supported in the process, over and over again, until a skill or attitude is mastered—until the “mountain” is reached.

Today I’m going to ask you to be open to the idea of embracing one of your fears. Not to let it go wasted in a maelstrom of anxiety or worry, but to consciously—even gratefully—embrace it. First, we need a safe space. At any NHI campus, safe space is a given. A deliberate, mindfully created given. When we embrace a fear (i.e., of public speaking, of apologizing to someone or speaking up for our self, of touching or being touched), we strip it of some of its power. We become intimate with it, learning to relate to it, rather than run from it. Be gentle and patient with your self: this is a process, not a singular event. You are learning to dissolve it, bit by tiny bit, until one day what previously seemed an impossible obstacle becomes an ally. In its place is the change that you have been longing for.


“Living a balanced life” has become a popular self-help mantra. Thinking that I could somehow control life (or people, places, and things), I nurtured a completely unrealistic vision for my life. I should be able to live in balance, or homeostasis, at all times. I began to imagine that I could walk a tightrope that never swayed, fly through life without ever encountering turbulence.

But reality—that great guru– taught me otherwise. Life is homeodynamic, bumpy and often uncomfortable. I didn’t accept that truth gracefully, but kicking and screaming. I got really good at kicking and screaming until I pushed loved ones away and met reality with a deafening thud. I am still recovering, and I am grateful for the thud.

So far, I have survived. Today, my balance is wobbly and unpredictable. I’m learning to embrace tiger and on especially good days even search it out.

Every time I feel my life sway from balance into chaos, I remember that it is an opportunity to learn; even if I learn nothing more than that I can endure and return to “mountain.”

Every time I feel overwhelmed by what my day has presented to me, I remind myself to have faith in the path that I am on. There is an intelligence to each of our paths or destinies, I have discovered, and I appreciate the strength that I have gained from falling down and getting back up, even when I do it in full view of people I know and love.

Every time I start listening to the voice that tells me I can’t do something, I focus my attention on all of the voices that lift me up and tell me I can. I choose to let the “community of mentors” called NHI and others support me, knowing that we all grow in the process.

Tiger 1



Sometimes the best way to regain our balance isn’t by standing still, but moving forward into the arms of the tiger, discovering that the tiger was really a great big heart awaiting our presence all along.





Learn more about Al Huang and his Living Tao Foundation here!

August 1, 2014   1 Comment

NHI Believes: Every Body has a Story

…Continued from “10 Steps to Having a Life You Love”



By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell


“The body is sacred.”
–Walt Whitman—


Let’s try a little experiment. I was tempted to call it a “thought experiment,” except I want to focus on something deeper than thought: namely, the often-unexplored world of our bodies’ stories.

Read the quote by Walt Whitman again. Let it land in your body. Where do you feel it? What does it feel like; truth or fiction?

While it is true that everybody has a story, so does every body. Whether you feel your body to be sacred or not has a lot to do with the stories you’ve told yourself over the years. “I am sacred. I am scared. I am whole. I am a victim. I am perfect as I am (and I could use a little improvement). I am too fat/thin/young/old.”

Over time, what we tell ourselves, in addition to what has happened to us, becomes the “issues in the tissues” that massage therapy works so well to help resolve.

A recent article in the Atlantic explores a study as to where people “feel” emotions. Interestingly, almost always there was a strong correlation between an emotion and a location within the body.

Story 2

Years ago, I heard a little formula for healing: “Attention plus Intention Equals Healing.” Of course, the attention and the intention meant loving attention and intention. Most of us have received very mixed attention and intention around our bodies. We all have been saturated with societal, religious and family expectations, abuse and disregard for the sacredness of our bodies. Thus, removing interferences to loving our bodies is the antidote.

What you say to your body and how you say it through your words, self-talk, actions and behaviors can be a source of nourishment that results in more wholeness. In my opinion, more wholeness equals more love which, in turn, equals more aliveness. The changes in this direction that massage therapy can facilitate are described in numerous studies by the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute (for more information, go to

We were all brought up in one relational field or another. Our particular family system is one of those fields, as is the media and the culture we live in. Often—sadly—these relational fields are toxic, contaminated by fear, neglect, or abuse. When a new client comes for their first massage, it may very well be their first experience of a completely safe and non-toxic field. Their physiology shifts from “fight or flight” to “heal and feel.” They come to court relaxation in their life and to trust the wisdom of their cells. The issues in the tissues become less of a threat. Tension becomes gradually replaced by bodily joy; granted, this experience is not an all-at-once” event, but a process. stpry 4

Below are questions to consider. Which ones resonate with you? As you consider each question, focus on where in your body you experience a physical reaction or emotion:

1. Do you sometimes wonder why you cannot find true meaning or a place for yourself in this world? What is your body telling you? What part of your body responds to the question? How?

2. Are you easily depressed or agitated by specific people, events, memories or comments? Where and what is your body experiencing as you ask yourself this question?

3. Do your neck and shoulders ache all the time? Are those muscles responding to this question? How? Do you tend to put things in your life on the “back burner?” Do you realize that your body is that back burner?

4. Do you have severe back problems or the everyday “ordinary” headache? What or who are you thinking of when this pain occurs? What is going on in your life? Do you know that the leading causes of low back pain include job dissatisfaction, financial stress, and relationship troubles?

5. Are you worried about why you can never seem to lose weight? What is your body telling you? What part of your body responds to the question? How?

6. How does your body respond when you pay your bills? Where and what is your body experiencing as you ask yourself this question? What might be your body be trying to say to you?

7. Do you feel safe in your world and within yourself? This is a very important question. Many of us don’t realize that we live fear-based lives in which we are afraid to express ourselves.

Story4 Deepak Chopra has written, “Now we know that the mind and the body are like parallel universes. Anything that happens in the mental universe must leave tracks in the physical one.”

The accumulation of negative emotional energy is often referred to as emotional baggage, a contraction of muscles and the life force that becomes our body language and posture. This holding onto unresolved or repressed emotions such as anger, resentment, unresolved grief, feelings of not being good enough, guilt, and shame can cause pain. Persistent pain is the brain’s way of getting out attention. It is an invitation to change. When we allow the safe and healthy release of these emotions, the energy that was trapped there also releases and we feel more vibrant and alive.  It’s been said that “emotion is energy in motion.” To restore healthy balance we need to be able to process those emotions. We need to move, and otherwise nurture, our bodies.

There are many useful strategies for liberating and learning from our “body stories.” Some people may benefit from somatic (or body-centered) psychology. Running, hiking and, even, walking can be very helpful. But the place to start, in this writer’s mind, is with a wellness lifestyle that includes regular and consistent massage therapy. While our biography often influences our biology, receiving (and giving) massage can turn our life story into one we can really love!


Want to begin taking care of yourself and your story? Book a massage at any of our campuses! Visit here!

July 15, 2014   No Comments

Nine Tips for a Smarter, More Fantastic You – A 3 Part Series

…Continued from Part 2: How to Optimize Your Gut Flora


Part 3: The Final Installment


By Dr. Jeff Rockwell

Recently, I taught a workshop on the “wellness revolution,” and discussed ways we can make room for new vistas in holistic well-being to emerge in our lives. I mentioned two axioms, or self-evident truths: that we are self-healing and self-regulating; and that the brain makes this possible. It stands to reason, then, that if we interfere with the brain and the rest of our nervous system, we interfere with our ability to heal, regulate and transform ourselves and our lives. Another way of saying this is that “as goes the brain, so goes our health.” In that spirit, I described nine ways we can make a good brain great; increase our longevity, creativity and mental flexibility; and boost our overall health. Want to know what they are? This way, please

7. Vitamin B12

Lack of Vitamin B12 has been called the “canary in the coalmine” for your future brain health, and recent research has bolstered the importance of this vitamin in keeping your mind sharp as you age. According to the latest research, people with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency were more likely to score lower on cognitive tests, as well as have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of the vitamin may contribute to brain shrinkage.Mental fogginess and problems with memory are two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency, and this is indicative of its importance for your brain health. In addition, a Finnish study found that people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. Research also shows that supplementing with B vitamins, including B12, helps to slow brain atrophy in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (brain atrophy is a well-established characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease). B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread and many have trouble absorbing this nutrient properly from food sources. Blood tests for vitamin B12 are not always a reliable indicator of B12 status, so watching for symptoms of deficiency and increasing your dietary and supplemental intake is a practical alternative to blood testing.

B12 is available in its natural form only in animal food sources. These include seafood, beef, chicken, pork, milk, and eggs. If you don’t consume enough of these animal products (and I don’t recommend consuming seafood unless you know it is from a pure water source) to get an adequate supply of B12, or if your body’s ability to absorb the vitamin from food is compromised, vitamin B12 supplementation is completely non-toxic and inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of laboratory testing. I recommend an under-the-tongue fine mist spray, as this technology helps you absorb the vitamin into the fine capillaries under your tongue.

8. Listen to Music


 It’s long been theorized that listening to music may boost your brainpower.  You’ve  probably heard of this with the “Mozart Effect,” which suggests listening to classical music  can make you smarter. Indeed, research has shown that listening to music while exercising  boosted cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills in people diagnosed with coronary artery  disease (coronary artery disease has been linked to a decline in cognitive abilities). In this  study, signs of improvement in the verbal fluency areas more than doubled after listening to  music compared to that of the non-music session. Listening to music has also been  associated with enhanced cognitive functioning and improved mental focus among healthy  adults, so take advantage of this simple pleasure whenever you can.

 9. Challenge Your Mind

One of the simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning. The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them actually change as you learn. This can take on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, or participating in social and community activities. challenge wav

Another important method? Brain aerobics. As with learning, challenging your brain with mind-training exercises can keep your brain fit as you age. This can be something as simple as thinking of famous people whose first names begin with the letter A, doing crossword puzzles or playing board games that get you thinking. Research has even shown that surfing the Web activates regions in your brain related to decision-making and complex reasoning. So, unlike passively watching TV, using the Internet is an engaging task that may actually help to improve your brainpower.



Click Here: To read Part 1 of this series.


Click Here: To read Part 2 of this series.

July 3, 2014   No Comments

Nine Tips for a Smarter, More Fantastic You – A 3 Part Series

…Continued from “Part 1: Exercise, yes. Sleep, yes. Omega-3? Yes!”

Part 2: How to Optimize your Gut Flora


By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell

Recently, I taught a workshop on the “wellness revolution,” and discussed ways we can make room for new vistas in holistic well-being to emerge in our lives. I mentioned two axioms, or self-evident truths: that we are self-healing and self-regulating; and that the brain makes this possible. It stands to reason, then, that if we interfere with the brain and the rest of our nervous system, we interfere with our ability to heal, regulate and transform ourselves and our lives. Another way of saying this is that “as goes the brain, so goes our health.” In that spirit, I described nine ways we can make a good brain great; increase our longevity, creativity and mental flexibility; and boost our overall health. A simple three part series will cover these nine life-style changing practices. Want to know what they are? This way, please.

4. Coconut Oil

One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy. Your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into the food it needs to survive.

If your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally. This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality.

In effect, your brain can begin to atrophy from starvation if it becomes insulin resistant and loses its ability to convert glucose into energy. This commonly happens with diets high in refined sugar and processed foods. Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply, and this is where coconut oil enters the picture.

coconut oil

There’s another substance that can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. It may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. This substance is called ketoacid or ketones. Ketones are what your body produce when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil. Coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs. Therapeutic levels of MCTs have been studied at 20 grams per day. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.

Everyone tolerates coconut oil differently, so you may have to start slowly and build up to these therapeutic levels. My recommendation is to start with one teaspoon, taken with food in the mornings. Gradually add more coconut oil every few days until you are able to tolerate four tablespoons. Coconut oil is best taken with food, to avoid upsetting your stomach. Fuel your brain while you fuel your stomach!

5. Vitamin D

The National Institutes of Mental Health recently concluded that it is vital that a mother get enough vitamin D while pregnant in order for the baby’s brain to develop properly. The child must also get enough vitamin D after birth for “normal” brain functioning. In older adults, too, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit.

Appropriate sun exposure would take care of these issues, as the sun is irreplaceable when it comes to the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Appropriate sun exposure is all it takes to keep your levels where they need to be for healthy brain function. If this is not an option, a safe tanning bed is the next best alternative, followed by a vitamin D3 supplement. It’s important to realize that there’s no magic dosage when it comes to vitamin D. What’s important is your serum level, so you need to get your vitamin D levels tested to make sure you’re staying within optimal and therapeutic ranges.

Sun final

6. Optimize Your Gut Flora

Your gut is your “second brain,” and your gut bacteria transmits information to your brain via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem into your enteric nervous system (the nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract). There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development, and just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut.

Quite simply, your gut health can impact your brain function, psyche, and behavior, as they are interconnected and interdependent in a number of different ways.

gut flora

Your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of your body, and as such are heavily dependent on your diet and are vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you consume a lot of processed foods and sweetened drinks, for instance, your gut bacteria are likely going to be severely compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and sugars of all kind feed bad bacteria and yeast. Limiting sugar and processed foods, while eating traditionally fermented foods (rich in naturally occurring good bacteria), taking a probiotic supplement and breastfeeding your baby are among the best ways to optimize gut flora and subsequently support brain health.




What do B-12 and Music have in common? Find out next week in the conclusion to this three part series! 

June 26, 2014   2 Comments

“Healing Hands Make Art Too”

NHI Sacramento transforms into an Art Gallery…


By: Lucas Nevarez



On June 10th 2014, the National Holistic Institute College of Massage Therapy Sacramento campus was transformed into an impressive display of art and culture, in other words: an Art Gallery. The invitation read: “Healing Hands make art too” and it was an amazing display at that. The art pieces were contributed by NHI students, alumni and staff (a full list of contributing artists is at the end of this post).

Students combined with friends and family of NHI Sacramento came together to view our talented therapists’ bodies of work. This was Sacramento’s first ever cultural gathering, and it was a hit! Dozens of people joined us to appreciate the ability and creativity of our NHI community.


The types of Art work (over 35 pieces in total) contributed by these artists were varied and diverse which included:

  • Oil Paintings
  • Carvings
  • Sketches (penciled and charcoal)
  • Quilts
  • Poems
  • Photography
  • Sculptures

This is a short list; just to name a few types of original, imaginative bodies of work. By many measures this show was a success.

Inspiration for this event began when two members of group 70 Mari Down and Jennifer Ware wanted to share their creativity with their classmates. The work was so well done, we felt more people should see. “We should do an art show” was the passing comment, which sounded like a good idea, then became reality.

It seemed like a daunting task at first, the make over of our campus to display all these creative projects. The community came together and staged an exhibit worthy of professional Art Galleries. It was an experience I will always remember.

It’s a shame we cannot do a road show.


 Contributing Artists

Mari Down

Jennifer Ware

Zachery Kwiker

Dago Bedolla

Klayna Snider

Angela Kingshill

Amiee Huff

Kris Whelham

                                                                                                                                        Corey Stillian

                                                                                                                                       Tina Smith



dago art

June 23, 2014   No Comments

Nine Tips for a Smarter, More Fantastic You – A 3 part Series

Part 1: Exercise, yes. Sleep, yes. Omega-3? Yes!


By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell

Recently, I taught a workshop on the “wellness revolution,” and discussed ways we can make room for new vistas in holistic well-being to emerge in our lives. I mentioned two axioms, or self-evident truths: that we are self-healing and self-regulating; and that the brain makes this possible. It stands to reason, then, that if we interfere with the brain and the rest of our nervous system, we interfere with our ability to heal, regulate and transform ourselves and our lives. Another way of saying this is that “as goes the brain, so goes our health.” In that spirit, I described nine ways we can make a good brain great; increase our longevity, creativity and mental flexibility; and boost our overall health. A simple three part series will cover these nine life-style changing practices. Want to know what they are? This way, please.

1. Exercise

Exercise encourages the brain to work at optimum capacity by causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. During exercise, nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning. Further, exercise provides protective effects to one’s brain through: the production of nerve-protecting compounds; Greater blood flow to your brain; improved development and survival of neurons, and decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke.

A recent study in Tel Aviv, Israel demonstrated that exercising while paying attention to one’s physical sensations, slowing down the movements, and reducing one’s effort, was responsible for creating 1.8 million new neuronal PER SECOND!  Consider the possibilities for improved physical and mental well-being.



2. Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an omega-3 fat, is an essential structural component of both your brain and retina. Approximately 60 percent of your brain is composed of fats—25 percent of which is DHA. DHA is also an essential structural ingredient of breast milk, which is believed to be a major reason why breastfed babies consistently score higher on IQ tests than formula-fed babies.

Omega-3 fats such as DHA are considered essential because your body cannot produce them, and must get it from your daily diet.

germs2 DHA is found in high levels in your neurons — the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with cholesterol and omega-6 instead. Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised.

The influence of omega-3 fat on physical and mental health has been the subject of intense research over the last four decades, and there’s compelling evidence that animal-based omega-3 fats can help reduce the symptoms of a variety of psychiatric illnesses and degenerative brain disorders. For example, low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Even more exciting is research showing that degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed. For example, in one study, 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.

Another study found significant improvement in verbal fluency scores after taking 800 mg of DHA per day for four months compared with placebo.

Interestingly, research suggests that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration.  krill

To compensate for our inherently low omega-3 diet, a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement is something that I recommend for virtually everyone. I prefer krill oil compared to all other animal-based omega-3′s, because while the metabolic effects of krill oil and fish oil are “essentially similar,” krill oil is absorbed up to 10-15 times as well as fish oil, due to its molecular composition, and is less prone to oxidation (rancidity) because it is naturally complexed with the potent fat-soluble antioxidant astaxanthin.

3. Sleep


Sleep is not only essential for regenerating your physical body, but it is imperative for reaching new mental insights and being able to see new creative solutions to old problems. Sleep removes the blinders and helps “reset” your brain to look at problems from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity.

Research from Harvard indicates that people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas after sleep. They become much more likely to become “big picture” thinkers. On the other hand, a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. garfield 2

The process of growth, known as neuroplasticity, is believed to underlie the brain’s capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. Plasticity occurs when neurons are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes that may be important for synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.



Tune in next week for our second part to increasing your better health! We will learn how Coconut Oil & Vitamin D increase brain function and also what “Gut Flora” is and how it helps your nervous system!

June 10, 2014   1 Comment

The Magic of 10 Minutes

By Dr. Jeff Rockwell


 Think of one thing you want to improve in your life. Think of one emotion you want to feel more of. Think of one part of your soul you would like to express more of. Think of one goal or yearning you have. Now, what would it be like to spend 10 minutes per day on that? I love neuroscience, but if I don’t study at least 10 minutes per day, it means nothing. A lot of us who read this blog have the gift of getting massaged regularly. If you do that, you can take your care to a whole new level by doing Feldenkrais or Somatics 10 minutes per day. You can take your life to a whole new level by practicing a skill or working towards a soulful goal for 10 minutes per day. Starting a business? Spend 10 minutes per day meeting one new person or setting a marketing plan for the next year. Working out? Spend 10 minutes practicing some brand new skill or exercise, every day.

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We all want to live “in our flow” but for most it never happens because we are waiting for tomorrow. We are waiting to feel like we are enough. We are waiting to get it perfect. Here is a piece of vulnerable self-disclosure: I AM SCARED ON A REGULAR BASIS. I just know beyond all doubt that the God within is way bigger than my fear and if I just put one foot in front of the other, map in hand, mentors walking beside me, Heart wide open, I’ll get where I need to go. It is that deep process that changes us so utterly at our core. You want more self-love? More self-acceptance? Stop thinking about yourself so much and find new ways to be of service to others. Practice! 10 minutes per day is a game changer. We know scientifically that consistency over time is way more important that intensity. Practicing  10 minutes per day is so much more powerful than one practice session per month of one hour. This applies to anything and everything in our life. Cheers! 10 min



Try out this 10 minute meditation!

Comment below and tell us what you love and

plan on spending 10 minutes a day on.


May 14, 2014   No Comments

NHI Believes: Creativity and Consistency

…Continued from 10 Steps to Having a Life You Love


By Dr. Jeff Rockwell

The eighth core belief of the National Holistic Institute a College of Massage Therapy is creativity and consistency. Faced with complex, open-ended, ever-changing challenges, organizations realize that constant, ongoing innovation (kaizen) is critical to stay ahead of the competition. The same should apply to an individual life, even if—especially if– one does not view life as a competition. In order to grow and actualize one’s potential, consistent creativity is a must.

bulb This is why we need to be on the lookout for new ideas that can drive creativity, and it’s why the ability to think differently, generate new ideas, and spark innovation within a team becomes an important skill. You need to work actively on building and cultivating this skill, and it can be done—especially as a team.

Often, though, we make the mistake of assuming that good ideas “just happen.” Or worse still, we get caught in the mind trap that creativity is a special aptitude; some people have it, others don’t. We are either born with it or we are not. Then there is the time-worn self-defeating belief: “I am not smart enough to be creative.” These assumptions are rarely true. Everyone can come up with fresh, even radically new, ideas. We just need to learn to open our minds and think differently. We also need to think differently about thinking.

A word of caution – while techniques and books of techniques for creative thinking exist (and are extremely effective), they will only succeed if they are backed by knowledge of the area we’re working on. This means that if we are not prepared with adequate information about a particular challenge or opportunity, we are unlikely to come up with a great idea even by using the techniques applied by Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, or Steve Jobs. What is your driving passion? Learn as much as you can about it. Then get freaky with your thinking.

All of us tend to get stuck in certain thinking patterns. Breaking these thought patterns can help you get your mind unstuck and generate new ideas. There are numerous techniques you can use to break established thought patterns, and books abound at your local bookstore or the internet on this subject.

Personally, I prefer stories to techniques and am a firm believer that greatness can’t always be taught, but it can be caught. So let me introduce you to three “mentors” of mine, people who lived their lives in unconventional ways that placed them in the center of a rich and somewhat wild sea of creativity. Have you ever heard the tale of the sage who was instructing a student about the nature of transformation? When you arrive at the ocean, do not bring a thimble but, instead, bring a 50-gallon tank. Think big. Think bigger than that. Escape the box that most of your thinking occurs in as if you were fleeing from a burning house. Once outside of the box, blow it up in your mind and then start thinking. If you were Albert Einstein for one day what would you think?

Creativity is one of the most spiritual—and transformational—activities a human being can engage in. Thus, in that spirit, read on.


To unleash your creative intelligence, start thinking like Leonardo Da Vinci. Try emulating some of the things he did to be more creative. Da Vinci had specific techniques that he used to stimulate his intelligence and creative thinking. For example, he was ambidextrous and could write and paint with both hands at the same time. Pretty cool, right? Try stimulating your mind by writing with your non-dominant hand for ten minutes a day. Then take another sheet of paper and brainstorm about what you are currently passionate about.

The primary thing to remember regarding Da Vinci was his observation and belief that “everything connects”.  He coined that phrase; not Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin, or that prolific writer, Anonymous. This was his core belief, around which his mental universe revolved. Making connections between disparate things is one of the most productive creative thinking skills, so strongly consider making it a practice to think of ways that different things relate to each other, and how different things could be combined to make something completely different, novel, and needed by millions of people. davinci 1
Leonardo Da Vinci was fascinated with all branches of learning and, in his time, there wasn’t the same push to specialize. He didn’t differentiate so much between subjects because he believed that they were all inter-related. He was a generalist, and proud of it.He discovered that the learning and discoveries made in one area affect our understanding and knowledge of another subject of study. This is the central idea of becoming a Renaissance man or woman. True creative intelligence will come with the development of all your intelligences: physical, emotional, mental, social, financial and spiritual.

Another of Da Vinci’s more famous techniques for inducing creative reverie was his practice of looking for recognizable patterns or images in the smoke and ashes in his fireplace. You may remember Jodie Foster’s character in the film, Little Man Tate, practicing this technique with her genius prodigy son, as they spent hours gazing at shadows on their ceiling. You can do the same thing with clouds, patterned wallpapers, bark on trees etc. Just stare at the clouds and see what pictures you can see in them — faces, landscapes, animals and so on. Ask a question of them, and see what answers “appear.”

Leonardo da Vinci used notebooks to record his ideas, thoughts and observations. Journaling is now recognized as a tremendous creative stimulant. It seems that by recording our prime thoughts and observations we affirm to our mind that they are valuable to us. It frees our mind to expand on ideas, because the origins and subsequent steps of thought are written down and objectified.

We all know that Da Vinci was an amazing artist. He used his ability to draw as a thinking aid, doing little cartoons in his notebooks that illustrated something he was observing, or were the beginnings of an idea for a design or invention that he had. It’s easy to learn to draw sufficiently well that you can use it to assist your creative thinking. I recommend Betty Edwards ‘ book, Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain.

Leonardo Da Vinci was a scientist, engineer, artist, instrument inventor, anatomist, philosopher, and musical composer.  He was highly popular as a story teller, joke teller, riddler, and was famous for excelling at whatever he applied himself to. He was also said to be immensely strong and physically fit. During one period of his life, he devoted an entire year each to heightening his five senses, perfecting his sense of hearing (through listening to and playing music), taste (by becoming a sommelier and gourmet chef), smell (becoming a perfumer in the process), sight (through observation of the natural world, and by painting), and touch (by training his body and becoming an Olympic caliber athlete before the advent of the modern-day Olympics). He found that by developing all of his multiple intelligences he gradually became a fully rounded individual capable of fulfilling his creative potential. He died used up and happy.


Albert Einstein’s creative thinking epitomizes most people’s idea of what a genius “looks like.” So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Einstein had specific creative thinking behaviors that you can emulate to attain creative breakthroughs in any field of endeavor. The primary creative mindset of Einstein was that of possibility thinking. Basically, this meant giving himself permission to think extraordinary and fantastic things. He was well-known as quite the (well-educated) daydreamer. Many of his flashes of creative insight came while he was walking around his neighborhood or taking a shower. I suggest that you set aside time to deliberately pursue the creative breakthrough. You can call it your “Einstein time.”

Make the choice to budget your time to allow for regular “thinking” work. How much time you devote to this will depend on your own particular situation, needs and commitment. There are certain fields of inquiry that will demand more of your time and focus to reach the breakthroughs that are “waiting” in that field. Albert Einstein’s thinking on the subject of Quantum Physics obviously demanded more of his thinking time than someone who wants to think up a really creative idea for a birthday surprise. Get started by determining to set aside at least twenty minutes a day to concentrated possibility thinking and contemplation in the areas of your particular interests.

Einstein also was comfortable with dealing with seeming paradoxes and ambiguity. He was a devout practitioner in uniting what, to many, seemed like polar opposites: spirituality and science. Not a religious man in the traditional sense, he once said, “There are two ways to live. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle. Personally, I choose the latter.” He entered the realm of the miraculous on a daily basis, the creative field in which everything is possible.

creativity5  Buckminster Fuller and creative thinking go hand in hand. This creative powerhouse, referred to as the “Leonardo Da Vinci of the 20th Century,” is revered as a genius by those who knew him or his work. His extraordinary creativity drove him to become a philosopher, thinker, visionary, inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet, cosmologist, and more. And the amazing thing is that all this creativity was spurred on by one life-focusing thought, a thought that will unleash a creative genius in YOU if you choose to adopt it. The thought? I’ll get to that in a moment.

It’s true that Buckminster Fuller had a flair for designing and making things, even as a child. As he grew up, he also demonstrated a flair for being a non-conformist — getting expelled twice from Harvard! He married young, served in the Navy during World War 1, and then went into business with his father-in-law — a business that ultimately failed. At age 32, Fuller found himself bankrupt, jobless and raising a young family in poor housing. When his beloved daughter, Alexandra, died of pneumonia, Fuller was inconsolable with guilt and shame. He blamed himself for her death and spiraled down into an alcohol-fuelled depression that took him to the brink of suicide. But just as he was about to end his life, Fuller heard an inner voice say, “Stop! Your life does not belong to you, but to the Universe, in service.” These words literally saved his life and launched him on the path that would make him world famous for his creative thinking.

In his depressed mindset, Buckminster Fuller—or “Bucky,” which he came to be affectionately known as, had been thinking about everything that was wrong with the world and his life. In the days after he heard that voice of inner guidance, he embarked, in his words, on “an experiment, to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

Fuller’s experiment lasted over fifty years. Along the way, he had another realization and said in a lecture, “Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And then there’s a tiny thing on the edge of the rudder called a trim-tab.  It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving that little trim-tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. It takes almost no effort at all. So I say that the little individual can be a trim-tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether, when the fact is you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said to my friends and students, ‘Call me Trimtab.’”


One of Bucky’s most innovative concepts was of the earth as a spaceship. This implied the idea of all people of all races being together on one finite vehicle.  He invented the Dymaxion Map which showed how all the countries of the world are closely linked. All this pointed at our need to work together as a human team; that our long-term and best future would only come as a result of consistent and creative co-operation in meeting the challenges that face each and every one of us. Our future on “Spaceship Earth” will be determined, he felt, by our ability to figure out the “operating manual” and maintain the health and efficiency of the planet. Fuller knew and accepted that most people would see this kind of thinking as pie-in-the-sky idealism. His motto though was “dare to be naive.” To be creative you have to be a little foolish. The inner editor wants you to be “realistic.” It spits out the old refrains: it’s not done like that; it’ll never work; that’s just not practical. But as a creative thinker, you cannot afford to let that voice squelch your creativity.

Yes, the world we live in faces many challenges: environmental, social, economical, political. These problems can seem so huge and insurmountable that we often give up before we even try to tackle them. But the mind is designed to meet creative challenges. That is its nature. The way to unleash its creative power is through responsibility, choice, and commitment. When you choose that it’s up to you, that you are going to do it, then your mind gets into gear and starts working at a deeper level. In each of us there is a core desire to be of use. We all want to help make the world a better place. We all want to make a significant contribution. We all want to demonstrate to ourselves (and others) that our lives have meaning, that we are all important. And so, your enormous personal creative power can be unleashed by Buckminster Fuller’s thought: What can I do? How can I help? How can I make this world a better place? How can I help humanity have a better life and a better future? Dare to be naive. Dare to dream wild and lofty dreams. Dare to be creative for the benefit of all beings. Dare to take on the world’s challenges and, as an experiment, discover what a single individual  can contribute to changing the world for the better.


May 8, 2014   No Comments

Are you Passionate?

By Dr. Jeff Rockwell

At NHI, we are all about having work you love.  Having work you love is a great big portal into having a life you love. Living a life you love is about passion. What is passion? This word currently has a poor time in our culture. We are a culture that often squelches passion and we are a culture that has created a cult of mediocrity from very early on in life. In so many ways, we are encouraged to stay in the bell curve and to dial down that ecstatic urgency to create, love, step up, and step out. I know of no greater elixir for the heart than passion. “In the ruin of heartbreak,” speaks Rumi, “there arises a passion that can raise the dead.” I love that line. Passion, to me, is that felt sense of aliveness, of purpose, of fire, and of excitement to live, act, and love for something much bigger than “me”. It is the felt sense of being pushed along a path by something Vast, Huge, and Kind. It is the energy that rises up in me every time I think of the mass suffering in this world that can, and does, get better when individuals wake up and start living like they mean it. Passion is the rocket fuel of the Heart that transcends logic and that is the source of all true creativity. Passion begs us to question our rules and the rules laid down by teachers, preachers, doctors, and politicians. It implores us to give up our stories that hold us back and trust that living flame within. Passion was the fuel source of the illumined mystics, the great writers, the luminous musicians, and the courageous agents of social change. Passion is not a mental event. untitled

To really live and serve Passion’s great call, we’ll have to muster up the courage and be ready to leave behind the dead weight of a life of compromises. Passion will not let you live small. Your life may be entirely ordinary, and yet it can be so illuminated with passion that even your silence makes the birds dance.


We live in a larger field of relationships, of “relatings.” Relationships – all of them – thrive on positive interactions of kindness, play, authenticity, vulnerability, laughter, and a deep fondness for excellence. In the hum-drum drone of day-to-day existence, so many people get away from the juice that lies in fostering positive interactions with those we love. Gay Hendricks states that simply to have an “OK relationship” you need five positive interactions for every negative one. An awesome relationship – whether with your life partner or with your best friend – requires a relationship heavily weighted to the positive. Paradoxically, however, real honesty and vulnerability will open the door to authentic positivity.  It’s easy to gloss over incongruencies and just “be nice”. That is not what I am describing. I am talking about a potent force of energy we call positive love that arises again and again and again and becomes medicine for our personal and collective brokenness.  I see this every day around me at NHI. We focus on our strengths and build from there. We tell the truth with compassion. We don’t settle for. Instead, we rise into a place where only love, respect, courage, accountability, and kindness exist. We sizzle.


Keep score. Yes – I really said that. Keep score. Note the ratio and shoot for 10-1.  Then, 20-1. And when that ratio gets low, don’t freak out. Look deeply. Speak deeply. Courageously take responsibility and forgive deeply. And then step up. Meet your life with your life. Begin and end your day with acts of positive kindness. Text them. Email them. Use whatever means you can. Water the soil of your relationships with unconventional and uncalled-for kindness and positivity. Especially when you don’t want to. Especially when it wasn’t “your fault.”

Finally, love yourself. Big time. The Buddha said that no one is more deserving of your kindness than you are. Take care of yourself: mind, body and Spirit. Self-care is not selfish; rather, it’s a supreme act of love. When I am connected, whole, and in my zone of passionate living, I am so much more available to the world. I also enjoy the ride a lot more, and that fuels me to give more, and then the world keeps giving back to me in this play of flowing and energetic giving and receiving. Life becomes so much more than just a survival match.

Get massaged. Regularly. Make it a foundational part of your wellness lifestyle. Do yoga or Tai Chi or Somatics. Get an extra hour of sleep. Drink raw juice. Go on a retreat. Ask for help from a therapist or coach when you need help. This amazing game of life was meant to be played together, and, believe or not, there are folks on this path who have been where you have been and have a roadmap to a much cooler place. Spend time around people that energize you, inspire you, and push you just a tad past your comfort zone (thank you Julie Porter; thank you Brigitte Essl). Talk to God (whatever you call God). When you are up against a wall and don’t feel like you can go any further, please–let yourself cry. Don’t make your busyness an excuse. There is nothing so barren as a busy life, said Socrates.


At NHI San Jose, we are in the process of saying goodbye to one of the most passionate human beings I have ever met: Darlene Campo. Campo1

During the four years I have worked with her, I (and I am sure I am not alone here) have received spot-on and compassionate mentoring, always exactly what I needed to hear, always in a manner which allowed the words to sink in.  Any computer or academic question I ever had, was promptly answered by Darlene as she would often drop what she was doing to be of unselfish assistance. I have witnessed her vulnerability, her supreme organizational skills, and appreciated her enthusiasm in learning new massage modalities, along with learning to exquisitely speak Italian (the language of passion).


Darlene knows how to turn a weekend off from work into an art-filled, artful holiday. She is generous with her helpfulness and her enthusiasm. She is a humble and empowered worker among workers, a devoted daughter and a lifelong learner.  She is trustworthy, reliable, brilliant (yes, she glows), deeply spiritual and deeply humorous. She is an adventurer of the heart and mind. She is my friend. She is NHI’s friend. And now she is embarking, as of May 3rd, on a new journey as Associate Dean at WesternTechnicalCollege in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. As the saying goes, “Our loss, their gain.”




Darlene is a light-spreader. Now she is preparing to spread her light further and deeper into the world. Passionately. Come May, I’m uncertain how to live my life, doing everything the same, only this time without my friend.






Let us know what you are passionate about and ways you enhance your passion for life!






May 1, 2014   No Comments

Crossing Over

By Dr. Jeff Rockwell

I have officially crossed a line in my life. I won’t do anything that is not congruent with my soul. Will you join me?

I will walk the path of authenticity, and I will dare greatly. In that spirit, I have zero problems sharing that it scares the crap out of me to write this. In one very real sense, living a whole-hearted life is terrifying. Let’s get real: there a lot of internal and external forces pushing back on us. Take a look at the greatest leaders in our history and you’ll see that a good number of them were ridiculed or worse. The status quo is bent on suppressing authenticity, as are many parts of our own conditioning. It’s heart-wrenchingly weird to step out and tell your truth.  I will do it, though – and I will fail. I’ll step up again, fail, step up again, fail, step up again and again and again. Why? Because I know in my bones that the compelling stories of our lives—my life, the dreams of our hearts, our wounds and our victories, are not there by mistake. They are the poetry of God.  By telling my truth, I liberate myself from the hold of the primitive “fear brain.” I start to disentangle myself from the cultural dictate to be someone other than who I am.


I may feel scared but I will act from love. In fact, the more I do this I realize I have no choice. Why? Because I am love. So are you. To act contrary to this is a flu-virus to the soul. Any dream– any calling that arises within us, comes straight from Source. We may feel it in our gut or in our bones or in our heart. The Heart—let’s give it the respect it deserves and capitalize it– is our instant connection to Source. We are hard-wired to cooperate, to live and create and work and play in peace. That’s what Source wants. But it needs a body to dance its call into the world. It needs hands to offer a hug, a high five, a healing hour of massage. It needs me. It needs you. And our freedom lies in being with the truth of who we are. We are Love. If I want to live a whole-hearted life, I have to be whole – and that means embracing all of my life, not just the happy, shiny stuff. What glitters is the heart and soul. Everything else will pass away.

My bondage lies in the myriad of ways I hide out, play small, and put on a nice veneer. When I get really honest and clear and vulnerable I can see, without flinching, that there are a whole lot of forces in myself, in our media, in our pop-culture, in our families, that want us to keep from breaking free and being radically real and honest, to keep us from knowing and owning our magnificent broken beauty. We live in a culture where we can keep posting on Facebook, for example, only what we want others to see.  Social media is fabulous and we can all use it to share who we really are and to share what we are most passionate about (me: a world that works for everyone). But do not let it become a substitute for realness, authenticity, depth, and the real creativity that comes from whole-hearted, face-to-face living. DSCN3743

None of this means that you need to drop a hand grenade into your life. The greatest change starts right where we are-– in our work, in our families, in our bodies. Courageously, lovingly, gracefully (and, sometimes, clumsily and tentatively), we begin, one step at a time, to live our authentic life. As Mary Oliver said in her great poem The Journey, “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began/ though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice/but you didn’t stop/little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through sheets of clouds/ and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own/ that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world/ determined to do the only thing you could do/determined to save the only life you could save.”


Here are nine suggestions to help you on your precious journey:

1) Find community that supports this and supports you. It is really challenging to do this alone.

2) Find and spend time with leaders who bring their authenticity into the world and, by doing so, change lives. They are out there. Listen to your heart and you’ll recognize who honors your soul’s code and who doesn’t.

3) The greatest way to transform your life is to transform what interferes with you sharing your light with the world. This is NOT a mental process. It’s a whole body process. As the saying goes, “The issues are in the tissues.”  Massage therapy is one way that can assist this process.

4) Remember to breath. As one of my teachers says, “More breath, more God.”

5) Three books that are rocking my world right now are “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, “Heed Your Call,” by David Howitt, and “Red, Hot and Holy” by Sera Beak. Read and watch things that stir and nourish your soul.

6) Sometimes, in addition to working with the body, we need to talk to a person who really “gets” it—and who gets us—to further assist our healing and unfoldment. I personally have three mentors with whom I regularly meet and check-in. Why three, and not just one? I’m slow.

7) Eat well. Drink water. Move. Get good rest. Meditate/pray. Care for your nervous system. Don’t over-stimulate it with sugar, caffeine and TV (and other screens), but nurture it with healing touch. As we wake up, we must train our minds to tell the truth about us: we are amazing beyond our wildest dreams. This last one is non-negotiable. IMG_3265

8) As counter-intuitive as this may seem (or contrary to the spirit of this blog), your life is not about you. Not really. Neither is it about me. And it never will be. This thought keeps us right- sized, connected to one another, and an open portal to Grace.

9) Keep a sense of humor. Don’t be serious; be sincere.

“Daring Greatly” – Brene Brown

“Heed Your Call” – David Howitt

“Red, Hot, and Holy” – Sera Beak


April 21, 2014   5 Comments