Lucy Laughed
   Lucy was a walk-in client at the spa.  Her husband brought her in, her right arm in a sling, overwhelmed and exhausted from being in acute pain for some time.  Lucy was crying so her husband discussed her condition with me: she had re-injured an old rotator cuff tear in the right shoulder, over a month ago, and was probably going to arrange for surgery.  In the meantime, she was in constant pain, couldn't sleep, couldn't work, and needed some relief.  The husband was a massage therapist himself, but was afraid to work with this injury. 

   Lucy's husband helped her to undress and to lie face down on the massage table.  While I waited to enter the room, I made a plan for the session: I can't work directly on the torn muscle, and I don't know how to do anything that will repair the tear in the muscle.  But I do know how to work energetically to reduce the inflammation, which will relieve the pain, at least for the moment.  This was the entire extent of the plan; I knew that the details would unfold as I made contact with Lucy and felt her body respond.

   Lucy laid quietly in the candlelit room, and I gently held her injured shoulder in my hands.  Within about two minutes, I felt Lucy's breath begin to deepen.  I know that inflammation and pain are associated with excess energy in the affected part of the body, so I began to use a Brazilian energy clearing technique that I had learned from my Esalen teacher, Maria Lucia Sauer: without touching the body, I felt for hot spots -- areas containing excess energy -- on the shoulder, grabbed them in my hand, and flung them away. I continued to do this for a couple of minutes, until the area no longer felt hot.  By this time Lucy had fallen into a deep sleep.

   I then began to do Esalen® Massage, working gently all over the back of Lucy's body, avoiding any pressure in the area of her injured muscle.  I used shiatsu pressure on the right arm, to help open the arm energetically to facilitate more clearing in the shoulder.  After 20 or 30 minutes, while I was still working on her back, Lucy woke up.  She said, I was sleeping!  I can't believe I fell asleep, I haven't been able to sleep all week.  She then checked in with her shoulder, and realized that the pain was gone.  She felt so relieved to be pain free that she started to cry.  Then she became elated and the tears turned to laughter.  She laughed and laughed, and started talking about how much she had been suffering from her injury.  She said, yesterday I was sitting at the dinner table and I was in so much pain, I couldn't even sit up; I just put my head right down on my plate!  My husband didn't know what to do; he called my father and said, she's put her head on her plate! 

   I asked, what were you eating?  Spaghetti! she replied, and howled with laughter.  I joined in laughing, aware that her husband was sitting in the lounge right outside the door -- surely he can hear us laughing -- he must be curious about what's going on...

   Lucy then turned over, and I completed her massage, again being very careful to work only energetically on the injured shoulder.

   After Lucy's massage, her husband helped her dress.  Her shoulder felt fine so she didn't want to put her arm back into the sling, but we insisted.  I knew that the muscle was still torn, and using the arm might exacerbate the injury further.

   Because Lucy's shoulder was still injured, the inflammation and pain returned within a couple of days.  Lucy continued coming to see me once every two or three days for a 30-minute tune-up to keep the inflammation level low, for a couple of weeks until she had surgery.