Bodywork and spiritual practice

Bodywork and spiritual practice March 15, 2013

Ali giving massage
Ali at work!

Here’s a Friday treat: an interview with my friend Ali Bourgault!  I met Ali, who is an amazing bodyworker, when she was doing massage work at a Pagan gathering, and I love the way she focuses on results and on empowering her clients to take charge of their own healing.  She lives in Massachusetts and is the owner of A Healing Vibration, where she specializes in creating personally tailored sessions with unique combinations of therapies.

How does bodywork connect to your personal practice — or is it the other way around? What drew you to pursing bodywork as a career?

There really isn’t a separation between my personal spiritual practice and my bodywork practice. Both practices are centered around love and gratitude and at this point I couldn’t imagine one practice without the other. I’ve always been interested in bodywork and always loved giving people massages, so looking back, it just makes sense that I’ve become a professional bodyworker.  My uncle was really the one who planted the seed when I was a teenager by telling me about his massage therapist and how much massage helped him.

How do you understand the relationship between body, mind, and spirit? Is there even a separation? How do you perceive them as interacting in your clients? How about in yourself when you’re giving bodywork?

My understanding is constantly evolving as I am exposed to more bodywork systems. My basic understanding is that the body is the physical form that houses the mind. The mind, which I believe is in the whole body and not just the brain, processes all the information relayed through the senses to create an experience and memories. The spirit connects the energetic body and physical body to the universal energies all around us. When doing bodywork, we work with all three, sometimes independently, but I’ve found it is often best to work with all three together.  When I’m doing bodywork my mind, body, and spirit are in full alignment and I remove my ego from the session so I can fully listen to the client and the client’s spiritual guides.

What’s the biggest thing you can offer a client other than working those knots out of the shoulders? What do you hope your client receive from you?

The biggest thing I can hope to offer my clients is a deeper mind, body, and spirit connection and the empowerment to take control of their health. Many of my clients have noticed they are more in tune to their bodies and are better able to identify signals and triggers and to maintain healthier lifestyles. I also provide my clients with helpful self care techniques and welcome them to contact me at any time with questions.

Are there particular practices you recommend to people receiving bodywork to help them get the most out of the experience?

Water and rest are the two things I recommend most often for the day of their session. Water plays a crucial role not just in hydration (we need 2-3L daily for optimal hydration), but also in flushing the toxins that are released during bodywork and especially massage. After a session it is important to take it easy on yourself, as bodywork puts good stress on your body and you don’t want to overload your body or engage in mentally stressful stuff that will undo all the wonderful relaxing you did earlier.

Are there problems other than physical discomfort for which you find bodywork particularly helpful?

Bodywork is excellent for far more than just physical ailments! Physical contact helps promote self confidence, better self image, and reassurance. Energywork systems such as Polarity Therapy note that thoughts and emotions are just energy and often get stored in the physical body; these can be released through bodywork. Most often the intake processes includes questions about emotional, mental, or spiritual goals for the session. Many of my clients have experienced relief from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and many other forms of emotional/mental ailments through regular bodywork sessions. Many others have come to find bodywork provides them with a deeper connection to their highest inner healer and spiritual guides, giving them very powerful tools to release old habits and holding patterns that no longer serve who they are today.

What practices do you have around taking care of your own body?

Moderation and honoring myself sums it up nicely. I eat consciously, I try to make sure I understand all ingredients and focus on alkalizing foods, but I do allow myself treats and junk food when the desire strikes. I also give gratitude for all my food and try to eat at least one meal a day in silent meditation. I only use natural products on my skin and hair, usually products I make. [Editor’s note: I am in love with these and you can get them by clicking the store link here.] I try to get enough sleep, meditate daily, and drink 2L of water per day. I also receive massage, chiropractic care, polarity therapy, and reflexology on a regular schedule and am always looking for new modalities to try out. I am currently exploring new options for adding regular exercise and a daily cup of tea into my schedule.

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