Fascinating Research for my New Novel
I have recently started a new erotic horror novel set in the same world as Inn on the Edge. Dahlia, my earnest and good-hearted main character, enters an Institute that teaches Curative Touch and soon finds herself tangling with Sex Demons. They manipulate her into helping them with their dark, twisted ulterior motives. Along the way, Dahlia will discover that she is a talented sexual healer. And, to make her choices even harder, she'll fall in love with a young Sex Demon.
The book is coming together - but I have so many questions: What exactly is touch healing? What sorts of maladies can a touch healer help with? What does society think of what they do? I am especially interested in what the healing feels like from the healer's point of view.
I had to interview a touch healer.
Gloria - a pseudonym - is a real person. She is a lovely massage therapist I've known for several years. I only recently learned that she has studied healing touch extensively, and has untold hours of hands-on experience. Her healing work is separate from her massage therapy work. I was thrilled when she agreed to this interview.
Me: What is your background?
Gloria: I am a practicing massage therapist, with the anatomy and physiology coursework required for licensing in the State of Washington. I also study such things as herbal remedies, cranial-sacral massage, infant massage, and more. I also am very interested in Maya Healing techniques, and have attended several in-depth workshops in Central America with native Maya healers. I am always educating myself, incorporating everything I can into my work. I do not reject Western Medicine - I just feel like there are other, ancient, more gentle methods that are beneficial alongside it.
Me: Can you tell me how you approach a healing?
Gloria: First, I do "triage" - I listen to what the person wants, then decide if that's what they really need. For example: a person might want me to work on their knee, they might tell me it aches and hurts and can I please, please help with it. Well, I might or I might not work on the knee itself. I have to see if the knee joint is actually where the problem stems from. The patient doesn't always know. I'll do an evaluation. It may be that I'll decide that it is really the hip joint that needs work and not the knee.
Me: Do you prepare yourself emotionally before a session?
Gloria: Good question. I do prepare myself, I do have rituals. If I didn't, I could easily become overwhelmed, and if that were to happen, I wouldn't be much help to anyone.
Me: What are your rituals?
Gloria: I need barriers. I need to separate myself from the work. Rituals help. I have a calming, cleansing hang-washing ritual that I've used for years, using herbs and spring water and a pouring vessel that has special meaning to me. I wash my hands after every healing, outdoors if at all possible. Of course I constantly do hygienic hand-washing also, for obvious reasons, but that's different. My ritual hand-washing is deeper, more emotional, not meant to clean, but to spiritually cleanse.
Me: Any other rituals?
Gloria: I put myself into a different mind-space when I heal. To do this, I always change into my "practitioner clothes" - which is soft, comfortable clothing that I only use for this purpose. I don't do a healing in my everyday street clothes, it doesn't give me the emotional separation I need.
I prefer to do the healings in a quiet, secluded spot, preferably the same place every time. This applies for massages also. If this isn't possible, then I pay extra attention to my rituals.
Me: Is there anything you find especially difficult?
Gloria: Yes. People's need can devour you if you let it. I can't give people in need everything they ask for. One of the hardest things I learned was how and when to hold part of myself back.
It's not something I like to talk about, but there are the rare people that I call "Black Pits". I have to be super careful not to let this sort of person's problems rub off on me or overwhelm me. "Black Pit" people can have a miasma of upset and hurt hanging to them, troubles so powerful they seem capable of clinging to other people as well. That is why I find it necessary sometimes to hold myself behind careful barriers.
I do want to point out that these "Black Pit" people are not the same as the "people in need" I just mentioned. I also want to point out that in both cases, the hardest part is not being able to completely stop their pain.
Me: What does the healing feel like, from your perspective?
Gloria: Sometimes, if I'm having a really good day, I can read a person a bit. This is a sense of feeling what's inside of a person, inside their body. Sometimes I can feel problem areas with my hands before even touching a person, just from passing my hands above their body. It feels rather like a hot spot. This is something I've developed with time and practice. I'm pretty sure that, if I wanted to, I could work on this skill enough to be able to find tumors. There are healers who can do this, who are tumor hunters. But I'm not at that point.
When I first started, I discovered that I could sometimes read a person and know their soul, know everything about them. But I quickly understood that it was too much. It was an invasion of their privacy. It was too much information for me to deal with, too overwhelming, too many things that I didn't want to know about a client. So I trained myself not to "look" at a person that way. I haven't done that kind of looking into a person for twenty years.
Me: What else do you find helpful to your work?
Gloria: Timing is crucial. I have to stick to hour-long sessions. When I first began, I would let sessions with friends and clients get away from me. Sometimes they'd go for hours and hours. Some of the longest sessions were four or five hours long, which was ridiculous. It was a breach of boundaries and a terrible expenditure of healing energy. I didn't understand at first that over-doing it would make me feel sick the next day.
The exception to the time limit is when I'm studying. Sometimes I do special healing workshops where the healing sessions are allowed to be much longer, so students can explore these same issues in a controlled environment.
Me: How about sexual healing? Have you ever heard of that?
Gloria: Absolutely. There is a huge population of healers, and some of them do sexual healing and take it very seriously. And yes, some of them have sex with clients as a valued part of their work. Look up "sexual surrogacy" to find information about sexual healers.