Artful Touch is again offering sessions in Seattle

Hello again beloved clients and esteemed colleagues!

It has been a very interesting time traveling and touring musically for the last two rotations of the sun. A lot of growth has happened and I’ve gained many things from the much needed break I took from my practice.

I’ve returned to the PNW for the 2017 summer and am offering outcall Somatic Unwinding sessions as well as Grief Recovery now, with massage sessions to be offered again very soon. I’m really enjoying the classes I have been taking in order to reinstate my license, it’s good to be taking classes again! Looking over my prep material for class tomorrow, and I’m already getting new ideas around physical self care methods to address the impact that performance anxiety has on my vocal structures.

I and am looking very forward to returning medical massage work into my offerings.

Please do note that I do not currently maintain an office space in the area, and only offer sessions where I bring my work to you.

Take care of you,
Courtnee Fallon Rex

Posted in Announcements and Updates

For other Highly Sensitive People: Remember your tools.

Remember your electrified eggs of light surrounding you, maintaining your boundaries, granting you consent.

Remember your visualizations, your symbols.

Remember your breath and how it can blow anything away like a nearly weightless leaf.

Remember to cough out the black.

Remember to give what you’re collecting to the earth through your roots, to steam it off of your head, if it doesn’t belong to you.

Remember to release what no longer serves you when it is time.

If you don’t have tools, you do now. Ask me. I will help.

Take care of you.

Posted in Free Education and Exercises

A special offer for activists and healers

My next grief recovery group, an 8 week grief recovery method course which begins Tuesday Jan 13th at 7pm, will be PAY WHAT YOU CAN, for ACTIVISTS and HEALERS.

If I’ve sent you to this post, it’s because I support your self care in the work you are doing and want to invite you to be a recipient of mine for what you can comfortably pay for it. I have by no means contacted everyone who falls into this category directly – if you’re an activist and/or healer and you want in on this, tell me! You may choose to respond publicly here if you like, but know that the actual groups are confidential.

Read about the work: http://artfultouch.info/grief-recovery/

Sign up: https://artfultouch.fullslate.com/services/18?start=2552

Notes:
Yes, you can invite an activist/healer friend to participate, just have them sign up directly through me once you’ve shared the opportunity with them.

My groups are small – if there is more interest than what I can accommodate, I will add a Thursday evening group starting the same week (so that I don’t lose my mind trying to keep track of two classes two days apart on different stops on the track)

Pay what you can is literal, and also CONFIDENTIAL. I move through the world on a shoe string constantly dancing to make ends meet, I know what that feels like at various stages and I will not turn anyone away: For reference, I usually charge $320 for the total 8 weeks, about $25 of which goes directly into the book and materials for your course. If you happen to be in a place in your life where you can comfortably pay more right now, please pay more to help offset the people who are unable to pay anything.

Posted in Announcements and Updates

Artful Touch now offers Grief Recovery

Q: So, you’re one of those annoying grief counselors now?
A: Not exactly

Good news, everyone: I am now a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, and that means Big Stuff. I talk a bit about why it’s a big deal and what it means on my Grief Recovery page, which is where I will be listing group start days as well.

If you’re reading this and thinking that the subject matter doesn’t apply to you, I respectfully suggest that, grief being the vastly misunderstood thing it is, you take a peek anyway to be sure.

I am elated to be offering this work in the world, and am excited to expand my practice to include it.

Posted in Announcements and Updates

Brenè Brown: A video walkthrough

“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” -Brené Brown

I shared this 2010 TED speech about vulnerability long ago, and longer still before that, and I will keep periodically sharing and adding new talks as Brenè continues in her incredible work.

Her follow-up from 2012 about shame is awesome, too, and reminds me of many, many things I’ve talked about in my online journaling for nearly 20 years.

“If you’re not also in the arena getting the shit kicked out of you, I’m not interested in your feedback.” – Brenè Brown

And even still, Brenè continues to expand her message, her knowledge and her biting insights into showing up, being seen, and getting the shit kicked out of you for it.

“What I do is enough.” – Joan Halifax

I was in the audience for this longform interview with Chase Jarvis and Brenè back in April, and had the opportunity to meet her afterwards to discuss the education certification that is offered based upon her work. I was truly honored.

“(only) Share with the people who have earned the right to hear your story.” – Brenè Brown

I’m incredibly grateful that Brenè is out there doing what she is doing the way she is doing it. Her willingness to share her own story of evolution and cultivating self worth as she researches a universal human condition is a combination I find endlessly inspiring. I am always moved by her presentations and feel with her sharing a gust of wind at my own back.

As far as I am concerned, her evolving messages are required consumption for anyone who values facing the world with integrity and the courage to both discover, as well as learn to be, who they really are.

Take care of you,
-nee

Posted in Free Education and Exercises

Artful Touch has moved to Suite 238

AT2381

The end of an era has arrived – Artful Touch is no longer a massage and art studio.

For over a year, I had a two room space, where I practiced bodywork, and created both art and music. It was a big expensive step for me, a little scary at first, and also incredibly enriching.

AT2382In the end, I did ok, but the extra space simply wasn’t viable financially in a sustained fashion.

I am so glad I took the leap and tried it. In the future, I could see combining the two endeavors again.

The second floor is a little dimmer, with ultra high ceilings, and really nice water pressure. Now when you come to see me, you might like to take the beautiful wide marble staircase, whereas you likely took the elevator before.

And, I am happy to report, by moving offices I now once again have a brick wall as I did in suite 325. Very soothing and earthy. Great vibe in the new space.

I already miss the sun soaked 6th floor and the giant skylights, and especially being trapped for a moment in a beam of warm sun while heading to the bathroom to wash up and get my clients water during the summer. But all good things change, and well, it’s only a few flights of stairs away.

This move corresponds with lots of transition and change in my life lately — for the better, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to this new chapter for Artful Touch.

Speaking of which; I will be out of state for most of June, riding my motorcycle down the coast, through big trees, and eventually to Palm Springs, to receive my certification in the Grief Recovery Method.

This method of understanding and completing grief has been an instrumental part of my own healing and growth after seeing a GRM certified counselor about two years ago. I’m very excited to be capable of offering the work as part of my practice soon.

If you’d like to get in to see me and the new office before I leave, make sure to schedule soon!

I’ve updated the Directions page with instructions on finding the new office.

Take care of you,
-nee

Posted in Announcements and Updates

Every breath is an opportunity to release.

Amazing how obviously simple truths from just the right angle at just the right time can be such profound experiences in our lives, isn’t it? Sorta like getting hit in the face with a brick you’ve known since kindergarden.

In fact, when I think about it, a lot of my practice is based on cultivating awareness of this phenomenon.

Somewhere along the line, (maybe even while procrastinating on facebook), I ran across the phrase above and was taken aback. I tried the idea I’d had a zillion times out in that moment and immediately felt different; my shoulders dropped what felt like 3 inches lower than they had been.

Not only was that breath more relieving than most in recent memory, the simple act of becoming aware of the opportunity and then taking action to better my experience of life gave me a self care high that lasted long after I had returned to automatic breathing while doing other stuff.

Since then, the mantra “Every breath is an opportunity to release” really stuck with me, and has become one of my favorite things to remind myself, and my clients during our sessions. Here’s a quick example of a few ways this idea could work for you right now:

Disclaimer yadda yadda: The following is offered freely as felt-sense education. It is not therapy and does not replace medical diagnosis or treatment. Please use your discretion in participating in this exploration as you do so at your own risk. If it hurts, stop. If you are currently suffering from chronic pain or acute injury, attempt these instructions only under direct medical supervision.

Three breaths

Take three long breaths to surrender into your posture with intention. For each of these three breaths, your job is to use your awareness and favorite visualization techniques to let something go, no matter how small or trivial. Each exhale is a new opportunity to release – an emotion, a thought, a fear, an expectation, a physical holding, or sometimes, even just a breath.

Here are some suggestions:

Breath awareness example:: Focus on the sensation your long exhale causes as the breath passes under your nose and back out into the world.

Tension awareness example: Notice your hand closed in an unconscious fist? Focus your awareness and imagine your fingers uncurling as you exhale (or watch!).

Visualization Example:: Imagine your shoulders are made of a dense net of millions of particles (hint: they are!), and your breath is filtering between them, loosening the sticky trapped debris as you exhale.

Fantasy Example: Mind racing about that wad who cut you off on the freeway? Imagine their car is the size of a hotwheel, and your breath is a big gust of wind that carries them out of your consciousness as you exhale. Smile as they tumble away like a dry leaf getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller (BUHBYE.). This works with more hefty subject matter, too, though differently. I discovered it during a particularly heinous breakup and used it constantly to stay afloat during the worst of that shitstorm. I like how versatile this one is.

Congratulations, you’ve taken a moment for yourself, which oftentimes feels like an insurmountable feat, and have some examples to help you personalize your releases through breath. Let me know if you want more.

Take care of you,
-nee

Posted in Common Misconceptions

Taking Baseline Inventory: Less than 5 minutes.

Though the concept of taking a baseline was introduced to me originally as a weathervane tool to measure the before and after of somatics sessions, I’ve found that oftentimes even just taking the 5 minutes to guide my client (or myself) through a full inventory enacts significant change of its own.

With that in mind, I offer the experience for you to try. Read these instructions completely before starting.

Disclaimer yadda yadda: The following is offered freely as felt-sense education. It is not therapy and does not replace medical diagnosis or treatment. Please use your discretion in participating in this exploration as you do so at your own risk. If it hurts, stop. If you are currently suffering from chronic pain or acute injury, attempt these instructions only under direct medical supervision.

Take your baseline inventory

1) Lay on your back, legs straight, in anatomical position on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. Your palms will be facing the ceiling, fingers loose, arms gently sloping laterally away from your hips as they run down your sides.

2) From foot to head, slowly scan the length of your body. As you scan, note the quality of the connections you are making with the ground.

Focus your attention on the stamps made by your heels. How big are they? The size of a quarter? A dime? A coaster? Are the stamps perfectly symmetrical, or more kidney shaped? How do they differ from each other?

3) Now move to your Achilles arches and explore the space made by them. Where are they the highest? How are they shaped? How many fingers could you imaging being able to stack under them?

4) Continue to scan up your body, exploring your calves, thighs, pelvis, sacrum, buttcheeks, lower back arch, ribs, shoulders, neck arch, and head stamps. In general, I encourage my clients to especially note three stamps (heels, sacrum, and head) and three arches (achilles, low back, and neck.) for brevity and a consistent baseline to compare with, but your exploration is no way limited to those.

Bonus) When you come across tension that doesn’t seem to respond to your awareness alone, take a little time to explore using breath or a light touch to release. Look for a while and move on; try not to get stuck. Everything that’s going on in your body is there for a reason, and maybe now isn’t the time to let this particular thing go.

4) Once you’ve completed your part-by-part exploration, imagine a chalk outline of yourself – not the kind you’re used to seeing, which outlines your edges, but a new kind that outlines where you sense your body meets the floor, as if you’d been pressed into an ink pad before laying down.

Getting up

I recommend the following method for most of my clients – if this one doesn’t work for you for some reason, create your own which allows you to get up slowly and comfortably. Take care when rising after doing somatics work – oftentimes people are rather light headed (it’s from the awesome).

1) Slowly bend one knee at a time toward the ceiling, dragging your heel along the floor. Bonus points for doing this a few times and noticing the shift that occurs in your posture, particularly in your hips and low back arch.

2) With knees up, slowly roll onto your side in a fetal position. Take care to maintain as much of the relaxed flop you’ve cultivated as you can – it will likely be gone soon enough, so don’t be in a hurry.

From here, utilize your elbows and knees to assist yourself to all fours, again maintaining as much lethargy in your limbs as you can.

3) While on all fours, tuck your toes under and shift your weight to the balls of your feet, aligning your center of gravity before slowly standing up

Congratulations! You’ve just taken an inventory, and now you have a tangible concept of where your body is in space and dimension, and a greater understanding of what’s going well and what might need further attention. Did you notice anything that changed or improved as you were taking your inventory?

Let me know if you want more.

Take care of you,
-nee

NOTE: You may find after these three breaths that you already feel different than you did before you laid on the floor. Or you may be struggling with holding on throughout the entire process and find doing this super frustrating.

Either way or in between, try your best to observe and refrain from judgement of your somatic practice. Every day and every baseline is different and there is no competition — in fact, though somatics is all about comfort and relaxing, many of the most profound somatics sessions are the ones that serve as an evaluation tool to help you better clarify where to focus further attention.

Posted in Free Education and Exercises

Cleansing breathing exercise: Less than 5 minutes

Meditation has been one of the hardest self care practices to incorporate into my life thus far. I’ve tried multiple times over many years coming from many different places in my evolution to incorporate meditation into my existence and for the most part found myself feeling frustrated, failed, and wondering if my brain was just irrevocably switched to “OMFG OBSESS OBSESS AMIDOINGTHISRIGHT? OBSESS OBSESS” mode.

One of the first forms of meditation I tried that actually gave me the results I was looking for – calmness, clarity, easing of anxiety – was Prana, an incredibly simple breathing exercise I learned while in massage school at Brian Utting.

Since then, I’ve favored breathing meditations as mind calming introductions to my clients. Here is one of my favorites.

Read these instructions completely before starting.

Disclaimer yadda yadda: The following is offered freely as felt-sense education. It is not therapy and does not replace medical diagnosis or treatment. Please use your discretion in participating in this exploration as you do so at your own risk. If it hurts, stop. If you are currently suffering from chronic pain or acute injury, attempt these instructions only under direct medical supervision.

Cleansing breath exercise

Close your eyes.

Take 15-30 seconds or so to do a quick scan of your body. Does anything hurt? Is your jaw tight? Do you have a knot in your stomach? Is your chest constricted? Are your shoulders tight? Is your brow furrowed? Observe these things, and take note of them. This information is what we will refer to as your baseline.

Inhale as slowly and as deeply as seems feasible.

Though it may be, don’t concern yourself with whether the breath is shaky, or if your air capacity is not as big as you’d like it to be. Just breathe, and be aware of the sensation of your breathing.

Can you feel the cool air rushing in at the base of your nostrils? Do you notice the expansion and contraction of your belly? The expansion of your ribs? Are they expanding up into your throat, or out to the back of your chair, or forward from your sternum, or a combination of these?

Maintaining this same experiential attentiveness, exhale, slowly and completely, at a rate which makes your exhale breath about twice as long as your inhale.

Repeat this breathing technique for about 20 breaths, or as long as it takes you to comfortably reach your timing goal, whichever comes first. Try your best to continue observing your breathing and how it feels. If your mind wanders, and it probably will, simply bring yourself back to the exercise once you’ve noticed. Note any changes in the lengths of your breathings – are they getting longer?

Now, scan yourself again, and note your new baseline. What has changed? Take a few normal breaths. What has changed?

Congratulations. You’ve just meditated, and come back to your senses. How’s it feel?

Let me know if you want more.

Take care of you,
-nee

Notes: If you need to, you can count as you breathe. A nice rate is a 4 second inhale, and a 7 or 8 second exhale. If you’re faster than that, 4/8 is your new goal (counting faster to reach it is cheating, FYI :P). If you’re slower than that, GREAT.

Once cleansing breaths are automatic to you and you no longer need to count or focus your mind on keeping track of your longer exhale, try saying to yourself in a calm and gentle voice “I am breathing in” when you inhale, and “I am breathing out” when you exhale.

Posted in Free Education and Exercises

No pain, no gain, right? Wrong.

In my work, I am consistently disheartened by the misconception that only massage that excessively hurts, works.

Similarly, I notice a consistent misconception that deep tissue means only one thing: having someone steamroll painfully over spastic musculature to get to deeper spastic musculature.

Those muscles are in spasm because the brain is telling them to be. They often stay locked in place due to physical constrictions derived from your fascia conforming to things like habitual postures and injury compensation patterns, and yes, clearing that hurts, and often, addressing trigger points and adhesions hurts.

In my professional opinion, this pain process is part of a bigger one, of working to retrain your brain, subconscious nervous holding patterns, habitual postural stressors and body mechanics to address the underlying causes of these things.

When people claim that only massages that leave them horse from screaming for the majority of their sessions work for them, or that they don’t like deep tissue because it always hurts so much, I feel an intense protective alarm go off.

Unless what you’re actually looking for is the pain itself, or the rushing sensation of activity and relief when the pain has stopped (which is perfectly fine, but isn’t the business I am in), I firmly believe there are more effective ways to get results than to fight your body and keep you in a stressed and guarded state for the entirely of my session with you.

Even if your bodywork sessions are consistently and constantly cry-out painful and rough, you will more than likely feel sensation and the release of your meat once you’re done. This is to be expected, just as it is to be expected that if you place weight on a raw steak the fluids will leak out, or by pounding at it with a wooden utensil the fibers will be tenderized.

For people who have only felt this, or a superficial disconnected massage with no heft behind it, it’s clear why many people would go for the one that at least feels like it’s doing something.

However, the cause of the patterns you are attempting to address as a live human is the nervous system, which under duress and constant pain will more likely respond by locking down further to protect you from attack than by letting go.

It is no accident that the people who came to me asking to get steamrolled early in my practice, whom I gave what they asked for, returned to me time and time again just as tight and uncomfortable as they did the session before, and the session before that, and the ten sessions before that.

It is also no accident that one of the most profound of deep tissue modalities, carniosacral, which addresses the cranial plates in the head and is informed by sending the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, is also one of the most slow and subtle.

I propose that an accord needs to be respectfully reached to achieve stable, long lasting results: not sledgehammered. And in case there is doubt, feedback from my clients describes my work as anything but superficial or fluffy.

Are you currently a ‘grit your teeth and bare it’ bodywork receiver who is frustrated with their lack of long term progress? I suggest that not all massage that respects your senses is wimpy or useless or ineffective, and not all massage that causes discomfort is bad. If you want, I can show you what I mean.

Take care of you,
-nee

Posted in Common Misconceptions