Authentic Healing

anais nin

Before treatment, I lived life by forgetting and moving on. Then life caught up with me and I began to resist and hold on tightly to what I had built. Then, life handed me a third option – authentic healing. The kind where I get to heal myself. This time, I had skilled, intuitive therapists guiding me; guiding me into the body I had deserted; reintroducing me to safe touch; coaxing my mind to get out of the way so I could heal; giving me permission to do what I needed to do, physically, emotionally, and intuitively, in order to resolve what I thought was unresolvable. The dead ends I believed and felt to be true became openings to a flexibility and power I did not know I possessed.

What occurred in the following three years after those two intensive treatments, now that I look back, could not have been planned any better. If someone had told me this is how I would heal, I would have said, no thanks. It was both frightening and exhilarating; frustrating, yet easy. When given the choice between bracing/numbing and softening/letting go, therapists persistently and gently remained at each physical, emotional and false belief-ridden barrier until I realized – on my own – that letting go was indeed my best option. Many times, I would face myself and fight myself at the same time. I was so tightly connected to my beliefs and fear, and loath to change, even when in deep emotional and physical pain. The pain fueled my perseverance and steered me squarely into a barrier I was too tired of fighting anymore. Exhausted, giving up the fight, I would feel into what I had believed was too hard or scary to feel. Afterward, feeling so much better, I would wonder why I had resisted with such resolve. Eventually, not trusting, getting results, then trusting, I resisted less and allowed more. In an open arena where I was always given the choice to resist or allow; engage or not; feel or not feel; be in my body and leave when I wanted – everything was possible and nothing I introduced from my horrible past was out of bounds. When stalled in my treatment sessions, the therapist would sense this and gently nudge with dialogue, sound, words, or a slap (not really a slap – this one is best left for it’s own blog post). There was never force unless there was an equal meeting of force by me. There was no bargaining, cajoling or directing by therapists of what I should do. They were showing me my own built in healing mechanisms. They were teaching me not to be afraid of them; not to be afraid of my body doing it’s own healing. Not to shut it down and let it continue to completion.

On my own individual route to healing, I learned, through trial and error with the outcomes I was getting. I experienced going into a session with no expectation or judgment as to how I would achieve my goals. Feeling improvement, I gained the confidence and trust to write down and say out loud what I wanted for myself. “I want to feel safe. I want to feel calm. I want to trust men again.” Then, once again fearful and anticipating failure, I would go into a session and have the feelings of threat, anxiety and fear immediately come up. Still, my therapists never stopped encouraging me to tap into my own powerful intuition. In an entirely neutral atmosphere, where there was neither a shutting down nor a forcing through of the healing process – trust in myself flickered to life. Tentative at first. Always bracing initially and softening secondarily. It took two years before trust in myself became the dominant state in my treatments. Trusting the process and softening into what was coming up instead of bracing against it.

Although I wanted it to be a straight, logical path, that was not how the essence of me needed to get there. I had to learn, through iterations, how to trust myself, my body, the therapist, the healing process, the next moment. The path unfolded how it needed to in order for the healing to feel genuine; in order for it to stand the test of time and the interaction of living. I now have great respect for my body – that it decided for me that holding on wasn’t my best option.

Before the John Barne’s Myofascial Release Approach to life, I lived with the following approach: shove the bad events and feelings down out of the way, force yourself to get up and move on – that’s how you get over the past; don’t pull people down by mentioning anything negative from the past – keep it to yourself, it does you no good to bring it up (This is true if the other person is not equipped to facilitate healing, but the lack of trust to tell your story becomes ingrained. So it becomes best not to say anything to anyone, even therapists.); follow the advice of the experts, because you can’t trust yourself – you know less about your own healing than they do.

Gradually, I developed the habits of a healthy approach to life, embodied consistently and perpetually in the John Barnes Myofascial Release Approach: never force, never lead, never tell anyone what to do, feeling is healing, trust the healing process happening spontaneously in you.

Healing, Traveling and Expanding


The world feels different around me . . . because it feels. It smells, tastes, sounds, looks – intricate, rich, complete, brimming with life. There are pockets of life bubbling everywhere. In the bush, the bee, the clouds, the ever changing breeze as it hangs, heavy and soft around my face. Looking up, the wind ruffles a tree and smooths the clouds along an unseen conveyor belt.

Leaving the familiar atmosphere of home and traveling across the ocean to a globalized, yet foreign continent, changed my perceptions in a good way. Having practiced for 8 years now, how to let go and go with the flow of life, this trip was ripe for expansion of experience and by extension, of me.


Being in a place where, number one: you have no history, and number two: no habitual responsibilities, left many subconscious bracing patterns back at home. Free from old constraints for a little over two weeks, more natural and spontaneous habits began to emerge.

My muscles were more relaxed. I was less tense in general and joined up with a friendly, social and absolutely delightful French family, who meshed with our family like long lost friends, it was impossible not to enjoy our time in France.


The first perceptual change I noticed, was that my vision was embracing a bigger picture.



Instead of absorbing individual olive trees, I was inhaling an entire visual field – the olive tree was a grove, which banked a rise, running into stately rows of grapes, halting at a typical French farm, framed by the lovely Mont Luberon, complete with sun rays and a thunder of cicadas – a hint of lavender entering my nostrils and nesting in my eyes, enriching the scene even further.


Without being overwhelmed, there seemed no end to how much sensory information I could take in. It was the same with the people. Whether they were a cafe crowd, tourists, or locals on the Metro. I took in the whole of them. I wasn’t looking fearfully for pickpockets or terrorists. Taking in the whole picture, relaxed yet alert, the odd drunk Frenchman quickly stood out – and I simply laughed.

In addition to the bigger picture, the experience of driving in France blew away my tendency to hesitate.

My perception of speed and spontaneity changed drastically. Navigating a countryside of spoked roads with multiple exits to the same town, all the while sensing blind corners hiding pockets of cyclists (enthusiastic to retrace the route of the recently completed Tour de France) required a level of spontaneity that bordered on an F1 car race. John was our outstanding driver, having been graciously lent our French family’s stick shift mini van. As the navigator, I quickly learned how to get us unlost after “Lizzie”, our lovely British GPS had us leave a roundabout at the 5th, not the 6th exit.


We quickly became pros at making U-turns; merging onto packed roundabouts; properly stopping at traffic lights placed well back of intersections; driving the correct speed without marked speed limits, and locating open boulangeries for our daily baguette picnic. Each day, as we piled into the van – all five of us including our lovely exchange student – John would engage the clutch and I would sing a rendition of Willie Nelson’s “on the road again”. It was always an exiting adventure.

The third change in perception was simply an appreciation for the pure, natural tastes, sites and smells that the French countryside provided.




We have plenty of beautiful countryside in Canada to enjoy. It just looks, smells and tastes different. I enjoyed engaging my senses in the new smells of lavender fields, pillows infused with the zest of grapefruit, buttery olives with herbes de Provence, moist baguettes, honey-flavoured melons, unlimited varieties of cheese and saucissons; an appreciation for a cool, crisp Rose instead of a heavier Cotes de Rhone, and an afternoon Ricard’s pastis.

France Patti's iPhone_0416

Returning to Canada and home, my perception remained expanded and I began to see Ontario and Canada through a traveler’s eyes. We have a shorter history than the French. They know who they are. They know how they’ve evolved to the present time.


To them, believe it or not, we seem exotic. We are from the great white north. We are from a country that is so big, it appears as a wilderness in comparison. We have no traditional Canadian meals. We don’t have a lot of traditions native to our short history. We are seen as easy going, robust and always ready for a party. When I was explaining this perception to my sister Heather, she summed it up perfectly. Recently, she heard a group of Americans cheering. The sound was patriotic and assertive. You can hear them shouting “USA! USA! USA!” [fists pumping]. When the Canadians cheered, she heard “woohoo!” [translated: let’s party!] We are still young as a country and young at heart. I hope that never changes. The French, as far as I can tell, are not the group cheering type. Again, they know who they are. They don’t have to. They love to laugh and sing and joke around. They are also very passionate and open. They are wonderful to be around. I love them! And I love Canadian’s! And I love American’s! My world has expanded and it is more beautiful for the expansion.




We cannot wait to introduce our French family to Canada when we next get together. We miss them already.