A Miracle. That's what I wanted when the Maori Healers arrived in my life. I wanted some radical miracle to sweep through me, as I was in the middle of a spiritual crisis. I know that sounds pretty "woo woo" for many, so let me break it down into more practical terms. My beliefs about myself, my morals and values--what I saw as "right and wrong" "good and bad" "yes, no and no way"--were being deeply challenged by those closest to me, and I wasn't doing very well psychologically under the stress. Perhaps some of you can relate? Knowing situations and relationships are deeply "off" and feeling a pile of fear about what (or whom) you'll have to lose to set yourself back on solid ground? Yeah, I was at that kind of crossroads and felt like these healers might hand me a quick fix. I know, I know...that wasn't reasonable, but that's what I wanted, and since when are miracles reasonable things?
It was June 2009, and the Maori Healers had just arrived in California by way of their homeland, New Zealand. There were three of them—Ata, Manu and Bill. Traveling around the world, doling out their brand of healing as handed down through generations of other Maori Healers, they’d arrived to share it with the Southern California spiritual community. I, of course, could not resist sampling their brand of healing work. And they were real Maori Healers y'all, which made them seem all the more mystically intriguing.
I showed up in possession of an upbeat attitude for my impending super authentic Maori "miracle." As I waited outside of the treatment room, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing of what an actual session entailed so I asked the American hosting the healers what to expect. He laughed at me and said, “Prepare to get your ass handed to you.”
“I am scared to even ask this, but why?” I croaked, my mouth suddenly dry.
“It’s a very physical session. They climb on you. They sit on you. Push and pull you. It’s intense,” he said.
“Good luck!” He shouted at me as I wandered off nervously through the French doors. Once inside, I saw massage tables set up and a space on the carpeted floor where a woman was moaning and crying.
“Come on in and hop up on this table for me,” Ata said in her litling New Zealand accent, as she patted the top of a massage table. I smiled as meekly as I could and squeaked out, “Hi. Sure.” Making my way to the table, I hoped that my demeanor read, “Please don't hurt me.”
It was not meant to be.
After I climbed up and lay face down on the table, she climbed on top of me. Straddling me, she sat all of her largesse on my butt. She placed what felt like flat rocks on my head, neck and back in between my shoulder blades. Then she just sat there.
I was breathing deeply, in and out, trying to convince myself that I could withstand her weight on my ass. I asked in a pressed voice, “Should I be meditating on anything in particular?”
“Nope. Just breathe. If you resist by holding your breath, it will feel like I’m crushing you. I am not going to do that—but we are going to push things to the edge. So breathe.”
Holy shit. “Um, o.k. I will try.”
“There is no word for ‘try’ in my language. There is only ‘do’ or ‘do not.’” This sounded a lot like something Yoda would say. I like Yoda, but was not soothed. In fact, my mind went into a ping-pong match between wondering if she was going to ask me what I wanted out of this session, and whether I would get seriously injured in the process if I stayed.
Removing the stones—or whatever those cold weighty things were—she pushed into the center of my back. Crushing weight, flattening my ribs and squeezing out all of the air in my lungs.
This Maori was trying to kill me! Just then she eased up on the pressure…and I felt her climb off the table...and someone else’s hands took their place on my back. It was the even bigger Manu I realized, as his bulk climbed on top of me, squashing my spine into the bottom of the massage table.
My thoughts raced to my utter idiocy. Why did I always feel the need to do this stuff to myself in the name of my spiritual quest? Here I was, yet again, having done no research in advance about any of them or their healing ways…how many brain cells did I need to look this shit up before I decided to go for it? "Clearly," I told myself, "at least one more than I have."
He began tortuously pinching and pulling the sensitive skin on the back of my legs all the way down to my ankles, and I yelped like a puppy in protest. I heard him say softly, “Breathe.”
My body was on fire, and I began to pray for them to leave me alone, so I could roll off the table and slink away.
As if reading my mind Manu said, “You are alright.”
Wanting to argue this point, they both suddenly moved away from the table. I lay motionless, trying to reconcile what happened. Ata picked up a ukulele somewhere in the room and began to play it, while singing some Beach Boys song from the 70s.
"Seriously?" My mind protested.
I could sense Manu moving around me like his prey. He told me to flip over on my back. I complied, feeling my muscles sore from the squishing and plucking they’d been undergoing for the last 45 minutes. I heard the woman that was on the floor get up and whisper something indecipherable before leaving. I was now alone with the Maoris. Ata strummed the small instrument, as I felt both the men moving around me. Either Bill or Manu placed stones on my closed eyes, and their coolness and weight felt good. Manu joined Ata in the singing for a while, and I wondered if it was over. Nope. For the final blow, Manu climbed on top of me, and in a seated position at the very top of my thighs, placed both of his hands on my stomach, flattening me like a bug under his weight. “Deep breath in. Good. Now let it out slowly and completely.” Feeling very much like a helpless infant, I let it all out. Then he pushed hard on my abdomen. With no air in my lungs, I felt close to passing out. He let up, climbed off the table, removed the rocks from my eyes and said simply, “That’s it.”
That’s it? That’s IT??
As I rose up slowly to a seated position, assessing whether I indeed had any broken bones or damaged organs (I did not), Ata stopped playing and said, “You must stop bringing your work into the bedroom. Your bedroom must remain a sacred place where you dream and share space with your husband. Right now, you have no sacred space anywhere in your life with him. That must change.” She went back to strumming and started singing some random John Denver song.
I sat there in a woozy silence for a few minutes and digested what she said...and waited for more wisdom, but that was all I got.
They asked me nothing, and other than the bedroom comments, revealed nothing else to me. None of them mentioned anything about my spiritual crisis or my much-needed miracle to fix it. They were singing another John Denver song with Ata on ukulele when I left.
How Ata knew to tell me that stuff, I can’t say. She was right. My husband and I talked all the time about business, day and night. We were such a good team with him as my tour manager ("cat herder," as I called him) and sound engineer, but we couldn’t turn it off. And Ata the Maori knew it—she saw right through to that hidden piece.
I drove home, replaying it all in my mind and wondering if maybe one of them had "infused" some time-release magic into me and I'd receive my miracle in the days following. I wanted to believe I didn't go through the near-death squishing of a lifetime for nothing. Besides being ridiculously sore for a few days afterwards, I didn't have any spiritual revelations, met no magic strangers, and had no prophetic dreams.
It took two whole years to get our business out of the bedroom and make it a permanent sacred space for us. Thankfully, we did though.
The miracle I sought from the Maoris to resolve my spiritual crisis would not arrive for a little over two years. And in the end, I'm not sure I'd call it a miracle. No seas parted. No lightening storms with frogs falling from the sky happened. BUT I did have a major epiphany one fateful night and a big shot of courage to act on it. The epiphany? I deserve people in my life I can trust. Sounds so simple, but it wasn't...or at least I had made it a complicated mess. Until I didn't. And then it was time to make serious changes. My world and the people in it had to get pretty horrible before I had the courage to quit making excuses and make my exit.
In the end, what I gained in the leaving far outweighs what I lost. If you've read my other blogs, you probably already know what I'm gonna say I gained...yeah, that's right! I found my bliss. I had to take a hard look at what really mattered to me, what I wasn't willing to compromise anymore and who gets to be in my life and why. Peace and gratitude mixed with joy and some self-love came in the wake of making changes...bliss on the other side.
If you find yourself at a crossroads in need of a miracle, I empathize. It can be daunting to look at the mess...and even harder to make a move when you realize what you need to do and who needs to go for your highest good to prevail. Alas, I do believe that move you must, if you want to grow and ultimately find your own slice of the bliss pie. Stuck is no place to stay. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with love while you traverse it all ~ you deserve it.
*I wrote this blog in homage to the great Maori Healer, Manu, who passed away in July 2017. May his spirit be surrounded with grace and love and fly forever free. Amen.
If you are interested in learning about traditional Maori healing and how you can experience a session, please visit here.