Testimonial — Margaret Downey

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As a new doula developing full-spectrum practice, I encourage the women and families I support to pay attention to connections in their bodies. Seeing a person, in labor or otherwise, really “drop down” (language that Lee gave me) and tap into an inner calm and strength is a beautiful thing to witness. As a person with chronic back pain, I tried to find that place in myself over these years, with limited success. I thought I was doing okay [I thought, I do yoga, (and push myself) I meditate (and get stressed out that I’m not doing it right), I read up on healing practices, I’ve tried acupuncture, massage, physical therapy. I’m pretty centered, right?]. However, I reached a point where I was experiencing that pain on a pretty intense emotional/mental level. It felt present with me all the time, and I couldn’t remember feeling before it, outside of it, or beyond it. I wanted something that offered the mind-body-spirit connection and sense of timelessness that I got from acupuncture with the immediate physical relief of massage.

More fully, I needed something more than relief or therapy; I needed healing. After an initial phone conversation with Lee, I felt understood, empowered, and confident that Somatic Visioning and Reiki with her could offer that. She asked thoughtful questions that were central to my experience of pain that just never came up with another type of practitioner. Sessions guided by Lee’s flexibility, knowledge, humor, and support provided that vital kind of healing I needed. Through Lee’s guidance, I learned about the physiology of the pain I experience. This helped me envision a new narrative of what goes on in my body, to demystify and wrap my mind around it. Perhaps more importantly, I (much more quickly than I ever thought possible) tapped into a deep, pre-narrative, pre-symbolic, meditative place. For a long-winded recovering English major, this was a feat. This place has been integral in relieving pain and also exploring with curiosity (rather than pressure), reverence (not force), and trust (not trepidation) a different way of moving in time and in the world. For me, this has meant feeling physically and emotionally more abundant, generous, able to move and make decisions from a place of interest rather than compulsion. And I thought I was just coming for someone to fix my right shoulder!

Because I was unfamiliar with Somatic Visioning and Reiki, I signed up for a minimal number of sessions. It quickly became apparent that this type of healing was an answer to many sources of tension for me and after three sessions I was really just tapping into something, so I continued. In this phase, Lee continues to use her expansive knowledge to be even more supportive and flexible in empowering me to explore ways of healing, whether that’s through narrative building, traditional hands-on Reiki, education around muscle anatomy, or somatic movement and awareness. Even as these sessions wind down, I now know that this practice will be something I’ll continue to explore and return to — with curiosity and reverence! — whenever I need healing in my life.”

- Margaret Downey, Doula, Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support (PALS)