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Thai Massage for a Cause: Gathering of Eagles

To kick this summer off right, I volunteered Thai Massage at Gathering of Eagles. Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I until the day before I showed up (ha!), and I’m so glad I did. Long story short, 2023 is only the 3rd year for this multiple-day event that culminates with paddlers arriving at Lummi’s Wex’liem Community Building. Lots of speaking, dancing and huge bakes to end the day: clam, oyster, salmon, and all of it was generously provided. It was a beautiful day. You should come next year. Find it on Facebook.

People paddled all the way out from Alaska and Hawaii. Which is just remarkable, isn’t it? Clearly they needed a little bodywork. Fortunately about 5 other people had joined to provide energy work, so I wasn’t alone but I was the only massage therapist.

Because of this, I got the chance to work with some remarkable people. One in particular stood out, an event organizer who initially was getting a lot of relaxation from working hard for months. We’ll call him “Jay” for now. Jay had stayed up super late the night before, showing all the young ones how to do a few traditional dances. As we deepened into the work, he started being able to relate to certain sore spots as “arrows” and wounds received from opposition to the advocacy and environmental work he does. Jay faces a lot of opposition from without and from within his own tribes for building connections with non-Indigenous people, which can feel like betrayal. We worked through mourning for people who were lost because they stood up to oil companies, and we worked through fear from threats on his own family’s lives.

Obviously there is more to say than even a post of this length can get to. I share this just to share what I’m doing, to encourage you to stand with your neighbors–all of them–and to point to your own body as the key to shifting the whole world.

It was amazing to see how certain places brought up specific memories–how “the body keeps the score”, to borrow the title of an excellent book. This person was able to verbalize specific memories of many arrows, the voice of the pain as it came up and the message of the universe which came through as a bigger vision of a way to let go and move forward as each point was addressed.

This is the work I do. Facilitating deep transformation, even if it’s profoundly traumatic. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it stuff like this:

Holding onto pain does no good. Get it out immediately. The longer you hold on, the worse it gets. Don’t just wait for things to go away on their own–you waste the best vitality of your life to pain and embodied memories that will drain your mind and body when all they want is to be processed through so they can be released.

Finally, I was just really struck by what a big impact it can make to stand with people. How hurt and pain can stick in the body and the mind. And how much freedom, relief and loving connection is to be had in letting go. It may never be easy to stand up, but it’s a lot easier together. And after standing up, we have each other to heal ourselves.

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