Natural Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit

Ayleyaell's article on SHEN Therapy:

Our responses to Life's upsetting experiences are stored in our bodies as tension.

Tension held in our bodies affects our health and well being. 

Deeply held tension constricts our internal organs, causes pain, depresses our metabolism, 

affects our ability to rest, restricts our ability to move, and distorts our natural appearance. 

Buried tension in our bodies, deeper than massage reaches, affects how we think, how we react, 

  how we treat ourselves and those around us, and how we live our lives.  

Like turtles, many humans travel through life efforting under a heavy burden. 
Instead of the natural joy, grace and lightness of being which is our birthright, many of us go through life encumbered and restricted by unconscious internal and external tension retained in our bodies.

Our load is not always as obvious as a turtle's shell.  Most of us are aware of the impactful events of our personal history, and many of us have worked very hard physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to heal the wounds of our past. And yet, even with the work we've done, we may find ourselves reacting to people and situations in ways we wish we wouldn't.

When a living cell, such as an amoeba, is pressured or poked with a probe, it reacts by contracting in an automatic reflex.  All living beings flinch involuntarily to shock, unexpected pressure or to pain such as a physical injury.  This automatic physical contraction temporarily tightens our body in the area where pain occurs and is called Auto-Contractile Pain Response, or ACPR.   We may also contract if we are threatened with pain, if we imagine pain, or if we witness the pain of others.
It's important to understand that when we feel emotional pain (such as grief, fear, disapproval, shock, terror, isolation, helplessness, revulsion, horror, belittling, feeling demeaned or shamed, etc.), we also react physically.  Our bodies contract in the same reflex to emotional pain as it would if we are physically injured.  A heart constricting painfully in grief, a sinking feeling in our gut, a stomach knotting in fear, a jaw clenching tight enough to injure the TM joint, are examples.

If you spend time with an infant, a young child, or an animal, you will clearly see them contract physically if they are startled or scared. This sudden reflex is swift, and its grip usually releases as soon as the perceived threat passes. How fast it relaxes, and how much one lets go, depends on several variables. If a painful experience is intense, shocking, or happens repeatedly, the physio-emotional grip releases slowly, or sometimes not at all, and tension is retained in our body.  Repeated similar experiences produce further tension, which layers on top of the original unreleased tension and becomes held in the body.  Eventually we become burdened with one or both types of chronic tension which form the "turtle shell" load of this article's title. The two types of tension from an Asian perspective are  'yang' tension which narrows our body, and 'yin' tension which inflates our body with overweight and/or numbness.
Some people do not feel comfortable showing emotion because of the responses they received from people when they were younger and attempted to express their feelings. However, even those who do not show their feelings outwardly feel and react to situations internally; our minds may forget the origin of our pain and tension, but our bodies do not.
Early and our more severe physio-emotional experiences are held in our bodies so deeply and tightly that they remain even when we stretch and exercise.  Overtime, the impact of these unreleased experiences is monumental. As one's body become tighter and more uncomfortable, weighted down with this "turtle shell," human tendency is to move into and live from our heads.  The more sensitive of us often feel overwhelmed, and may withdraw or break down physically and/or emotionally.
Unreleased internal physio-emotional tension constrict our organs, impede the circulation of our internal fluids, as well as limit the waste products our cells can release and the nutrition our cells can receive, which results in stiffness, deterioration and disease.  The consequences of retaining internal tension internally for decades are visible.  All we need do is look at the majority of our senior citizens and we will all too often see bodies pulled and bent physically downward and forward in visible lines of tension. Concurrent with these visible lines of tension are impaired mobility, restricted range of motion, limited flexibility, stiffness, pain, disability, and reduced participation in activities.
In truth, it is the internal physio-emotional contractions which are the major contributing factor in the many symptoms expected and considered 'normal aging' by our society. What we think of as 'normal aging' by the way, is NOT inevitable. When I traveled in China, in the company of Taoist Master Share K. Lew, I had several persuasive experiences, some right out of legend and myth (and books such as Baird T. Spalding's Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East), which demonstrated to me that advanced age can bring enhanced ability and does NOT have to bring deterioration.
In my practice of SHEN therapy, the seniors I work with "youth-en."  After a short series of SHEN therapy, they function and report that they feel decades younger than their chronological age. They usually look much younger, too! 

Impactful Events and our Emotions

It's useful to know that when impactful events in our lives happen, any emotions we may experience during the event are retained along with the physical sensations of the experience.  We store all the details of the event:  our circumstances, our surroundings at that time, the reactions of other participants or witnesses, what we were thinking at the time, all sounds, smells, etc.   Our thoughts and feelings of the event become enmeshed with all the sensations of the experience and these, too are retained in our bodies.


The thoughts we had about ourselves, the controlling or demeaning communications others gave us, our thoughts about what was needed to do to survive or thrive, conclusions we came to believe about the world, our personal discomfort with certain types of situations or people--all of these old emotions and decisions made in the past by our younger selves, are added to any previous physio-emotional tension in our body — all of which contribute to “reduce our space,” as esteemed Buddhist monk Thich Nat Hahn so accurately describes:
You are not caught by fear and anxiety if you have a lot of space inside. When you have a lot of space inside, you can live very deeply each moment of your life.  If there is pain and sorrow and fear and anger within...there's not much space inside for us to be happy.  The practice is to bring the mind home to the body.              ---Thich Nat Hahn, talk at Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA 9-20-2009

Today, you may notice similarities or repeating patterns of behavior between people or situations in present time and people and situations you've known in the past.   Because the sensations of past distressful experiences are trapped and retained inside us, the thoughts and emotions of our younger selves with their limited experience will keep re-surfacing, as our inner self subconsciously seeks to re-create a familiar situation so it can discharge and release the constricting bodily held tension it is carrying.  These outdated emotions can strongly influence our behavior, and often dominate our thinking.  You will notice them as prominent, repetitive (usually limiting) thoughts, reactions and behaviors.

Though you might intentionally take steps to "forgive and let go," you may notice you are reacting to present situations with habitual behavior and thought patterns, especially if you are a survivor of abuse, or if you are sensitive. And this often happens with a person or place who merely REMINDS you of someone or something distressing that happened in your past. 

 Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate. Carl Jung
Most of our present challenges, in fact, have their origin in retained reactions and responses to past experiences.  Most, if not all of our current sensitivities, distresses, negative emotions, unwanted feelings, numbness, fear-based reactions, overwhelm, "actings out," etc., are the subconscious result of our inner selves seeking to throw off these deep internal constrictions and heal. 
...those childhood issues produced a vibration within you that you are still offering, which is producing today issues.   You can shift your vibration a whole lot easier when you're dealing with today issues, than trying to deal with childhood issues. It's the same vibration. That vibration that was creating childhood issues, now it's creating today issues!               —Abraham-Hicks via Facebook, 8-22-2009


Chi, a Chinese word pronounced “Chee” (and also spelled qi), translates as “life energy.”  Chi is known as ki in Japan, yesod in the kabbalistic tradition, pneuma in Greek and Christian studies, baraka to the Sufis and prana in India (Sanskrit). 

Chi is a naturally occurring, scientifically verified biofield energy (far infrared spectrum) which increases with the breath and emanates from a healer's hands in varying strengths.  Chi can powerfully reach deep inside the body to diminish and dissolve tension, and to relax and release physio-emotional contractions, lifting awareness and insight with even the hardest, most entrenched, seemingly impossible cases.   Medical Qi Gong (also spelled Chi Kung or Chi gung) is an emerging science in the west, but Qi Gong has been used for healing in Asia since ancient times.

Gong translates as “skill with or knowledge of.”  Thus, Qi Gong translates as “skill with the energy of life.” In Cantonese, the word Shen translates as “energy of Spirit.” (At left, the calligraphy for the word Shen).

I trained in Shen Gong (“skill with the energy of Spirit”) for over 30 years, both here and in China with my Taoist teacher Sifu Share K. Lew, who passed on peacefully in July 2012, looking decades younger than his 94 years. Sifu preferred to use the older name of "Nui Gong" (skill with Nourishment)  This “skill with Nourishment” comes through my heart and hands as I use the precise, gentle, yet powerful techniques of SHEN therapy developed by Richard Pavek and the cultivated natural chi from my hands to go progressively deeper and reach the most buried internal layers of physio-emotional contractions. I personalize each SHEN session to your individual history and specific needs.

As the gentle, pressure-less chi of SHEN therapy relaxes you, your surface tension calms, and as the session continues, the more deeply buried internal contractions are reached, and either simply melt, quietly dissipating away, OR are lifted into your awareness where options present themselves.   A SHEN session most often is done in meditative quiet, but can have interactive therapeutic dialogue depending on your needs.   A great amount of talking is not usually necessary during a SHEN session as physio-emotional tension is dissolved and its effects safely and conclusively cast off. After a series of SHEN sessions (how many vary from individual to individual), you are able to “be in the now” at last, responding to the present moment, freed from the grip of past reactions. Your health and feeling of well being usually increase after just a few sessions.

Significant results can happen in just one SHEN session; however, the best results most often come from a short series of 3 to 10 sessions, scheduled close together, so that the more deeply buried tension and the more impacted material can be reached, freed and dissolved.

 SHEN therapy can be given as a stand alone therapy or as a complement to other modalities.  Great benefits are seen when SHEN is received in conjunction with therapies such as nutritional and cognitive.   SHEN therapy can and does accelerate healing, and will enhance treatment from conventional western traditions.  When  SHEN therapy is given pre and post surgery, the results are a remarkably rapid recovery, significantly shorter than estimated hospital stay and much reduced pain.

I am required to say that SHEN is not medical treatment, psychotherapy or counseling, and is not meant to replace them, nor may I offer SHEN as such.


Whether we have personally been at ground zero, have friends or family in catastrophe, or are witness to crisis through our media, events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, tsunami, wildfires, war, acts of terrorism, budget cuts eliminating jobs and vital services, corruptness in our governments, shootings in our schools, abuse by our clergy, racism, violence in our streets and homes, and all the aftermath of such experiences can activate anger in us, numb us or contract us in fear, disbelief, sorrow, helplessness, horror, shock, and grief.

In this light, please consider regularly scheduling a SHEN session for yourself, your family, your friends and your clients.

Especially consider SHEN if you or someone you care for is visibly stressed, has a history of abuse or trauma, or is suffering from emotional challenges, injury or chronic pain. There are a very few contra-indications for receiving SHEN; please contact me with any questions you may have and to discuss whether SHEN is an appropriate therapy for you at this time.

You will find that SHEN complements and enhances all forms of therapy and health practices:   mindfulness practices, talk therapies such as counseling and Gestalt therapy, spiritual practices, massage, yoga, bodywork, rebirthing, martial arts, dance and art therapy, meditation,dream analysis, flower essence therapy, energy therapies, reiki, physical therapy, all post trauma therapies, and all self-improvement modalities.  It is especially well received by sensitives and those who practice Vipassana and Ekhart Tolle's Power of Now.

      Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”               —Ralph Waldo Emerson

SHEN Therapy has been known to reach and heal areas that other therapies haven't.  
SHEN Therapy is renowed for ending impasse, elevating dream states and accelerating your  current therapy.  Though SHEN can be utilized as stand-alone therapy, you benefit greatly when you partner SHEN therapy with other health modalities such as nutrition, yoga, movement and talk therapies and with other professionals to form a robust support system for your health, growth and therapeutic process. 

SHEN can assist greatly in relieving chronic conditions such as eating disorders, sciatica and irritable bowel syndrome.  For acute physio-emotional situations such as grief, a kundalini crisis, impending surgery, or emotional shock, a short series of SHEN Therapy is unparalleled in effectiveness.

Healing our World one SHEN session at a time

SHEN Therapy deserved to be better known, but at present, there are not many certified SHEN Therapists in America.  I am open to travel, though usually people from out of town come to my office here in San Diego. They arrange to have 3 to 5 day concentrated SHEN experience with me, receiving 8 to 10 hours of SHEN therapy in a weekend or over a week long period, and many also choose to receive the Reconnection.

My clients report significant, positive, (some say miraculous) changes in chronic pain, grief, self-worth, physical disorders, personal behaviors, emotional growth, and spiritual awareness. 

Clients tell me that receiving SHEN therapy has changed the way they feel about themselves and how they now live their lives. They describe the insights they received during SHEN and report that people and situations that used to trigger or distress them no longer do so (or do so to a much lesser degree); that now they are able to respond differently, resulting in win-win scenarios; sometimes the resolutions appear quite magical.  (see Testimonials).

If you are patient in one moment of anger,
you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
-- Chinese proverb
After receiving SHEN, my clients say that they find themselves achieving more and more ease in their lives, they think more clearly, they reach greater levels of comfort, former upsetting situations bother them less (or not at all) and they experience joy and well-being in their bodies, in their relationships, and in the world.

My clients tell me SHEN feels HEAVENLY to receive, even though on the table they may have had uncomfortable memories or emotions emerge while contracted areas were releasing. They've learned that any unpleasant sensations which surface in a SHEN session are temporary in nature, and are soon replaced by calmness, expansiveness, insight, more energy, ease, relaxation and well-being.

A lot of my clients have spiritual experiences during their SHEN sessions. Many
report that they see, feel or hear the presence of angels, Masters, trusted guides, and avatars during their session. They see sacred meaningful symbols and images.  Some feel surrounded and healed by LOVE, or Universal Source.  One psychologist I gave a SHEN session to described her experience: “I felt I was lifted up into a field of Grace where my concerns and worries rose out of me, turned to light and were healed.”

Clients often regain an amazing amount of ease in their movement, increased range of motion, zest and a younger appearance from a short series of SHEN sessions. A frequent, surprised comment is “I look 10, even 20 years younger!”   I enjoy working with clients in their 80s and 90s. They comment: “I feel 30 or 40 years younger!” (and they look it, too!)

The appearance of things change according to our emotions,
and thus we see magic and beauty in them,
while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
--Kahlil Gibran

I have worked with a number of adolescents and several adults with scoliosis. So far, all have had visible changes in physical distortion.

SHEN Therapy is also well received by and very helpful for highly sensitive individuals. And for those survivors healing from unthinkably extreme trauma, my chi is strong enough that I can relax and dissolve tension working near their body without actually physically putting my hands on.


SHEN Workshops - For Effective Personal Transformation and Healing

A week long SHEN Therapy workshop is being organized for southern California, probable location: San Diego county. This workshop will offer the opportunity to receive SHEN in a powerful way as well as learn more about this remarkable therapy.  These workshops are deeply experiential and the focus on your individual health and inner work.

Each day in the workshop, you receive SHEN sessions such as ones that relax and relieve stress, those that address anxiety, grief, chronic pain, etc. You will learn SHEN techniques which can be used to help yourself and others.  Both health professionals and non-professionals are welcome. Please contact me if you are interested; workshops are scheduled when there are 6 or more people ready.   

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For more information on SHEN Therapy, SHEN sessions, and SHEN workshops,

please see my website,


Hands on Help for Emotions, Pain and Trauma

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Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there--Rumi 

 Appreciation to Richard Pavek, whose words and concepts inspired this article, and whose long labor of hours of research, communication, clinical and practical studies brought forth SHEN Therapy®.

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