Alternative healing is alive and well – Calaveras Enterprise

What pains you may be able to be tamed with a journey into the holistic world of healing; massage therapy, reiki, cupping, energy healing, acupuncture and more are all available right here in our own backyard.

“It is a positive energy healing,” said massage therapist Holly Nunes of her work. “It is so gratifying at the end of a session to see my clients’ look of total relief (from pain). It’s not just a physical healing; it’s an emotional healing as well.”

Nunes, a mother of three, began her path to holistic medicine as a medical assistant in a more traditional practice.

“I was frustrated,” she recalled. “I felt like there was nothing really helping the patients. Each visit they seemed to be prescribed more pills, some of which created even more health problems. I wanted to help people; that’s why I got into the medical field, but I knew there had to be a better way.”

Nunes graduated the Holistic Life Institute and began practicing in earnest over the past year and a half. She took over the massage therapy practice of Pam Rockey at Plaza Skin Care in the Lake Tulloch Plaza in Copperopolis and renamed it Back Again Massage.

Aromatherapy and essential oils are very much a part of Nunes’ therapies, yet she is careful to educate her patients on the importance of checking with their primary care physicians prior to using essential oils because of the effects they may have on medications clients may take.

“Massage may not work overnight for some,” Nunes cautions. “Often it took a while for a client to develop the symptoms or pain, so it very well may take a few sessions to alleviate it.”

Positive energy healing is a term often used in the holistic world: tapping into a practitioner’s own positive energy source, or life energy, to alleviate negative energy paths in clients is the norm for many healing modalities. One such energy healing form is known as reiki.

Reiki means “universal life energy,” and is an ancient healing method that releases energy within the body that many say allows the body to utilize its own natural healing abilities.

Reiki focuses on seven main energy centers, called chakras, in the body. Energy should flow freely through the chakras in order for people to be spiritually, physically and mentally healthy. If any of the chakras are blocked, people may feel ill, weak or have pain.

Maura Grant, owner of Elements, a health and wellness center in Murphys, has utilized reiki since the mid-1990s.

“I always use reiki with my massages,” said Grant. But she also uses reiki by itself when “the client’s pain is mostly emotional.”

She does caution that physical and emotional pain often go hand in hand, as most often one begets the other.

As reiki taps into practitioners’ positive energies, Grant always grounds herself prior to her work. She explains grounding as a conscious shift and focus of intention, making a loose comparison to how one would feel on the corner of 5th Avenue in New York City as compared to a sun-drenched beach on a tropical island.

“I pooh poohed reiki for a long time,” explained Grant of her early energy work. “It felt too structured, but (over time) it developed into my own form of energy healing.”

After some traumatic events in her early teens, Grant found solace in nature and the positive energy the natural environment produced. She began to seek out a way to bring that kind of healing to others; she discovered energy work.

She attended the Berkeley National Holistic Institute, found her path and the rest is history. Grant also holds healing circles, provides ear candling and practices cupping therapy.

Cupping is an ancient form of therapy that utilizes cups with suction to help with blood flow, pain reduction, inflammation and more.

A meditation room is also available at Elements that allows clients the opportunity to relax and feel the tension drain from their bodies. Meditation has proven to increase immunity, help balance emotions, lower blood pressure and more for people.

Also worth consideration is the fact that massage therapy comes in many forms. Donna Meehan is one of only about 1,200 people worldwide who practice the Rosen method. The Rosen method, founded by Marion Rosen, combines bodywork and movement to “make possible the experience of joy and aliveness in the body,” according to

“It is a creative process,” Meehan said of the Rosen method. “Emotions and memories repressed come out and bring health to the body. As we let things move, the natural flows of the body return. It gives people an inner life. They become more aware of themselves. It’s much like a spiritual awakening; we wake up to who we are, not who we thought we were supposed to be.”

Meehan primarily works in Menlo Park and Berkeley, but she holds sessions at Elements in Murphys on Fridays.

Additional holistic healing can be found with acupuncture.

Alitia Danciu practices the 4,000-year-old form of healing in Murphys, where she uses fine needles inserted into the body at precise acupuncture points to help unblock, reduce or support qi. In Chinese philosophy, qi is the life force that every person and thing has.

Dancui also offers a “Chinese Medicine for Everyone (aka for Dummies),” series of classes that cover the main organs of the body and how to keep them healthy through self massage, diet and adding herbs to meal plans.

Holistic health providers caution clients that they should always tell their traditional medical doctors if they are using alternative therapies or if they are thinking of combining alternative therapies with conventional medicine; the various practices may not complement each other.


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