by Aviva Cohen

(To book an appt with Aviva, call Clinic reception at 613-839-1198. For more info, email Aviva at happybodyworks@gmail.com)

The father of modern american screenwriting, Sid Field, says that a character starts with their grandparents, and has two major life events that makes them who they are: one at 5, the other at 14.

From my paternal grandmother, the daughter of a woman who led a revolt in a factory at age 12, to my maternal grandmother, whose early death in France spawned the book of poetry called “Sing Until You Die;” to my grandpas, self-taught intellectuals and artists, who found ways to overcome the limitations of their physical environment — I come from these.

When I was 5 I was dialoguing the nature of pain, and considering the fabric of the universe. At 14 I lost my innocence and willingly forfeited my connection to higher-self, to a trauma I would spend the rest of my time at first running from, and then running towards.

My first attempt to seize the universe with my mind led me to the pursuit of philosophy and literature, having found dance at an early age, but losing connection with my body, I had become anorexic, and bulimic.

I embraced the physicality of my symptoms, as they gave me something tangible to work with. As I saw the chaos of my life recorded before my eyes in my body, I embraced literature and my freedom to think as my way out of the pain and suffering. I cloistered myself in the British Library in London for a month and asked the hundreds-years-old library fundamental questions of existence. From this came a series of books I penned. I self-published, and met a small producer in Hollywood of spiritual integrity who has been leading the long journey to film for me.

With this project underway, I danced the dance of freedom from my mind. I had chosen to start training in Thai Yoga Massage in Montreal, at Lotus Palm.

I had long since abandoned conventional medicine, and since the age of 20, had been looking for my healing elsewhere. I had finally conceived the vision that I might heal, and help others along the way. My first insight into my own healing came in 2009 at an all-woman’s workshop in Big Sur California, from a lineage of Shamans of Belize. I was reunited with my splintered-self, held by the circle of women, and re-birthed with a power to claim my female place.

I made the commitment there to return to take the practitioner level course. As a pre-requisite I needed to already be a registered practitioner in some form of bodywork. A year later I jumped into the 6-week program at Lotus Palm. But before I was ever able to return to the techniques of Mayan Abdominal Massage, I had found Jean-Pierre Barral, and Visceral Manipulation. My guide on this path, is a humble, unassuming young osteopath, who works out of his home, to stay close to his wife and 3 young sons, near the childhood home where I grew up.

Visceral also comes from a “faith healing” tradition. It was discovered by Barral in a convent in the Alps, being practiced by nuns. Barral took it back to the lung hospital nearby, where he works as an osteopath to this day, 30 yeas later, and studied it. He will study it and practice it successfully in 30,000 cases before ever teaching it.

Visceral, like its cousin, Cranial Sacral, sees the patient as a whole, an emotional, physical, living being, communicating with its environment and itself, and works with the body/mind, the Soma. The techniques are called Listening. The body, feeling listened to, will actually draw the practitioner’s hand in, and say, “Here, here is where I’m stuck. This is my story.” And the tissues, feeling respected, will divulge everything — and unwind.

From this concept — which I discovered on my own, the night before my first workshop, when I said to a friend with chronic pain, whose body I was afraid to touch, “After the workshop I’ll put my hands on. I won’t do anything, I’ll just listen.” Then I muttered with a eureka-like chuckle, “Actually, that’ll probably do it.”

The way was opened to the energy and bodywork of Cranial Sacral and the least invasive of all, the groundwork of Cranial Sacral, Healing From The Core, which teaches how to hold a healing presence; to do nothing, but be: non-judgemental, loving, grounding, holding space. How we love that and give up all our secrets in that sacred of atmospheres. With what I have had validated in my experience with Healing From The Core, I now know that I can take my hands off, and still listen and follow a person’s tissue and energy.

I find healing everywhere. From life-sustaining food that grows with the intermingling of earth and sky, to the love of families who’s purpose is to create and sustain life. To friendships, communities, species, insects. Our purpose is life.