Hands that Heal Body and Soul

By Carol L. Bowman

(Excerpt from article published in Living At Lake  Chapala Magazine)

Respiro, Alternative Therapies

Despite a routine exercise program of lap swimming, gym work-outs, weekly tennis and frequent walks, my aging muscles and early stage osteopenia left me tied in knots much of the time. Next to the gymnasium, a studio advertisedRespiro, Alternative Therapies. Hmm, maybe I should give this a try, I thought.

I've had a few spa massages over the years, with the usual kneading and manipulation of muscles and joints, but only as a decadent extension of a vacation in some exotic place, where I was already relaxed. I never considered treating myself to this therapy as a part of my everyday, hum-drum life. In truth, in the midst of real life is when I need pampering, not when I was lolly-gagging on some beautiful beach without a whisper of worry.

The ambiance set the mood for the healing experience to follow.

Stressors that tag along with my life as an ex-pat in a foreign country needed attention. The struggle to get simple things accomplished in a different language, the constant house repairs, security woes and the demanding schedule of volunteer responsibilities remain as predictable and ever present as the dust in the dry season.

I decided to set up an appointment at Respiro and thought I was going for a massage. Instead what I encountered was the unfolding of a spiritual trip, a healing session, a physical and mental journey toward relief and I only had to actually travel one block.

As I entered the studio's tranquil environment with candles and incense burning, the sanctuary's only other illumination beamed from the crystal clear aquarium along the far wall. Blanca Salazar, therapist and owner of Respiro, which translates as 'breath,' greeted me with a warm embrace. The ambiance settled my ruffled nerves, which always bristle when I approach a new experience.

Without conversation to disrupt the quiet, Blanca handed me a soft wrap and asked that I disrobe to allow her to do her work without encumbrances. Drawing the towel tightly around my torso, I followed Blanca's instructions to lie face down on the massage table, and to nestle my face in the oval shaped opening to facilitate relaxing breathing. Soon, silky cream penetrated my skin and Blanca's powerful hands manipulated each muscle, as inhibitions fleeted away.

She worked for a solid, soothing hour, taking deep breaths, asking me to follow her lead with my own breathing. She guided me through the maize of stress with her whispered voice and healing hands, scanned for blocked energy within my body using a magnet, targeted and massaged specific points on the soles of my feet, relieving pressure.

Although I was oblivious to the techniques at the time, I realized she incorporated a variety of therapies including Reiki, shiatsu, reflexology and Emotional Freedom Techniques. When she finished, I didn't want it to end. I felt as though I had a tune-up of mind and body, a grease and oil change, joints flexible instead of grinding, mind relaxed and tensions eased.

Fascinated by the process and amazed by the results, I sat down with Blanca another day to discuss her training, her techniques and her commitment to healing.

Blanca Salazar, licensed massage therapist, uses a variety of techniques to provide healing of body and soul.

Blanca Salazar, Terapeuta

Blanca Salazar has been reinventing herself as a massage therapist for 10 years. She has refined her techniques, constantly seeking different tools to help her clients achieve a connection between the physical and spiritual body. "I discovered early on that I could not provide a complete healing process and relieve pain and stress with massage only. In fact, I want to eliminate the word massage from the services I offer. Instead it is a grateful ritual." she emphasized. "I am not a masseuse. I offer detox of the physical body and a trip to a place where one can find peace of mind," she said.

"I worked to find a way to provide a holistic experience, using natural methods to achieve this peaceful balance. When a person's energy is not flowing correctly, when it is blocked, you must heal the physical body, the spiritual body and the emotional body at the same time. Emotions are the real root of physical pain," Blanca explained.

Initially, Blanca studied the oriental therapies of shiatsu, tai chi and reiki, but she realized that in order to truly heal, she needed to create a special environment to connect the mind — the factory of emotions — to the physical body. She added music, candles, darkness to decrease external stimulation, used her voice in guided meditation, breathing techniques and periods of total quiet to her healing sessions.

"Music is my partner. It's like a dance; like having a conversation between my hands and your body. I cannot work without it and the breathing is the secret code for healing. We become a team through breathing. Breath is the principle tool for the client to connect with himself and one that I can teach the person to use in between sessions," she continued.

Blanca knows her study of Dr. Louise Hay's self esteem methods is important in her work. Internationally renowned, motivational speaker and writer, Dr. Hay discusses the connection between emotions and physical pain in one of her books,You Can Heal Yourself. "When emotions are broken, there is a somatization of physical complaints which can lead to chronic sickness," Blanca quoted Ms. Hay.

Providing a serene environment is an important first step in the healing process.

She also has studied in depth, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), as created by Gary Craig in the 1990s. Organizing the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Mr. Craig developed EFT as a form of counseling intervention that draws on various theories of alternative medicines. He utilizes a light tapping with the fingers on meridian points on the body, points derived from acupuncture which send a positive message. This process can release energy blockages that cause negative emotions. Tapping very specific points on the face and upper body can bring the system into balance. Aha! Now I knew what those light rhythmic taps that Blanca had used during my body and mind overhaul, signified.

One of the most important tools that Blanca incorporates into her healing session is reflexology. "Since every client's body responds differently to a complex set of cues, reflexology is like taking a video of the internal organs," explained Blanca. "When I touch points on your feet, I can tell what's going on with your kidneys, liver and other internal processes. My hands are like an optical reader."

Fascinated with this tool to heal pain from points on your feet, I did further research. From "Reflexology Health" and article by Gloria Cooksey, I discovered that the concept of reflexology can be traced back to pre-dynastic China (3000 B.C.) and to the 6th Dynasty of Egypt (2450 B.C.).

There are indications in paintings that the Inca also used this tool, based on the belief that nerve endings start in the foot and toes. The pressure points of hands are also mapped. There are foot reflexology charts on the Internet and just about every internal organ and function can be assessed on the foot. Massaging these specific points not only can relieve pain, but prevent future illnesses.

Indeed, since I have scheduled regular healing sessions with Blanca, I realize that my carpal tunnel syndrome pain has dissipated and I am even able to hold my tennis racket with more strength and less discomfort. It's like a miracle.

Other local clients have given testimony to the merits of the healing process that Blanca provides:

Mark Villenueve writes:

Blanca has consistently demonstrated an intuitive ability to read my emotions through my body and has known exactly where and how to work on me.

Her technique is very professional, with a firm, confident touch and a thorough knowledge of the body's muscle structure. What really sets her apart from the rest is the human and spiritual component of her work. She not only relieves physical stress and toxins accumulated in the muscles and joints, but she is also very effective in releasing the related emotional stress…Blanca is by far the best of the lot and definitely is in a class by herself.

Howard and Diane Lavolette write:

My husband had shingles…and then Bell's Palsey. It's been two years and he is still seeing Blanca every week even though his face has been back to normal for over a year….I suffered for many years from neck pain and after spending time with Blanca, I am pain free… Blanca is 'the Best'.

Alejandro Colunga, famous, international painter and sculptor said this about Blanca's work:

Blanca is a very professional therapist, who is helping me to improve my health…her techniques contribute greatly to the development of human beings.

Blanca's credibility as a licensed provider of alternative therapies is further enhanced by extensive, international experiences. She trained a team of French therapists in  Paris, and also worked in Uruguay. One weekend each month, she travels to Mexico City to treat a troupe of actors, who need to be rejuvenated from the drains of their profession.

She has written a book, published in 2010 entitled Love, the Best Alternative Therapy. "I wrote the book so that I can help other people, creating a domino effect of love. To touch a lot of hearts is my dream," said Blanca. Currently only published in Spanish, Blanca hopes to have Amor, La Mejor Terapia Alternativatranslated into English with international distribution planned. Her book is available at the San Pablo Book Store, located in Guadalajara.

The cover of Blanca's book: Amor: La Mejor Terapia Alternativa

Blanca has moved from Guadalajara closer to Lakeside, since 90% of her clients are foreigners — local residents and visitors from the US, Canada and Europe. Blanca said, "The place for my studio at Hidalgo #77-3 in Riberas del Pilar chose me, I didn't choose it. The four energies: water, fire, wind and earth all come together at this spot. Lake Chapala represents the water, the mountains — earth, the perpetual sun symbolizes fire and the breath is the wind.

I asked Blanca how she re-energizes herself, when she has a stream of clients back-to-back. "If you noticed, I work without shoes. When I connect with your energy, the toxins are transmitted to me and released through my feet. Every client gives me energy. They feed me. If I can give someone self-esteem and make him feel like he should love himself, that is my goal," Blanca said with true conviction. "Of course, I must take care of myself, schedule some free days to rest, eat nutritious food, meditate and connect with myself, in order to be able to provide proper healing to my clients."

As to the frequency of sessions, Blanca recommends twice a month as most advantageous to provide a consistent level of healing. "It's like a car tune-up," she said. "I do have clients who come once a week, some twice a week, some only once a month. Every individual is different."

The most important thing that she wishes to bring to her clients is love, which she believes is the healer of self-esteem. "The principle necessity for every human being is to feel he is being loved and this creates positive energy," she said. Blanca's hands act as her conveyance of that love.

If you want more than just a massage, try the Respiro experience. If you want to go on a trip to a better place, if you want your body and soul to make a connection, if you want healing through the power of hands, go to Blanca Salazar at Respiro, Alternative Therapies.Sessions are by appointment only: Blanca provides her services at her studio at Hidalgo 44-105, Riberas del Pilar or she will come to your home, if preferred or necessary. Call 333-157-7790 or email her at respirospa@hotmail.com.