As some of you may know, I studied massage therapy in 2004, both in Los Angeles and Thailand. Upon completing my trainings I began working at a spa in Pasadena owned by a native American woman that believed in incorporating energy work into each massage session. We were trained to read people’s energy, which we did at the start of each session in order to mix the appropriate essential oils into their massage cream. We worked with chakras, meridians, old trauma and more. This is where I learned how to utilize energy work to facilitate the healing of others. It was heavy work at times and also incredible to see a skill grow through practice. My intuition was the highest here and I’d find women breaking down crying and sharing intimate feelings and thoughts they weren’t able to share with loved ones. I was really able to SEE each woman that I worked on.
From there I went on to work at a few more spas and a chiropractic office. The spas were posh and the chiropractic office was in San Pedro (LA) where 100% of my clientele were longshoremen and women. I eventually quit working full time as a body worker and only took on private clients. This went on for about 5 more years. I had weekly clients and some one offs. Predominantly women.
I would venture to guess that since graduating in 2004, I have worked on thousands of bodies. An observation I started to make about a year into my practice was the left shoulder.
Let me rewind for a hot second. I myself have struggled with shoulder pain since childhood. Specifically my left shoulder. Mind you, I was left handed forced to be right handed so although I wrote with my right hand, most everything else was left dominant. Moving forward again.
A common question to ask a client during check-in is where in their body they feel tight, stuck or in pain. Like I said, after about a year I noticed a pattern. Women (specifically) would share with me the pain they carried in their left shoulders. I say women specifically because after noticing this theme I made it a point to check in with men’s left shoulders to see how they compared, no pattern there. A lot of questions arose for me as you could imagine; are these women mirroring my own pain? Is this common for right dominant bodies? What the hell is going on here and how is no one else noticing this?!
Back when I was working at the spa in Pasadena, the owner who trained us in energy work taught us about left and right, feminine and masculine sides of the body. This is taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient sciences. Also, that we carry emotions in our muscles and different emotions are stored in different areas of our bodies. We were taught that the shoulders carry feelings of obligation, responsibility and ‘the weight of the world’ if you will. While still observing this theme and using my keen sleuthing skills to crack the case, I realized the connection. Left side. Feminine side. Pain. Feminine pain. Left side feminine pain!
I started talking about my theory to friends that were in the same field and lo and behold- they started seeing the pattern as well! After years of observing and taking in details, it became almost comical when a woman would undoubtably complain about her left shoulder. It didn’t matter whether or not these women were right or left handed. Trust me, I was trying to find a reason, so lots of questions were asked in order to connect the dots. Once I made the connection between our ‘feminine left side and the weight of the world pain’ I felt relieved. That was short lived though. I had an answer but it was a daunting horrible conclusion. One that I wished I could massage out of women with my hands. But I couldn’t. My capabilities were limited to sharing my belief about the origins of their pain and offering them healing body work. This was ultimately larger than a massage session could heal. This was countless generations, lineages and cycles of feminine pain. Stored, locked and living in our left shoulders.
While on the phone with a dear sister today, she expressed to me her difficulties in feeling feminine from a very young age. Struggling with the identity of a tomboy that yearned for more but unsure of what that ‘more’ was. She shared that through sacred tantric dance (slow, subtle movement originating from the womb) she was able to observe how closed off the left side of her body was. She kept dancing. She danced until subtle movement flowed from her right to her left and suddenly the dance came alive on her left side. Her description of what she felt was unworldly and I will not attempt to recall it. Essentially, she felt her true femininity awaken.
While sharing her story it suddenly became so clear to me. This whole locked up, suppressed, repressed, oppressed left shoulder/side of our bodies. The mother wound. Survival. Protection. These were all the words coming to me as she spoke. I recognized how many women I know today that still shut down their femininity. Feeling more comfortable with expressing the masculine sides of their being. The active, loud, cerebral, linear, fact driven, more comfortable around men than women, threatened by women… all these traits. This is a form of armor. Our brave shield to hide an entire other side of ourselves.
I am able to make the connection to the mother wound. Which let’s be real, if you didn’t experience it in this life your mother, grandmother and those who came before surely did since the birth of patriarchy.
It’s beyond the mother wound though. From a young age our femininity is stifled as it is a danger to society. It can feed the perversions of men, threaten our mothers egos, make our fathers uncomfortable, create competition between young girls and basically cause trouble. Perhaps we did it to fit in, to keep the peace in the house, to keep our mothers close and also unconsciously.
A woman that embodies her femininity is a threat.
So the question is how do we heal our left shoulders? The pain must be addressed on the physical level of course, however, it must be looked at from an energetic place.
How are we self oppressing our feminine energy?
Are we using our hands to create?
Our minds to imagine?
Our bodies to dance?
Our hearts to sing?
How are we allowing for this energy to flow so that it
isn’t held stagnant building knots on our left side?
I want to hear from you. Please share your left shoulder experience and also how you allow it to move?