Author Archives: penny michaels

Empaths & Highly Sensitive People- A Curse or a Gift?

  • The definition of am empath is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

  • The definition of a highly sensitive person is someone who experiences acute physical, mental, or emotional responses to stimuli.

Are you finding that these labels fit you even though you don’t necessarily like labels? What does it all mean and why is it important to understand? First, let me give you the reason why you are opening this blog- because you apparently became uncomfortable enough to start looking into why you feel this way or what to do about it. How can you get more comfortable in your skin? In your life?

People end up on blogs like this because they hurt. They don’t feel they fit in. When other people seem to be so comfortable with life as it is, it makes us wonder why we can’t. We find it so damn hard to be like the crowd. To feel satisfied or even capable of having conversations about things we don’t care about. Or to be complacent with spending our lives playing tennis. There has got to be more, right?

What fills you up? What makes you feel comfortable? Who makes you feel okay being you?

Really. Spend a few minutes with these questions. Probably you have the answers right away- if you pay attention to the voice in your head. My guess is some of the answers might go like this: nature, quiet time, people who think about deeper subjects- subjects that challenge us to find out who we are and why we are here and what is it that makes us truly content.

I will use myself as an example. I have lived 60 years so yes, that makes me an expert. Let’s start with sensitivity. I am more keenly aware of my sensitivity now more than ever. As a child, I was told I was different. My mother made me take naps when other kids didn’t. As I grew up more and more people would tell me “you’re so sensitive”! I had no idea what they were talking about. I thought it was normal to feel like a back-handed compliment was life-threatening. Or that an argument between my parents meant certain annihilation. And my brothers rolling around on the floor fighting over which one would make me do their chores? Slayed.

Now, at 60, I get it. This is not going to go away. Ever. So I have learned to be kind to myself. To at least know that that fan has to be turned off or I will get nowhere in meditation. I know I must spend every minute I can in nature. I have not turned on regular television in probably 15 years. And I don’t even try to deal with crowds. Highly sensitive person aka HSP.. yep, I am that. And guess what else? Highly sensitive people are usuallly empathic as well.

Dr. Judith Orloff, a pioneer in the field, describes empaths as those who absorb the world’s joys and stresses like “emotional sponges.”

Do you feel people’s pain as if it is your own? Does it physically affect you? Do you feel uplifted when you see a couple that are obviously so in love? Is anger- even from a stranger make you cringe? That is empathy, raw and potent.

Empaths feel so deeply, Empaths eventually realize that other people don’t feel this way. We do not understand why they don’t – is something missing in them or is something “off” with us? The answer is neither. There is nothing missing in them and nothing wrong with us. We are all human beings having our own personal experience. That being said, it is sometimes excruciatingly hard to be in our own skin! We are a minority. We have extreme emotions. We cannot help it. So is it a curse or a gift?

It feels like both. Being highly sensitive is tough. Tough on the nervous system, tough on the adrenals glands and tough to deal with. On the other hand, we feel joy like nobody else! Oh my gosh, a bunny hopping across my path on my morning walk can transcend anything else that is going on in my life. Most people would not even notice or if they did, they would think “huh, a bunny.” And dismiss that experience at once and go on with their day.

Simultaneously, being super sensitive to energy, emotions, and environment is both rewarding and debilitating. Positive vibes bring you up easily, just as easily as negative vibes bring you down. It is the quintessential roller coaster of a HSP/empath- for life. Why am I this way? What is the point? What does one do?

At this stage in life, I believe the point is to live, to feel alive, to feel. Society has become so numb, so disconnected. I would ask anyone who is not like us- what emotions did you feel today? My guess the answer would start with raised eyebrows, and a “what do you mean”? Numb. Moving through space and time not feeling a thing other the frustration at traffic or a difficult colleague. Is that living? Really? I think not.

Yes it’s hard, but it is so worth it. I feel we are more connected and more alive. I believe those that are not connected to their emotions are not able to feel the juiciness of life. The rapture of the song birds, the immense pleasure of the connection between you and the person holding your hand, the outrageous color of that shade of purple of that flower, how sweet silence can be. That is the point.

What does one do to navigate life with these qualities being your very essence? First, learn about the power of the breath, the benefit of slowing down, the attributes of learning to be alone. Tune in. Go inside, allow yourself to feel the present energy. Spend quiet time in nature, Stop along your walk and feel what it feels like being where you are right now. You will soon realize being who you are, labels and all, is a GIFT.

Revel in being you!

Natural Healing

I’m branching Out!  I realized that I have so much more to offer so I am going to start blogging about everything I Love and have knowledge of and experience in- many forms of Natural Healing.  If you happen to read something that resonates with you and you would like to know more, drop me a line and  I will be more than happy to respond with a personal message and a blog on the topic.

Some of the things I will be writing about:

  • The benefits of spending time in Nature
  • Health & wellness (huge topic)
  • Food & supplements vs. pharmaceuticals
  • Meditation/ Qi gong/Reiki
  • Being extra sensitive and how to deal with it
  • Self-Love vs. Selfish
  • The Power of the Breath
  • Human vs Being
  • All things Energy
  • Our Human Body is just a small part of who we are
  • Presence
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Being Spiritual (It’s okay)
  • Physical health and cleansing
  • Empaths & Narcissists

More to come!

Peace & Love,

2020 Stress Buster!

Feeling stressed? Who isn’t? Allow me to show you another way. It doesn’t cost anything. and is easier than you think. It does takes consistency and a little self-love (ie patience)- that’s all!

It’s meditation- now don’t let that scare you- it’s super easy, doesn’t take much time, costs nothing and the benefits are life-changing! In no time (a week or so), you will feel less stressed, your thinking will become clearer, and the situations that have had your blood pressure off the chart will not be a blip on the radar. Meditation starts feeling so good to you that you will be inspired to jump start your day with these minutes of self care

.Scientifically proven benefits are:

  • Reduces Stress. Stress reduction is o

  • Controls Anxiety. Less stress translates to less anxiety. …

  • Promotes Emotional Health. …

Stress leads to the inability to relax, lowered cognitive abilities, and an inability to handle life situations. The National Institute of Health states that over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Often people turn to medications, alcohol, or drugs to relieve the symptoms of stress, and in doing so create added problems. Here is another way. And it takes minutes every day. That’s the most important part- practicing every single day. Consistency is the key to success. You see, over time meditating creates new neural networks and coherency in the brain. The brain realizes the help to come from this consistent practice and begins to want that time of reset and reboot to once again experience the coherency which results in peace of mind

Thousands of types of meditation exist but let’s keep it simple. Find a comfortable, quiet spot, one where you will not be disturbed (this may require getting up 10 minute before everyone else in the household) and get comfy. The thing to do is focus your intention to feel good today and start listening to your breath. Set a timer for 10 minutes and breathe. At the beginning your mind will go bananas! that’s OK- when you realize your mind is anywhere but on your breath, do not chastise yourself, bring your attention back to your breath. Again and again and again. (Trust me this will become less of an effort every single day) .In no time at all you will have to admit your days have less angst and you are more even-keeled emotionally. Here’s to your peace of mind!

So as you are beginning your day anchor yourself in the truth. Know that all is well”

Dr. Reverend Michael B. Beckwith

An emotional salve- Lesson #1

An Emotional Salve- Lesson#1

Human Beings. We are flesh, blood, and bone.  We are emotions and physical strength.  We have abilities and desires.  At the very center of us though is our Breath.  The Breath is ever present.  And it is a good anchor for us in our physical bodies.  We (at least in this country) rarely if ever pay any attention to that- we are too inclined to just be busy, to move our bodies  to think, and to accomplish stuff.

These days, given the current world situation, we are more apt to begin contemplating more internally simply because we are forced to slow down.  Slowing down our external activities forces us to be more introspective.  And this is uncomfortable for most of us.  Perhaps it is time to change that. Little by little when we decide to allow this slow down, this introspection, we begin to become more familiar with ourselves.  We never realized before that we have been operating mostly on autopilot.  We never realized that inquiry into who we really are was never a “thing”. Now it is.  So who are we really?  What are we all about?  Is there more to us than our jobs, our family responsibilities, our activity? OH YES.  And is there something we can do for ourselves to help us navigate these turbulent waters more effectively, soundly, and peacefully? a resounding YES!

Now don’t get scared this is going to go off in some woo-woo direction.  This is about being in conscious contact with our bodies, and what makes our bodies run so magnificently (or not).  And how to make our bodies and our mind more efficient and effective when we are under stress.  And we are ALL under stress right now.

So, what if under all this stress we decided to try something new to help relieve the intensity of what we feel all around us today?  Just committing to a few minutes per day- first thing in the morning, and perhaps when the anxiety starts amping up?  It’s super simple, but you have to DO it.  My recommendation is to sit down and just consciously breathe.  Sit, get still, no distractions, silence, and stillness, and focus on the breath.  Not so easy to begin with because the mind goes ballistic.  Don’t care about that.  When you realize the mind has gone ballistic, take a breath (no judgement) and bring your attention back to the breath- over and over and over again.  I am not asking you to make this a marathon.  Start with 10 minutes.  If you make it 2 minutes on the first day- awesome! Try for 3 minutes tomorrow.  Just commit to doing it every day, say for a month- and see what happens.  See how your mood stabilizes.  See how little things don’t ruffle your feathers or ruin your day.  See how your activities become more relaxed, more accomplished.  Realize that you just feel better.

What happens next? This becomes habit, this becomes something you look forward to, this becomes something you do everyday before you even think of leaving the house!

And guess what? It’s called MEDITATION

And it is the single most important tool for living a happy, stable, effective life.  Now more than ever, we need this tool!

Please feel free to contact me with questions or if you need assistance with this- more to come!





Case Study #3

Client came in after 6 months wearing an orthopedic boot due to fracture of right foot.  The chief complaint was low back, hip and left knee pain.  Visual assessment revealed asymmetry in leg length with the left hip contracted making the appearance of a short left leg.  Palpation showed restrictions in the right jaw.  Following release of the jaw reassessment showed the coccyx deviated to the left.  Once the coccyx was released, additional protocols for the ankles, knees, and pelvic was employed.

The client returned one week later reporting everything felt good.  Another release of the jaw and coccyx was performed along with the ankle procedure.

On the third visit the client presented with tonal symmetry and no discomfort so treatment was terminated.

NOTE:  Often after being required to wear an orthopedic boot the Bowen Technique is required to get the hips in balance (as the boot creates a “longer” leg).  The hips remaining in imbalance creates torque and uneven load on the knees and if left untreated this dysfunction creates deterioration in the knees and pelvic structure.


Bowen Therapy for Complete Healing!

Case Study #2

Plantar Fascitis

65 yr old tennis player with left heel pain for 6 months.  Client presented with left-sided asymmetry in leg length.  Restrictions were found at the right TMJ (fascial  lines cross the body from cervical to low back). Knees were not responsive to palpation. At the second treatment the client reported no pain for 5 days.  Some restrictions were released with additional knee and ankle protocols.  During the third treatment the client reported being sore after the last treatment.  She had been playing tennis with hard inserts in her shoes which we removed.  Visual assessment showed restriction in the coccyx. The coccyx was released and symmetry was restored.  At the fourth session the client reported no foot pain or stiffness.  Treatment was terminated as she presented with tonal symmetry.  She has had no further issue one year later.

Case Study #1

Client presented with chronic pain in hip, back and neck due to disc herniations from car accident.  Pain has persisted for twenty years despite physical therapies and cortisone injections.  Pain  level was reported 7 out of 10.
First treatment revealed restrictions at both ends of the spine with a complex assessment of asymmetry.  These restrictions were released using the Bowen Technique with the client returning in one week.  The wait period between sessions is for two reasons.  First, it gives the body time to “unwind” the previously held restrictions, and secondly it gives the therapist a good understanding of how far along the treatment is by how long the client goes without pain and maintains symmetry.
On the second treatment the client stated “Better!  Good start”  Assessment during this session revealed one less layer of distortion- a much less complex distortion pattern.  The third session showed an even less complex pattern.  On the fourth treatment the client declared 80% improvement.  The fifth session was our last session as the client reported no pain or limitation the entire week and presented with tonal symmetry.  Maintenance treatments of approximately 6 weeks were recommended.
The client left stating “I can’t believe 20 years of pain was fixed in 5 weeks.”

The Bowen Technique (submitted to Massage & Bodywork Magazine Feb 2020)

The Bowen Technique

The Bowen Technique is a soft tissue therapy developed in Australia in the 1980’s by an Osteopath named Thomas Ambrose Bowen. Today the technique is practiced in over thirty countries and taught in more than twenty.

The four basic tenets of Osteopathy may be summarized as follows:

1-The human body functions as an integrated, interrelated whole unit.

2-Structure and function share a reciprocal relationship.

3-There exists in the human body an innate capacity for self-regulation and healing.

4-Therapeutic intervention is based upon an understanding of these three points.

Structure and Function

In his book A Textbook of Bowen Technique Mr. Graham Pennington, Australian Bowen therapist, Naturopathic physician, and Acupuncture physician writes:

From the perspective of a Bowen therapist, we are particularly interested in recognizing the interrelationships that exist between the nervous system, muscle tension and the skeletal system, and how the interplay of these factors can create or compromise the structural integrity of the spine and its related structures. The following points illustrate this complexity:

-The tension within a muscle or tendon is produced by the nerve which supplies it. The nervous system is ultimately responsible for the tension of the muscles and tendons.

-The muscles and tendons exert force upon the bones and joints and thus abnormal tensions in the body may lead to joint dysfunction.

-Joint dysfunction at the spinal level (vertebral subluxation) may result in changes in the way the nervous system operates. The resulting nerve dysfunction may generate abnormal tensions in the muscles and tendons…and so the cycle continues.

-On the one hand, the structural integrity of the spine may be disturbed by the presence of a vertebral subluxation, but, on the other hand, dysfunction of the related tissues can result in the development of a vertebral subluxation.

The relationship between function and structure is particularly important to the Bowen therapist, who seeks to identify and correct dysfunction within the various systems of the body. Observation of symmetry forms the basis on which the therapist can develop  specific therapeutic interventions and target them to resolve any abnormal tissue tensions. Correctly applied, these interventions restore function and associated symmetry.1


Fascia is currently being widely researched as it is now evident that it plays a key role in the structure and function of the body.  French surgeon Jean-Claude  Guimbertear’ s ground breaking discovery that fascia, due to its piezoelectric nature, governs thousands of processes throughout the body- a true engineering system. Strolling under the skin’ 2, a documentary made by Dr. Guimbertears and his colleagues, visually depicts the tremendous array of processes that occur in the human tissue simply due to the pressure of the scalpel. Blood vessels disappear and others appear, fluid exchange occurs- all due to the piezoelectric nature of the fascia.

The Bowen Technique relies heavily on this fascial system.  Piezoelectricity is defined as the electric polarization in a substance resulting from the application of mechanical stress.  The fascia consists mainly of collagen and elastin- both peizoelectric materials.   For bodyworkers this translates to the application of pressure applied to the fascia creates an electrical impulse that is sent to the brain.  The brain in response sends a host of chemical messengers back to the origin of the electrical impulse with the result being the restoration of homeostasis. During a Bowen session the client is visually and tactally assessed.  Functional asymmetry is determined followed by treatment.  At the end of the session a reassessment is performed to determine that functional symmetry has been restored.  Structure and function have been restored.  Pharmaceutical and surgical intervention is no longer required.

The work of Tom Myers , author of the book Anatomy Trains3, maps out the main fascial lines in the body teaching us the important connections throughout the body.  In recent years due to several important discoveries it has become evident that the meridian system may in fact run through these fascial lines.  This work is evolving our knowledge of how the human body is put together and how it truly functions on an anatomical, mechanical, chemical and energetic level.

As Mr. Myers quotes in his book, “the close relationship between acupuncture and  similar meridians and the anatomical basics of these continuities is inescapable.”   Significant overlap between fascial lines and energetic continuities of the various meridians are obvious. Additionally, Mr. Myers states that Dr. Helene Langevin and others have shown that connective tissue winds around the end of the acupuncture needle when it is rotated in place, creating detectable mechanical tissue effects.  3Drawing these fields of study together we find a “unified field” theory appears and we begin to understand the intricacies of the body’s self-regulation with proper mechanical stimulation.

Meridian Theory

Graham Pennington’s evolution of the Bowen Technique resulted in his most recent class titled “Targeting Primary Dysfunction” in which he introduces meridian theory  into the technique.  As an acupuncture physician he understands how deeply connected these bodies of work are.  As he states “meanwhile East and West continue to collide…”   Many scholars now believe the meridians of Chinese medicine are actually ‘pathways’ through the fascia.  In his book, A Textbook of The Bowen Technique,  Mr. Pennington declares that fascia serves to provide structures which transmit mechanical tensions, whether generated by muscular activities or external forces through the body.   Andrew  Taylor Still “Philosophy  of Osteopathy” (1899)….”all… nerves go to and terminate in that great system, the fascia.”  Osteopathic theory holds that, in a state of health, fluids  flow freely from one fascial compartment to the next states Mr. Pennington.  As a result of traumatic injury the fascia may twist, constrict, and compress.  The exchange of fluids through the fascial medium becomes compromised.  Osteopathic treatments (as in the Bowen Technique) attempt to unravel these fascial strains to re-establish fluid continuity throughout the body.

By its action (the fascia) we live and by its failure we…die” Andrew Taylor Still, founder of Osteopathy 

The Bowen Technique

Many Bowen therapists follow a standardized approach to treatment. Today however, the technique has evolved because of some brilliant therapists such as Mr. Pennington. Mr. Pennington teaches these advanced techniques worldwide and has a handful of students who also teach his work. The first vast difference between the original Bowen method and today’s technique used by Mr. Pennington and his students is the visual assessment which allows for a more intelligent approach and effective outcomes. Fascial strains occur in the body and result in asymmetrical patterns. These asymmetries can be seen visually as leg length discrepancy. Leg length discrepancies are a key aspect of this visual assessment. As we now know the fascia dictates the stresses and strains put on the various tissues. These stresses and strains result in functional asymmetry throughout the body. Mr. Pennington’s technique uses this information to determine where in the body the restrictions are so that they can be targeted and released using the Bowen “move.” The Bowen “move” is unique in its simplicity and complexity. It is a very simple move across muscles and tendons yet the complexity comes with palpation skills which develop over time with intention and practice. This tactile recognition skill is the second difference between the original technique and that used by Mr. Pennington and students. Tactile recognition is the ability to delineate between various conditions of the tissue being palpated. The condition of the tissue determines the speed and depth of the Bowen move that is required. Tissue that has become hardened or stuck requires more time and depth than tissue that is soft and pliable. Differences in temperature of the tissue also lend information. The quality of the move determines the quality of the electrical signal sent to the brain and Central Nervous System. Every “move” is an assessment. Continual assessment during the treatment is a must to determine the course of treatment. Being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together along the way during treatment is what allows the therapist to determine the appropriate approach to treatment and to achieve desired results. Applying these skills to the practice exponentially increases the success of the therapy.  Once identified, the asymmetry can quite simply be remedied using The Bowen Technique. Important fascial connections are addressed in a hierarchal order and the body is systematically brought back into balance, aka symmetry.

We seek to find the site at which we can deliver a targeted intervention that will activate and benefit the nervous system and illicit a profound healing response from the body.” Graham Pennington

The pathology (examples: disc herniations, torn meniscus, tennis elbow, plantar fascitis, migraine, back pain, knee pain) results from compressions in the fascial system clamping down on nerves creating pain, dysfunction and deterioration. Restoring symmetry using The Bowen Technique balances the tensional forces in the various planes of fascia and releases the compression on various nerves eliminating pain. The result visually is leg length symmetry validating the therapists success in restoring symmetry to the body. The number of treatments required to remedy a chronic or acute situation vary but often a handful of treatments is all that is necessary to remedy the condition. This is another remarkable trait of The Bowen Technique. Once a client comes in for treatment (once per week typically) with no pathology and visual assessment shows symmetry is still in tact, the condition is remedied. The pathology no longer resides in the body and the condition no longer exists. There is no need for further treatment. This distinguishes The Bowen Technique from virtually all other therapies. Most therapies in practice today provide only temporary relief treating symptoms but never accomplishing healing. With The Bowen Technique a true remedy is accomplished. Maintenance appointments are encouraged to keep the body in alignment.


1. Graham Pennington, A Textbook of the Bowen Technique, 2012, A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Bowen Therapy.

2. Dr. Jean-Claude Guimbertears, “Strolling under the skin”, 2015 ,

3. Thomas W. Myers, Anatomy Trains, 2014, Myofascial Meridians & Movement


About Penny:

As an engineer, educator and bodyworker for thirty seven years Penny Michaels brings a unique combination of science, technology, and bodywork skills for an intelligent conversation on the state of bodywork. She teaches nationally as an NCBTMB Approved Provider for Continuing Education to massage therapists through The Cortiva Institute. She holds private practice in Vero Beach, Florida. Visit her website at www. to read more of her articles and email her.

The Bowen Technique: What are we doing??

Simply put, we are releasing restrictions in the soft connective tissues in the body.  When there are restrictions in these structures nerves get pinched, joints get compressed or pulled away from their natural track, and subluxations occur.  This is what causes the pain and inability to function.  Once tensional balance is restored to these structures, evertything is allowed to return to a normal position thus eliminating pain and dysfunction.  Sounds and looks simple but it is not.

Understanding the complexity of the how these structures are interrelated is my endeavor, my expertise.  There are often layers of dysfunction that must be identified and “unwound.”  That’s my job and sometimes results are immediate, more ofthen than not it takes some time.

This system of bodywork is brilliant!  It is effective and efficient and most times a handful of weekly treatments is all that is required to achieve complete recovery!

I’m honored by the continuous stream of clients coming to me through word of mouth- that’s the best acknowledgement for my work I can get!  Not only that but if it weren’t for all the new clients coming in, I would put myself out of business! Thank You!



The Body Is One Whole, Not Pieces and Parts

It is very unfortunate for us Amercians who were taught about all of our anatomical pieces and parts but were never taught about the interconnectedness of all these pieces and parts.  Today, in Western medicine, the condition of a  foot for example, has nothing to do with the condition of the neck. And the gallbladder certainly has nothing to do with a vertebral subluxation at thoracic vertabrae T12-L1. A podiatrist is not going to look to your neck to fix an ankle problem-ever! But guess what? A Bowen Therapist would! And, yes, a Bowen Therapist just may be able to remedy your sciatica by working on your jaw.

I know, this is where people think we”oh brother, here we go…” but at least read on a little about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) before closing your mind.  I use TCM as an example because hopefully it at least carries enough weight for some consideration outside “The Box.”  It’s been around for many thousands of years, much longer than Western medicine.

“TCM, above all, sees the human body as an organic whole, a complete system made up of physical structures, emotions, mind, and spirit. It does not separate your body into parts, nor does it just treat one part of your body. In the TCM view, everything in the body is seen as woven together into a seamless whole; all parts have a relationship with one another.” (

It is the same with  Bowen Therapists.  We understand that the connective tissue structures in the body are continuous and interconnected in a multitude of ways.  The very same connective tissue that runs down the right side of the head also runs down the left side of the body.  Low back pain can absolutely be caused by a problem in the cervical (neck) AND vice-versa!

It would behoove us Westerners to embrace this idea.  We would benefit greatly- we would be taking less pharmaceuticals and having less surgeries and enjoying all of our pieces and parts working and playing together in one WHOLISTIC , highly functioning and painfree body.