When I rush in, 5 minutes late, to Lee Health’s Wellness Center in Cape Coral, I’m the very definition of a hot mess. My very first appointment ever for craniosacral therapy was the last thing on my mind as I spent the day fighting on the phone with the various people who were charged with taking our kitchen apart, removing the dangerous mold from a serious interior leak and putting it all back together again. My inconvenience, caused by a faulty kitchen sink, wasn’t even close to what so many Southwest Floridians struggled with in the wake of Irma, but having our kitchen dismantled and dealing with being displaced along with our 19-year-old cat during the mold removal was no walk in the park.
Just before my appointment, I stopped by our condo, where I found our kitchen sink and our dishwasher on the balcony while our garbage disposal languished in the shower of the guest bath. The polite millennial boys who packed up our mold-infested kitchen, dining room and living room had stuffed our lives into giant lawn bags and boxes. Our vegetable steamer was found in a garbage bag full of throw pillows; the contents of our kitchen junk drawer were tossed into a giant box filled with our most recent mail and an unopened box of Norman Love chocolates that my husband had received for his birthday the week before. (I didn’t care about the mail, but the chocolates—I HAD to save the precious chocolates!)
Fast-forward to later that evening when Joanna Salerno, an expert in craniosacral therapy, ushered me into a cool, dimly lit massage room with candles, crystals and relaxing music. Even when I sat on the table, I was still jabbering a mile a minute: “I’m sorry I’m late, but our kitchen is a disaster zone, and we have this black mold, which is horrible, and we didn’t know it was that bad, and now we have to find a place to stay for a few days, and we have this elderly cat, and—” Joanna gently interrupted me with a smile. “Take a moment and just breathe,” she said. I did—and within moments, I found myself finally fluttering down to earth.
Joanna came highly recommended by some good friends who see her on a regular basis for both craniosacral therapy and Akashic Records Consultation. I had never heard of either practice, until at a fundraiser my friend Susan pulled me aside and told me about her life-changing Akashic Records session with Joanna. Susan followed it up with a Facebook message the next day, saying, “You have to experience it.” A couple of months later, I was chatting with another friend, Christin, when she highly recommended craniosacral therapy. As she was telling me about it, a bell went off in my head. “Wait—is this the same lady that does the records thing that starts with an ‘A’ that I can’t pronounce?”
“Bingo!” she answered with a high-five.
I told Joanna the story and she wasn’t surprised. “Often times,” she said, “people are led to me—it’s never a coincidence.”
Craniosacral therapy is a therapeutic touch that’s all about applying gentle pressure to various areas of the head and also to the spine. But don’t picture a typical massage. I laid down on my back, fully clothed, and held onto two crystals at each side. As Joanna sat in a stool behind my head, she started by targeting pressure points at the bottom of my skull, but I could feel the sensation of healing and vibration throughout my entire body. I was so relaxed, it almost felt as if I was floating—yet, I was fully awake and aware of everything that was happening. This power of touch and healing is meant to release the negative effects that stress puts on your central nervous system.
Did it work?
Let’s put it this way—at the end of my session, I could not have cared less about my kitchen. In fact, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Craniosacral therapy is said to work on emotional ailments as well as physical ones.
After Joanna explained how it all worked, she added, “By the way, your mother was in the room during the session and she wants you to try eating some watery oatmeal—she says it will help the stomach troubles you’ve been having.”
“She wasn’t the only angel who came in,” Joanna said. “There were more—you have quite a fan club.”
It was true, my stomach had been bothering me ever since the kitchen stress started (I’m one of those people who stores all of her anxiety in her gut). And not only that; when I was little and was worried about something, my mom made me instant oatmeal, heavy on the water, which always made me feel better. Until Joanna reminded me, I had forgotten all about it.
Joanna came by her gifts later in life. She told me she was a bookkeeper for her husband’s business and a mom when she lost her brother to suicide.
“When my heart broke,” she explained, “it opened up and became filled with so much more.”
A priest at her Catholic church encouraged her to find her way in helping others, so Joanna learned healing through massage, which led to a personal and spiritual journey studying with teachers, healers and shamans.
One week later, I’m at Joanna’s warm, comfortable home in south Fort Myers. Soon after she greets me with a big, loving hug, she asks about my kitchen, on which work has been delayed by two weeks. As I start venting, she smiles and reminds me to let it all go and breathe before she starts my Akashic Record consultation.
“Akashic” is derived from Sanskrit and refers to atmosphere. Akashic Records are from not only our earthly pasts, but also our previous past lives. To access them, a guide must be able to communicate with our otherworldly masters and teachers—aka our “fan club.”
Once I sit quietly, relax and focus on my breathing, Joanna tells me that the room fills up with my guides and protectors. If I tune in, I can indeed feel them.
Joanna speaks through them as they impart advice and answers to my questions. Some are detailed—I should get my back tires looked at (it’s true—my breaks have been whistling for the past few days). I may have a food allergy—I should get tested (I’ve had weird up and down weight issues for months—how did they know?). And larger-scale discoveries—while we may have our little tiffs, my marriage is the forever kind; my grown son is going to be fine, and I should stop hovering; my ultimate purpose in this life is to make people happy.
It’s not only enlightening; it’s affirming—and as I look back on my Akashic Records session, it’s empowering.
Later, Joanna and I spend some time talking. After she and her family moved to Sanibel, her husband died in a boating accident. She told me that the tragedy brought her even closer to her spiritual journey as she continued to learn more about healing and expanding her gifts to guide people. “It’s all about love,” she told me.
Joanna’s touch, whether it was to my cranium or to my soul, made my upended home seem like nothing but the silly distraction it was. There’s so much more—sometimes you just need to stop talking, breathe and relax, because life is way too short to freak out over a kitchen sink.