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Body Language

Maui author reveals the lexicon of body, mind and emotion.

March 11, 2010
Sarah Ruppenthal

According to Maui author Denise LaBarre, your body does speak and it has a lot to say. LaBarre, a licensed massage therapist who has lived on Maui for nearly 20 years, began listening to bodies when she was a child. Her book, Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out, is a testament to her practiced and intuitive ability to identify barriers to healthy mind-body connections. As a child growing up in California, LaBarre began practicing bodywork on her mother and learned to “feel subtle changes in her muscles and the emotional energy that flowed through her body.” Her intuitive ability to detect emotional charges and vibrations within the human body led her to pursue an education in psychology, linguistics and massage therapy. She has evolved into a body-mind translator who is determined to inspire others to find the causes of pain, alleviate stress, feel relaxed and, of course, discover what their bodies are attempting to tell them.

LaBarre cites unprocessed emotion and the shutdown they produce as largely responsible for our stress, pain and even disease. “Painful experiences, whether it be a single event or something reoccurring, can, and often will, take a physical toll,” she explained. “People often don’t recognize the connection between stuffed-down emotions and their physical problems.” By exploring the ideas and practicing the simple exercises outlined in Issues in Your Tissues, readers can discover the larger patterns of their lives, and how seemingly unrelated situations are really part of the healing journey. For instance, said LaBarre, a seemingly insignificant event—perhaps an encounter with a co-worker who irritates you—can actually create a powerful physical reaction, such as back pain, which is your body’s way of getting your attention. “Our habit is to stuff down these emotions,” she said. “Which is the “safe” thing to do… but by feeling them as they occur, we free ourselves from having to lug them around as emotional baggage which can build into pain and serious disease.”

Most importantly, said LaBarre, deepening the breath is the simplest and most direct path to greater physical and emotional wellbeing. “Full breathing initiates the flow of healing energy,” she writes. “Once we understand and feel the difference between clenching into tension and breathing into it, we can open the flow of energy and begin healing what ails us on physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual levels. It’s how we were born to breath and I love to re-mind people how to do it.”

Article Photos

Denise LaBarre reveals the inner dialogue of the human body in her new book, Issues in Your Tissues.

Breathing may seem like the simplest function of human anatomy, but LaBarre insists it is a cornerstone of healing. “Proper breathing and listening within frees stuck energy and re-establishes the mind-emotion-body connection,” she said. “After reading this book, people feel lighter and more alive.”

“The trick is to let your belly expand as you breathe!” she said. “It might feel funny at first because it is no longer your habit, but as you practice really filling your lungs, I guarantee you will feel so much better.” Judging from her readers’ responses, she’s absolutely right. In a flood of handwritten letters, emails and phone calls, her fans have expressed gratitude for the lessons learned from the pages of Issues in Your Tissues. “Because I’m a massage therapist, people assume the book is about massage. It’s not,” she said. “The setting involves massage, but the book is about making the mind-body connection for oneself—in the body, directly—and feeling the delicious changes that result. It is for people who are interested in feeling better in their bodies and are willing to read stories about how that looks.” Additionally, LaBarre said, “It’s not a head-y book… It’s very hands-on, playful and accessible.”

The 230-page “quick read” is a collection of charming anecdotes, original cartoons and candid revelations that get you out of your head and back into your body—where healing happens. With a little attention and guidance from the book, you can reach “the calm eye of your emotional hurricane” and release emotional energy that has caused pain—pain that may have lasted for decades. LaBarre said she hopes her book—a labor of love that she has worked on for several years—will bring readers back into their bodies, where a wealth of energy and “aliveness” awaits rediscovery.



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