Body Language

BY Marimar McNaughton

In modern times the healing arts are inspired by ancient teachings from the Far East to the American West. Healing-art forms blend spiritual philosophies with touch. No matter what the country of origin the purpose is universal: center the life force energy and balance the body the mind and the spirit to create an ultimate state of relaxation followed by rejuvenation. That may be easier said than done especially during times of energy depletion such as the months immediately following the holidays or during the shortened days of winter. When people struggle with untreated stress they may suffer emotional or physical pain. Many will seek a medical professional who may not be able to help them or reach for an over-the-counter remedy that might mask the symptoms without relieving the cause. For some adventurous souls there is no time like the present to try a new alternative. A healing artist may be right for you.

Amy Pierce has beautiful skin strong supple hands and clear blue-sky eyes. Blond hair tumbles down her back partially hiding the muscular frame of a dancer.

A Wilmington native Pierce attended the North Carolina School of the Arts completing high school and college in five years. She graduated with a major in dance and moved to New York where she attended Hunter College of the City University of New York.

“I danced in contemporary companies in New York for 10 years before coming back to Wilmington ” she says.

When she did Pierce studied massage therapy for a year at the former Coastal Carolina Institute and has been licensed to practice massage for four years.

“I went immediately into private practice ” Pierce says. “A year ago I started using stones in my massages.”

Her method integrates techniques acquired during her massage training with the healing qualities of rocks stones and crystals to create a unique
healing-art form that blends stone facial massagewith restorative energy work based in reflexology and chakra balancing.

Pierce creates a calming environment in her shared suite at the North Kerr Office Park. Clients lie face up on a massage table covered by layers of clean white sheets and blankets. During the one-hour massage therapy she begins by placing chakra stones at the head face neck chest and abdomen to balance the body’s energy centers.

Pierce stores the chakra stone and crystals in an open bowl in a bed of sea salt with a kyanite crystal to cleanse the energy of the other seven stones.

“The stones I use for the massage are called Mexican pebbles ” she said. “Basically they are volcanic basalt rocks or black lava rocks.”

The rocks have been tumbled into smooth flat stones. She marinates the stones in oil warming them in a household crockpot.

“I start with a little reflexology ” she says. Holding a rock in her hand she gently massages the arches of the feet moving outward to the ankles then upward to the toes. As she completes each foot Pierce leaves the oiled stone on the arch wrapped in soft cloth for the duration of the massage.

Next she massages the face using the stone to loosen the fascia or connective muscle tissue around the jaw sinus temple and brow.

From the face she moves to the neck and shoulder areas concentrating on the upper chest. She massages arms hands and fingers. As she completes each side she leaves a stone gently resting in the palm. She places stones beside the base of the neck and on the cheeks.

Pierce leaves the room to allow her client total rest and relaxation and to prepare the stones for the follow-up a vigorous massage for the face alternating warm and cool stones to stimulate the lymph glands and release toxins from the delicate facial tissues.

Pierce uses three natural oils: macadamia nut oil which is good for all skin types; azulene oil blended from Germer blue chamomile and macadamia nut oils to reduce redness and swelling; and rose absolute to prevent wrinkle formation.

Most of her facial clients are mature women though she has both male and female clients and specializes in orthopedic massage prenatal massage for expectant mothers and infant massage.

In her own life Pierce achieves balance through daily walks yoga and chi gong practice. To realign her posture after years of dancing she schedules chiropractic adjustments three times a week massage every three weeks and polarity therapy every few months.

Pierce massage therapist dancer and choreographer performs with the Dance Collaborative and recently premiered new work with local filmmakers during the Dance-a-lorus program of the 12th annual Cucalorus Film Festival. One of her pieces Siesta was filmed in Wrightsville Beach and is currently touring the state as part of the North Carolina Dance Festival.


The word chakra is derived from the Sanskrit word cakra meaning wheel or circle. The traditional seven chakras are considered the nexus of life-force energy located from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The function of the chakras is to attract and balance life-force energy for the spiritual mental emotional and physical well-being of the body. Each is represented by a color and a lotus blossom with varying numbers of petals.







Top of head



Third eye  


Light blue



Base of neck






Rose quartz

Solar plexus 



Tiger’s eye






Base of spine




Jeannine Duke of Hampstead has been practicing resonance repatterning since she was certified two and a half years ago. She trained with the method’s founder Chloe Faith Wordsworth in Scottsdale Arizona.

Duke’s shock of prematurely gray hair adds an ethereal dimension to her appearance. Her large brown eyes and olive skin betray her Italian heritage.

She prepares for her sessions through daily meditations. “I separate from the outcome and let it rip ” she says. “I totally let nature take its course and let the truth prevail. Mind you it is the truth for that moment.”

By the end of the session she says the truth will reverse itself. “That’s the whole idea ” she explains. “We’ll take something that you resonate with that you no longer want to resonate with and we’ll switch it.”

This something could be as simple as an obsession for eating desserts or a bad habit that requires deeper digging. For Duke resonance repatterning is a method for shifting a behavior pattern into something that serves her client’s highest good.

“It’s not dumping the energy; it’s redirecting the energy turning a negative into a positive ” she says. “It’s a method for clearing the soul for the path to God. The premise is very simple: remove the barriers that prevent you from being your best highest self.”

She begins each session by muscle checking herself then her client. She says muscle checking is like a magnetic force. “When it’s on it’s attracting when it’s off it’s repelling ” she says.

To check herself she positions the tip of her middle finger on top of her index finger. If her fingers stay connected she is “on.” If they slide apart she is “off.”

To muscle check her client she uses these two fingers to press the back of the client’s hand when the arm is raised.

The muscle check is the practitioner’s tool a hands-on method to determine where the client is ready to go and what direction to take during the session.

When ready the client will pose an intention that Duke writes onto a notepad. The intention sets a direction. The question-and-answer session that follows with muscle checking in between determines the road map that Duke will take with her client. The client determines the length of the journey.

“The client is always in the driver’s seat ” Duke says. “The client is never going to go further than where they want to go.”

She prescribes healing modalities at the end of each session. Modalities might be administered by the practitioner at the end of the session such as the sound of a tuning fork; the light from a prism or an aromatic modality that moves energy from one chakra to the next. The modality might be a simple task performed by the client like a breath or a yawn or a stretch. Or the modality might be something that the client needs to practice on his or her own like chi gong ritual from Chinese five-element medicine.

Chloe Faith Wordsworth the founder of resonance repatterning started her healing arts career with craniosacral therapy and acupuncture but realized that her clients were returning with the same problems. Wordsworth recognized that she could alleviate symptoms but found that they kept coming back. She determined that there was a repetitive cause-and-effect pattern with the cause often representing something that occurred in the client’s past affecting blocked energy. Wordsworth developed her method to identify the block and move through it so that her clients no longer resonate with that issue.

When Duke received the mantle of training she turned her large brown eyes inward. “Physician heal thyself ” she says adding “Practice what you preach.”

Christine Rydholm-Bennett’s bright eyes peek through tiny black-framed glasses. Her diminutive figure belies her personal strength. With a voice that hints at her British Isles heritage she speaks her belief that the body stores trauma from old wounds.

“Pain lives in the memory muscle ” she says. Trained as a nurse in England she moved to Canada and became a yoga teacher when her children were born. “I still wanted to be with people and somehow help them ” she says.

She acquired massage-therapy training in 1991. After some years she said she looked for “something that was powerful but gentle on me.”

By powerful she means transformative. She discovered craniosacral therapy in 1997.

As the respiratory system controls breathing and the cardiovascular system controls the flow of blood through the body the craniosacral system is a human function that controls the release of cerebral spinal fluid from the cranium to the sacrum.

Rydholm-Bennett describes the fluid release like a hydraulic system a pumping mechanism that fills and empties the tissues that cushion the brain and the spine.

The method of releasing stagnate fluid through a hands-on healing modality was created by Dr. John E. Upledger an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University following extensive study in biomechanics from 1975 to 1983.

Rydholm-Bennett has studied with Upledger and is certified by his institute to practice. Craniosacral therapists believe that the body has a ‘muscle memory.’ Through hands-on healing they release the trauma associated with pain and injury.

Rydholm-Bennett likens the art to casting a pebble into a pond creating a ripple effect across the water’s surface.

Through touch she redistributes the cerebral spinal fluid to the fascia or connective tissue and restores wellness.

Her clients are people with chronic pain ranging from injuries to migraine headaches to diagnosed cases of A.D.D. For first-time patients she recommends trying the procedure once a week for three consecutive weeks.

“It’s very different from massage ” Rydholm-Bennett says. “You don’t undress and the touch is very light.”

She begins by asking her clients to lie face up on a massage table. She cradles each foot in her hands gently swinging the legs from side to side and placing them on the table. She holds the feet waiting for the energy to arc into her hands. Moving up to the knees she gently holds the knee caps. She is waiting for the body to pull her in a direction. Next she places her hand under the lower back and one hand on the abdomen.

Then she moves to the shoulders and holds the shoulders. Finally she cradles the base of the head in her hands lifting the neck off the table. She cradles the skull in one hand and places the other on the forehead.

Her touch is light except in those places where the body calls her to “go deeper.” She increases the pressure and sustains the position until the bundle of energy leaves the body.

This is palpable experience. Her clients can feel the cerebral spinal fluid as it is redirected by her touch in the same way they can feel their pulse or experience the expansion and contraction of the lungs while breathing.

“We are all energy ” Rydholm-Bennett says. “I just facilitate what the body can do. The subconscious lives in the body not in the brain ” she says. “Nothing would come up if the body wasn’t ready for it.”

She tunes her own body through physical therapy as needed.

“I eat healthy drink lots of water meditate and practice yoga ” she says.

How to Find a Healing Arts Therapist

Like a trusted physician or a cutting edge hair stylist the most widespread source for finding a healing artist is by word of mouth. The alternative healing community is open to positive experience and more than happy to share its results with referrals. For leads visit organic and whole food retailers yoga studios day spas salons and coffee shops. Many have bulletin boards and racks where practitioners post flyers and distribute brochures and business cards. Shop for services the way you would shop for shoes. Search for the best quality – practitioners with advanced training – for the most reasonable rates. Most hour-long treatments range in price from $55 to $75. Gratuities are accepted and some therapists will barter or exchange services.

Healing Arts Contacts:

Amy Pierce — 910-352-5113 (cell)
Jeannine Duke — 910-233-9944 (cell)
Christine Rydholm-Bennett — 910-520-7949