More Than Skin Deep

An interview with neurokinetic therapist, Merry Stevenson                              

Interview by Jeremy Lux, article written by Eric Gasa 

While discussing her career, Merry Stevenson can’t help but connect the dots between the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of the human condition. It’s an edifying conversation, one that sheds light on how humans can heal our injuries both physical and mental, while gaining insight on our trauma. For Stevenson, who is a masseuse, neurokinetic therapist, and emotional coach at Zenith Sports Massage, it’s just another day at the office.

Sitting down with Jeremy Lux for the Life In Motion podcast, Stevenson discusses her career, the power of intuitive healing, and explains how some scars are more than just skin deep. 

If you had known Stevenson as a kid, you’d probably have a hard time recognizing her today.

“I like to laugh about the personal irony of my life,” she says, “because I was a theater major growing up and wanted to do stage management and set design. I was kind of a theater nerd.”

In fact, Stevenson had her eyes set on working for Cirque de Solei and even did set design for some movies after graduating college. But after a year of traveling along the east coast doing production on HBO and History Channel projects, the movie magic began to wear off. Stevenson found herself getting burnt out and decided to look to her own roots.

Merry Stevenson

“I dived back into personal wellness, which is an old trend in my family. We’re all holistic, hippie people,” she jokes.

Stevenson moved from California back to Springfield where a friend introduced her to neurokinetic therapy. It was an eye-opening experience that redefined her view on therapy and healing. She was particularly amazed by the emotional and physical connections of neurokinetic therapy. For someone in tune with her holistic side, Stevenson was impressed. She saw a satisfying career path in front of her and took it. 

As she completed school for her masseuse license, Stevenson started rock climbing; an activity that changed her outlook on the human body. Scaling the steep rock slopes taught Stevenson a wealth about fear, perseverance, and herself. It gave her an appreciation of athletes as well as new insights into the mind and body’s relationship.

“It seems like you know how these different suppressed emotions and injuries can affect your day to day life,” Jeremy observes, “But how do these injuries affect you on a deeper level?”

“So, this all kind of starts in your limbic system, the emotional processing part of your brain, which is like an exclamation point to your nervous system,” Stevenson explains.

Merry Stevenson at Zenith Sports Massage

“We know that emotions are definitely a part of this. Your muscles are controlled by your nervous system. Every muscle is getting feedback from your nervous system. So we know that those are intertwined together. And that's why we can use neurokinetic therapy to retrain the nervous system.”

Stevenson explains how with certain training exercises the body can be made to respond to certain inputs in the nervous system differently. In essence, neurokinetic therapy is based on the premise that when certain portions of the body become injured, certain muscles become inhibited, thus causing other muscle groups to become overworked. For neurokinetic therapists, it is their job to know how certain parts of the body interact with each other in order to pinpoint the problem area then target the source of the pain.

All in all, neurokinetic therapy is a highly intuitive and thoughtful process that even takes the emotional trauma of an injury into consideration.

“We know which muscles are involved in this, but then we take it a step further and see if there is an emotion involved with this muscular problem. That muscular problem won't go away very easily if it keeps getting triggered by the limbic system,” Stevenson continues. “If we don't deal with the emotional problem behind it, it's probably just going to keep coming back. These emotional issues can be anything that the body hasn't processed fully.”

Merry Stevenson

Stevenson gives some common examples of the emotional baggage that can cause us injury. Maybe it’s an office manager stressed about an upcoming project or somebody in the throes of a divorce. Stevenson recalls a patient who had an argument with a spouse one night then woke up in the morning with hip pain; another was horribly stressed at work and suddenly developed an autoimmune disease. The scenarios are endless but the correlation remains the same; sometimes the emotional pain we endure can cause physical ailments as well.

And just because you may feel a pain in your shoulder for example doesn’t mean that it is where your injury is located. Stevenson explains how muscles give and take between responsibilities. Where it hurts may not be where you need to rub, because the inhibited muscles, the weak ones, are the ones tightening up to protect themselves. 

“The body is great at compensating,” she says, “but it’s not great at going back to normal.”

Merry Stevenson at Zenith Sports Massage

In the end, Stevenson paints an intriguing picture of the human body; a system that is not only highly delicate and interconnected but completely dependent on all of its parts working together to take care of itself. Though we live in a modern, high paced world that often leaves us little time for self-care, it is important to check up on ourselves. Though we are at the whims of larger forces in our lives we must remember that it’s up to use to create a better, more healing environment to grow and embrace our pain, both physical or emotional. 

“If we start consigning ourselves we start making excuses and starting losing hope,” says Stevenson. “But once we appreciate how weird the body is and how everything is connected we don’t have to be as afraid of pain. My advice? Don’t be scared and start living.” 

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Running into mysterious pains in your life? Check out Zenith Sports Massage and book a session with Merry today. As for the rest of the interview, listen to the full episode of Life in Motion to learn more about the magic of rock tape, patient stories, and tons of other eye-opening facts about neurokinetic therapy. It’s all on the Life in Motion podcast with Jeremy Lux on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

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