[Podcast] “A Mindful Emergence” Eddie LeShure interviews Corey Costanzo

Listen to the full interview - #30 Accessing Deep States of Mindful Relaxation to Guide the Transformation and Personal Growth Process

Podcast Transcript:

Eddie: So the theme this week that we are going to talk about, and I have to hand it to you Corey, you came up with the longest theme of any, and I love it. “Accessing Deep States of Mindful Relaxation to Guide the Transformation and Personal Growth Process” love it. So we’ve got our work cut out for us this evening, but we have lots of time and I’m looking forward to the conversation. Perhaps we could just start out and give our listeners a little bit of an idea, what do you mean Accessing Deep States of Mindful Relaxation to Guide the Transformation and Personal Growth Process?

Corey: One thing that I’ve realized over the years of doing my own personal growth work, and helping others guide their own personal growth process, is that, in times of stress the nervous system will contract, the mind and body will contract, into a state of hypersensitivity, or limited awareness. The counter to that, the antidote to that, I’ve realized is mindful relaxation.

Eddie: And that just opens things up?

Corey: Yes. Not only does it open things up, but from a psychobiological perspective, or the mind-body relationship perspective, science actually tells us that blood flows to other places in the brain when we’re relaxed. Blood flows to the prefrontal cortex where we’ve evolved to high order thinking, rather than the amygdala in the primitive brain, the reptilian brain, in the base of the skull when we’re really stressed and engaged in the flight or fight response- so science actually backs it up.

Eddie: The way that I understand that is that it actually allows us to make conscious choices rather than react.

Corey: That’s right. We’re no longer a slave to our habits and patterns of the past. We can access whatever it is we want to create for the present moment. However we want to be and what relationships we want to foster and keep, and how we want to view the world.

Eddie: Yeah. So, you are co-owner of Still Point Wellness, which is located downtown, over in the Chestnut / Charlotte area. What exact street is that on?

Corey: It’s on Central Ave. and Clayton

Eddie: So very close to downtown. It’s in the downtown area.

Corey: Pretty much. It’s on the other side of 240, but just a couple of blocks from downtown.

Eddie: So what we are talking about tonight, that is the focus of your work there?

Corey: Pretty much

Eddie: Well I want to get back to that and dig into some of the specific work that you do. One thing I want to do is let our listeners know that we are in for an extra special treat, because when Corey came to the studio he brought his didgeridoo, and I've heard Corey play didgeridoo. In fact, in the Restorative Yoga classes that you’ve done at Asheville Community Yoga, one time you actually came over and laid it on my chest as I was in a deep relaxation pose, and I won’t say I saw God, but it was a pretty otherworldly experience for sure, so later on that’s a treat we have to look forward to. How did you get into that, where did you grow up?

Corey: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

Eddie: Oh okay, and you still have some of that Brooklyn with you?

Corey: I do, it comes out whenever I go over the Verrazano bridge. The Brooklyn really comes out and my family makes fun of me, but now that I live in the South it doesn't come out all that often.

Eddie: So when did you leave Brooklyn?

Corey: I left Brooklyn pretty much right after high school, to go to school in Burlington, Vermont.

Eddie: Ok, what did you study up there?

Corey: Psychology

Eddie: So you got an undergrad in psychology there, and then what happened?

Corey: Then I moved to Manhattan, started working for start up companies. Delia’s was the first start up company I worked for, it’s a young women’s catalog company. It was the first year they were in business and I got to be with that company for 5 years and help it grow to a 130 million dollar company and I had several different positions during that time. What I realized was that I loved helping people the most. I was in charge of doing the scheduling and some of the managing for about 2 million phone calls that were coming into the inbound phone center. We had about 130 telephone reps that I was responsible for scheduling and for part of the management. I realized that I really loved connecting with them, and loved hearing their stories, and getting to know them on a human level. So I think that was the beginning of my realization that I wanted to be working with people directly one on one in a clinical way.

Eddie: When you were growing up had you had an inclination, of a spiritual nature, connecting on that kind of level?

Corey: I remember when I was in 6th grade, a friend of mine once told me I was a great listener, and that I should be a psychotherapist, and that always stayed with me actually. That was probably the closest I ever came, when I was younger, to really knowing my path and knowing my purpose, and it’s funny because just her telling me that really stuck with me throughout my entire life, it was almost like a seed she had planted. I do a lot of work with teenagers, and whenever I work with teenagers, I’m very well aware of the power of seed planting, so I’ll give as much positive praise for what I’m seeing. Validation, especially if it’s an adjudicated youth, or a youth that’s in real serious trouble, or everything is crumbling around them, I’ll always make sure that there’s something that I’m validating, almost every few minutes that I’m working with that teenager.

Eddie: It might be one of the few places they’re really getting legitimate support.

Corey: Yes that’s right.

Eddie: So eventually, you ended up at Esalen. How did that happen? And please explain what Esalen is for those who are not familiar with it.

Corey: Sure, it’s a place that has helped usher in major social change, environmental change, and societal change in our culture. National Geographic actually just named it the number 75 out of 100 places in the world that will change your life. It was born in the early sixties in the early days of the counterculture movement, and some of the heaviest hitters of that time, teaching all new forms of awareness practices and workshops, and ways of thinking outside the box, would all teach there.

Eddie: And a lot of it is body centered?

Corey: A lot of it is body centered, that’s right, so there are natural hot springs, hot tubs, that are built into the cliffs of Big Sur California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s a community of people that work there, and make it happen, so there’s gardens. About 40% of vegetables are grown there and there is a full kitchen staff that live and work there.

Eddie: How long were you there?

Corey: I was there for a total of about 5 years.

Eddie: And what were you doing?

Corey: I first went to the Esalen Institute to take a month long course in Spiritual Massage and wound up staying much longer than a month.

Eddie: Apparently! You know ironically, and this was not by design, our very next guest who is in two weeks, Roger Bird, also spent time at Esalen. It just occured to me as you were talking about it. He had a great experience there. Am I correct in understanding you met Robin there, your wife?

Corey: I did. I met my wife there at the salad bar. She had been living and working there for seventeen years at the time, as part of the bodywork staff, and also as an Esalen Massage teacher. We fell in love and had our first child there, and lived in a beautiful environment for those years, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Eddie: So why leave?

Corey: Well, we wanted to lay down some roots, we wanted to buy a home, and at that time it was the top of the housing bubble, and nothing was available in our price range in California. So a friend of ours said “Hey come check out Asheville,” so we came to Asheville on an exploratory trip and absolutely fell in love. I think Jubilee was actually one of the first times where I really realized, wow this is a powerful place.

Eddie: When was this Corey?

Corey: This was about 8 years ago in October.

Eddie: So 8 years ago you land in Asheville. What kind of work were you doing at that point here? Were you doing massage?

Corey: At that point I wasn’t doing massage here in Asheville. I was working with at-risk and adjudicated teenagers, teaching them how to cook, and counseling.

Eddie: And Robin? She was doing massage?

Corey: Yes. As soon as we got here Robin pretty much started doing massage.

Eddie: And she teaches yoga as well?

Corey: She does, yeah.

Eddie: So obviously you found a community that’s ripe for these approaches.

Corey: Yeah. Well, Robin teaches massage. There are a handful of Esalen massage teachers that have the ability and permission to teach this amazing form of massage anywhere in the world. So, Robin will be invited to teach internationally and she runs her own certification courses here in Asheville.

Eddie: Mhmm. And I can personally attest to having had a massage by you Corey.

Corey: Oh!

Eddie: I think Margaret gave me a massage with you for a birthday present or something like that. And I can attest to the deep states of relaxation. Let’s get into one of these practices that you do and talk about. How does this support someone who’s coming to you in terms of their transformational process?

Corey: Bodywork is a great way to focus the mind on the present moment. So when I’m working with somebody on the massage table, what I’m trying to do is create a setting where their body can fully let go of their mental tension or physical tension and depending on the person there are different ways to do that. Some people might need or like a guided visualization to help them let go of any mental stress or any obsessive thoughts that are limiting them from letting go, or maybe it’s nonverbal and it’s just holding the base of the skull and just letting the weight of their head relax down and melt into my hands. And typically moment by moment, breath by breath, as the touch is able to bring the focus of the client mind to their body, the nervous system is also relaxing.

Eddie: So is this helping with the amygdala? I think of the amygdala like a smoke detector that’s a little bit hyperactive. What kind of an impact does that have on that part of the brain that is fight or flight oriented?

Corey: It basically creates a sense of safety and trust in the receiver. So then the body’s protective mechanisms can begin to let go. Most folks experience pain because of a subconscious holding and tension pattern that they’re not aware of. They might have a thought of the past or obsession of the future or they might see a red car drive by and subconsciously maybe they have some unresolved issues with red cars, maybe they’ve had an accident with a red car or something. The way the mind-body connection works is there are all these triggers out there that most of them we’re not even aware of because we don’t process everything consciously that our sensory inputs bring in. So, bodywork is a great way to let the session almost become a laboratory for experience.

Eddie: How many people come to you for massage that have specific psychosocial issues that they’re aware of versus those that show up and, surprise!... it comes out?

Corey: Yeah. Well, many people aren’t aware that their pain can be linked to certain thinking patterns. So, lots of people are pleasantly surprised when they get on the table and they just think they’re coming because their body is in pain, but then they wind up getting on the table and they have some emotions show up or they have some memories show up. And, we train our staff. We have a staff of 7 massage therapists. We train our staff on a deeper level to be able to understand their body’s subconscious mechanisms that are causing pain or causing discomfort or causing anxiety or sleep deprivation, and lots of other things. But, I will say that we offer a very detailed intake process where we ask a lot of these questions. And, a very good percentage, a high percentage, of our clients at the spa will report that they experience anxiety or some sort of pain or emotional distress currently.

Eddie: So you really have to be tuned into your client.

Corey: Exactly

Eddie: Yeah

Corey: Tune into myself first.

Eddie: Okay, talk about that. Why?

Corey: Well, it’s really an incredible way to get information when I’m working with another person I can literally get information about that person when I tune into myself. So there’s a resonant field that gets created between two individual when they are in relationship to one another. And, a great place called the Heart Math Institute measures this resonant field, this electromagnetic frequency. And, studies show that when there is a coherent state of resonant frequency. So when two people are basically vibing together, two people are jiving together.

Eddie: Wow, you just took me back to the sixties Corey!

Corey: Yeah, exactly, exactly! So, when that’s happening, science tells us now that the electromagnetic frequency that their heart is giving off is in tune with one another. The best way to do that if a client comes to me and is experiencing anxiety, the first thing I do is I sense my own body. I sense my feet on the ground, and I sense my belly and my breath and I get centered and balanced myself, and then I’m able to help the other person to do the same, just by the sense of entrainement that happens from our nervous systems. Our nervous systems are basically on the same wavelength, they are on the same resonating frequency.

Eddie: So you’re practicing mindfulness?

Corey: That’s basically what it is, yeah.

Eddie: Bring your awareness to yourself, check in, what am I noticing? And obviously when you’re more grounded, it’s makes a world of difference in the work that you’re doing with your clients.

Corey: That’s right.

Eddie: So this work is done at Still Point Wellness, which is a wellness spa. Let’s give our clients the website for that.

Eddie: So they can go there and find out more about this. You also do Somatic Experiencing?

Corey: That’s right.

Eddie: Which is something I’ve had experience with at very profound level. Talk about Somatic Psychology. What is it? How is it useful in helping people overcome trauma? Let’s start with that. Addiction recovery? Because they both overlap. What does that mean, Somatic Psychology and Somatic Experiencing?

Corey: Somatic Psychology is kind of a catch all phrase to describe the mind body relationship and how they influence one another. You could be practicing Somatic Psychology on your own when you’re doing your yoga practice, or your meditation practice, or you’re hiking in the woods and you’re paying attention to your body in a mindful way. That’s basically Somatic Psychology. Somatic Experiencing is a particular form or system or model. It’s a model of Somatic Psychology developed by Dr. Peter Levine whose one of the world’s leading authorities on trauma resolution. He actually teaches regularly at the Esalen Institute and has been connected with Esalen ever since it’s early days in the 60’s. Somatic Experiencing is a very potent way to restore balance to the nervous system. It enhances resilience to stress and increases people’s vitality and their capacity to actively engage in life.

Eddie: I have the book, Waking the Tiger, which I guess is his primary book on the subject? If someone was interested in his work, is that a good place to start?

Corey: That’s a great place to start. It’s a very easy to read, incredible book, groundbreaking book, on how to increase balance for the nervous system.

Eddie: And trauma is stored in the body, isn’t it?

Corey: That’s what they say.

Eddie: Yeah. So, in terms of this Somatic Experiencing work, can you talk about that? Perhaps an example that was helpful?

Corey: Sure. Somatic Experiencing is a great way to increase the body's’ capacity to deal with sensations that might be different than normal everyday sensations. When there’s a trigger that triggers the nervous system the response is one of fight or flight

Eddie: So you might see a red car and freak out?

Corey: Yeah, pretty much. Your heart rate starts increasing. Your digestion actually stops, because that’s not a vital force to stay alive. So for all intents and purposes your body thinks that you are in the same time period as when you had that accident let’s say. If you had an accident when you were in a red car or a red car hit you, then fast forward to the future and you’re walking along the street and you see a red car then instantly your body goes into a triggered fight or flight response. We call that in Somatic Experiencing an activated state of your nervous system.

Eddie: So, how would you work with someone?

Corey: The idea in Somatic Experiencing is to help the person to recognize when the nervous system is in an activated state and then facilitate a sense of settling of the nervous system. And, when you do that enough times, then you literally build the capacity of the nervous system to hold the activation when it starts to arise.

Eddie: Now you work with people in addiction recovery. What percentage- if you were to take a guess- have been traumatized?

Corey: I would say 100%. Let’s just say 99.5% of addicted folks have been traumatized. And, we were both together at the Gabor Mate lecture that he gave which was outstanding. And, he pretty much said the same thing from his perspective. So trauma - what happens with the nervous system in somebody’s life is they contract to deal with whatever activating event that happened and that limits possibility in life because it hard- wires the nervous system into certain response patterns that can lead somebody to have limited choices.

Eddie: Okay. So you do quite a bit of this work.

Corey: I’ve got an example for you that might illustrate that.

Eddie: Oh Cool!

Corey: One of the things that we do at Still Point Wellness is we have a sensory deprivation tank.

Eddie: Yeah, I wanna talk about that, so if this is the appropriate time.

Corey: Yeah, it’s also called a float tank or salt-water flotation tank. And, basically you’re floating in a warm solution of 1000 lbs of Epson salt dissolved in about 400 gallons of water. There’s no light, there’s no sound, there’s fresh air pumped in. If you close the door it is very easy to have your inner senses illuminated and really heightened, because there is no outside stimulation coming in. So I was in the float tank doing one of my floats and instantly I started having an obsessive thought that was leading me down a triggering event in my past. When I was in my 20s I was actually diagnosed with panic disorder and I would have regular panic attacks for a couple of years. So I know what a panic attack really feels like, I know what a dis-regulated nervous system really feels like.

Eddie: It’s no fun.

Corey: It’s no fun. It actually led to the work that I do today, so I appreciate it now in hindsight, but, yeah, it’s no fun. So here I am floating in the float tank, basically zero gravity. I’m absolutely held and contained with this unbelievable sense of lightness and I’m having a great float, and all of a sudden I start having this obsessive thought of ..Oh, what if the air is not turned on? In reality, if there air wasn’t turned on in the float tank it’d be fine because it’s not a closed system at all. There are air vents that aren’t closed so you could live forever in there and have plenty of air, but I didn’t know that, so in my mind…

Eddie: The door isn’t locked.

Corey: The door is definitely never, ever locked. In fact, people can keep the door cracked open a little bit if they want and a lot of people do choose that. So here I am starting to hear my heart beat faster and faster. Now, you’re ears are under the water, and I’ve got earplugs in so I can really hear my heartbeat. It’s almost like a biofeedback tool. I started hearing another sound that started really freaking me out, and here I am now thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got a leaky heart valve.” I’m like self-diagnosing. So, that’s the activated state…right...that’s the sympathetic nervous system that’s kicking in causing the heart to beat faster but I didn’t realize this at the time. I was just inundated in the moment with that triggering event. I realized once I heard that sound, wow! What if I could just flip my reality right now? Like, what if I could just have a thought that’s the exact opposite, and let me see what’s going to happen. So, I had the thought that everything is fine, everything is ok, and perfectly safe. And by the 3rd “I’m perfectly fine, I’m perfectly safe” my heartbeat regulated, the sound went away. I felt like I was floating in a golden light, that just felt so incredible. Now, here’s what happened, and this is what led to me moving out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic branch of my central nervous system. Once I was able to pull back from that physiologically aroused state, I was able to get some perspective on my experience. I was able to realize that that sound was the blood flowing through my veins. Once I realized that was the blood flowing through my veins, I started to get curious. And once I got curious that was really the second step, the first step was pulling my awareness back and kind of just observing like we do in mindfulness practice. The second was the curiosity of oh, what can I do differently now? So that gave me access, that gave me choice. And then, once I had the choice to choose one of my tools which was just this kind of affirmation that all is well, then my body’s response systems started to slow down and what science tells us is when that happens then endorphins start to release. When the body is in an activated state like it was cortisol is being released because my mind thinks I’m in danger. So I just kinda biohacked into that whole process and started to influence the parasympathetic nervous system and then my heart beat regulated, the sound went away, and I really felt like I had the key to a higher quality of life. Like I beat anxiety.

Eddie: So you had to really be willing to pay attention?

Corey: Yeah

Eddie: And an important piece was you had to allow yourself to be with that experience

Corey: That’s right, absolutely right. So the way out was through.

Eddie: Right, exactly! And that’s, for some people seems counter-intuitive to, when you feel something uncomfortable or different, it seems counter-intuitive to turn towards it and say “Okay can I do this” And, really look at it with curiosity, with kindness.

Corey: That’s right

Eddie: And that’s what you did, and as a result of that, you….

Corey: My nervous system has an expanded resiliency to deal with stress, to deal with that sympathetic charge in my nervous system, that fight or flight response. I now can sit with it in a more expanded way. So now the world around just looks brighter and better, and colors look brighter and I can engage with people more and if I maybe feel a little bit of anxiety, that's okay now. Whereas beforehand it wasn’t as okay. And to relate it now to an addict. When someone experiences trauma in their life, they are likely to want to move away from those sympathetic nervous system responses, those triggers. What a brilliant way to move away from something, if you can just smoke something or take a pill..wow, that just like light speed takes you away from that.

Eddie: Sure, it’s the ultimate checking out. And what you just talked about is the ultimate checking in.

Corey: Exactly, and that is Somatic Experiencing.

Eddie: Wow

Corey: And Somatic Psychology.

Eddie: What a great example. Let’s talk about the healing that’s done through sound vibration. I know that’s part of your work. How does that work? How do you use sound vibration to help people, Corey?

Corey:  I use sound vibration as a way to let people know what it’s like when they are actually paying attention to what’s happening in their body. It makes it really easy to feel vibrations based on different sounds that they are hearing and different sounds that they are feeling in their body.  I try to use bowls and bells and rattles and the didgeridoo. Sometimes we have guest musicians come and play and join me. Harp, other kinds of sounds, that when somebody is lying down and focusing on relaxing the mind and relaxing the body, you can actually feel very deeply these sound vibrations that we feel all the time, all around us in our waking realities, that we don’t necessarily pay attention to.

Eddie: So you use bowls, like the Tibetan bowls, and those kind of things?

Corey: Yeah.

Eddie: We had a guest on our show going back about 3 weeks ago, Kate Freeman, she brought bowls and played them. It was quite amazing. You also play the didgeridoo. When did you learn to play that?

Corey: I learned to play the didgeridoo when I was in Bali in 1999. And when I first heard it, it absolutely blew me away and as they say I was bitten by the didgeridoo mosquito. I just knew I needed to play the instrument and I would play everyday and it felt good.

Eddie: Was it hard to learn? It seems like it is.

Corey: It’s actually a really easy instrument to learn.

Eddie: But you have to learn circular breathing, right?

Corey: Yeah, that comes a little later on. There’s lot of stuff on YouTube, or you can learn it pretty easily. It’s actually a really easy instrument to teach yourself. I taught myself how to play. Every time I played I just learned something new. A wonderful way to spend time.

Eddie: So where are you playing it?

Corey: Right now I play once a week at Asheville Community Yoga, every Friday at 4 pm. It’s a Restorative Yoga class, so literally it’s all surrounded by pillows, and blankets and bolsters. Everybody is just laying on the floor while I’m playing.

Eddie: I’ve had that experience and it really is quite amazing. And also, I didn’t mention this before, I’ve also been in the floatation tank and I gotta say when I got in there I was all about it. Bring it on. I get in there. I lie down, and all of a sudden I think, I’m going to spend 90 minutes. I mean, really, 90 minutes? I mean, that’s a long time. Then next thing you know, I was gone. I was just so deeply into a sense of awareness, then the next thing I know I heard the knock on the door and they’re letting me know to finish up. It was really quite amazing.

Corey: Yeah.

Eddie: Anyway, if you would grab your didgeridoo, I know I’ve been waiting to hear it. I’m sure many of our listeners have. So while Corey’s getting the mic in the right place and grabbing this beautiful instrument, what is is made from?

Corey: This is made out of an agave cactus.

Eddie: Ok. So he’s going to get that.

Corey: This is an improvised piece, Eddie. For the listeners out there, I encourage you to sit back and relax and sense into your body what you’re feeling and noticing as you’re listening to the sounds and the rhythms.

<plays didgeridoo>

Eddie: Wow. That’s amazing.

Corey: Thanks Eddie

Eddie: Yeah. Well, it doesn’t look easy to play to me but I’ll take your word for it Corey. Now that’s about, that looks like it’s close to 6 ft long, that instrument.

Corey: Yeah.

Eddie: Have you ever taken that with you on an airplane?

Corey: Yes, I have taken it on many airplanes.

Eddie: Do you have to get a special seat?

Corey: They don’t really like it on an airplane very much, nowadays.

Eddie: Yeah, well yeah, they’ll get over it. You know, of course, it’s originally from Australia, it was developed by the indigenous people the aboriginal people. It’s used as a ceremonial instrument.

Corey: Is is. And it’s used to induce a state the aborigine's call a “dreamtime.” Carl Jung called it the unconscious mind. There is lots of healing that can happen in the dreamtime state. And the way I like to think of it is, there is conscious access, to subconscious material, through the dreamtime state. So in Western speak, we call it lucid dreaming, that time right before you wake up or right before you fall asleep, that is where there is access to subconscious material. And the beauty about that is much of our behavior is led from the subconscious mind. Think of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is the conscious mind and the mountain below the tip is the subconscious mind. And we can can access the subconscious mind, then we can really begin to make shifts and behavioral changes. A great way to do that is by listening to the didgeridoo or playing the didgeridoo, because it’s a very resonating instrument. As you can tell, I play with these different rhythm patterns, that really help to induce a state of trance during my yoga class, and it literally helps people to induce a state of relaxation. Then, I’ll offer some guided imagery for people to shift what they want to shift in their lives, create what they want to create in their lives, and when they really think about those things in that deeply relaxed state, then true change can happen. Another way to access those deep states of relaxation is through the float tank. Because when you’re in the float tank you don’t have any distractions at all from external stimulation or sensory inputs, your inner world really lights up. And there’s no pressure on the joints, so you don’t have to fight gravity. All this energy that normally goes toward external data that’s coming in, all that energy can go toward healing. So all the energy that goes toward holding your body up, can go toward inner healing. Because the salt is literally holding you up. You’re floating in a bed of liquid crystal basically. A thousand pounds of Epsom salt. So it enables your body’s energetic resources to go towards your body’s internal natural healing mechanisms that need it. That’s where it will go.

Eddie: Alright. Do you ever have people that come in and go, I want a massage, I want the salt tank?

Corey: Yeah, that’s called the Mind Body Exploration package.

Eddie: So they’ll double up?

Corey: Actually, most people do that. Right now we’re ranked number 2 spa on TripAdvisor in Western NC. People are really loving the float tank, they’re loving the Esalen massage that we’re offering, the Somatic Psychology that we’re offering, yoga therapy and other kinds of workshops and classes that we offer.

Eddie: Didn’t you get some publicity? A woman came through and she was on television?

Corey: Yeah, that’s right. Kristen Wiig went on the David Letterman show and spoke about her experience in our float tank. Out of the 3 minute interview that she had with David Letterman, she spoke about her time in the float tank for 2 minutes. Yeah, that was great for business, I have to say.

Eddie: Not bad. Not bad. Kristen Wiig. Ok.

Corey: Thanks, Kristen!

Eddie: Yeah, absolutely. So what you do is support people in really accessing their truth.

Corey: That’s right. Accessing their truth.

Eddie: So you’re a facilitator?

Corey: Yeah.

Eddie: And these processes, they augment, they support this work. Do you have a lot of people who come in that are kind of lost and they really get some sense of direction by going through these processes?

Corey: There are some people that come to the spa because they want a massage, they want to feel good, you know.

Eddie: There’s nothing wrong with that.

Corey: They want to float in the float tank. That’s awesome, that’s fantastic. What a great way to spend your resources, spend your time, and your money with a direct experience of feeling better. And then there are lots of people that come because they want to learn skills and they want to learn tools to not only feel better today but to actually engage in a transformation process, so that they can continue to feel better and better as the days go on. And that’s where the offerings we do, Esalen massage, it feels great in the moment, but it also really helps to retrain the nervous system, retrain the mind body connection, retrain patterns of tension and holding so that somebody can, after several massages, they begin to sense, oh I’m actually causing my own shoulder pain because of the amount of tension and gripping in my hands that I’ve been doing ever since I’m a kid.

Eddie: Yeah. And they start noticing and find emotions in their body. Obviously, that can create tension, and they can hold that tension, and that can become pathological.

Corey: That’s right.

Eddie: So from your perspective how do these processes really help people get what they want in their life?

Corey: From a basic level, these processes help somebody to develop the tools of mindfulness, so that they can begin to explore what’s been working and what hasn’t been working. So, whether you’re in the float tank, or you’re experiencing a mindfulness-based Esalen massage, you’re beginning to learn the skill of tracking your body’s sensations, tracking how different thoughts will affect the different muscular holding patterns that happen in your body. That will actually form a character structure around your body. So you can, I do this all the time, I love doing this. I will people watch, and I’ll watch different bodies walk down the street and I’ll notice how they’re holding their shoulders, how they’re holding their low back, what their gait is, and you can actually see someone’s character structure written into the musculature.

Eddie: How much self-control does it take not to run right up to them and hand them a business card?

Corey: Let me tell ya, I would never do that in a million years. I was once in San Francisco and somebody walked right up to me. They stood right in front of me, they peered into my eyes, and they said, “I can tell that you have been places. I can tell you things that you never even thought of.” This dude was like really trying to sell me on his psychic services and it was so invasive. It was incredibly invasive and I will never ever do that to somebody. Because, we all create different kind of character structures, whether it’s a Somatic patterning of body holding or muscular, or it’s a personality pattern that has a defense mechanism to shield us from some kind of painful truth.

Eddie: Yeah, right.

Corey: And that’s just part of being human. Everybody does it.

Eddie: We do what we need to do to survive.

Corey: Exactly. And I would never want to take that away from somebody that’s not ready for that to happen. So, I just hold everybody in unconditional positive regard and respect in all of their beauty and in all of their things that are hurting them or helping them or everything with that person and I try not to judge it. If somebody wants relief from something, if somebody wants to explore a pattern, I am right there with them to walk that path side by side. But, I’m never going to tell somebody what they should do or shouldn’t do, or how they should hold their bodies or how they should act, what facets of their personality they should have or not have. That’s not my at all my job whatsoever

Eddie: Mhmm, well, and I’m sure because of that, the word gets around. People are very comfortable with going there.

Corey: Yeah, that’s right. Right now, it is a very popular spa and also the class that we do at Asheville Community Yoga regularly has anywhere from 25 to 40 participants.

Eddie: And we should mention that’s a donation based studio. So, anybody can go and take this class even if they don’t have 2 nickels to rub together.

Corey: That’s right. In fact, if somebody goes 10 times to that donation based class that Robin and I lead every Friday, then we’ll give them a $45 gift certificate to the spa.

Eddie: Wow.

Corey: Yeah, so what we’re doing is we’re trying to really encourage people to spend the time accessing these states of deep relaxation. Because then it’s just a win, win, win, everybody wins.

Eddie: Sure

Corey: Also, something that we recently launched is a membership structure to the spa. We were hearing lot’s of feedback about access to this kind of healthcare that we provide and our response was, yeah, if you commit to the process you’re more likely to have your mental and physical health increase and your goals met. So, come to the restorative yoga class, the donation based restorative yoga class and we’ll give you free massages and floats and then become a member and it’s just basically once a month if you come it’s about 20% off of our prices.

Eddie: So, that's’ Asheville Community Yoga, Fridays at 4:00. The studio out in Woodfin?

Corey: That’s right.

Eddie: Well, Corey I want to thank you so much for coming in this week and let’s give them the website one more time so they can get more information. And, if they have other...I suspect you can also refer them to other resources, I know you’re very well connected in the community. If you don’t have what they need, I’m sure you can direct them somewhere else as well.

Corey: Always.

Eddie: Always. Thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for coming in and spending the time with us this week, Corey.

Corey: Thank you so much Eddie. It was great to spend time with you like this.