A soft drum beat echoes down from somewhere above your head as you lay on a massage table. The vibrations move around you and resonate deep within your body. You let out a deep sigh as you begin to relax. You smell sage and feel the rush of air as smoke is fanned around your body on the wing of a bird. Your body lets go of one more layer of tension as you allow yourself to be drawn into a healing space.

Warm stones are placed on your belly and around your body, under your tense back and in your overworked hands. Your muscles relax with the soothing heat as you feel stress release. Warm stones placed on the arches of your feet seem to ground you in the energies of the earth.

The therapist applies soothing oil to your dry skin, and the first warm stone is applied to your tense neck and shoulders. You feel the heat spread deep into the muscle, relaxing and bringing fresh circulation to the tight area. Soon after, the therapist tells you to breathe and you feel the cooling sensation of a chilled marble stone on your sore, tight, aching muscles. It is like jumping into a cool lake on a hot day, and your body welcomes the feeling of release that it brings.

This is an example of a typical session of Inyan Pejuta (Lakota language for "Stone Medicine), as practiced and taught by Jenny Ray, a Native American Medicine Woman and an Elder of the Santee Dakota Sioux Tribe.

Stone Medicine involves using heated and chilled stones combined with traditional Native American ceremonies to bring relief and wellness to the body and spirit. Jenny’s tribe has passed down this method of treatment for many generations, and according to oral tradition the ancestors of the Native American people have used this method of treatment for more than 10,000 years.

Jenny Ray states on her website: "When an individual is out of balance physically, spiritually or emotionally they are not in harmony with the natural rhythms of Mother Earth, so a reconnection is imperative to restore well-being. When the practitioner offers the Stone People to the body during ceremony they are re-establishing this connection."

This is a wonderful statement to describe the goal of a Stone Medicine treatment. The techniques of Stone Medicine are not just intended to affect the physical body, but the emotions and the spirit as well. In turn, by clearing the body of negative energies and reconnecting it to the healing energies of the earth, the body’s ability to heal itself is reestablished.

Jenny also teaches her students the meaning of the Lakota Sioux phrase, "MITAKUYE OYASIN." In English, this translates to "All My Relations." This phrase is central to the way that most Native American tribes look at the world, as an interrelated web. All things are connected to all other things; what hurts one part of the web hurts all. Looking at the world in this way fosters a respect for the Earth and its creatures that many think is missing in today’s modern society.

In Native American belief, the Stone Tribe holds the ancient wisdom of the world. They see the stone as our historians, for all of evolution is recorded in fossils and geological activity that is evidenced in the Stone Tribe. Perhaps, through the practice of Stone Medicine, humanity can find a way to tap into some of that wisdom for the benefit of "All My Relations."

Jenny Ray has been honored as an inductee to the 2009 World Massage Hall of Fame for her work to bring this unique modality to the massage world. Stone Medicine Workshops are offered in the United States and in many countries throughout the world. Over Labor Day Weekend, she will be offering a three-day camping retreat featuring Shamanic Journey, drum making, prayer fan creation and Native American ceremonial education, one hour south of the Twin Cities metro area. For more information, please visit www.StoneSpiritTherapy.com.

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Shanna A. Schultz is a massage therapist and reflexologist practicing in Lonsdale, MN. She can be reached at Shanna@CreatureComfortsBodywork.com. Copyright © 2008 Shanna A. Schultz. All Rights Reserved.

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