Sage (Stacy) Lewis – author, healer, shamanic practitioner, animal communicator and life coach – is a down-to-earth St. Paul resident whose life experiences
have convinced her that each one of us makes a difference, including those with four legs, scales or feathers.
A "creature teacher" who does business as Dancing Porcupine, Lewis is one of only a half dozen people in the world who are third-level practitioners of a healing modality – Tellington TTouch® – that uses touch and movement to help animals and people relax enough to make calm decisions during stressful situations. First-level practitioners of TTouch are people who graduate from the program and are able to lead one-day workshops. The dozen or so second-level practitioners are allowed to teach two-day workshops. Lewis began teaching nationally in 2008 after having good success in the Twin Cities. Lewis said: "Practitioner 3 is somebody who is doing even more. They are embodying this work."
Her Plott Hound, Java, only 12 weeks old when she was rescued by Lewis from an animal shelter, has made remarkable progress during the past seven years in rebounding from early life trauma as a result of Lewis’ commitment to this form of healing. And in the process, Lewis discovered that Java was helping her to heal.
The following is the conclusion of Edge Life’s two-part interview with Sage Lewis.
Please describe Linda Tellington Jones, the woman who created Tellington TTouch® method?
Sage Lewis: She’s fantastic. Linda is the most beautiful combination of left brain and right brain. That’s the best way to describe her. I see Linda as fearless. Everybody has fears, but I see her as fearless around animals. She’s an amazing pioneer. She started this work 30 years ago, and nobody was doing anything like this then. Now, What the Bleep?! is out in which they are talking about the cellular function, in which Candace Pert is talking about the molecules of emotion. Linda was talking about that 30 years ago. That’s what we talk about with Tellington TTouch®. The whole idea behind it is that you’re actually helping those cells to regenerate, to release fear, pain, tension, trauma. You’re helping the brain to engage. You’re literally changing the physiology of the body.
You do that through relaxing movements on the animals’ bodies?
SL: Yes. There are ways of sliding your hands across the body, different lifts where you’re lifting the skin, lifting the belly to help with tension. You’re doing some clockwise circular touches on the body.
How has Tellington TTouch® changed you as a person and how has it affected the way you interact with other people?
SL: The greatest gift of this work is awareness. The gifts are invaluable to me. When I started this work, I was far more anxious, far more tense, far more judgmental, far more unaware. It’s really made me think about how I touch other people, where I touch other people, do I touch other people? How does somebody feel when they’re around you? How can you help them to feel more comfortable? It’s made me think about my own body. How do I stand so that I’m in balance physically? Can I breathe if I’m hunched over? Do I think about my posture? It’s made me think about what I put in my body. Since I started TTouch, I quit drinking alcohol, I quit caffeine, and I quit sugar a couple months ago. I’m a vegetarian. All of these gifts have come from this work.
I imagine it has helped you see the connection between people and the animal kingdom.
SL: Absolutely. I didn’t know when I started this work that I was going to be working with people. I had no idea. I just taught last weekend in Mesa, Ariz. Halfway through the first day a woman said, "I’m learning the most just by watching you, how aware you are, how thoughtful, how present you are."
What has Java told you silently about herself that would give us an idea of her personality?
SL: She’s really, really funny. When I told her that you were coming over to do this interview, I said, "He’s going to interview both of us." And she said, "Good." Kind of like this matter-of-fact, like she wants to be in on the interview. She’s incredibly intelligent. She’s very succinct with her words. When I communicate with her, and when other communicators work with her, everybody across the board says just how smart she is, how hilarious she is. She’s very wise, very matter-of-fact.
When I first started doing animal communication, during my first session I was sitting in the house and I was connecting with this dog. All of a sudden, I felt Java’s presence behind me. I turned around and she said, "Who are you talking to?"
And I thought, "Oh, my gosh I have to let her know, because all of a sudden I’m talking and she can pick it up."
How good is she at answering her e-mail? I noticed you have an e-mail address for her.
SL: She’s good. I have a blog for her and I actually ask her to answer any of the blog comments on my website. I ask her the questions. Because she has a tendency to be pretty blunt and cut and dry, I have to be a little nicer when I type in the answers. I say, "Hey, you got an e-mail," and I read it to her.
Telepathically, does Java have anything she’d like to share?
SL: She just said it’s important for people to be nice to the animals, and that they pay attention. She also just said it’s important for people to be nice to themselves.
What simple exercise can pet owners do daily to help their animals be more calm and confident?
SL: If there’s one thing that I would love people to take away from this interview, it is being conscious about where you touch an animal. Start at the shoulder. Get down at their level. Be gentle. Go slow. There’s a stroke I call Noah’s March. It’s a really nice way to introduce yourself to an animal. It’s just a really long, slow, stroke from the shoulders and back along the body, rather than going right for the face, which is what most people do. You’ll get a lot further with an animal if you touch them in a way that they appreciate.
As far as routine, Java just said, "Make sure there’s a routine." When we get up in the morning, Java and I have time to just kind of hang out. I let her outside, I feed her, we have play time, we have exercise time, we play hide-and-seek. If she could speak for all of the animals, Java says that consistency’s really important. Consistency in emotion. For people with wild emotional swings, it’s going to affect the animal. Diet and exercise are important – feeding a quality diet not only to yourself, but to your animals.
You indicate on your website that the more conscious you become in your life and the more you get a handle on things, the more Java does, too.
SL: Yeah, she said this to an animal communicator a while back. She said, when I get my act together, she’ll be fine. So, it’s a combination of me becoming a better human being so I can be more grounded for her, as well.
How do our pets serve as a mirror for us?
SL: It goes back to awareness. A lot of people are unaware of that mirror. I had no idea when I met Java that she was going to teach me that I was fearful, that I had anxiety. I had no idea that she was going to teach me about my potential, that she was going to push me to grow into a better human being just by being who she was. She’s taught me to let go. She’s taught me about acceptance.
It may sound really tongue-in-cheek, but she is the greatest gift in my life. I’ve had animals my entire life, but this one has been a pain in the butt – and she is the greatest gift. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m also a life coach now, and going through that certification process. And I know that it’s because of this dog showing up in my life that I’ve become a better person. I’ve learned how to work more with people, and now I want to continue to work more with people.
During my last TTouch training, after going through the program for a year and a half with the same people, there was one man in the workshop named Dana. He had a really sweet connection with Java. He was an animal communicator and also becoming a TTouch practitioner. On the very last day when we’re all graduating, we were all sitting in a big circle. Everybody’s talking about what lessons they learned over the last two years. Dana’s sitting right next to me, and everybody spoke except Dana.
Then finally he took a big inhale, and he turned and he looked at Java and he got these huge tears in his eyes and he said, "Everything I learned about this work, I learned from that dog." And Java got up and she jumped in his lap and put her arms around him and started kissing him. It was really remarkable. You just never know what kind of an impact you’re going to have.
Why is your tagline…"Better pets, better people, better planet"…a passion of yours?
SL: Because it all goes together. If we take care of our animals, if we take care of ourselves, one affects the other. If we take good care of ourselves, we can take good care of our animals, and it affects the planet. If we’re conscious beings, it makes a difference how well our plants grow in our house. We are all connected; we’re connected to Mother Earth, we’re connected to the Animal Kingdom, and the Human Kingdom.
If you could say something to every person on the planet at once right now, what would you say?
SL: Choose love. It’s that simple, choose love.
Do you have a bigger dream?
SL: Yeah, don’t we all? I want to live at the base of a bunch of mountains in a little wood cabin and, get this work out nationally. My work in the world is teaching awareness. And I have another book inside of me that isn’t out yet. It will include spiritual stories, more geared toward people and life lessons and everyday things. It’s called God Bless Calcium.
SL: Yes. It’s a title that came to me from a homeless woman whom I passed on the street one day. I gave her a banana and she stuck it up in the air and she said, "God Bless Calcium!" I don’t think there’s calcium in bananas, but I laughed so hard, and the look on her face from giving her that banana I will never forget. She was so happy. It’s about little life lessons in everyday things. I could have easily gone home and not given her anything, but I had just come from Mississippi Market and I’m like, "What do I have that I can give away? Here you go!"
It’s the path of the warrior. We’ve got to do our own work first before we can work with others.