Heath and Nicole Reed started off like many of us—falling in love with bodywork while in massage school, then having to juggle all the jobs to stay afloat. But they quickly figured out that by incorporating loving kindness into their own lives, their growth extended far beyond the personal level. Heath and Nicole are the passionate owners of LivingMetta.com, where you can find their thoughts, videos, classes and other offerings, and so much more.
Allison's column in Massage & Bodywork magazine:
“Feelization: Connect with Clients on a Deeper Level,” by Allison Denney, Massage & Bodywork magazine, September/October 2021, page 85.
“The Case for Consistency: Treating Persistent Injuries,” by Allison Denney, Massage & Bodywork magazine, July/August 2021, page 80.
“Buddha’s Six-Pack: Serratus and Intercostals, with a Diaphragm Chaser,” by Allison Denney, Massage & Bodywork magazine, May/June 2021, page 86.
Contact Allison Denney:
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Anatomy Trains is a global leader in online anatomy education and also provides in-classroom certification programs for structural integration in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, and China, as well as fresh-tissue cadaver dissection labs and weekend courses. The work of Anatomy Trains originated with founder Tom Myers, who mapped the human body into 13 myofascial meridians in his original book, currently in its fourth edition and translated into 12 languages. The principles of Anatomy Trains are used by osteopaths, physical therapists, bodyworkers, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, and other body-minded manual therapists and movement professionals. Anatomy Trains inspires these practitioners to work with holistic anatomy in treating system-wide patterns to provide improved client outcomes in terms of structure and function.
0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: Anatomy Trains is delighted to announce a brand new dissection live stream specialty class on September 18th. Lumbo pelvic stability, a one day layered dissection with Anatomy Trains author Tom Myers and master Dissector Todd Garcia. The early bird price of $150 is held until September 10th. After September 10th, the price is $250. Come see the bodies actual core for yourself. This course will be provided over zoom webinar with multiple camera views, live chat, and Q&A. Visit anatomytrains.com to sign up.
0:00:34.7 Speaker 2: This episode is brought to you by the Massage Mentor Institute, Diane Matkowski, also known as the massage mentor, and Alison Denny, also known as rebel massage have teamed up to bring you the Massage Mentor Institute. MMI is a collection of teachings and education opportunities from industry leaders around the world because your continuing education experience should be whatever you want it to be. They are building community one body part at a time and they want you to be a part of it. Head over to the massagementorinstitute.com today to see more, learn more and do more.
0:01:21.2 Speaker 3: About 10 years ago, I attended the world massage conference in San Diego, California. I was teaching at the time, and I brought my students there for a field trip. There were all sorts of cool side classes you could sign up for. And I had a free moment, so I did. It was a yoga Tai class taught by Heath and Nicole Reed. It was amazing. I have followed them ever since. And then just the other day, I got to sit down and hear their story.
0:01:53.6 Nicole: I'm Nicole.
0:01:54.7 Heath: And I'm Heath.
0:01:55.9 Nicole: I like you to speak for ourselves. So yeah. And we have a continuing education company called Living Metta. And it's a community based company that's coming together to blend the science and the senses in a way that elevates our own personal career and what we're up to and everyone else around us. What do you... How do you want to... Well, I don't have an elevator speech of what we do anymore. It has been evolving, and it continues to evolve. And I think that's my favorite part of Living Metta is watching our business grow in ways that I had never imagined going from being a massage therapist to being a teacher's assistant for massage therapy, and then figuring out "Oh, I can be a teacher too." And how do I do this on my own? And then how do we do this for groups? And then it just gets bigger and bigger. And now that there's websites and global communities for reaching out in new ways.
0:02:58.6 S3: Heath and Nicole have a partnership in love and in life. And their company is called Living Metta. Their website which outlines their list of accomplishments is impressive to say the least. They teach, create videos, write articles, offer retreats, and are a wealth of knowledge for the massage and bodywork community.
0:03:19.5 Heath: I would add that as part of Living Metta and some of you might be familiar with the word metta refers to lovingkindness. What Nicole and I are really passionate about is embodying lovingkindness and not just at the table, which I assume that if you're a therapist, you are already oriented towards service and compassion. But how do we create lovingkindness communities in diads, but also triads and with friends, family, neighbors, community, strangers, and not only in therapeutic settings, but how do we live lovingkindness.
0:04:00.0 S3: Talking with them, it became abundantly clear that they are in sync with each other and on their authentic path. It is almost as if they have known each other forever, but I knew that wasn't the case. So I asked them about their origin story.
0:04:15.5 Heath: Oh yeah. We've told our relationship origin story a number of times. Do you want to start or...
0:04:21.9 Nicole: I'll let you start this time, this will be fun.
0:04:23.7 Heath: Well, I was dorm mates with Nicole's brother freshman year in college and we were about three hours from the university to our hometowns and we happen to... Our families live really close. So we commuted alot.
0:04:37.4 Nicole: We went to different high schools but didn't meet till we went to college.
0:04:40.5 Heath: And so I was out on Vinnie, her brother's backyard, hanging out with the guys and lo and behold the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen on the planet comes out and Vinnie says, "This is my sister, Nicole," and like my jaw dropped and like for me, it was love at first sight.
0:04:56.2 Nicole: For me, it was like who's this crazy guy on my back porch with the long hair, the flower shirts, the painted fingernails, the silver metal boots? Like who is the space cadet? I don't even know what to do with this guy.
0:05:10.7 S3: But Heath was persistent and it worked.
0:05:13.7 Heath: It was several months later till we started hanging out and following the end of that relationship working in.
0:05:19.3 Nicole: He just kept showing up at my door.
0:05:22.1 Heath: Wanna hang out?
0:05:23.4 Nicole: He wouldn't go away.
0:05:24.4 S3: Persistence.
0:05:25.0 Heath: Persistence.
0:05:26.5 S3: It works.
0:05:26.6 Nicole: It did work.
0:05:29.8 S3: That's awesome.
0:05:29.9 Nicole: It has worked. We're getting ready to celebrate our 20 year anniversary, our wedding anniversary.
0:05:33.9 Heath: Our wedding anniversary.
0:05:34.8 Nicole: That's tomorrow. Oh my god, that's tomorrow. Yeah.
0:05:35.5 Heath: That's right.
0:05:36.9 Nicole: And it hasn't always been easy.
0:05:38.9 Heath: Well, and no, I find that the biggest investment besides my own personal exploration has been in the growing and nurturing of our relationship and all the effort, all the energy I've ever invested in our relationship has paid forth innumerable priceless dividends. And if you are either single or you are in a committed relationship where you want to grow and evolve, and the other person's interested in it too, it is worth the effort. It is worth the challenges, it is worth going into uncertainty and the unknown, for me at least is one of the most fulfilling, enriching experiences of my life is in our relationship.
0:06:23.9 Nicole: I think on my deathbed, I will count our relationship as one of my greatest successes. Yes.
0:06:28.8 Heath: Yeah, me too.
0:06:28.9 S3: Heath and Nicole seemed so well connected, in fact that I veered off of my interview track and was curious to hear if they ever had any bad days.
0:06:39.9 Nicole: Oh God, yes.
0:06:40.9 Heath: Yeah. We have fights, we argue, we disagree. Well, I mean, let me say, what we do regularly is we disagree, and I would say we disagree probably six...
0:06:53.7 Nicole: We work together, live together, everything... A lot of our life is really meshed and intertwined, so we spend a lot of time.
0:07:00.9 Heath: Its interwoven. And even though we disagree probably most days than not, I think that speaks to our own unique inner proclivity about what's up for us, like my essence, my soul's mission, my life's purpose, maybe a little different than every single other person on the planet, which is awesome, and in these ways that we might have disagreements or we might not see or believe or feel in the same way, we have a treasure trove of practices where we come back to each other with authenticity, with appreciation, with re-committing to favoring connection rather than criticism, blame and complaint.
0:07:44.3 Nicole: And I think that's been an evolution. Right?
0:07:46.8 Heath: Absolutely.
0:07:46.9 Nicole: An evolution in our relationship when we first started.
0:07:48.9 Heath: That was at the beginning, we were kids.
0:07:49.7 Nicole: Shouting matches, hurling broccoli and other foods at one another. I don't throw as much broccoli as I used to, but Heath would get mad and wouldn't say it and would whistle instead, so our evolution, our communication style, thankfully, as we grow older, hopefully we grow a little wiser and we grow a little more savvy in ways that we can connect, and I think that that is a testament of what we're up to, is our own personal evolution and choosing... Favoring appreciation over criticism.
0:08:21.7 S3: Okay, so besides learning how to not throw broccoli at each other, I wanted to hear more about how they got into massage and teaching.
0:08:30.0 Nicole: Just turned 21, we celebrated my 21st birthday together. We ended up... So we're finishing college together, we didn't get married until after college.
0:08:38.7 Heath: Yeah, we'd been dating for about five years and usually Nicole defers to me with the historical...
0:08:46.8 Nicole: Timeline.
0:08:46.8 Heath: Numbers and timelines so I can fill in the left brain stuff. When Nicole and I got together, we were staunchly anti-marriage. Who needs a piece of paper outside authority to tell us that we love each other for life? And we were rebellious. I don't need some outside someone to tell me that I... So that changed when we went to massage school.
0:09:10.0 S3: Heath and Nicole met during their undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida, they graduated, and they were ready to start their lives.
0:09:20.2 Heath: We worked in our careers, we took a gap year, first couple of months, we backpacked Europe with our tent and sleeping bag and training bag, about 24 cities and 12 countries in 60 days.
0:09:35.3 Nicole: It was insane, but it reinforced our relationship and our commitment to one another.
0:09:37.9 Heath: I found out later that Nicole had made a deal with herself that that European tour...
0:09:42.4 Nicole: If we could survive this backpacking trip.
0:09:44.0 Heath: Would make it or break it.
0:09:46.3 Nicole: We can do this.
0:09:46.8 S3: Litmus test.
0:09:47.2 Heath: Fortunately, I passed the test. Yeah, I passed the test. It wasn't actually till we were working in our fields for about a year and thinking that we would go and I was gonna pursue a Doctorate in Psychology, Nicole wanted to get her Masters in Oriental Medicine. And then something interesting happened. I looked around to all the different programs in the country to find the one that would best suit my interest in transformation, and if it had kind of a spiritual context and about holistic psychology and I found one program that I really loved.
0:10:23.0 Nicole: Only one.
0:10:24.0 Heath: And the only one that seemed suited to me and they liked my records and they liked all the essays and all the numbers I provided for them on the test stuff, and they said, "Oh, we'd love to invite you to do an interview." And we went to San Francisco, we were living in Florida at the time to check out the school, and it was rainy.
0:10:47.6 Nicole: Everyday.
0:10:48.6 Heath: It was dark, the cost of living was beyond our wildest dreams, and we felt like, Oh, this is hard. And so when the... I think there were multiple... There was a handful of candidates for the course, and there were a handful of professors group interviewing us, and when I was asked, "How are you getting along in San Francisco?" I told the truth that, "This is really rough, and I'm meeting all this resistance and I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed, and I'm not sure about this city," and happily, not in the moment, but happily, they disqualified and rejected my application.
0:11:30.8 Nicole: And so it sent us spinning on a whole new journey.
0:11:34.7 Heath: What are we gonna do? We have our leases up in two months, we have the rental car, we have the U haul. We wanna go somewhere west, we're ready to get out of where we grew up.
0:11:44.3 Nicole: And he threw in the idea of massage school out of nowhere. Just for me, it felt like out of left field, and was like, "We could do massage school, we'll get it over with in a couple of years, and then we can use this to work in towards our degrees, our masters and our PhDs or whatever." And we went to massage school and blew our mind, totally took us in a whole another direction about who we thought we were totally changed, how I could experience myself totally changed. I learned so much about who I was and how to connect with other people on a whole new dimension, it was mind-blowing, body-blowing, heart-expanding. And we both fell in love with the work.
0:12:29.5 S3: They landed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and their transition into the world of body work and massage became the foundation of what they have built today.
0:12:39.0 Heath: Every single time, what I appreciate about us individually and collectively, is that every time a door closed, we would pause, sometimes we would freak out, usually we would freak out, but then there'd be a moment of, "Okay, what's next, what creation wants to move through me next," and something I've relied on for many years, and it's a kind of cool thing about the English language is that the word reaction has the same letters as the word creation, and so when I find I'm reacting off of a script when I'm kind of knee jerk default, unconsciously re-enacting an old script, I go for where can I recreate instead. Where's the creative energy that can get me off that hamster wheel of reacting.
0:13:40.4 S3: The creation of their new lives began at the Utah College of massage therapy.
0:13:46.0 Heath: Salt Lake City was in the late 90s. We had never met a Mormon or heard an acronym LDS, Latter Day Saints. It was a cool cultural shift, it was the first place that we'd ever driven on the highway and seen a bumper sticker that says drive-friendly like oh.
0:14:05.9 Nicole: Thats a thing...
0:14:07.4 Heath: That's not like how it was in East Coast south Florida where we grew up, and the more we were in the West, and right now our home base is in the Phoenix area in Arizona, we just feel this open expanse in the land that is like the southwest, but in and around the culture. For us, it's super important that we surround ourselves with the people and the places that really speak to our heart, that really nourish us, that we feel this mutual benefit, this mutual generosity between us and the land, us and our neighborhood, us and our community, you've probably heard those studies that say weight, weight is a lot of times determined by the community of people you hang out with. If you tend to hang out with healthier or un-healthier people, your body often reflects that. If there's different thoughts going on in the people you choose to spend your time with, a lot of times that's impacting your own psyche and psychology. So for Nicole and I finding what is our intention and who else wants to play in the playground that is also interested in the same kind of intention, and that's what we looked for, that's what we are doing in terms of creating these small localized communities as well as global remote communities all around the planet.
0:15:44.7 S3: Heath and Nicole clearly found inspiration from their environment and they hit the ground running.
0:15:50.7 Nicole: Yes. Well, it was happening, I think simultaneously for both of us. When we graduated our program from UCMT and we went right into working, I was working in a chiropractic office, and I think you were seeing clients on the side going remote to their homes and things like that. And our teacher, I think who was my first? I can't remember the first instructor that asked me to be their teacher assistant, but we both had someone request us to be their teacher assistant since we're still hanging out in the area and we're working. So we did, and we got to go through the whole program with different teachers, we started to ask, "Well, can I be a part of your class? Can I help and assist with acupressure? Can I help and assist in shiatsu? Can I...
0:16:31.9 Heath: I wanna know more about cranial sickle, let me retake the program two or three times.
0:16:35.0 Nicole: Can I assist you? So we started just asking everybody really.
0:16:37.5 Heath: All our favorite teachers. Can we help you out?
0:16:38.5 Nicole: How can we help? How can we be of... What can we do for you? Just really putting ourselves out there, taking those little scary first steps and sometimes getting a no, and a lot of times getting a yes and we got to go through the program almost like two more additional times, I feel like. So we really got to soak in, marinate and embody the practices that were really just headstrong at the beginning when we first graduated, it was just all these ideas and techniques and didn't really have a way to put them together quite yet, and having the opportunity to be a teacher's assistant and at the same time practice really was a great way for us to ground the work that we were learning in the program that we did learn. And from there, Arizona School of Massage Therapy opened, and they were looking for teachers to fill some positions, we applied and luckily they said yes. So then we started to teach on our own out there, and at the ASMT Arizona School of Massage Therapy, which was where Heath and I really wanted to live was here in Arizona. Yeah, so we were so excited when they opened up the school here.
0:17:51.5 S3: It wasn't necessarily easy going from there.
0:17:54.8 Heath: Well, in the beginning, I think like a lot of massage therapists...
0:17:57.4 Nicole: We were like, where do we fit in?
0:17:57.7 Heath: We had probably had four or five different jobs because we didn't have one steady source of income, and in some cases, we were doing things that we didn't really... Wasn't our first, second or third choice. But we had to get food on the table and pay rent. So it certainly was an evolution those first few years, and we had the incredible opportunity to re-learn, to... We were taking continuing education though, even when we were beginning basic class, I think that partly prepared us to just live a life of learning and teaching.
0:18:34.6 S3: Heath and Nicole continue to show up for themselves for each other and for the body work community over and over again, they've got an incredible website, they offer classes, they have a YouTube Channel, they write articles, and I was curious to hear if any part of that ever felt scary to either one of them.
0:18:53.5 Heath: One thing that I experienced in my own life is that I don't get over fear, this idea of no fear is not something that I've experienced as a human or seen for those around me, those who are really willing to be deeply vulnerable, honest and truthful, however, I like to see fear as an ally as a creative collaborator. We know from science physics that energy isn't created or destroyed, fear, all our emotions have an energetic power a frequency. One of my favorite quotes, I have a couple of favorite ones about fear one is from Fritz Perls, he's the co-founder with his wife of Gestalt Therapy decades ago. He said, "Fear is excitement without the breath." Think about that. "Fear is excitement without the breath."
0:19:54.7 Heath: And if you remember a time when you've been a little anxious, nervous, scared, fearful, that kind of trembly, buzzy energy is very similar to the energetic frequency of vibration of excitement and enthusiasm. So the good news is, with practice, it definitely takes practice. With practice, I've learned to get real familiar with my fear signatures, my early warning detector signatures, even the first time there's a tension around my nose when I'm just starting to feel scared. So, I first have looked for fear, not as a way to make it bigger, but as a way to befriend it so we can work together. So, one way that I work with fear and through fear, not past fear, is that I'll breathe. And this is when I'm conscious.
0:20:51.1 Heath: I don't recommend people trying to get rid of their big fears when they're scared. This is why we meditate. This is why we do things like yoga and chi gong. It's really easy to feel good when you're feeling good. And so part of what movement therapy, or even meditation offers, is that we intentionality stress ourself, whether it be our focus, or our body mechanics, or our breath, whatever, we intentionally stress ourselves out while we create an atmosphere of safety, of connection. And so for me, breathing, my breathing practice really helps inform the dialogue I have with fear.
0:21:32.0 Nicole: And Heath has pointed to a lot of what we've been really focusing on, is our own... Growing our own body intelligence. Our own willingness to embody the practice of our feelings, practice of our... All the fears, of all the worries, of all the joys and happiness. All the messiness and waves of emotions that are constantly rising and falling like currents in the ocean in our own bodies. How can we be with them as a way to support our present moment connections? Am I available? Can I go from here? And I think that's what constantly leads to the, "What's next?" But it's growing our own body intelligence, which is really what we're excited about right now. As massage therapists, as touch therapists, healers, light workers, sound therapists, we're all doing this really cool thing. We're already in and feeling... We're feeling ourselves. But do we be with ourselves? Are we pushing those feelings away? Do we get to ride the wave all the way through to the very end of the sadness and grief? How can I stay with and be present for myself like I'm staying with and being present for all the people who lay down on my table? So I think for us, right now, that the growing our body intelligence and our emotional intelligence feeds into our social intelligence and our abilities to connect with others and support mutual creativity. We get to create something new, not only for ourselves but for everybody.
0:23:03.6 S3: So, what is your next step? Heath offers a couple of last words of wisdom.
0:23:09.0 Heath: The times where I've had the idea and kinda held myself back even though I'm thinking about it, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, being like, "That would be a really good idea." I've, in the past, held myself back, thinking, "You know, I have to have the whole thing figured out before I take the first step." And what I'd like to let all, whether you're a healing practitioner, or you're just a human interested in elevating and healing and growth and discoveries, taking action and putting your creative energy forward will automatically reveal the next step that is important for you.
0:23:46.9 S3: Heath and Nicole Reed's ability to drop into their own selves and create success with Living Metta, with massage therapists across the country and around the globe, is a beautiful example of how lovingkindness has proven to be a door opening mindset.
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