On Alternative Therapies
SHEN Therapy
By Robert Ross 


“Emotions have a life with a beginning and a natural ending and, when not completed, remain inside us affecting everything that we do.”
                                                                         — Fritz Perls 

Alternative therapy . . . there’s SHEN, Shiatsu, Rolfing, Thai Massage, Trager, Feldenkrais, Reiki . . . the list goes on and on.  It wasn’t too long ago that ‘alternative’ meant switching M.D.s.  Today, there’s an abundance of choices . . . almost too many. Over the next few issues of Awareness Magazine, I plan on exploring some of the more prevalent alternative therapies available, and sharing my experiences with the Awareness readers.

 I arrived for my 3:30 SHEN therapy  appointment somewhat anxious, and feeling the forward momentum of the workday — phone calls, appointments, places to go and people to see.  Ayleyaell greeted me at the door with a smile.  She had dark medium length hair, wore glasses, was noticeably soft spoken and unassuming — if there was a total opposite to my state of being, Ayleyaell would fit that description. Her quiet and unassuming way set the stage for the profound altered state that I would soon be experiencing. 

SHEN therapy (also referred to as Physio-Emotional Release Therapy) was created by Richard Pavek more than twenty years ago. Apparently he was performing a hands-on healing with a woman when she began to experience a powerful emotional reaction which she described as ‘giving birth to herself.’ At the time Pavek felt a tremendous energy in his hands. A scientist by nature, he wanted to know what was going on, and began studying the mechanics of energy and healing, which eventually developed into a system he called SHEN (specific human emotional nexus).  Pavek describes SHEN as “a hands-on deep emotional release work that utilizes the qi from the biofield in unique ways.” 

Ayleyaell reviewed with me a three-page health questionnaire which I had filled out and faxed to her prior to my appointment.  After quizzing Ayleyaell about SHEN and how she became a practitioner, I was invited to begin the process. While Ayleyaell turned on some new age music, I stepped up to a cot which was on a massage  table. SHEN practitioners refer to the cot as a ‘SHEN Cradle.” The cot was covered with blankets and pillows to make it comfortable. The purpose of using a cot was to allow the therapist to be able to place one hand under the client’s body while placing the other hand on the top of the body.  In SHEN, the practitioner places his or her hands gently on the client’s clothed body, holding them in a series of paired positions. This pairing of the hands allows energy to flow from one of the practitioner’s hands to the other.  The therapist’s focus is on the area from the lower torso to the upper torso. 

It’s All About Energy 
Chi, biofields, meridians, auras, energy fields, bioflux, qi — for those involved in the alternative health field, these are common terms. But, for others, these labels maybe somewhat confusing. They are, after all, terms with which the scientific world is still grappling. SHEN therapy uses the term bioflux (often called qi energy) which is directed by the therapist’s hands into the client’s body. 

As I lay on the cot, Ayleyaell began by asking me some questions — where was my lower back aching, etc. then she positioned her hands on me, one beneath, and one above. It wasn’t too long before I was in a state of deep relaxation and heading for an even deeper state of being. 

“The body automatically contracts around pain” according to one of the SHEN promotional flyers. “You may notice that your stomach clenches when you feel a stab of fear or shame, or that it becomes hard to draw a breath when your chest is constricted with grief. When emotional pain is severe, or occurs over and over again, it becomes trapped in the body region where we feel it.” 

According to Ayleyaell, “many people come to SHEN for stress relief and relaxation, but where SHEN really shines is working with deep-seated emotions that the person may or may not be aware of.” 

After a short period of time my body jolted, the jolt that often occurs transitioning from a wakeful state to sleep. I was now in a state that I would remain in for the next forty-five minutes or so, a waking sleep state. At one point I heard myself snoring for a few seconds, yet I was awake and conscious. During the session, there was no talking. 

The goal of SHEN therapy is to reverse the contractions that long ago trapped and continue to hold the debilitating effects of fear, grief, shame and inferiority. The SHEN literature focuses on such ailments as panic attacks, eating disorders, blocked grief, chronic pain, migraines, sexual abuse, but it was clear as I lay there on the cot, this was an experience that would benefit anyone in any state of health. 

The therapy session ended, we talked briefly. I drove home slowly and spent the next few hours doing nothing but reflecting on my experience. 

By nature, I’m a skeptic — energy healing, hands-on, hands-off, auras, pranas, biofields, have no particular significance for me. I’ve taken a “yeah, maybe, show me the goods, let me experience it for myself attitude, and then, and only then, will I  make a judgment, thumbs up or thumbs down.”  After my SHEN experience, I have to say without a doubt, this is a two thumbs up, all the way! 

In the San Diego area, if  you’re interested knowing more about SHEN, contact Ayleyaell Kinder, CSP  at (619) 584-1077 or by e-mail at:  .  For information about SHEN in your area, please contact the SHEN Therapy Institute at (415) 332-2593, or e-mail:   

Copyright 2001 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

Robert Ross can be reached  By E-Mail at:   

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