Coming soon! A class for dental offices

I have been taking a fantastic class called NLP+Presentations. The first part was this past weekend, and the second part will be in mid-February.

I’m working on a presentation for dental offices. It will be an hour max, so it could be a lunch-and-learn or a training offered to staff early or late in the workday.

I probably don’t need to tell you that some people complain of jaw pain after receiving dental work.

Dental professionals need to accommodate them by offering frequent breaks from wide-open mouth position — some even use devices to keep the mouth cranked wide open.

Dental offices also experience cancellations when someone’s jaw pain has flared up and they can’t even imagine holding their mouth open for dental treatment.

In fact, dental professionals are often the first health care professionals to let someone know that their clenching and/or grinding habit is damaging their teeth.

Although they offer orthotic devices to protect teeth and/or try to realign the TMJs, and they can usually repair the tooth damage they encounter, they don’t work on the biggest cause of jaw pain — myofascial tension. In fact, most dentists receive little or no training in the jaw — their domain is teeth and gums.

As a massage therapist, my domain is the myofascial realm of muscles and soft tissues. I work on postural issues, shoulder and neck tension, decompression of cranial bones, and do intra-oral work on all four internal jaw muscles — as gently as possible.

I can help dental offices help their patients, and I believe we can work well together.

If you think your dentist might be interested in this free training, please connect us. I’ll be offering trainings starting in late February.

Treating TMJ Issues: choose a practitioner who works on your lateral pterygoids

Recently I’ve had two clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who have previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths. Between them, they have seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.

These clients both told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoid muscles.

That surprised me.

These small muscles are hard to access, being nearly surrounded by bones (cut away in the image below so you can see the two-headed muscle), and in my opinion, they are often the keys for releasing jaw tension and also for relieving clicking and popping noises. (Notice that the upper head is attached to the articular disc that separates the temporal bone and the mandible —the two bones of the TMJs.)

anatomy of the jaw muscles

It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. They do. I’ve found tension in the temporalises, trigger points in the masseters, and taut bands in the medial pterygoids.

I usually save the lateral pterygoids for last when working on someone’s internal jaw muscles, because they are harder to access. It helps to have tiny pinky fingers, and even then sometimes I need to ask a client to shift their jaw to the side so I can reach them.

Sometimes I can’t reach them on the first visit, but any release of tension in this area near the joint is therapeutic.

People are not aware that there are jaw muscles here! I’m touching in a place where people never get touched. This area can be sensitive.

When I get on or near a lateral pterygoid, it can be a revelation. “That’s the place!” they exclaim when I remove my finger.

Once I get there, I don’t need to stay long.

It’s not that these other intra-oral practitioners mentioned above (at least in these two clients’ experiences) have nothing to offer. I’m not familiar with all of them, but chiropractors, Rolfers, and massage therapists have all helped me.

But if jaw pain and tension are your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your jaws (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), find a practitioner that works on the lateral pterygoids.

I hope this information helps you ask informed questions when choosing a practitioner to relieve your jaw tension and pain.


What to do if you have jaw issues? I offer a 30-minute in-person TMJ consultation to gather information and evaluate your issues. I also teach clenchers an alternative to clenching and provide known ways to stop grinding, from those who succeeded.

These habits are major contributors to TMJ issues, and you can change them.

If you’re not in Austin, I can do the above as well as help you learn what to ask about when seeking TMJ relief near you. Just let me know if you need a phone or Zoom consultation.

I offer a combination TMJ Consultation plus TMJ Relief session in person in Austin, Texas, and in Taos, NM, in sumemrs. The consultation serves as an intake, so I have a better idea of what your issues are and how we’ll measure progress. Your consultation is free when combined with your first TMJ Relief session. This is a two-hour session.

To be fair, when you’ve had TMJ issues for a long time, or they are acute, you may need multiple sessions to retrain your system to retain the ease and alignment, along with doing your homework to stop clenching or grinding your teeth.

I offer a package of four TMJ Relief sessions for 10 percent off single sessions, best done a week or two apart. These sessions are 90 minutes and integrate various bodywork modalities — including work in your mouth — so that you feel great when you get off the table. They are best done over 4 to 6 weeks.

If you’re really adventurous, you can schedule a 75-minute Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues session on Zoom where we’ll do an intake and I will teach you how to work on releasing the tension patterns that cause problems, including working in your own mouth. You’ll need clean hands and short nails. It’s really not that hard! Learn more about it here.


Who doesn’t love a head massage? Check it out and help me name it!

After spending 4 days recently taking a class called “Addressing the Skull,” I want to get you onto my massage table so I can practice, practice, practice! It’s the best way I know to integrate training into, well, my advanced integrative bodywork practice.

I also need your help naming this new addition to my repertoire. I want to describe it separately from a Zero Balancing session. In my view, a ZB session addresses the whole body, including the head, whereas a skull/cranium/crown session spends most of a 45-minute session on the head.

This was a class in Zero Balancing, which aligns your structure and frees your energy, but most of the session will be spent addressing your skull. I learned lots of secrets of the skull, including that working on the outside of the skull affects the inside, i.e., the brain. And it’s not exactly a massage. It uses artful touch and knowledge of anatomy to find those places that release tension you may not have even known you had.

For instance, there is a place behind your ears that is similar to that place where dogs love to be petted, behaving as if they could never get enough, leg twitching and groaning with pleasure.

There are several special places on your skull where two or three or four bones come together that just love to be touched.

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 8.45.55 AM

I imagine that everyone in the class experienced several releases of tension in their skulls that they were not aware of before. We can get so habituated to stress that it gets normalized. Guess what? Normal can be better. (Thanks to San Antonio ZBer Jamie Carmody for making “Make normal better” her tagline.)

I suspect this work may prevent headaches and migraines.

After four days of training, which included many trades, my friend and I noticed that we could see better. When looking into our training room, the 3D-ness of everything was in sharper relief, and everything had more clarity. Working on the head affects all the senses.

This is your brain, on ZB.

I plan to run this special for a couple of weeks, and may consider extending it after that. I’ve lowered my price by $25 for a 45-minute Zero Balancing session. Go here to book yours.

In training later this week

I’m taking a long-awaited class in Zero Balancing November 1-4 at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School. It’s called “Zero Balancing Expanded: Addressing the Skull.” This is the first time it’s being taught in Austin, and five ZB teachers who are training to teach this course worldwide are coming to participate as teaching assistants.

I will be out of the office Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and all day Saturday this week. I return to the office on Tuesday, November 6, so if you’re thinking of booking an appointment this week, make it Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 10.02.40 PMAlthough the teacher, Judith Sullivan of Charlottesville, VA, is an accomplished craniosacral therapist and teacher of craniosacral therapy through the Upledger Institute, I’ve read her book Zero Balancing Expanded: The Attitude of Awaiting a Fish, and it is not about craniosacral therapy. It is more about the artful places that therapists can touch the skull that Judith has learned from decades of practice. It uses ZB principles to release stuck energy.

We all realize that our skulls/heads/craniums are extraordinary places on our bodies. The head is a huge ground for discovery. This training is so needed.

If you know me at all, you know I love integrating techniques after listening to what the body needs. What I learn in this class will be fun to experiment with and a huge addition to my skull-oriented skills.

I am mailing in my application to become certified in Zero Balancing to get the ball rolling on that process. I am so pleased to include this modality in my repertoire. I do stand-alone ZB sessions, and I integrate it with biodynamics, TMJ Relief, and more. It makes so much sense to get the body’s structure aligned and energy flowing and then build on that.

If you’re not familiar with ZB but are intrigued, it is a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and manual osteopathic therapy. It began being developed in the 1970s.

I don’t pretend to understand how it works, but it’s the most transformative technique I know for the time spent doing it (20-45 minutes).

To understand the range of responses, read my previous post, What People Say After a Zero Balancing Session.

Your feedback appreciated!

I recently heard from someone who received a TMJ session from me, which includes craniosacral therapy, that after our session, her left ear “opened up”. She said her hearing in that ear had had a muffled quality to it for years, and that the session with me had restored her clear hearing. She was delighted. So was I. She came in for jaw tension.

Transformation continues to occur after a bodywork recipient leaves my office. Their mind may turn to other matters, but I wonder what else they experience in the hours and days after a session that improves their quality of life that I may never learn about, because next time they come in, they’ve forgotten.

I love to thank my clients for coming in for a session. I am so grateful that I get to do this for a living. It’s an honor to be trusted and a challenge to live up to that.

I’m changing the day that thank-you email gets sent. Instead of sending it the day after the session, I’ll be sending it two days later.

Besides conveying my gratitude, I hope to learn whether the work helped someone sleep better, improved their performance at work, increased mental clarity, affected their mood, improved their sensing abilities, resolved a different physical issue, balanced their energy, deepened their sense of self, or anything else — whether it was the goal of the session or not.

My business is transformation, and I am endlessly curious about it. The human body/mind/field/system is so complex, it’s like the flap of that butterfly’s wings in Brazil contributing to a tornado in Texas. I can’t always take credit for what actually happens, but I do like to know about it, as much as we can know.