Dear HRart Worker,
I have been a helper from as far back as I can remember. Those in need were drawn to me, and for a variety of reasons, I was drawn to them.
I grew up in a home that wasn’t safe, emotionally or physically. The dynamics of abuse were all I knew, and yet something in me knew there was another way. I knew that the fear that my younger brother and I lived with wasn’t right, and I knew that I needed to protect him and lead the way to a safer life.
This drive to learn and create change, not just for myself but for others, has carried me through the many iterations of my helping and healing journey. Healing has never just been about healing my own hurts but finding the path forward so that I may shine the light for others to find their way.
Not surprisingly, I found myself drawn to working with victims and survivors. After several years of providing crisis services for others, I knew I needed something to counteract my vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, which was so focused on the harm done by physical touch. So I embarked on a journey to explore the healing power of touch and enrolled in school for Massage Therapy.
I began to learn about all the ways that touch could help to heal the human body.
I began to understand the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit, and to see the synergies between the fields of psychological therapy and massage therapy.
For several years I practiced both, finding balance and harmony in these differing healing modalities.
But as it does, life changes and I moved away from the practice of massage and dove fully into my work with survivors. Many years passed and I traveled some windy roads before I finally found my way back.
In the field of human services, there is a lot of talk given to self care.
There is a lot of talk about the dangers of vicarious trauma, of caregiver fatigue, and of burnout.
Unfortunately, there is very little capacity for organizations to actually take care of their staff who are at-risk of these dangers, save the verbal reminders for self care.
I had been caring for other people’s families while trying to keep my own head above water for years. As I traveled this path, I became absorbed in the making of a career and of raising a child, and somewhere along the way, I lost my connection with the healing power of touch. I lost my connection with the holistic nature of healing. And in some ways, I lost my connection with much of myself.
Talking about self care doesn’t actually replenish the body, mind, or spirit.
As a single parent and as a leader in a victim services agency, self care amounted to me reading a page or two of a novel before passing out and starting all over the next day.
Luckily for me, there was an awakening at the organization in which I was serving. Leadership had the forwardness of thinking to employ an expert in mindfulness and trauma sensitive yoga to serve both clients and staff in shifting the organizational mindset.
Self care started to weave itself throughout the bedrock of the organizational culture.
Values turned toward mindfulness, safety, assuming best intentions, and above all else, grace and compassion.
Employees learned new tools for promoting self care including trauma sensitive yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
Furthermore, we were given permission and encouraged to incorporate these tools throughout our work days. Alongside all of the trauma work we continued to do, the agency culture began to shift.
It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took years. But for the majority of employees who were willing to suspend their disbelief and embark on the journey of intentional self care, things began to change.
As nervous systems began to settle, the overall energy of the organizational culture felt better. People began to feel validated and cared for. They began to feel seen and heard and believed. They began to feel valued and in turn they began to value each other more, and value the organization more.
This agency-wide movement led me to explore some personal shifts. I learned that being embodied, that noticing breath, that moving through emotion could be healing in a way I never had experienced before. I learned that just as negative energy can take over the feeling of a place, so can positive energy.
Experiencing all of this in my professional life led me to becoming a registered yoga teacher in 2020, which in turn, led me to the study of Reiki. I was attuned as a Reiki Master Teacher in 2022. And, in the Universe’s most magical twist, the study of Reiki led me back to massage!
After a 17-year hiatus, I began studying again and took refresher courses and continuing education. I was relicensed as a Massage Therapist in 2022. This was a full circle moment and I was back on the path of holistic healing and feeling connected with myself again.
Alongside the personal changes I was exploring, things in my human services job started changing again. Changes in leadership began to shift the organizational culture. I had become accustomed to leading from a mindfulness perspective and thrived in the environment that cultivated that. At the same time, I was becoming more and more aware of how nearly 30 years of trauma work were impacting my nervous system and my own ability to heal. I wondered how I could continue to work with the level of nervous system activation it entails to shoulder the responsibility of overseeing crisis services. I was feeling burned out; I had been slowly burning out for years. The period of time in which mindful connection was woven throughout my workday enabled me to prolong my time in the field, and losing that value in the workplace hastened my exit.
Having experienced this time of healing and seeing all the ways in which these practices can heal organizations and individuals, I am now focusing on helping others again with the healing power of touch.
I am now an Energetic Massage Therapist at the HRart Center, where I support busy professionals and leaders as they heal their burnout. Together, we release old emotions and stuck and stagnant energy from the body so that they can experience the kind of healing that changes lives.
My Energetic Massages, a combination of Massage therapy and Reiki together, create a truly unique healing experience. You not only receive the type of healing typically expected from a massage – such as stress reduction, muscle tension relief, improved immune function, and pain relief – but I also incorporate Reiki, a Universal Life Force Energy, to facilitate the flow of energy throughout your body.
This enables me to clear any energetic blockages, facilitate balance in your chakras, alleviate pain, anxiety, and fatigue, reduce depression, and elevate your mood.
Also, with my extensive background in supporting survivors and victims of trauma, I specialize in helping to heal trauma. The process includes gently coaxing back the layers of emotions that are stubbornly trapped in the body. My Energetic Massage sessions are an incredible compliment to traditional talk therapy, and I encourage my clients who are healing trauma to use my services in tandem with regular visits to their mental health professional.
Thank you for being here and witnessing a bit of my own healing journey. I look forward to continuing to shine the light for others here at the HRart Center, to illuminate the pathway to healing so that others might rediscover that connection with themselves too.
Heather Seton, RMT, LMT, RYT200