My Convivial Discovery of an Ancient Mayan Massage…The Ultimate Form of Self-Care For Women

Self-care is a form of trusting, listening, seeking, yearning, surrendering…it’s purpose is convivial at the core.

This is the story of my convivial discovery of an Ancient Mayan massage therapy and how I came to the understanding that you are your body’s advocate and its up to you to find the many ways that nurture, restore, and heal you…

Once upon a time, I headed to Mexico for a much needed sabbatical after quitting my job in Banking. I left behind my husband, my home, my parents; my country, language, currency, and all certainty to walk the cobble-stoned streets of San Miguel de Allende with the intention to restore myself to who I once knew myself to be…a writer.

My first week in town, I went to the mercado and purchased what I thought was a fresh bowl of albondigas (meatball soup). After taking a long walk and climbing the steps of El Chorro to reach the peak streets of this colorful central Mexican town, I knew Moctezuma had spiked my soup with drano, because I fell ill that night with chills and fever.

My mother-in-law, concerned for me, recommended I visit La Dona Chole, “‘pa que te de una sobada…” My Spanish was getting better by the day, but I still had to put two and two together to understand that she was suggesting I get massaged.

I went with the flow since I knew I was in a foreign country and had married into an old school Mexican family that healed themselves as naturally as possible. I trusted that my mother in law had my best interest in mind, so I trudged the couple blocks up toward the center of town known as the Jardin.

My mother in law, Adela stopped at a random doorstep and began to knock on the door while I looked around and noticed how close the house was to La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. There was no answer, so we sat on the small stoop and waited for Dona Chole to arrive home from her clothing stand at the mercado. She eventually turned the corner and my mother in law proceeded to introduce me as her eldest son’s new wife. Dona Chole looked me up and down with approval and gestured for us to enter her home.

It was a narrow entrance with a bright light blub hanging over a bare, wooden table. My mother in law made casual conversation while I sat there feeling delicate and nauseous. I was told to lay across the table to begin what we Americans call a session. I looked at the hard table and thought, “No head rest? No cushioning?” Then I quickly reminded myself where I was and laid down on my back.

Dona Chole asked me to take off my shirt and inch my pants down a bit so she could cover my entire abdomen and I did. She then pulled out a bottle of alcohol, dabbed a good amount on her palm and began to perform her version of a Mr. Miyagi, laying her cold, alcohol-laden hand on my warm stomach and massaging me in a way I’d never experienced before.

I didn’t know what to make of it but I simply trusted that this woman knew what she was doing and I would soon be better for it. When she finished, she told me, “Tenias la matriz volteada y tus tripas estaban bien bajas…”

On the walk home, I confirmed with my mother in law what was said, asking with a puzzled look in Spanish, “My uterus was tilted? My intestines were very low?” My mother in law began to explain that she had had the same problem after she’d given birth to my husband. She was unable to get pregnant for three years afterward, so she went to get massaged by Dona Chole and was also told her uterus was out of place, thus hindering her from conceiving.

I’d been married for three years myself, was using no birth control, yet hadn’t had any pregnancy scares, so Adela said, “I bet that’s why you haven’t had any luck yet.” Not that I was trying, but the idea of a tilted uterus intrigued me.

Soon, I felt better and was grateful to La Dona for putting me back together in a sense and I ended up spending the next four months in love with that moment of my life and didn’t get sick again.

Eventually, I returned to Dallas and was on my way to discovering the art of convivial living.

I was writing and getting my feet wet in entrepreneurship, but that following summer, I noticed how weighed down and fatigued I was feeling for no good reason. I also started thinking about having a family but felt there was something wrong with my body, so I decided to see a doctor.

I told doctor #1 about the symptoms I was experiencing and before letting me finish, he diagnosed me with potential endometriosis and began writing a prescription for birth control pills (read: writing me off) to relieve my symptoms and call it a day. I stopped him mid-signature and said, “Hold on…I don’t need you to just relieve my symptoms; I need to find out what is the root of the problem.”

He seemed pressed for time and told me that I had the option of getting a laproscopy, which basically meant the doctors would put a laser through my belly button to search for “signs” of the dis-ease in my womb and if found, they’d zap it and then I’d be on progesterone injections for the next six months. There was also talk of hysterectomies in worse case scenarios. My body was sending up red flags to my brain.

Something felt deeply wrong with my body, something out of my control- I didn’t like it and for the first time I felt my own mortality.
I felt at the mercy of the doctor who obviously treated me like another number on his clipboard, but something awoke in me and I thought, “There’s no f*cking way I’m going to be passive and let this doctor call the shots on my body.”

I began to recall stories my mother told me growing up about how she got healed…

About curanderas her mother took her to see when she was sick, how she was yanked every which way and had an egg cracked across her boiling hot stomach to somehow affect the illness or draw out negative energy from her body…

Of the times my grandmother had had her abdomen massaged for stomach ailments and feminine discomfort….

I remembered the stories my friend Liz told me about her Ecuadorian grandmother healing people, especially the one where she tied a string around two frogs, dipped them in holy water, held them upside down and placed them on someone’s leg plagued with gangrene and how Liz witnessed the frog’s stomach expand and turn red, eventually killing the frog. Oh and how the person’s leg was healed…

I recalled the story of my Dad having wax removed from his ears by forming a cone out of newspaper and lighting the tip on fire, thus eliminating his discomfort…

I began to realize how easy it is to buy into the protocol of medical establishments and the beliefs of our current healthcare system versus trusting in what our bodies tell us and seeking out skilled, intuitive doctors and healers who take serious the body’s own wisdom and find elements from the natural environment to restore balance to the self.
To me, that’s the ultimate self-care.

Of course, I came back to the memory of my experience one year prior when I visited Dona Chole’s home and the unique massage she introduced me to.

One thought led to another and soon I was thinking about the rich history of my Mexican heritage, and wondered about the women who schooled La Dona on this massage therapy, and who may have taught those women and soon I was imagining a masseuse of Mayan origin. That’s when I Googled “Abdominal Massage Women Reproductive Organs Mayan…” The results were in and…

That was when I discovered The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage.

I began to read about this form of healing that addresses the position and health of the pelvic and abdominal organs in women, an external and noninvasive technique inspired by traditional Maya healing that works to restore the body to its natural balance by correcting the position of organs that have shifted and restrict the flow of blood, lymph, nerve & chi energy. The more I read, I started to get excited about already experiencing this healing without realizing it.

Rosita Arvigo, a naprapath learned these techniques from her mentor, Don Elijio Panti, the great Maya Shaman of Belize, Central America with whom she apprenticed for ten years.

Don Elijio believed that a woman’s center is her uterus. “If a woman’s uterus is out of balance, so is she,” he would say.

Instantly, I felt the truth in that statement. Based on the responses I got from two doctors, it was clear modern medicine had little or nothing to offer women with this problem. I went through the laundry list of the most common symptoms and was blown away by how many I saw my name on. I knew I had to find a practitioner.

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for some time and no luck, I knew I had to take my health into my own hands.

I changed my diet and began to eat more consciously and organically, skipping the Nutrient Facts table and combing through ingredients to understand what I was eating. I took out high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and products containing hydrogenated oils. I started moving my body more.

I felt empowered and knew I was on my way to better health because my mind was focused on well-being not vanity. Although I started to feel better, there was still no luck in conceiving, so if one thing didn’t work, I switched it up and tried another thing.

I sought a Maya masseuse in the closest town to me, three hours away in Austin, Texas. I believed in this work even though I had limited experience with it and was willing to make the jaunt to seek my body’s healing. It all starts with belief.

There was another factor contributing to my ailments that I didn’t consider until I stepped into the turquoise colored home studio of this Austin healer…

I was stressed and in emotional pain for various reasons that I had ignored. As a futurist, I was struggling with being present because I am always looking ahead, seeking the next experience, willing to move toward the unknown and face uncertainty to grow and transform myself and my life into what I want it to be. However, there are consequences which can be anxiety and nerves at a deep level that may be unseen but felt.

Since quitting my job and standing before an unpaved road cradling my desire to write for a living, things had become tortuous for me emotionally because of the expectation I placed on myself and because many instances I didn’t know what the f*ck I was doing and what direction I was headed.

It takes balls to step out away from the status quo of Corporate America and declare “I’m going to make my way this way…” because then you find out your way is filled with uncertainty.

When you choose to go in the opposite direction of what your family and peers have been taught to do (get a job vs. create one for yourself) you’re continually at odds with the thoughts and beliefs passed down from family, culture, religion, and society because you’re changing and discovering your own beliefs about life.

On this path, the one I call your convivial life, you face many fears and if you don’t have the right people in your corner, the right mindset; if you aren’t resourceful enough, and don’t move often enough, things build up within and show up in the form of your physical or mental discomfort and dis-ease. That’s your cue to find a way back to your center.

That’s what my intention was the moment I laid down and rested my face into the soft donut pillow of that massage room. I felt at ease and strangely as I awaited the beginning of my session, tears started to fall from my eyes uncontrollably. I wasn’t sobbing, but more so releasing pent up feelings and pain that had gone unchecked for far too long. Being someone who holds a lot in, it all came out and landed in the form of salty tears on that practitioner’s studio floor.

The massaging began and it was slow and gentle. I was so concentrated on being present and feeling the energy flow through my body as the healer manipulated muscles and skin that I would zone out at times. The session lasted an hour and a half and I returned for a second time the next day to make the most of my trip.

That happened in early January 2007. The next month, I got pregnant. Do I believe in this work? Oh yes. Do I recommend this form of healing to any woman dealing with the same symptoms I had? You bet I do.

Women need to know about this massage therapy- it could save a lot of stress, time and money with infertility specialists or repeat visits to doctors who don’t have time for you.

Since then, I’ve had two children and both scenarios involved keeping my body balanced with proper diet, exercise, and Maya abdominal massage. I continue regular sessions to keep myself balanced, because I know as you do that women’s hormones are quite the beast the tame.

As a result of this experience- one I am grateful for- I understand the importance of being proactive with your health and taking action in ways that suit you, whether holistic or not.

I listened and let my body guide me toward the healing and best forms of self-care that worked for me and I encourage you to do the same.

This is my personal declaration about self-care…

Believe in your body and the many ways it speaks to you- it will tell you what it needs, when it needs it. Let it direct you toward the healing that feels right for you. Pay attention to what ails you and be proactive in finding ways to reverse and relieve it.

Take charge of your health, your time, your well-being, your mind, your future, your happiness.

Make more creative and conscious choices for yourself, savor your life, embrace the challenges and learn from them. Find your creative outlets to release tension and uncertainty.

When it comes to the design and experience of your life, the choice belongs to you.

When you take care of your body, it’s guaranteed to serve you well as you endeavor to be the truest version of who you are in the world…the convivial version.


This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do!”


2 Responses so far. Add Your Own.

Thanks so much for sharing. I’m really interested in healing outside of doctors and hospitals being I know that’s not the be all and end all of medicine.


Kerryn, first of all, I love the way your name is spelled! God bless your creative parents!

I’m so happy you got something out of the story I shared. I feel it is such important information because many women experience many of the same ailments. Do your research and find what heals YOU!


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