Despite herself, Gill South manages to find some inner peace on the table of a reiki practitioner.
I've just celebrated a significant birthday, but not so significant I should be mortified by it, as the man at Whitcoulls seemed to think: "I won't ask how old, ha ha!" No wonder they're in trouble ...
I like to take the day off on my birthday, I'm childish that way - so now the rest of my week is crammed and my mind is buzzing as I drive into Clevedon Village, base of the iBod health care centre.
I'm excited about my first reiki session. Reiki is a form of therapy, which began in Japan, that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and visualisation techniques, its goal to improve the flow of life energy in a person.
I wouldn't have reiki with just anyone. My close friend Roxy has been doing it for more than nine years and is also an excellent massage therapist. She has done hospital chaplaincy, grief counselling, spiritual direction - I trust her implicitly.
She explains her take on reiki to me. "A lot of the time, life can feel like being in a choppy sea. You can let it crash on you, sending you spinning, or you can dive in deep to find the calmer water. Through reiki, if you sink down into this calm, then you often find a greater strength than you knew you had."
I climb on the massage table, fully clothed, and lie there as she lays her hands on me, cradling my head and neck (each move lasting for five minutes at a time), splaying her hands across my shoulders and collar bone, three positions over the solar plexus, the abdomen, over the navel and at the hip bones, then I turn over.
Initially, I was lying there with a very busy mind, "living in my head" as Roxy puts it, wondering how I will find reiki, which doesn't seem as exciting as massage. But as she moved down the body, the heat from her hands became stronger and more soothing and my thoughts slowed down. When Roxy began working on the solar plexus I was doing a bit of flinching and twitching. There was more release on my left side than my right and this tends to mean I have issues with a significant male in my life, according to reiki teaching. Well, take your pick - husband, sons, father, brother, plenty of significant males in my life. There was also a tightness and "holding in" in the belly, she noted, and a couple of abdominal spasms which mean I'm experiencing grief. My recently sick father could account for that.
By the time my reiki session is over after an hour and a quarter, I am about as relaxed as a crocodile in the sun. I un-peel myself from the table reluctantly.
Roxy commends me for my ability to relax during the session. For some people their busyness is what's holding them together, she says. They fear that if they relax, they will be overwhelmed. I have no problem with being overwhelmed. It's my modus operandi.
All my friends swear by their osteopaths; I visit a recommended one in Birkenhead and see what she can do with my bad posture and slightly crooked spine.