It's the classic scenario: burnt-out executive leading a highly stressful life, working all hours, following a bad diet and barely sleeping, falls seriously ill aged 40.
She is then diagnosed with chronic fatigue. Flat on her back, immobile from a neck operation and highly medicated, she realises that nothing is working for her. Facing a bleak future as a sickness beneficiary, she vows to change her life.
But the sequel that follows is not run-of-the-mill, largely because Rhonda Bayliss is no ordinary woman.
Fast forward to 1997 when Bayliss opened the doors of Healing Day Spa, her health and wellness centre in Auckland's Parnell. Unhappy with the lack of results from "mainstream medical stuff" she had started to look for alternatives and, on the suggestion of a friend, began delving into the Japanese art of Jin Shin Jyutsu, studying it in New Zealand and completing a number of overseas courses.
Dubbed an 'art' rather than a technique, it is a form of acupressure to release tensions within the body that cause various symptoms. As described by the Jin Shin Jyutsu website: "Our bodies contain several energy pathways that feed life into all of our cells. When one or more of these paths become blocked, this damming effect may lead to discomfort or even pain. This blockage or stagnation will not only disrupt the local area but will continue and eventually disharmonise the complete path or paths of the energy flow."
By applying this pressure – mainly via holding two points of the body – the blockage is released and the body rebalances, creating harmony on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is now an integral part of the Healing Day Spa's treatment menu and a practice that Bayliss credits with restoring her life. "I began with a dream of bringing a modern twist to ancient healing rituals and providing different and effective treatments that give real results," she says of Healing Day Spa.
"I set my sights on creating services and products that assist people to become self-aware, self-responsible, to manage their energy and transform their lives."
As non-mainstream treatments go, Jin Shin Jyutsu is not easy to pigeon hole. To many, it falls into the category of 'woo-woo' as do the "unique energetic healing and intuitive mentoring services" offered by Bayliss.
But in Japan and the United States (where it was popularised by Mary Burmeister in the 1950s), some medical practitioners advocate using it to help with pain, insomnia, chronic fatigue, headaches, anxiety and depression, among other things.
A typical two-hour session with Bayliss begins with a foot detox in a warm-water foot spa. A Bio Cleanse Unit resembling a battery pack is placed in the water to assist with detoxing.
During this time Bayliss begins the "intuitive counselling" which effectively involves discussing any issues that prompted your visit and what you would like to resolve and/or achieve.
This also includes reframing the language you use, focusing on projecting positive outcomes and clarifying any corrective actions that need to be taken after the session.
The next stage involves lying on the treatment table fully clothed, eyes covered under a cosy blanket as Bayliss uses the Jin Shin Jyutsu method to hold and apply gentle pressure to various points on the body – what feels like the laying on of hands.
People often fall into a deep state of relaxation and sleep, which is transformative, she says. Bayliss uses hot stone reflexology and foot massage to "ground them" towards the end of the session.
It is here that Bayliss' far-from-ordinary practices become apparent. Her "intuitive counselling" so often resolves problems and her solutions almost border on soothsaying.
If that sounds too far-fetched regard it as, at best, sage advice. Likewise, the physical treatment promotes a feeling of calm and promotes a more positive outlook. And yes, a feeling of being re-energised.
"Self-help is important and I advise everyone to practise Jin Shin Jyutsu finger holds daily in between appointments. This helps their sense of wellbeing and balances emotions.
For example, holding the thumb improves digestion, corrects body chemistry (pH levels), strengthens the immune system, helps with worry and increases energy levels," she says.
"Also I teach clients to meditate by simplifying their thinking and thought processes."
"I see a variety of clients, from business owners, corporate clients, women with fertility issues and even teenagers, children and babies. Many have been clients for more than 10 years.
"Our mission is to positively affect the health and wellbeing of all those we touch by keeping your energy balanced, positive and clear. If we want to create positive change in life, we must personally recognise the unproductive feelings and life patterns that limit our ability to evolve on every level," Bayliss says.
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