Recently I had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Kathryn Kloos. She told me how she works to bring women more present to their emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies—and how she bridges the worlds of energy healing and western diagnostics. Here is what she had to say.
Sarah: What lead you to become a healer?
Kathryn: What lead me to become a healer was being influenced by traditional medicine people in my travels to South America. I traveled to Brazil and stayed in a community in the Amazon where they rely on herbal medicine and spiritual healing and traditional practices of midwifery. I got to see natural healing in its place of origin. I was really inspired by that. That’s what defines my practice–working on all levels with people. I work on the physical level. I work on the emotional level. And I work on the spiritual level. Because I think all of those levels have to be addressed.
I was young and impressionable when I went to South America, and I saw some profound healings. Some of them just happened through prayer. So sometimes I work with prayer, and I see that work. I see that light up a person’s spirit. And sometimes I work with holding a person’s pain body, holding a person’s fear, and inviting the fear–really allowing the person to know that in their body and to respect it and learn about it.
Sarah: What do you see as the benefit of allowing the fear to come up?
Kathryn: The benefit of allowing the fear to come up is that it’s playing a part subconsciously all the time. So allowing it to come up helps the person become aware of where it is in the body. I’ll say to the person, Where is that living in your body? If we could make it bigger, what would it look like? Let’s invite it into the room. Instead of running from it or trying to change it, let’s just breathe into it. Is there sadness? Do we just need to be here with this sadness and just hold it unconditionally with a big heart? Sometimes that’s what we’ll do, just feel. Having those emotions acknowledged can help to transform them. Then they’re not just working in the background, and the person can gain a little more self awareness and see how those emotions may be affecting the physical symptoms they’re experiencing.
Sarah: Can you give a specific example of how the emotions affect the physical body?
Kathryn: For example, I work a lot with pregnancy loss, women who have had repeated miscarriages, because I work with fertility. There was a woman who’d had a stillborn. She hadn’t been able to touch her abdomen since the stillborn. I had her touch her abdomen. I put my hands on her. She was trying to conceive and was having trouble. She said, “When I touch my abdomen, I feel like I’m touching a tomb. My womb is a tomb.” She started to cry and it was the first time she’d cried since she’d lost her baby. The first time she’d actually acknowledged that emotion. So we just worked with letting go of some of the sadness and inviting in new blessings. We worked on creating a new story for this patient and she became pregnant the next month. It was profound.
In working with pelvic pain, vulvodynia, vaginismus–these pains that can manifest in the pelvis–I’ll have women feel their into emotions, and there can be sadness there. Or there can be rage there. So we just acknowledge those things and help them clear if they need to clear or be more known if they need to be more known.
Some women have anorgasmia, difficulty having orgasm. What I’ve learned through my pelvic work with patients is that anorgasmia can be about dissociating from the body. So what I like to do is help women become aware of their boundary–I call it the gatekeeper of their pelvis–to become aware of when they say yes and when they say no. I help people become more present in their bodies and make sure they’re not leaving their bodies.
Another cause of anorgasmia can be rape. If someone has a lot of fear, that can cause a frozen state in the tissues, a frozen energetic. Sometimes we just have to bring some blood in with the body work–with Maya Abdominal massage or pelvic care. We’re loosening the tissues. We’re bringing oxygen rich blood to the area. And we’re improving circulation. And that can help clear out the stagnation.
Sarah: The stuck emotions can be held there in that tissue.
Kathryn: So if you bring circulation to that area it can move the stuck emotion.
Sarah: Tell me more about the conditions you treat and the modalities you use.
Kathryn: I work in women’s health. I use herbs, homeopathy, diet. I use mindfulness techniques. I treat women who have endometriosis, who have irregular cycles, fibroids, pelvic pain. I do Maya Abdominal massage for pregnancy.
Sarah: How does Maya Abdominal massage help in pregnancy?
Kathryn: I teach a self care routine that women can do every night. We make sure that the hips and ligaments are in alignment so that the baby can be carried in a good position. I see women more frequently toward the end of their pregnancy and work with the alignment of the sacrum, tailbone, and hips to make sure that baby is sitting properly.
Every time we meet we talk to the baby. We send blessings to the baby. I think it’s really helpful for moms to take time out of their busy lives to extend positive energy to the baby. When mothers get closer to birth we do meditations about birthing.
And then I do post partum care, working with urinary incontinence, pain with sex, hemorrhoids. Sometimes women need rectal work after giving birth–if they can’t sit down for very long because their coccyx hurts. I do a lot of postpartum care.
For women who aren’t pregnant, Maya Abdominal therapy helps the uterus to be in the proper alignment. If the uterus is retroflexed or tilted, women can have back pain and cramping every cycle. So we just help bring that back into alignment. That helps the hormones have better signaling to the hypothalamus and regulates hormones.
Sarah: Tell me about the energy work that you do.
Kathryn: The energy work is what I learned in Brazil. And it’s kind of unique. I call in my spiritual guides. In that tradition I studied in Brazil, I Iearned how to connect with my spiritual guides. I call in my guides and the spiritual guides of my patient. We will do energetic clearing work. Sometimes I use my hands off the body, and we do cleansing of the aura. Sometimes I will burn smudge and help clear away any kind of spiritual attachments. I might sometimes talk to a patient about some intuition that’s coming to me.
I also work with fertility with the Maya Abdominal massage and herbs. I order appropriate lab tests. I can work in conjunction with someone doing IUI or IVF. Maya Abdominal massage helps women to be in touch with their bodies when they’re trying to conceive. It can be such a mechanistic process if you’ve been trying for a long time. There can be a lot of stress. I encourage my patients to just love on their bodies and honor their bodies.
Sarah: Tell me about how you incorporate song.
Kathryn: Sometimes I sing to my patients. The body really responds to sound. Our cells respond to sound. Our emotions respond to sound. We can create a lot of movement in the body with song. It’s not how I was trained in naturopathic school but I’ve seen good results using song. We can walk both worlds, using intuition, and using song, and using guidance. But we also look at labs, which can also be really helpful. I do blood draws in the office and use lab work and imaging as my main diagnostic tools.
Sarah: What about your work with plants?
Kathryn: Another huge experience that drew me to natural medicine was learning the ethnobotany of California. I learned about all the plants growing around me and felt like I was at home because I had all of these plant friends. My husband is a wildcrafter, an herbal medicine maker, and he’s writing a book about the plants of the Pacific Northwest. So, we’re both herb lovers. We go out into nature and do ceremony with the plants. We work with the psycho-spiritual aspects of plants–using plants to help us clear different emotions and also to help us on the physical level. I’m a huge plant lover. I teach herbal medicine at Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine and I have taught at the Traditional School of Herbal Medicine.
Sarah: What brings you joy?
Kathryn: What really brings me joy is being with my children and gardening. I really love to garden. My garden is an over-grown jungle right now but I really love it. I love to play guitar, make music, sing. And I love my work. It really brings me joy.