What is Havening? How does it work? In this episode, Hilary Russo, a Havening Techniques Practitioner, shares her insights on how havening holds her space and lifts a weight within her. She shares how the practice leads her to heal the trauma she holds from within. She found a new sense of being, healing, understanding, and gratitude because of havening. Lift yourself from stress, find the path to relaxation, and improve your well-being through this episode.
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How Havening Works With Hilary Russo
On the show, we are talking to Hilary Russo. She’s an award-winning journalist, transformational holistic health coach, havening techniques practitioner, and all-around wellness warrior who helps purpose-driven minds transform to perform and be kind to their minds at the time.
In the second episode, we will be talking about Hilary’s first encounter with havening, how it changed her life forever, and how you too can learn this amazing technique.
I used to not do that. I used to have, “Let’s talk about your health concerns and if you want to sign up for a havening session.” I want to give people a taste of what it’s like to experience it by working with me because you live differently.
In regard to havening, Rollie and I discovered havening through the Blessed Ideas Group conference call that we participate in. It was Stebbins who wrote the book, Mind Your Head. He told us about it and explored it ourselves. We ended up making our own show about it and directing people to Havening.org to get more information and find a practitioner like you. Now, we’re happy to have HilaryRusso.com which people can go to. How was it that you discovered havening before we get into what it is and how to do it?
Many things in my life were falling into. I love looking at things that way. When you release, surrender, and let go, things happen. I was already an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach working in Holistic Health. I had been invited to a 50th birthday party by a girlfriend in New York City and a mutual friend was also invited who happened to be the COO of Havening, who is Feliciana.
We’ve been chatting a little bit at the event. It’s always that conversation you have when you first meet people, “What do you do?” You start talking and exchanging information. I told her what I did. I mentioned I’m a Holistic Health Coach and Health and Wellness Journalist. I asked her what she did, and she started talking about it, but ever so slightly, she goes, “May I show you?” This is the thing. It’s showing you how it works. She goes, “May I touch your shoulders?” I was like, “Of course.”
She already had that warm feeling. She created a trusting environment, which is very much in alignment with what I believe, trust, and connect. She started doing the havening touch on my shoulders down to my elbows. She goes, “Havening is this.” She explained it, “It’s a psychosensory approach that uses touch and pleasant distraction to alter the landscape of your brain.” I’m sitting there, my eyes are closed, and I’m like, “I don’t know what you’re doing to me, but I want more of it.”
That was pretty much it. I asked her some questions and wanted to know more about it. This is going back some years. She invited me to a workshop with Dr. Ron and Steve Ruden who are the co-developers. They’re twins out of New York. One is an internist and one is a dentist. They co-developed this program or modality, the havening touch. I went to this three-day workshop and I also volunteered at the workshop to be a demo on stage of how it worked.
I said, “If I’m going to bring something like this into my practice, I need to know that I have been havened, it works for me, and I know I can speak honestly and truthfully to the authenticity of this modality.” I got up there on stage. Cameras are on me, which I’m used to that. I got up there with Dr. Ron, and the event that was being havened, the upset or the trauma, was the death of my dad. My dad had been gone numerous years by this point. It was always very difficult for me to deal with the death of my dad. I grew up with a father who was sick my whole life, so I’ve always been very connected to health and wellness because I want to live better.
That havening experience with Dr. Ron changed my life. It caused me to look at it differently. It caused me to change the narrative. I no longer had the same outcome reaction that I used to have with the passing of my dad. Even after the event, people are like, “You’re walking taller. You feel lighter.” For a while, you try to grab at the thing that you’re so used to being the old shoe that fits you. This was my trauma. That day changed everything for me. Without even saying, I said, “How do I sign up? I want to get certified.”
I also did it with my TMJ because I had major jaw surgery when I was fifteen. It was an absolutely painful and traumatic experience that I still live with, some of the chronic pain. That was also havened. I realized this is a very powerful, beautiful, nurturing neuroscience-based modality that people need to know about. The beauty is you can also do it to yourself for those everyday upsets. It is the anxiety, the stress, the little upsets that happen in your life that bring you down, clarity, focus, all of that. My kids use it with test-taking.
When you were there at the event when you first met Dr. Ron, he was the one that did the havening for you. You can do havening for yourself or someone else can be the one that touches you. With such an incredible man doing this for you during your first experience, what was that like? Did you feel his energy? Did you feel a transmission of energy? Describe your feelings because I’ve had a few situations where I’ve met people like Byron Katie and people like that. The feeling of being in the presence of such a powerful person like Dr. Ron, walk us through that. How did you feel that day?
Beautiful person, by the way. Both the Rudens are such wonderful human beings. They’re putting this out there to help others in their healing. I’ve never felt such a fond feeling toward two people who are looking to create a space for healing, and for me, not knowing Dr. Ron at that time. There are different kinds of havening, by the way. Obviously, there’s self-havening. With Dr. Ron that day, we did a number of different kinds of havening on stage. There’s also a role-playing havening, in which you need to be assisted. He was doing the havening on me.
I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt truly connected not so much to Dr. Ron. When I was in that delta wave state, subconscious state, or sleep state, it was not a trance or anything. As a hypnotherapist, I know there’s a difference, but there’s a similarity to it as well. I felt like I was truly having a conversation with my dad. That’s what it felt like. The tears fell, and they were joyful tears, but I remember feeling connected and feeling like, “I can let go of this now. Surrender this.”
We had this dialogue and this conversation within the role-playing havening, which is such a beautiful way to approach people. I use it a lot in trauma work. It gets you clear on certain things that have been holding you back and weighing you down. I do remember that. When we were done, he had his arms on either side of me keeping me still for a moment. Holding space for me is what it was. I looked at him and I was like, “I don’t know what just happened.”
I’m sure it’s on a recording somewhere. I don’t even know what my words were, but it was a sense of peace and feeling lighter and feeling freedom from something that had been plaguing me for a while. That’s what I hear from those that I work with. You start with this scale of, “Where are you on a scale of 0 to 10?” Zero, I call namaste all day. Ten is being very triggered by something. The idea is that you hope that your scale is going to get lower. Maybe the words will change from being sad, upset, frustrated, and angry, to peaceful, joyful, and present. I find that that’s very easy to create in such a short amount of time with havening. It’s rapid. It could be permanent. We can go more into what havening is if you want to because I think people love some of the scenarios I use to explain how it works.
Before we do that, you don’t want to get too personal about it if you don’t want. You said you felt you were communicating with your dad. Do you want to tell us more about that? Could you hear his voice? Did you feel his love? As much as you feel free to share, what was that experience like? He’s been passed on for a number of years. All of a sudden, here he is and you’re in this safe space with Dr. Ron. You’re able to commune. Tell us as much as you’re comfortable telling us about your dad and what that day was like to reconnect with him.
First of all, I’m an open book. Nothing’s off the table. That’s important. That’s how I want to show up in this world and be authentic in that way. I hear my father every day. My father was a wonderful, caring, nurturing man who battled a lot of health issues. I dealt with that my whole life. I faced trauma my entire life with my father being in hospitals and doing my homework in waiting rooms. Even though he was a powerful and successful man out there in the working world, it weighed on him, and I think that weighed on me. I was always trying to be the nurse that I didn’t need to be because he was an adult and I was a child, but I felt that empathetic side of me that wanted to take care of.
At that moment I remember hearing, “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m okay and you’re okay.” It might be the first time I’ve ever said that out loud. I remember feeling this weight that had been on my shoulders was gone. For the longest time, that whole weekend, I was in this joyful, freedom state after that. I felt like I was with my family and surrounded by people who got me. I knew I found a gift. There was a discovery there with havening. I also knew that I found a new sense of healing, understanding, and gratitude in myself before there was hug it out. I also felt lighter and at peace.
For some time, when you have these upsets and traumas in your life, sometimes they become a part of you. I’ve seen this being a prior military with those with post-traumatic stress. A lot of times, it’s hard to let go of those things that become such a part of our lives and who we are that, without them, we’re a little scared. It’s like an old shoe. Your feet are coming out through the front and the sole’s coming off. You know what it feels like to put your foot in it, but at some point, that sole’s going to fall off, and then there’s no support.
In a way, what you’re doing is you’re allowing yourself to either have a brand-new pair of shoes and give yourself that gift that you deserve. The other pair are still there. Maybe once in a while, you want to slip your feet in, but you don’t need to go walking in them. Just know they’re there and they’re part of you. That’s what it gave me. It’s a sense of changing the trajectory, turning the story that I was telling myself of the loss, grief, pain, and illness into a new page and a new narrative.
Did that change the narrative with your dad from that day on? Did you hear his voice differently?
Yes. It’s never been the same. I talk about my dad all the time. We used to create this feeling right here in these chakras. I would swell up, and I couldn’t speak. My voice is one of my superpowers. It was hard. I well up in tears. It doesn’t mean I don’t have tears about my dad, but it’s more joyful now. It’s different now. My dad is all around me. I talk to my dad every day. He’s one of my inner guides. I feel like that’s important for me. It’s a new relationship with my father and a new relationship around the upset, the illness, and the trauma. The same goes for surgery. I look at it differently.
Havening is so amazing that it could do something like that in just that first session.
It’s amazing how rapid it is. That’s one of the reasons why I love to share that first complimentary session with folks. For two things, they’re empowered by doing it to themselves. Most of my sessions are virtual. I do have clients in person, but the beauty of this digital age is that we have this global village. I have clients in Italy, Florida, France, and all over the world. I can sit here with them and facilitate a session while they’re self-havening. If anything, I want you to be empowered.
Some folks like to meet in the room, but we’ve gotten to this age where people are like, “I can do it this way.” We can reach more people that way. You can always attend my workshops, my retreats, and things like that to be with me in person. The true power is putting the power of active emotional well-being in your own hands. For those everyday upsets, you can sit there, do your mantras, do your I am’s, and visualize that positive thing that brings you joy. Before you know it, that upsetting thing can become that namaste all day and it stays that way.The true power is putting the power of active emotional wellbeing in your own hands. Click To Tweet
Do you hold your retreats up in New York?
I’m in the New York, New Jersey area. A lot of times, I get brought in to be a guest practitioner on retreats. That’s been beautiful for me so far. I’m working on some possibilities in the future. I have a couple of workshops coming up in the local area, and then I’ll probably work on one online for those who aren’t local. Now, there are some local retreats in workshops that I’m doing, which I’m excited about.
Please let us know. We have a lot of customers in New York and New Jersey, well over 1,000. They would be very interested to know about that.
I do have an Intro to Havening workshop coming up. That will be in the New Jersey, Bergen County area at a beautiful wellness center. I’m happy to share that with you. It will be an hour in the room with me to share our thoughts and what’s been holding you back and weighing you down. I’ll then teach some havening, and we’ll go from there.
I used to run the nursing home in Woodcliff Lake in Bergen County.
That’s beautiful. You mentioned the nursing homes. That’s another area. I love working with senior adults or mature adults, people at that golden age. I have worked with people in palliative care as well, including people in my own family. There’s such a beautiful shift by giving them the gift of havening so that they can let go. Maybe there are things that have been plaguing them, things they haven’t worked through, or guilt that they might have had in their life. Why go into this next stage of whatever exists after with that on your shoulders? Working with people in palliative care, cancer patients, or anyone that’s questioning the next placement of their being, it’s beautiful to support them in that area.
Speaking of “used to support,” Naomi Feil created Validation Therapy for people who were elderly. She used to come to different nursing homes I was the administrator of and train our staff. It was very similar to havening. She created it way back in the early 1980s. It was a touch technique with validating people. It’s amazing that all these years later, you have a formal touch protocol, and it’s very similar.
The book she wrote was called The Validation Breakthrough. She did all this incredible research. It was all for old people that people thought had dementia and were never coming back. It turned out that when you validated them and touched them, they weren’t demented at all. They were depressed and it was acting like dementia. These people would be revitalized and be able to communicate normally again.
We’re seeing more of that. You see a lot of videos out there where people need to be heard. That is a group of people, a generation, that we think they’re old, the story doesn’t matter. Give people space and time to share. I love listening to older people share their life stories.
A lot of that generation, especially when they were younger, were the ones that were told to suck it up and move forward. The amount of things that they probably never dealt with as young adults or children, could be a large amount of things never dealt with. To have something like havening, especially in the golden years when you don’t want to be taking that on to wherever you go afterward, gives you a way to express it and make it a part of you in a way that’s positive.
A perfect example for me with that is my stepfather got out of Austria six days before the Nazi invasion. He lost his sister to the Holocaust. The one thing I used to love to talk to my stepdad about was his experiences in Austria, his time, and the stories he told me about being in the military. His face would light up talking about that and baseball.
When he was in the last stage of his life, his face still lit up as somebody who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. I would take his hand and do a simple havening. The thing with havening is that it’s the touch and a positive thought or distraction. There was such a connection. There’s a connection between Alzheimer’s and being in havening. There is with everything. It is seeing the level of joy that it brought to his face and his eyes would come back. It wasn’t full out. It was just a gentle touch. “Tell me about that time you went to such and such.” There’s no place where it’s not good.
Tell us about your journey in havening. You went and saw Dr. Ron at this three-day workshop and decided you wanted to become certified right at that workshop, I assume.
I don’t think I even left the building. It was the end of day two. It was a two-day workshop. I remember going up to Feliciana, saying, “Where do I sign up? Who’s going to be my mentor?” I dove right into it. At the time, I was still getting certified in something else, so I was doubling down. I was so excited to partake in this because I knew this is it. I wasn’t looking for something. That’s a thing. Like I said, it’s a falling into. I was happy building my business as a Holistic Health Coach working in Integrative Nutrition, but in my mind, I’m such an empath and a person that is feely.
I do believe in meditation and I follow the Law of Attraction. I just felt like this was my guidance. This was something higher than myself saying, “This is what you need. This is your thing.” You got to listen to those voices because they’re 99.9% right. I always call it a Doppler radar. If Doppler says it’s a 100% chance of rain, and you go out there without an umbrella, you went against your gut and your intuition, and you got rained on. I make an effort to listen to that voice. I wasn’t even out of that building before. I was like, “This is it.” I was in tears knowing because I slept that night so well. I remember my room like it was yesterday. I felt at peace.
That’s what you get from this work. Peace and calm. We call it CPR for the amygdala, because Amy, as we call her, Amy loves to be in that fight or flight mode. Saber-toothed tiger’s coming at you. We need to let Amy remind Amy, the amygdala, that she’s safe, all is well, and she’s a warrior. She’s that little girl that you pick up when she falls down and skins her knee, but she’s also the warrior that’s like, “I can do this.” It’s a reminder to self, letting her know, giving her a little CPR, and reminding her that, “You’re going to be okay. You just need some tools. I’m here for you.”
We’ve talked about the amygdala and the heart-brain connection a lot. I don’t know if we’ve ever been exposed to it being called Amy. I like that. We were thinking before we got on the call with you, “We should ask her why they refer to Amy.” Before I ask you, I’m going to give you my thoughts on it. Amy humanizes it. It makes it something that you can relate to, talk to, and not just a part of your body. I would assume also, too, by having a relationship with someone named Amy. I notice we referred to it as feminine. Maybe that’s another way to bring a different perspective onto something that has a function in the body that you need an actual physical relationship and emotional relationship with. Maybe that’s the purpose of it.
I love that you share it that way because that is how I see it. That’s how many of us in communities see it. I’ve been asked before, “What’s the difference between havening and this modality?” How I associate that or how I answer that is, in my mind, my opinion, I believe that havening is much more of a feminine energy. There are other energies out there. This is an electrochemical process. This is energy medicinal. Although we’re all energy, it’s electrochemical medicine that Amy, the feminine side to that is that you’re being nurtured. You’re nurturing yourself.
There are other ways that are a little more masculine. I feel that we need the nurturing. We need to hug it out and nurture ourselves. We need to understand the power of being held, of the touch, of that oxytocin, that love hormone. Also, dopamine, serotonin, and GABA are released. The other hormones that are released when you do havening. You hit the nail on the head, Amy came out of the word amygdala.We need to hug it out and nurture ourselves, but we need to understand the power of that love hormone. Click To Tweet
Tune into the next episode where we talk about the experience and knowledge that Hilary brings to the table as a Holistic Health Coach and Havening Techniques Practitioner. Check us out at LiveForeverYoungRadio.com.
About Hilary Russo
Hilary has more than 25 years of media experience.
She’s an award-winning television journalist, producer and multimedia host. Her work has allowed her to cover some of the most intriguing and influential people, products and companies on many platforms from live TV and events to virally all over the world.
A shift in her life presented her with a unique opportunity where Hilary blends her media expertise and storytelling with her love of health and wellness. She currently hosts “Healthy Communities News”, a monthly travel show for CVS Health. She also makes regular appearances as a health/wellness guest expert on TV stations across the country.