by Gail Galvani Bell
“As long as there are canyons, people will be drawn to them.”
We still don’t know whose words these are, but they very well could have been mine.
My dream ever since seeing the Grand Canyon as a kid was to one day, hike to the bottom, spend the night next to the Great Colorado River, and hike back up the next day.
Life, unfortunately, got in the way- school, my career, my marriage, raising two children and ultimately scoliosis. It wasn’t until I discovered MELT that my dream became a reality.
My entire life, I was very athletic. However, when I got into long distance running, my scoliosis reared its head and the pain became intolerable. After a series of orthopedic, podiatrist, and physical therapist visits, I decided to quit running. I remained active though. I just figured that massage, acupuncture, network chiropractic and even Tuina could get me out of pain when I had an episode. The problem was that the episodes got more frequent and my costs to visit all these pain management professionals became exorbitant.
I first learned about MELT in an acting class. When I stepped on the soft blue ball, my breath released and the nagging pain in my lower back lessened. I was intrigued, so I started to learn more about it and I took classes at the Breathing Project with Edya. My body embraced the technique and eventually I got my certification from Sue Hitzmann, the genius who created MELT. As a result, my weekly pain therapy sessions were no longer needed. I actually grew one half inch taller and my body became my partner instead of my nemesis. My body told me when it needed to MELT.
So on September 28th, three friends, a guide, my MELT balls and me made our way, hiking down into the Grand Canyon. We started at the top of the South Rim Kaibab trail and descended 5000 feet to make our way along the Colorado river to spend the night at the Phantom Ranch. The trail we chose had little shade and no water refill stations. The Park Rangers call it the “No Mercy” trail. We knew that this trail had the most spectacular panoramic views so we decided it would be well worth the risk. Actually, the previous week, snow had fallen in the Canyon, so heck, how hot could it get? Furthermore, we were each carrying three liters of water on our back, which you’d think would be enough for the six-hour hike, right?
Wrong! The temperature got up to 100 degrees. We all ran out of water, including the guide, and one of my friends really struggled. Our guide pulled me aside, said my friend was hallucinating and seeing visions of her dead parents, and unless he left his pack with us to get water, she may not survive. We know now, she was suffering from heat stroke and was literally at death’s door.
MELT revived her. I made her lie down and I took off her boots and socks, eeked out enough water to wet a bandana for her face and started treating her feet with the MELT balls. Her breathing slowly started to regulate and normalize. When the guide returned one hour later he was astonished.
I knew that MELT could relieve pain. But I never expected it to have this kind of life-or-death impact. Amazingly, we safely and comfortably reached the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.
The next morning, ten minutes on the roller did a wonder to prepare us for our 9.5-mile ascent. We all made it successfully to the top totally thrilled to have made this journey.
With MELT in my arsenal, perhaps next year, a hike up Mt. Everest is in order.
Here’s to dreaming…..
To read the first-hand account of Gail’s friend Percy, and her experience with MELT, click here.
About the Author
Gail Bell is a Certified MELT instructor, trained breathing specialist, professional vocal coach, and actress. Gail is an adjunct professor at NYU Graduate School of Acting, teaching techniques of Voice and Text. An actor by trade and a member of Equity, S.A.G and A.F.T.R.A, Gail teaches Voice and Speech privately in New York City. She also teaches a group class helping performers connect their voice, breath and core to produce a well supported voice that doesn’t sound or feel forced. Find Gail at her website www.MELTvoice.com.