Keys to the Kingdom

IMG_20150408_143438This is an article recently published in South Lake Neighbors, April issue. Thank you and Enjoy! IMG_20150408_143847

Body Knowledge

We often think that our minds are the most valuable part of us as humans, but what about our body’s wisdom? You know that sensation; the clench of the jaw to keep from saying something awful, those butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, and the hairs that stand up on the back of your neck when you’re afraid.  That is the language of the body-sensation, and it is trying to tell you something and trying to help you. Pain is a great example- when we feel pain in the body it often means something is not right. The kind of pain will often inform you on the course of action, do I need an ice pack or hot bath. Should I take ibuprofen, or something stronger or do I need to go to the doctor.

Take a moment to stop, right now and take a couple of nice deep belly breaths. Notice how you’re sitting, where your body comes in contact with the chair. What other sensations do you become aware of? Are you hot or cold, numb, tingly? Do you notice tightness somewhere? Ask your body what it is trying to tell you. The language of the body is much slower than our minds, so take your time.

By taking the time to notice sensation, you’re calming the nervous system and increasing your ability to think more clearly and therefore make better decisions, and better decisions make for less stress, and less stress makes for a happier you.

 

Bags and the Body

Welcome to back to school time!   Did you know that the average  students back pack weighs 18.4lbs, and can weigh up to 30 lbs?! My purse weighs 4 lbs, my networking bag weighs 8lbs and my massage bag weighs 20lbs. So, why are you taking about bags and the what does that have to do with the body? Glad you asked. If you are like me, I put ALL those bags on one shoulder! That is 32lbs of stuff on one shoulder!!  That weight, then pulls my body to that side and in order to keep those bags on that shoulder, I need to shift the rest of my body posture around, throw a hip out, side bend my back, head tilts then so I can see straight, you get the picture. My body compensates for the extra weight on one side. This in turn creates muscles on one side of my body that get over stretched and others that are tight. I don’t switch sides, so now I have developed a chronic pattern. So what do we do? Great question! First, clean out all the bags so you can travel light, then switch sides when carrying them. Getting a massage can help you to balance the muscles, relieve stiffness and soreness and keep doing what you are doing!

Have a healthy week everyone!

A New Journey

Wow, one never knows what is in store for them on this journey called life. Just when you think you have it figured out, life throws you a big curve. In my case, the curve is a health crisis, not mine, but my partners. I had mine already and am now better, thank you God. Mine occurred just as the economy was having it’s health crisis, timing is everything. I guess my life plan was to recover so I would be healthy to care for my partner and the family. Not sure I wanted this challenge, however I have it and I am finding that I am well equipped for it actually. I have many friends that are there to help and will make things happen if needed. We are covered in prayer and ready for the fight before us. It really is all about your attitude, and how you handle things.

As a friend wrote recently: The things you cannot change, change you.
Another one: When you don’t have a song in your heart, sing anyway.

So for now, I will keep answering the phone and opening the mail. Doing the thing that is before me, and being grateful that I can.

Surrender

Surrender defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is “To relinquish possession or control to another….”
As an adult I think I first learned to surrender while receiving a massage, you know, when the therapist shakes your arm and says, “relax”, really, how do you do that I thought. As I have gotten older, I have mastered that form of relaxation, trusting my massage therapist knows what they are doing with my body. Now I have moved on to other forms of surrender, such as surrendering my need to be right, to voice my opinion, to change someone behavior, to impose my will on situations. I am awear also of needing to surrender my judgement of what people think of me, as I once heard,”Its none of my business what you think of me.” Surrender is also about letting go. Letting go of outcomes, results, not forcing things to happen a certain way, letting go of expectations, letting go of judgements. Which then all lead down a path of needing to trust. Trust that most people are good and have good intentions, they are not out to hurt others or myself. Trusting that I can trust myself, which is a big one. Letting go of self judgement, self criticism…

Maybe it is none of my business what I think of Me…..Maybe it is only my business to BE- be the best person I can be, with good intentions and to not hurt anyone, others or myself…This I may need to surrender.

Gratitude

It is two months in, almost three, into the new year. So 2010 is officially done and we are well into 2011. The beginning of each year is often a time to reflect, to evaluate where we have been and where we would like to go. It is a time to set goals, both personally and professionally, mentally and spiritually.  As I sit and reflect, I am awestruck at  the past year and find that I have much to be grateful for this year.

I want to thank and celebrate all of the people who have touched me over the past year. Some have been my teachers, some my guides, some have been my clients, my friends, family and some I don’t know at all, but know through friends, the news, etc. ALL have inspired me to BE better. All have supported me in some way and joined me in my journey.  I am most grateful of those who have shared their journey with me, and allowed me to be a part, it is truly an honor.

I am grateful to all of you and the part you have played in my life, professionally and personally and the support you have given to all areas of my life. Whether you have been a part of my life for a short time or many years, you are all important, loved and cherished.

I look forward to what this year will bring, the challenges, the lessons, the celebrations. I look forward to being on this life journey with all of you and continue to have an open heart to the future.

I am especially grateful for my health right now. In December, a friend of 24 plus years, let me know she has breast cancer. Thud, not something you ever want to hear. So, I wondered, how could I help her, how could I respect her journey and yet be a part? I found out that she would have a rather large amount of unpaid medical bills, a fundraiser….and so starts our journey together. I will be going bald for breast cancer.  Once I thought of this idea, I have not looked back, not questioned it, it just feels right. I am even looking forward to not having all this hair, even though I do like it right now. (if you are so moved to pass along, please do, or make a donation, please do. Thank you!)

Hearing my friend is ill, reminds me how precious our health is, and how valuable and important our relationships are. When was the last time you let your friends know how much you appreciated then, how loved they are? I don’ t think we say that enough! Maybe we do to our families, even there we can do more.  Hear words of gratitude for friendship can turn a bad day around. It is so easy to say.  Lets start today, don’t wait, tell the people you value, that you value them. You never know what will happen next, what the future holds.

My wish for all of you, as we continue into this great new year, is that you have an open and grateful heart, and that you feel blessed for all that you do have. I wish for you health, support and joy.

Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving night, all the turkey is eaten, our tummies are full. The family has been seen and gone home. The coals of the fire are slowly burning out, it has been a wonderful day. As I think back on the day, I wonder why it is this day that we say out loud our thanks? Giving thanks should be an everyday thing, don’t you think? For isn’t the attitude of gratitude really and everyday thing? I received this quote that I think fits and conveys what I am thinking and referring to.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow” Author Unknown.

So if gratitude and giving thanks can do all this, why do we save it to one day a year? What kind of difference would it make if everyday we gave thanks, of said out loud, to one person what we are grateful for? or even better yet, tell that one person you are grateful and thankful for them. Now that’s worth a lot of thanks…..

A Little History Please

Today, we are going to take a walk back in time, massage time, to provide some definitions and give a historical perspective.

The word massage is thought to be derived from several sources. The Latin root Massa and the Greek roots massing  or mass mean to touch, handle, squeeze, or knead. The French verb maser, also means to knead. The Arabic root mass or mass’s and the Sanskrit root make translate as “press softly”.

The word massage has its roots in the concerns of touch and the various applications of touch.  We must differentiate the therapeutic values of touch in the professional sense from forms of touch shared between people in life circumstances outside the professional environment.

Therefore, Professional touch is: skilled touch delivered to achieve a specific outcome and the recipient in some way reimburses the professional for the service.

The Professional, a massage therapist, providing the service is skilled- schooled, has formal training- and operates with in a certain standard of practice, including technical application and ethical conduct.

What is healing:  it is the restoration of well-being and therapeutic applications that promote a healing environment.

So what is touch:  Anatomically and physiologically touch is the collection of tactile sensations that arise from sensory stimulation, primarily of the skin but also touches deeper structures of the body, such as the muscles.

The skin is an amazing organ, It is the largest sensory organ of the body. Many internal soft tissue structures- such as muscles, connective tissue; and visceral structures-such as heart, lungs and other organs; project sensations to the skin.  Pain is one such sensation.

The autonomic nervous system, which regulates organs and chemical homeostasis- balance- of the body is highly responsive to touch of the skin in supporting well being.

Our mood- the way we feel, is often reflected in the skin as we; flush with excitement, blush with embarrassment and pale with fear.

We must be touched to survive. Touch is a hunger that must be fed, not just for well being, but as the very essence of our survival. Research supports the belief that touch in a structured way is very important if not an absolute need of all living beings.

Research is done with premature babies, when touched regularly, the grow faster and are healthier. Research is currently being expanded to include elderly persons, people currently well but under stress and ill persons.

Touch often is the concrete experience of more abstract sensations. For example, something that can be seen may not be necessarily real, as in the case in watching a movie, but when something can be touched, it is tangible.

I can listen to client tell me their history, and I can look and observe during a physical assessment, but it is not until I touch clients and feel them that I begin to understand their bodies.

In a reciprocal sense, when I lay my hands on a person’s body, the understanding that I, as a practitioner, have receives from the client is conveyed back to the client. Touch is a fundamental, multi layered and powerful form of communication.

History of Massage:

Massage has always been one of the most natural and instinctive means of relieving pain and discomfort. When you have pain, or have sore, aching muscles, the instinctive impulse is to touch and rub that part of the body to obtain relief.   Mothers rub children’s ouewee’s and kiss to make better.

Therapeutic massage has strong roots in Chinese folk medicine, but also has many aspects in common with other healing traditions. It is believed that the art of massage was first mentioned in writing about 2000BC and is has been written about extensively in books since 500 BC. Egyptian, Persian and Japanese historical medical literature are full of references to massage. The Greek physician Hippocrates advocated massage and gymnastic exercise.  Is’nt he the father of modern medicine?

Hippocrates was the first to describe specifically the medical benefits of anointing and massage.  He called his art; “anatripsis” which means to rub up.  He said; “A physician must be acquainted with many things and assuredly with anatripsis, for things that have the same name have not always the same effect, for rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose or loosen a joint that is too hard.”   This is what sets me apart for other massage therapists, I can feel the difference, and I know what your body requires, bind, or loosening.

Many techniques similar to those methods, especially traction and stretching principals are still in use today.

Brief Timeline: 2000 B.C. The art of massage was first mentioned in writing. 460-377 B.C Hippocrates ofCos lived. He was the first in Greek medicine to specifically describe the medical benefits of anonitning and massage. 589-617 A.D Knowledge of massage and its applications were already well established in medicine at the time of the Sui Dynasty.  1517-1590 Ambrose Pare began to use massage techniques for joint stiffness and wound healing after surgery.  1776-1839 Per Henrik Ling is gioven credit for the development of Swedish massage.  1839-1909 Dr. Johann Mezher of Holland is given credit for bringing massage to the scientific community. 1856 Charles Fayette Taylor and George Henry Taylor, two brothers, introduce the Swedish Movements to the United States.  1894 The Society of Trained Masseuses is formed.  1916 Dr. James B. Mennell divides the effect of massage into two categories: mechnaical nad reflex actions. 1920’s Connective tissue massage is developred by Elizabeth Dicke and Lymph drainage is developed by Emil and Estrid Voder. 1934 Reich settled in the United States and is considered by many to be the founder of psychotherapeutic body techniques.  Late 1940’s Cyriax published the first edition of Textbook of Orthopedic Medicine. 1960 President John F. Kennedy begins interest in sports massage. 1970 Acupressure recieves attention. 1980 The professional organization  Associated Bodywork and Massage is formed. 1991 The Touch Research Insitiute is created, and The National Institute of Health establishes the Office of Alternative Medicine. 1995-present The available information about therapeutic massage continues to increase.

Scientific research has provided validation for massage and continues to define the physical effects of therapeutic massage.

Massages therapeutic value is gained from changes in soft tissue and structure rather than from surgery or pharmaceuticals. Changes in soft tissue range from softening of the muscle to increased range of motion, to name a few, the benefits of massage is for another presentation.

So what is massage, some can be found in the following definition of Therapeutic massage: The scientific art and system of assessment of and manual application of certain techniques to the superficial soft tissue of skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and facia and the structures that lie within the superficial tissues. The hand, foot, knee, elbow, arm, and forearm are used for the systematic external application of touch, stroking, (effleurage), friction, vibration, percussion, kneading (pertissage), stretching, compression, or passive and active joint movements within the normal physiologic range of motion. Massage includes adjunctive external application of water, heat, cold for the purpose of establishing and maintaining good physical condition and health by normalizing and improving muscle tone, promoting relaxation, stimulating circulation, and producing therapeutic effects on the respiratory and nervous systems and the subtle interactions among all body systems. These intended effects are accomplished environment that respects the clients self-determined outcome for the session.

So you can see that massage has a long history, and a history based in medicine. That massage therapist are trained professionals, and adhere to high professional standards of practice, technical application, and code of ethics. Massage is steeped in physical touch, not only for well being but for survival.  Massages therapeutic value is gained from changes in the soft tissue and body’s structure. Massage is a mix of art and science, one that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. It is hghly professional and personal, touching all aspect of the human, truely integrating mind, body, spirit.

Just for Today

Just for today.. this is a good line and am thankful of a friend for reminding me of this line.

You can start it anyway you want, and most of us can do anything for a day, and some of us need to be reminded of certain things everyday.

So today, I will start with it this way;   Just for today I am grateful. I am grateful for a home to live in, a job that I love. I am grateful for my car and the food on the table. I am grateful for my family and friends, that I am able to spend time with them and they are all safe like me.  I am grateful for my body and all that it does for me even when I miss treat it.  I am grateful for the freedom of my country and those who are fighting for us to stay free. I am grateful for my safety, for the ability to think, talk, write, share. I am grateful for all my senses, talents and abilities. I am grateful for the sunrise and the sunset, the beautiful white snow…There really is so much to be grateful for.

Maybe I’ll start with it this way;  Just for today I will not worry. Worry takes up lots of room in my head and pushes out the abundance.  Life is abundant and beautiful.  I have what I need and lots of what I want, so there is no room or need to worry. This is  a great reminder. I often worry out of habit, like I have nothing else to do.  Or; Just for today I will not judge. When we sit in judgement, there is no room for love.

For me, it all comes back to feeling grateful and being full of gratitude. Gratitude for all of life and the abundance of the earth and grateful for all that I have, all that I touch, see, smell, taste, hear, believe. I feel a gratitude in my heart that is overwhelming and love so big it is bigger than the universe, encompassing everything.

Yes, it has been a difficult year, and as I reflect, this day after Christmas and a week away from the new year, I am grateful for the challenges too, for they have made me stronger, made me more grateful and have been powerful teachers, with lessons in staying present,  non- judgement  and non-comparison of  myself to others. Lessons on the wisdom of silence and love, the healing capacity of words and actions. It has been a great year and for everything, I am most grateful.

so how will you start: Just for today…

Life Events

A week ago today I was a half hour into running the Monster Dash Half Marathon. I am not a stranger to this type of race or the length of the race, this is my third half marathon.  This has been the most challenging, since my last race was ten years ago. Over the last couple of years, I have made several attempts to run again, resulting in some kind of injury.  I loved running when I was younger and just refuse to accept that I am not able to do it now, so I keep doing it.

This year I joined a running group, as I have learned over my attempts that I can not do it alone.  The group has been great, although there was no one that ran the same pace as me, I was encouraged all along the way, which made the running easier. I also figured out that my motivation to run before was to reduce the stress I felt in my life, well, now, I have very little stress, which is great but then I needed to find new motivation, something to get me out the door to run. So I signed up for the Monster Half, and the Minneapolis half next spring, (there was a sale to sign up for both, how can you pass that up).

I have still been in an injury zone. My left hip and leg were/are causing much pain. I discovered I do not like pain very much, not even the good kind you get after you work out. I am working on that, accepting good pain, seeing the good pain as a sign of strength. So the journey of my hip pain has led me to yet another lesson in listening to my body. I was sensing that the pain was related to my pelvis and sacrum. My chiropractor was not getting it adjusted fully, so my body started telling me to go somewhere else. I finally did, visited a chiropractor I had seen years ago, and wala- he confirmed my diagnosis, adjusted me, and I felt great, until the day of the race. Got up that morning, and my hip hurt. Crap. Now what… I got up and went to the race. I signed up, I am going to do this, plus my friend was counting on me to run with him, I couldn’t let him down, nor myself. I knew going into the race I would be running and walking and that was fine. It just so happens that it was more walking than running that day. My friend and I finished the race. We crossed the mat at 3:33:33.  Not fast, but that was not the point. I was committed and determined, after all, I heard once that is all you need to be a good runner. I got that; commitment and determination. In many areas of my life, the application of them is the key to success in anything.  So I am what the running world would call a “penguin”, not so fast. This is coined by John Bingham, he speaks for all the runners that are not so fast and that do it for the journey and adventure.  He  is the author of one of my favorite quotes:
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”    Another great quote, I have in my massage office is: ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” Confucius,   and one I just found: “It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop” Confucius.  I did not stop and in the end I finished my third half marathon. I did not stop and found the right people to work on my injuries. I did not stop and joined a running club for support. I did not stop and ran/walked today, and I will keep going, doing what ever it takes, in running and in life to be successful. I will not stop….