My Lessons in Pink
At the beginning of this month one of the worst fears of a massage therapist came true for me. I had an accident and broke my wrist. I wish it was some epic tale that I could boast about, like saving a kitten from a house fire or battling some scrupulous looking character downtown. Sadly however, my tale of woe began with me simply taking the trash out and succumbing to a flight of icy stairs.
This whole ordeal is a continuing learning experience for me. A healing process that has forced me into some uncomfortable places of vulnerability and surrender. More specifically, although I do take care of myself on many levels, I’m used to being the caretaker/healer. When that’s on hold, it really highlights some cracks in the foundation, and leaves space for contemplation and reflection which brings up both the good and the ugly within. And so The School of Life has been handing me some hard homework to contend with, and frankly I don’t like it. Yet growth, learning and healing often come hand-in-hand (ha-ha pun intended), and this is what I’ve discovered so far.
1.Idleness is so difficult. Normally I’m constantly doing something. If I'm not reading, researching, or writing, taking classes and workshops, teaching classes and workshops, working with clients, taking care of family, cooking, cleaning, chorus etc., I get uncomfortable. I keep doing this even when I’m at my limit, but if I’m going to be honest, it’s to avoid feeling my emotions. There’s a certain level of programming from childhood that, if I’m not doing something, I’m not good enough. I must be productive; I must push myself. Our capitalistic society doesn’t help this narrative either. Ironically, I broke my wrist just about the same time we all went into shut-down with the pandemic 3 years ago. There’s been eerie similarities to both experiences, where I’m kind of stuck in place, can’t work, not sure what do, having to navigate governmental agencies for income (I filed for short-term disability insurance and that’s a whole other story), and then suddenly having all the time in the world, but in freeze-mode and not really being able to get things done. It’s a weird polarity to be in.
2.I’m tired, like really tired. When you’re on the go so much you never realize how tired you are. There are different levels to being tired too. We can be tired, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and are often a combination of these. While I know my body is in healing mode, I’ve been sleeping a lot. There have been days I would get up to do a few things, and then nap for a few hours, and you know what I felt? Not restfulness, just guilt. Guilt again that I’m not being productive, or lazy because I’m sleeping while others are working. I had to compassionately challenge this guilt to find the root of its claims. What I realized is, I felt I didn’t deserve the rest, that it wasn’t something afforded to me, even though I preach it all the time to my clients. That somehow, I’m the laziest person. Funny though, as you just read, I struggle with the stillness. Not only was I healing from the physical injury with some intense pain, I was also working to process the trauma of the event, and all the other stresses of my life. I work hard in therapy to help heal myself, work hard at my job, friends/family relationships, and other obligations. There is so much going on underneath the surface, that the need for rest came fast and furious. In some ways I’m grateful for the break, maybe not the bone break, but the pause in motion. I will continue to strive to find a better balance in this for myself, but in the meantime, I’m learning the subtle art of the nap, and compassionately allowing it as best I can.
3.Accepting help is so cringeworthy. From the moment the accident happened, I went into survival mode. I organized what I needed to do, who I needed to contact, and how I was going to move forward, all into a neat plan, all on my own. Well, this plan had some major flaws, even though I was quite certain it was fool-proof. Planning life, however, is one of the funny fallacies that we keep on perpetually thinking we are in control of and, especially if you’re American, doing it all on your own. With the wise words of my therapist ringing in my ears, “We never heal on our own, we aren’t meant too, otherwise you would have done it already,” I had to surrender to the fact, that I needed help, though the process of asking, let alone accepting help, is so messy for me. Asking for help feels like I failed at something, and in the past, I was often shamed for asking for support or guidance. I was told in few words, “figure it out on your own.” So, I’ve learned to trust only asking certain individuals for help, but I need to get comfortable asking a larger circle. When people have reached out and offered financial support, groceries, food prep, laundry, I didn’t know what to do with it. I quickly told people I’m okay, which was partly true, but as the weeks went on, that okay became not so okay. Why would these people want to support me? I can’t possibly take from them, I’ll feel indebted. The bigger issue was, I didn’t want people to think I failed at being an adult, that I was some type of screw-up. Boy-oh-boy, the stories in our head can really play a number on us. These lovely people wouldn’t offer if they couldn’t or didn’t want to, yet I felt so small and stupid until a good friend pointed out that I am neither. While he helped me realize that my thoughts were overrun with emotion, he also pointed out that, if the tables were turned, I would be just as generous, supportive, and helpful, as I very often am. Sitting with this feeling, I struck gold in a larger spiritual sense. “I have a hard time receiving.” Money, compliments, accolades, they all feel prideful or even dirty, that somehow, I don’t deserve them, I don’t deserve any help. I need to earn them instead of deserving them simply because I exist. I began to reflect on my own journey, manifesting the life that I want, and how there must be an exchange for the universe to support us in attaining our desires. You must receive, to give, otherwise you’re missing the point.
I’m still healing my wrist, and it will take a little more time before I’m back seeing clients. I’m doing my best to reframe a lot of this down-time, and I hope that my sharing can be a gentle reminder that even healers need help, and that we are all just doing the very best we can navigate this crazy experience we call life.
Reframing New Years Resolutions
Is it safe to come out now? Has enough time passed from the intense holiday season, and the dreaded New Year resolution marketing campaigns to safely emerge once again? I sure hope so. I know it seems a bit silly to be writing a post about New Year’s Resolutions now that we are at the end of January, but if you’re anything like me, they just don’t stick.
Not only do my previous year’s resolutions not stick, but I’m also growing tired of the constant marketing that capitalizes on our drive or need to "be better,” or "do better," and the thousands of answers that will get you there if you were to only buy a $1000 dollar program guarantee. Not that all of these programs or solutions are bad or unhelpful, but believe me I’ve been there, lost more than money, and as a result, gained feelings of shame and guilt that I wasn’t doing more and succeeding. For example, while not really a resolution, I intended exercising more, and I’m already behind about 15 workouts this month. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone! I already feel bad about this, but then there are the chocolate brownies and it's winter so ...
I’m also tired. I think the collective stress of the past few years, as well as my own personal stuff, has caught up with me. Add to that a dreary rainy winter here in Connecticut, and it’s not left much space for motivation and desire. According to the dictionary, resolutions are defined as: “a firm decision to do, or not to do something.” I really like this verbiage. Often, we all think of things that we need to add into our lives or obtain as our resolution, instead of thinking, what can I get rid of, let go of, or no longer do? With that, I’ve decided I’m giving up on the social pressure to change, to conform and to follow the hive mind mentality. Instead, I'm going to work on removing the shame and guilt I have allowed others to place upon me, the self-inflicted kind too. But where did that leave me in terms of resolutions? I had to take time to really reflect how I approached this concept, still tapping into the energy of the New Year, yet not being swallowed whole and losing myself in the process. I started to think about what worked, and what didn’t work, in my life last year. As a result, I came up with a list of things that culminated in just one simple resolution, which is “take care of me."
The following are some thoughts about how I’m trying to do just that:
1. I am introvert, so I naturally lean towards quiet spaces and solitude time. We've had plenty of practice with this during the pandemic, but even for me, it’s getting a bit old. I’ve had to continue to negotiate with myself what feels safe to do and how I can get back out into the world to enjoy its splendors, yet not sacrifice my need for quiet either. This led me to saying "yes" and "no” more often. Saying "yes" to things that scare me, that push me out of my comfort zone. Saying “yes” to pleasure, socialization and joy. While saying “no” to obligations, experiences, or people that throw me out of alignment with what feels right for myself.
2. Drinking more water. Another one that might sound silly, but I’m severely dehydrated, and my physical and emotional well-being depends on proper hydration. Starting my day with a large glass of water at room temperature and increasing my intake throughout the day, might have made me frequent the bathroom more often, but the brain-fog of the past year is at least starting to fade as I continue to nourish my body with this vital substance.
3. Eating well and cooking, as the price of food continues to skyrocket. Cooking at home can be a real act of devotion to yourself, as well as a saving grace for your wallet. For me, cooking is a stress relief, a creative time that brings me great joy. I can, however, get stuck in a rut and feel a bit blasé around my food. To remedy this, I’ve decided to unpack the hundreds of food reels I've saved on my Instagram and work to make one new recipe a week.
4. Speaking of Instagram and social media. I’m a doom-scroller. I wake up, and I check my phone. I’m bored, and I check my phone, I’m waiting on an order, I check my phone. I’m tired, I check my phone. I think you get the drift. I spend way too much time looking at ads, at perceived successes and the “living my best life” posts from influencers and friends that just put me in a depressive state. I know the matrix of the social media world is not real, but it can be very convincing. It’s a world that I do wish to engage in, but not let it consume my life. Luckily, I found a neat function on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I’m sure you have something similar, but I’m an Apple kind of guy), where you can set time limits for your apps.
I have my social media limited to 1 hour a day. It helps me stay focused and find what I need quicker and avoid the scrolling. It gives you a warning message that you're approaching the last 5 minutes of your allotted time and once your time is up, you get the option of leaving the app, adding 5 more minutes, or ignoring the time limit for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve totally hit that last button more times than I like to admit, but this function has helped me reduce the time I spend on social media significantly, and my mental health is much better for it too.
For me, these are all simple and attainable things, and I will continue to do them to help take care of me. They feel less intimidating, and less guilt-ridden if I don’t follow suit. Yet being able to follow these more, helps with my larger goals and motivations, and I hope it can inspire, lead or direct you to creating some little wins for yourself.
Movement is Medicine
How are you all? I hope you've been doing as best you can. Me? Well, it's been an interesting few months. There's lots of internal work coming up for me to explore, and I'm gearing up for the fall season. Which after the crazy heat waves we had I'm more than ready for the cooler weather.
So I've been stuck. Have you ever gotten that way? Feel like you have no place to turn, shift, or move through? This "stuck" feeling hit me on many levels. My creativity, energy levels, mental/emotional wellbeing, and of course my physical body.
As a bodyworker, part of my job is to help my clients come home to their bodies safely. Helping to bring awareness to where they are holding discomfort or pain, emotions, and stress. We are all so good at numbing out and that also includes me.
I think for the past two months I have progressively numbed out and my body certainly has taken the brunt of this. I kind of fell into a well of disappear and tightness. This translates directly to my body as well. My back went out. My stomach inflamed. Old injuries arose, and frankly, I felt awful.
That was until a good friend reminded me of a saying."Movement is Medicine." While there is some poetic irony behind a holistic health provider who doesn't really like exercise that's where I am. The idea of exercise terrifies me. It feels like more work, more pain, and more aggravation. This is my process to work through but this mentality has kept me in the stuck phase.
As we don't heal alone, I decided to buck up, reach out for help, and went to see my Pilates trainer with my tail between my legs, "it's been a hot minute since I've seen her for a session".
She was just as compassionate and non-judgemental as ever guiding me back into my body and helping to fix some postural issues I was dealing with. I'll tell you for the most part I didn't enjoy it. My body hurt, felt awkward, disconnected, and worthless. These feelings I know were also stemming from a deeper space inside. I stuck with the session and trusted my trainer and the process.
Do you know what happened next? I felt better. The session ended and I felt more in myself than I had in a long time. My body didn't ache, some crinks were ironed out, and my mood shifted. I released sometimes the answer to the feeling stuck is to actually move. Walk, workout, dance, sing. All things that make movement in the body. It doesn't have to be fancy or look like you're sitting under a guillotine-like I did in the picture above, "don't worry it's just Pilates equipment."
Sometimes we have to address the physical body to engage the rest of our being. So I'm not saying I've fallen in love with exercise, but I think I might be starting to fall in love with my body again.
I hope you can find this helpful.
Grief is the word you may have been looking for.
The week of March 16th is one I will remember for a long time. Exactly two years ago now, all of our lives changed forever. This was the week that the world went into shut-down, and reality as we knew it was no longer the same. It's funny, living through a pandemic. Sometimes it feels like it began only yesterday, while other times it easily feels like a decade has passed already. A lot has happened politically, socially, environmentally, and globally since it started, that makes a return to “normal” feel like a thing of the past. I have been hit with waves of emotions this past week, memories on social media, reminding me of the early beginnings of the pandemic when the world felt united for the common cause of beating this virus. There was sense of hope, even amongst the divided nation that is the United States. We thought we could hunker down for a couple months and that it would all soon be over. Little did we know the new struggles, challenges, and traumas we were all about to face.
People in general, and Americans specifically, are really good at forgetting the past. We like to move on quickly. I think it’s easier that way for many, falling back into auto-pilot and going about their day-to-day business.
While this seems to be the case for many in relation to this pandemic, we haven’t truly hit the endemic stage yet, as much as we hoped, and there’s an interesting phenomenon occurring, which I like to refer to as ‘continual trauma’.
Trauma is often defined, not as the experience of the event, but in how we process and handle the event. Essentially how our nervous system is able to process what has transpired for us, both physically and emotionally, as we work to return ourselves back to a sense of calm and balance. However, we generally don’t begin to process such trauma until after the event, when we once again feel safe, or are able to create enough space in our system, to work through all that has happened. This is why for example, in massage, it can take time and many sessions for a person to feel safe enough to let go of their chronic muscle holding patterns caused by stress and previous trauma. Or why folx involved in mental health counseling often need to go slow in their healing process, unpacking the layers of protection to get to the root of the traumatic experience.
So, while the western world seems to want to move beyond COVID, there are many who are stuck in the challenging experience of a continual trauma cycle. This is for a variety of reasons. Some are high-risk with health conditions that even with a vaccine make COVID dangerous to be out in the world with. Some parents have kids who haven’t had access to the vaccine yet. Some work in elderly care or other medical facilities and have to choose safety for their work. There are also many others who were dealing with complex trauma before the pandemic started, which created an even more difficult time trying to find feelings of calm when their internal and external worlds never truly felt safe in the first place. It can therefore sometimes feel, that as long as the pandemic continues, there’s no wiggle room to begin to process and heal the trauma of the last two years.
However, there are some things we can do. To start, it takes acknowledgment. Looking at common experience and calling it out for what it is.
So how can we sum up the feelings and experience of all this? Well, grief is the word you might be looking for. It’s an emotion that often underpins many others. Anger, rage, frustration, pain, fear, and resentment can all be overlaying emotions for grief. The last two years have put a stop to many timeless traditions. Businesses have closed, thousands of lives have been lost, and our way of being social has changed forever. We have all essentially lost parts of our lives, and even though many have returned, it’s still not the same.
I think back to the time when I didn’t have to weigh up my options of what social event would be more of an exposure risk, and having to test prior to visiting older family members. Opting out of favorite activities like eating in restaurants, seeing friends, attending music events .. the list goes on and is different for every person. The simple act of socializing to release stress has been deprived for many. Meanwhile, we see a frustrated world act out its pain and grievances on each other, adding further to the divide. Yet perhaps if we can acknowledge the fact that we are all in deep, deep grief, we can better start to understand each other more.
Everyone holds and processes emotions differently, some in healthier ways than others, but regardless, humanity is trying to grapple with the reality that, while time is infinite, we aren’t. Death and change became an experience that hit home a lot sooner than many us of expected, and with the additional loss of not seeing friends and family, and not having our social needs met, processing this grief, often alone, adds another layer of trauma to the experience. No-one heals alone, which is why these past two years have been even more challenging. While I’m cautiously optimistic that a return to “safety” is in the distant future, I don’t know how or what that will eventually look like.
My wish is that there was more dialog around this experience. The same as with death, many expect individuals to simply move on after a period time, often with comments such as, “Oh, you’re not over that yet?” The process of grief can have many stages, and the time it takes to work through and develop a healthy relationship with this grief varies. Yet staying silent is the worst thing we can do. So, I encourage you to talk with friends, family, partners, co-workers, and those who you feel can hold space, that really allow and enable you to express yourself. Perhaps even asking for them to simply listen and to not offer advice, but to just be able to hear your struggles. Often that is a catalyst to healing, allowing the grief to be heard and witnessed.
I too want to move on from this pandemic, as unfortunately it’s not the only tragedy and struggle we are facing. But to simply move on is dangerous. Countless times, I’ve had clients in sessions processing emotions and experiences they didn’t take the time to process sooner. It stays in our system, often for years, but we do have the opportunity to find the support we need now, to help us all begin to unpack the silent truths and struggles we’ve collectively been holding.
Remember you’re not alone. Reach out to a therapist, coach, clergy member or friend, those who you know can support you. The world is trying to heal, and it’s okay to get help along the way. Grief is initiable and it’s what we are all feeling. Let’s come together, acknowledge, and move forward united. It takes a village.. and I wish you compassion and safety in your own healing of this grief. We can do this!
Okay, I’m going to say it, this past year and half has really sucked. I’ve tried finding a better adjective to describe what we all have been going through yet sucks just seems to be the word that sticks. On the larger scale, I don’t think we will really appreciate, unpack, or realize exactly what has truly happened to us. It’s my gut feeling that working through this collective trauma will take years. Just as my generation reflect back and ask grandparents what it was like living through the World Wars, I foresee our young ones asking us the very same question about this pandemic. The curious thing about this prediction is that we are still living through the pandemic, and so we can’t begin to imagine how we will respond. It’s my firm belief that our actions, choices, and personal/societal work will shape the impact of that answer.
Besides the pandemic, certain social movements have come to some intense pinnacles in their activism. Society as a whole is having to look at its shadow-side and really consider what we need and what we want to invest in and support, finding a place of compassion. LGTBQ, BLM, “Me Too”, Native American Rights, Environmental Protection Movements, to name a few, are all playing a role in the collective healing of our culture and community.
While I personally feel this is a great time to help support many of the causes we feel drawn to, and educate ourselves around topics that might be new to us, one of the biggest things we can do to help the collective-whole, is to “heal” ourselves. I know, I know this might sound selfish, or a little fluffy, but it’s true. The more we can work on ourselves, our triggers, and our traumas, the more effectively we can engage with the world-at-large. When we are in balance within ourselves, we can better handle the larger stresses of life and more easily flow with the conflicts and chaos that will inevitably be there. The bigger secret is checking ourselves on whether we are responding or reacting to a situation. There is a big difference. When reacting, we are coming from a place of unchecked emotion. We will say, do, and express ourselves in a way that could be harmful to the conflict or situation we are in. This is often due to having unprocessed trauma or learned survival behaviors that take over logic and reasoning for the sheer purpose of protecting at all costs. This might sound dramatic, but it’s a very real phenomenon. Responding to situations on the other hand, is the process of engaging from a fully embodied place of calm, the safe space within you, where you are consciously able to choose how you handle a situation.
How do we do this? Well, it takes practice creating consciousness around our actions. What is useful however, is being able to work through all of our past experiences and emotional/physical traumas that our nervous system and energies bodies hold onto. We can think of ourself like a computer. When we update our systems, sometimes some of the old programs don’t work as well as they should and are in need of an upgrade. Once we find a new program to run off, one that is better suited for the current operating system, the entire computer runs more efficiently. We are no different. Therapy, life coaching and spiritual practices are great ways in helping ourselves to reprogram, and one of my favorite ways is the system of energy healing called Integrated Energy Therapy®.
I’ve written about IET ® many times before because I’m passionate when I find something that is a great tool in my box-of-tricks, something that not only supports my clients, but myself as well. It’s unlikely that only one healing or wellness modality is the end-all for everyone, but for me personally, what works best is a blend of support, and IET® is at the very top of my list.
IET® is an energy healing modality that works to help “get the issues out of the tissues.” Essentially it helps the nervous system to process, and let go of, energy imprints from the emotional baggage we store deep within ourselves, “those old programs” I mentioned before. When we are able to release the hidden burdens our body physically holds onto, this provides us with more freedom, joy and safety to live our lives in the way that we want to. After an extreme year in quarantine and lockdown, we are learning to adjust to the process of re-engaging in the world, which for a time was very foreign and scary for us. Dealing with the many unknowns, the collective grief of the immense loss of life, job instability, social unrest, and our mortality thrusted upon us like never before, I’d venture to say we all could benefit from a little energetic clearing. IET® sessions are a wonderful way to experience this healing modality with a trained practitioner and, as we emerge from the pandemic, perhaps also seek further training for ourselves, taking a more active role in our own healing while supporting the world as a whole. Training in IET® provides you with the energetic support, the tools and the confidence to help your family, friends and community. One doesn’t have to have the desire to be a professional healing practitioner, or to go into business in the wellness sector. Furthermore. the empowerment you’ll receive from IET® will also enhance many areas of your life, as you become clearer and more engaged in manifesting your best self.
I learned a long time ago that healing isn’t done alone. We need support from others, and now more than ever we need each other. We need each other to be our best, so that balanced healing and compassion can guide our way into the future, rather than fear and hatred that has become all too common.
If you’re curious to learn more about IET®, working with healing angels, or how this system can best support you, drop me a line, I’d love to chat. Together we do can do this!
For more information check out my blog article: Angelic Healing
Details on trainings and upcoming schedule: IET Certification Courses
Trying to write inspiring, upbeat blogs in the midst of a second wave of a global pandemic is a real challenge. Frankly I’ve been avoiding it, mostly because life is hard right now. As a wellness professional, it is my job and role to offer advice and remedy for the current struggles at hand. While COVID has added an extra layer to our everyday crazy, it forced me to shut down in more ways than one. I’ve felt like I couldn’t offer any more help to the collective in the midst of such uncertainly, and a tremendous amount of change seemed to happen to the world as we know it overnight. I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the chaos of experts flooding the internet and to be honest, I was trying to hold it together for myself as well.
We are now in month nine of this pandemic and I can honestly say I don’t know how we got here. Yet here we all are. It’s a weird paradigm where everything has changed, and yet a lot hasn’t. In this short amount of time, I’ve learned a lot about Dan; my feelings, beliefs, reactions and how I’ve had to shift gears in order to take care of myself. Caring for myself in the deepest ways I didn’t think I had within and searching for new ways of soothing, when many of my “go-to” processes we’re not, and still aren’t, available.
For some of you that follow me on Facebook, I have a Facebook-Live event that I hold called “Wisdom Wednesday’s” where I share little pearls of wisdom that I have collected over time, either from listening to and observing my elders/teachers or cultivated from direct experience. From this reflection, I realized that I do have some wisdom to share, and my hopes is that it can help educate and support you while we continue with the ongoing process of this pandemic.
While the arrival of effective vaccines and better treatments are making a promising turn in overcoming COVID-19, we still have a lengthy road ahead of us. If you’re anything like me, you might be excited at this news, yet feel like a kid waiting to open their Christmas presents and you’re tired of the suspense.
I’m tired too. The physical and emotional toll of social distancing, the continuous fear of being around people, and the yearning to reach out, to touch, and be seen without a mask on, is getting old. While we know this is the right thing to do, and is a beautiful compassionate act of humanity, I was reminded by my brother the other day that “we simply aren’t programmed for this.” It’s brilliant, and so true. Humans are actually good with change, but it takes us a while to get prepared for it. Our nervous systems have not had hundreds of years to adapt to the physical, social and mental changes COVID has created for us.
I like to equate it to trying to run a Windows 10 program on a hard drive that normally runs Windows 95. You might get some functionality, but long-term that won’t last. We are hitting that long- term as humans. The things we are experiencing - the withdrawal from friends, family, social life, and yes, touch, are all things our nervous system is fitting against.
I know a fair amount about the nervous system from my work in massage therapy. Affecting the nervous system in a positive way is the root of most of massage work. Getting the bodies system to relax and the body to recharge is the best way healing can occur.
So what the hell do we do now Dan? Quarantine doesn’t allow for a lot of the processes we as humans normally fall to in helping us cope difficult situation. Well I’m glad you asked, because below are some suggestions that I am finding useful in the maintenance of my own nervous system, sanity, and well-being.
Set your system up for the day!
Most of us use our cellphone for alarm clocks these days. The beauty with more modern systems is that they can provide different tones, or even songs to wake up to. Instead of blasting your body awake with the siren sounds of doom, change your alarm to soft bells, or a gentle classical piece of music. This will allow your system to wake up gently, and not set those cortisol levels (stress hormones) too high, too fast.
The next thing I like to do upon waking is to focus on taking some deep breaths. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps to wake up my system by breathing in a decent amount of oxygen. And secondly, it helps to calm my nervous system and bring awareness to my body and emotions. I normally do this while placing my hand on my heart and belly, which is a great way of connecting with self.
While breathing, I take stock of what’s going on inside, doing a sort of roll-call check-in. Here I say a few affirmations, “I am safe. I am supported. I am healthy. I am loved.” They might sound cheesy, but they act like a computer program for yourself and whether you actually believe it or not, your system will respond. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Stretching in bed and self-massage is another favorite of mine. I kind of hate morning exercise, so I’ll use this time to gently stretch and move my body awake. Self-massaging your feet and neck are wonderful ways to connect the body, stimulate a calmness in the nervous system, and provide some stress relief before you start the day.
This might sound like it would take half the morning, but in truth it only takes 5 -10 minutes when we wake. Which leads me to my next little gem, one that I struggle with the most, yet it is very powerful when done. Avoid any sort of media first thing! Listen, your emails, notifications, and text messages will all be there later. Awaking up and scrolling the internet while in bed for many has been habitual. We don’t need to be subjected to harsh, negative and scary media right upon waking. Remember we are trying to program our system of calm and restoration, not terrorize it. This pause on checking any media until later in the morning has shifted my health in better ways.
Drink a tall glass of room temperature water! I know this might sound like common-sense. Yet most of us don’t get the adequate hydration we need. While not a doctor, I have found drinking a large glass of water before any coffee, tea or juice helps me to have better focus and system functionality. Room temperature water is best, as it doesn’t shock the kidneys like cold water would. Throughout the day especially in the winter when the air is so dry, I regularly check in with how my body is doing, including my anxiety and often times increasing my water intake can help, as dehydration causes all sorts of imbalances.
There’s a running joke and tons of meme’s out there talking about how “bubble baths” are not self-care. I get what their trying to say. There are deeper processes of self-care and focus that a simple bubble bath won’t fix, but I’m here to tell you, please don’t discount the power that a bath can make as part of your routine. I’ve only recently got into taking baths, mostly because my current apartment has come with wonderful old fashion claw foot tub that lets all of me get covered in water at once. 3 out of the 4 season I end up taking baths about 2-3 times a week. I love using Epsom salts and essentials oils for muscle and stress relief. A 15-minute soak can be a game changer especially in social distancing. Why you ask? It’s simple! When hugging, touching, holding, cuddling, are what we are avoiding, being embraced by water is away for the body and your soul to feel a presence of safety, of comfort. I think it reminds of us our time in the womb, being held by our mother’s presence. While not a replacement of actual touch, I’ve found it effective enough and helps me sleep more peacefully.
Lastly, have a laugh. Fill your down time with comedies, a hilarious book, stand up shows, or have a giggle feast on the phone or zoom with friends. Pull out the old board games if you live with folks and rekindle some childlike quality to help lighten your heart. I find that time of deep belly laughing actually helps to push through some stagnant energy, creating some space within ourselves, easing tensions, worries and fears.
But the biggest and most important thing is to have compassion for self. We are all just doing the best we can, while we are literally stuck in this weird survival mode. You won’t be able to do all these suggestion at once, nor would I expect you to. Like with life it’s a practice. Find which ones work for you, that you’re able to maintain. I’m not successful every day, and there are weeks I just say screw it and end up doing the complete opposite, much to my detriment. I honor it and move forward starting up again when I’m ready and feel the need for balance again.
I do hope you find these suggestions useful. I’d love to hear if any of them make change for the better. Don’t be shy, reach out, remember we are in this together.
If someone had said to me years ago that I would be teaching at a spiritual retreat in Scotland, I would have said they were crazy. Yet it happened! Earlier this month I had the honor of facilitating an IET® intensive certification course at the beautiful Lendrick Lodge retreat center in Stirling, Scotland.
The weather, the energy, the participants, everything came together in the most perfect way.
I’m always amazed by what a group of strangers can do when they come together for a common cause, that of healing. The IET ® intensive was just that, intensive. The participants went through the basic, intermediate, and advanced level trainings all within three days. They asked really great questions which pushed me to expand and grow as a teacher. They showed up to support each other on their own healing paths, and really created an amazing micro-community of British and American healers. Some of the members were new to healing, and others seasoned practitioners with different modalities. I feel very blessed to be part of their own continual journey as they are also a part of mine.
The retreat flew by, but I know each of us who attended has grown, changed and expanded within our own self to new depths and levels of empowerment.
I’m glad I took the leap of faith and said yes to this opportunity, as the paths it has opened continue to unfold before me. I have received many new requests already and so it looks like I may be back teaching another IET ® certification retreat in Scotland next May 2018! Stay tuned for details, we will see what the Angels have in store!
All the Feels in a Chaotic World!
For those of us who have the gift of empathy, the power to feel deeply can be a real struggle. Having degrees of empathic abilities often aids us and enhances the work we do in the world, but it can also take a toll on our own emotions and energy levels. Some of the best teachers, doctors, healers, coaches and managers all possess empathic qualities. Being empathic helps us to feel deeply and allows us to relate to other people and situations at an enhanced intuitive level. Many people are shocked by our capacity to feel and care, especially in this time of chaos in the world.
Even those who aren’t as sensitive to energy and emotions have been commenting on the energy of the world lately. Our media outlets are swarming with political banter and crises in other countries. Many of us have to turn to watching videos of puppies and someone’s latest food creation to get any sort of reprieve from what’s dominating our online presence. The discord, conflict and sense of hate and fear have become quite palpable over the last year, and I have struggled to disconnect from this storm of crazy. My own anxiety levels and panic attacks have spiked, and many of my friends and colleagues have been feeling the shifts in energy changes, and the effects to their individual selves as well.
All of this chaos can make us want to shut down, withdraw and stay hidden. For me, when watching the news, debating with friends, or witnessing transitions and transformations not only in my personal life, but in the world, it can all be extremely overwhelming. So, how do we keep on feeling in a chaotic world? There is no easy answer, but empathy isn’t a course, it’s a skill. Many of us need learn more about it so that we are in control of our emotions.
We must remember, we are not the emotions we feel. Our emotions do create our thoughts and our reality, but it’s important to have a healthily understanding of what is yours and what is not. Although we may feel the weight of the world and the energies from others, they are not generated by us and we do not have to digest or process what is not ours. Knowing our emotional boundaries first is key to navigating chaos.
When we are feeling the magnitude of the world, there may be a overwhelming sense of hopelessness or helplessness. We may ask ourselves, “What am I to do?” or “How do I effect change to help?” It’s important to remember that we are not all meant to create large change, go out and lobby, become a public figure, picket at the forefront. For some of us, our best work and most change can occur behind the lines in small, sometimes unseen ways.
Focusing on our own gifts and talents gives us the outlet we need to feel like we can do something about our emotions. My strength is working with small groups and individuals in my practice. I focus on helping support the individuals that come to me by helping them each take steps to reach their greater potential and by nurturing their flame of passion to go out into the world and inspire others. This is where I can help. I can help support clients and friends in pain. I know that focusing on the local and the ripple effects that move out into the world is how I can manage my own emotions and do my part to change. You need to consider your own strengths and what works for you as an individual.
To manage the chaos that sometimes comes with the gift of empathy, it is crucial to focus on the ways in which you can inspire others. Perhaps you simply know your co-worker is having a rough week and you buy them lunch one day. Or you smile at someone in line to get your morning coffee. Maybe you can volunteer at a local community event.
One never really knows the power simply caring can have on another individual. It’s a good reminder to those who “feel” and sometimes feel helpless, that simply being yourself in this world is enough. We can all help inspire change and harmony by not only feeling deeply but by caring deeply.
After watching this year’s Summer Olympics, everyone seems to be talking about cupping therapy. Do you remember the big rounds circles members of the US swim and gymnastic teams had on their bodies? Those circles are from cupping therapy. There are a lot of benefits and misunderstandings of this therapeutic technique. I use both cupping and another technique called Gua Sha (pronounced gwa shaw) in my practice that I want to highlight.
Cupping and gua sha are ancient practices and are the medicine of the people. These are essentially folk practices that have migrated into modern day medicine and treatment plans. In the olden days, a trained doctor may have only visited a town once or twice a year, and people needed ways of treating and preventing alignments when this physician wasn’t available. Although the popularity and training methods of cupping and gua sha comes mostly from traditional Chinese medicine, these types of practices have been found in Italian, Peruvian, and many other cultures.
Cupping and scraping (another name for gua sha) essentially perform similar tasks in different ways. According to the traditional idea of health, it is believed that we store bad wind (energy) in the body that needs to be released. Cupping and gua sha help to move this stagnant energy and increase health.
Traditional fire cupping techniques use a flame inside glass cup to create a suction vacuum to pull deep muscles and tissue structures. Cupping pulls up deep energy and is great for post injury or surgery healing and chronic muscular issues. It may also help boost the immune system. On a physiological level, cupping tends to move deep stored energy and fascia from previous injuries or long term musculature issues. Other practitioners use a suction cupping system that doesn’t require the use of a flame.
Gua Sha also moves blood and energy stagnation on a more superficial level. This stagnate energy is believed to cause colds, the flu, illness, and physical pain. Gua sha or scraping uses various tools (ceramic spoons, whale bones, jades, etc.) to gently scrape the skin and tissues. This is similar to some Graston techniques many chiropractors use. This boosts the immune system, prevents colds, and most importantly for the realm of massage, helps release fascial restrictions and knots. This treatment has also significantly helped some of my clients with migraines, neck and shoulder pain, and muscle knot relief.
Cupping and scraping aren’t for everyone and you need to talk your healing practitioner to see if your health needs are appropriate for these services. Generally, these treatments will leave the body feeling well, but can leave the system a bit tired. Red marks on the body are visible for many days following treatment, and the treatment area may be sore for a few days. I generally recommend using these treatments and then going home to rest and recoup for a day to allow the body to heal.
I am not a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, but my training with these techniques add wonderful benefits to my massage therapy. Although both techniques may look painful as they cause bruising or petechiae (red or purple spots caused by bleeding into the skin), the reaction is simply the blood moving to the surface. It brings healing nutrients to the areas in need and the treatments provide great fascial relief.
If you interested in learning more, please feel free to contact me with questions about how Cupping and Gua Sha can help you.
This is an article my fellow co-teacher "Christine Cartwright" and I wrote about Integrative Energy therapy, published in "The Door Opener Magazine". If you're interested in learning more about IET ® check out our take on this amazing healing system.
Do you find yourself stuck in the same situations over and over again repeating bad patterns and habits that limit your growth? Have you encountered roadblocks on your quest to discover your soul’s purpose? Would you like to gain a better understanding of your role in the world by discovering what it is that you came to do in this lifetime? Are you interested in working with a team of healing angels and deepening your connection with the Angelic realm? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Integrated Energy Therapy® is exactly what you are looking for.
In the late 1980’s Stephen Thayer channeled Integrated Energy Therapy® through the Angelic Realm under the guidance of the Angel Ariel. By working directly with the healing angels, Thayer co-created a system that works to help alleviate the emotional and mental imprints we store deeply within our bodies. There is a system of points across the body that are connected through energy lines called integrated channels, similar to traditional Chinese medicine points and meridian lines. Like meridians, they help to supply the body with self-regulating energy to maintain balance within all systems. Integrated Energy Therapy® (IET®) introduces the concept of cellular memory areas, connected by the integrated channels. These areas hold all of our life experiences which shape and influence who we are. The cellular memory areas identified in IET® are located in specific anatomical locations ranging from the top of the head down through the kidney area. When these memory areas are blocked, our flow of energy becomes stagnant, preventing us from achieving our optimum physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
We often live our lives guided by a pre-written script and end up repeating the same “lines” of limiting thoughts and ideas that we hold about ourselves and about the world. These lines, or imprints, can be caused by suppressed emotions and experiences such as emotional trauma, stress, or fear which become stored in our bodies, organs, tissues and cells. When the emotional imprints are not processed efficiently, our energy fields can come to a standstill and keep us from living and pursuing the life we want to live. The IET® system of healing is governed by nine specific healing angels who work directly with an IET® practitioner through an angelic heart-link that essentially connects the heart spaces of the therapist, the client, and the angels. By creating this heart-link, a practitioner becomes a vessel through which the angels can work directly with a client’s energy field to clear emotional imprints in the cellular memory areas. The Angelic heart-link, unique to IET®, allows the Angels to safely and efficiently release and transform these emotional imprints to support healing. This is all done without requiring the client to relive the emotional and physical responses to the memories. We refer to this as “Healing without Feeling.”
There is a long-held belief in the spiritual community that we come into this life with specific goals and tasks to accomplish. We are provided with all the tools, talents, and support we need in our lives to achieve this, yet when we are born into the physical world, we forget what it is we came here to do. Part of our journey through life is to rediscover exactly what our true purpose is. Integrative Energy Therapy can act as a catalyst for us to reawaken to these possibilities. When receiving IET®, you energetically begin to shift the habits and patterns that keep you stuck in a limited capacity and move you in the direction of who you truly can be. Through IET® you can begin a journey on a new path to make better decisions, freeing yourself of emotional burdens and living in a way that is in alignment with your true mission in life. Integrated Energy Therapy® provides the energy and the guidance you need to help manifest your life goals and your heart’s desires.
As massage therapists who practice IET®, we have found this technique to be an extremely valuable tool for how we view the body and assist our clients with both their physical and emotional well-being. Using IET® along with traditional massage techniques helps the client achieve a deeper level of release and relaxation. For example, many clients suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain. While massage alone is effective in reducing the physical pain and providing temporary relief, adding IET® helps address what is weighing down the client energetically which directly influences the physical discomfort. By working on the emotional imprints first through Integrated Energy Therapy®, the massage therapist can provide additional support and relief from trigger points, myofascial restrictions, chronic pain, and muscle tension that are exacerbated by underlying emotional issues. Clients often feel lighter and freer both physically and emotionally when incorporating IET® into their sessions. As with traditional massage, IET® also blends beautifully with other forms of bodywork and compliments other energy modalities such as Reiki and Therapeutic Touch.
IET® trainings (basic, intermediate, and advance levels) are generally taught in one day classes, with each class building upon the knowledge and techniques from the previous one. One does not need to have any prior experience in energy work in order to train. Like Reiki, IET ® training consists of an attunement based initiation to work with the energy. The attunement itself expands the energy field and awakens specific chakras within our hands to facilitate IET ® healing. Along with increase healing abilities, you are specially connected to the nine healing angels of the energy field who each bring a unique quality and lesson to the work. Although these nine angels specifically work with this system, one can connect to any angel for healing and communication via the Angelic Heart-link. As you continue to work closely with the Angelic realm, your perception and understanding of these beings increases and benefits not only your healing work but also the everyday aspects of your life.
Feel free to contact myself here or Christine by visiting her webpage http://www.blueheronhealingmassage.com/ with any questions or interests.
A Hands on Journey !
Some funny and insightful musings from a massage therapist and his healing practice.