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Mastering Transformation

Mastering Transformation

 

As we practice getting more willing to give loving attention to ourselves, we’ve become more adept at mastering commitment. An agreement is something made between one or more people. A commitment is an agreement we make with ourselves. Commitment simply means to gather together and take action. Many people, however, associate commitment with a burden or a disappointment.

There’s a false logic that says “if I commit to something, then I can never veer from that agreement”, as if I am forever locked into a choice. Not true. As a conscious chooser, you may find an agreement you made in the past, no longer serves you or your interests presently. Another popular, yet unrealistic assumption is, “if I commit to something, I have to do it right 100% of the time, or I’m doing it wrong”. This inner judgement and illusion of perfection doesn’t sound like a healing move. 

Would you be willing to create friendly commitments that are easy to keep?

Anytime we try something new, like creating a new commitment, we’re bound to mess up, get side tracked, or go unconscious and totally forget what we’re up to. We invite you to take a big breath, maybe 3 breaths, and be willing to mess up. Creating and therefore committing is messy.

Commitment is crucial, however its only the first in possibly countless steps to bringing our intention to fruition. The skeleton key to unlocking easy transformation is re-commitment. And, for those of you who like to accelerate your manifestation potential, we invite you to recommit WITHOUT CRITICISM. 

So often we add criticism, blame, or otherwise punish ourselves when we don’t get “it” perfect or right the first time (or even the 20th or 1000th time). Studies into learning behavior and educational design demonstrate that punishment doesn’t contribute to learning in any significantly productive way. Rather celebration and appreciation fosters the greatest learning gains! 

Can you appreciate yourself for recommitting and trying again? 

There’s boundless potential when we let go of criticizing ourselves for not achieving our goals. Rather recommitting to what we want, without expending the additional energy of beating ourselves up, allows us to create more easily. If you’re like us, it may seem foreign to you to recommit without criticizing yourself for messing up. Though as Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You will change your life when you choose to practice recommitting without criticism.  

Here’s a go to Healing Move:

3 Conscious Breaths 
All you have to do is 3 conscious breaths to shift from criticism, pain,
and the adrenaline response into to the healing response
Place a hand on your naval and breathe into your chest, side body, back body and all the way below your solar plexus until you feel your belly rise. Exhale for about the same count and release every last drop of breath completely out. Repeat at least three times to begin to reorient your biology and psychology and notice other subtle or obvious shifts, inside and out. We recommend breathing in and out your nose, or if not accessible, breath comfortable through your mouth. 
Benefits: One of the quickest ways to shift out of pain, tension, or stress is to consciously change how we breathe. In fact, slowing our breathing rate to less than twelve breaths per minute has been shown to short circuit the fight-or-flight stress response. A great bonus with a 3-breath practice is it can be done anytime, anywhere. We regularly use it before, during, and following a session, and we often coach our clients to take long, slow, deep breaths, especially as we begin to approach areas of healing in their body. This helps shift from a guarding posture (like holding the breath or tightening muscles) to a more receiving posture (like encouraging a client to inflate or “breath into” where they are experiencing the most sensation or pressure). 
This blog is Inspired by the Foundation for Conscious Living
Loving Attention

Loving Attention

We now experience more aliveness and positivity than at any point in our lives! And we’re excited to share the most effective practices we’ve discovered to consciously move your body, breath and attention to reliably cultivate a practice and life of ease and flow.
We experience and define self-care as giving loving attention to ourself. And when we expand our capacity to receive loving attention, we expand our capacity to share loving attention. For us, self-care is not simply an action, but a lifestyle that continues to evolve over time. Giving ourselves loving attention is unique to everyone and can range from receiving bodywork or exercising to enjoying a leisurely cup of tea or taking a walk with your dog.
What is your definition of  self care? How do you give yourself loving attention?
What experiences awaken your happiness and nourish every cell in your body?

For much of our life, giving regular and reliable loving attention to ourselves was not in our personal practice. Sure we “knew” self-care was a good idea, but for several reasons we weren’t practicing self-care regularly enough to avoid being in pain. We now interpret feeling pain or distress as clear indications from our intelligent bodies that we are not taking as good care of ourselves as possible.

And every day that we recommit to our self-care practice, we are choosing to grow our capacity to give and receive loving attention. Daily we establish a resonate frequency of feel good vibrations, which our clients are more apt to synchronize with and be elevated by. We have come to rely on our daily self-care practice as an essential nutrient (like air or water) to our success. It is paramount to creating a resilient and thriving massage practice, otherwise, we fall into the trap of “giving until it hurts”.

Here is one of many favorite self care practices:

Ten Minute Power Pause

Refresh and refuel yourself with ten minutes of non-doing on a regular basis. There’s no agenda for these ten minutes. Set a timer for ten minutes and until the timer goes off, meditate, nap, or just give your body and mind an opportunity to pause. We feel amazing after giving ourselves the gift of ten minutes of non-doing. But don’t believe us…try it out for yourself. This non-doing practice is one of the most productive things we do,  it assists in creating smooth transitions from work to play, from feeling stuck to feeling creative, from drama to connection. Enjoy! 

“When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
~Rumi

Presencing

Presencing

My relationship to and with myself is changing and evolving into a new way of being.

I notice the changes I am experiencing are emerging from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. They are happening “endogenously” (created from inside) rather than “exogenously” (externally created). And, there is a different quality of feeling to the changes I am experiencing. I attribute my new emergence and evolution to my daily practice of presencing. I feel myself humming, breathing and connected.

Presencing, so beautifully modeled and expressed by my mentor Katie Hendricks, is activated by: turning towards, open posture and easy breathing.

I am practicing this now, even as I type these letters, I can feel how my body (Mass) and my thoughts and feelings (Energy) are interconnecting and impacting my whole being (Space). I feel myself relaxed, warmer and open to what is.

There are many ways to presence and I have found these three easy steps as a reliable resource to connect and express what is true for me.  As I practice these tools I no longer leave a conversation feeling incomplete and wishing I had said something else or different. I also feel by my simple act of presencing, my own emotions don’t get cut off, pushed aside or postponed. I get to be with myself in a whole new way. 

To watch more on presencing click here!

“Turning towards” is exactly that. It is the practice of facing a powerful feeling, or standing in alignment with a friend, client or family member when they are speaking (even if you totally disagree with them). It is the act of giving attention, your most valuable resource, to what is or who is with you (including yourself).

“Open posture” is letting go of resistance in your body. For example; Unfolding your arms, uncrossing your legs and releasing your jaw as you consciously listen to what is being said and what’s expressed in the body. Often our bodies are sharing messages long before our mind is understanding.

And finally, “Easy breathing”. Ahhhhh… Noticing your breath and allowing for a natural flow of your breath to circulate is a powerful way to engage your awareness and slow your thoughts. “Breath is the fuel for the mind! “ -Nithyananda Sangha.  When your breath slows, so does the number of your thoughts, and the more response-Able you become.

Presencing is a practice and a way to be with what is and to make room for whatever wants to be expressed without judgement. I commit and recommit over and over to presencing the waves of my emotions and to fully express what I am feeling. Practice presencing now. As you finish reading this article notice your breathing, feel your body and what feelings are coming up for you…now express. What words, movements or sounds, nourish and delight you most? And give that to yourself…Give yourself the gift of your presence. 

“Energy is Eternal Delight” ~ William Blake

Create More of What You Want

Create More of What You Want

After reading and still reading The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, I am inspired to play with expansion and contraction. Alternating between contraction and expansion as I dance, as I work, and in my relationships with friends and family. What does it feel like in my body when I’m  expanding and when I’m contracting? And is this what I want?

When I am contracting I feel a flavor of resistance or tension in my body. I feel very solid,  withdrawn and sometimes in pain.

In expansion I feel connected, easy, and open to what is. I feel spacious in my body and full of movement possibilities.

Noticing what state I am in helps me decide if I want more or less of what I’m feeling. I found it easiest to notice and play in my relationship with Heath. There are times when I would fold my arms and cross my legs… contracting. And other times when I would be leaning in and asking him to tell me more…expanding.

How do you experience contraction and expansion in your body? How do you experience contraction and expansion in relationship with someone you love?

As I feel myself oscillating between expansion and contraction throughout my day, I’m finding joy in the noticing! Every time I notice, I feel more connected to what is happening, rather than feeling as though my experience is happening to me.

And then there is this juicy, satisfying part of choosing!! Choosing to do more of what I want!! Asking myself over and over again (whenever I notice), “Am I expanding or contracting?” And, “Is this what I want?”

In the asking, I feel myself turning towards what I want. When I turn towards what I want, I feel enlivened and present. I feel happy. I feel like, dare I say…I feel like I am Creating. I am creating more and more with every choice.

I invite you into creating more and more of what you want. Through the portals of expansion and contraction find out and notice what feels good to you moment by moment.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Let’s Play! 

First notice when you are expanding and when are you contracting.

Here are some example questions I ask myself to find out if I am expanding or contracting:

“Do I want more connection with this person, this thought, this experience or less of it?”

“Do I want to turn towards or away from this project?”

“Do I feel drawn in or pushed out in this area I’m working on?”

“Am I expanding into this moment or contracting?”

“What does this feel like in my body?”

Next Ask yourself; “Do I want more or less of this feeling?”

Finally, you get to Choose! Choose to do more of what you want.

There is no right or wrong…there is only the choosing!

Wishing you a year of creating more of what you want!

Storytelling: How do You Author Your Life?

Storytelling: How do You Author Your Life?

It’s my experience that great storytellers are artful, creative and imaginative. My favorite books are filled with masterful expressions of events and resound a magnetic symphony of words. Stories are an essential way we connect, share history and create possibilities. There are a myriad of ways to tell a story. They can begin at the end, have a moral, build suspense, be shocking, scary and inspiring. Who doesn’t love a good story? And…we all tell stories! We are all creative, imaginative and artful storytellers. We regularly are telling stories to others and almost constantly are entertaining our own inner stories. Right now, I’m most interested in discovering, What are the stories that I tell myself and others? 

One story that captures my attention daily is the story I tell myself about my body. Once upon a time, (with less frequent visits) I would tell myself the story from the perspective of what’s going wrong. Viewing myself as needing to be fixed, or that I could be better (if only…). For much of my life, I was committed to seeing myself as a renovation project, needing to undergo constant improvement. Frankly, this feels like a sad, old story. And I’m authoring a new story!! I want to generate stories that feel way better than sad. I want to tell a story that feels really good in my body.

“We’re all walking stories another page to turn

A paperback expression of a life worth being told

Every step we take another scribble on the page

We’re all walking stories, what’s your’s gonna say” ~ Jilian Linklater

Science and life repeatedly and reliably demonstrate that “what we focus on grows”. How full is your cup? Half full? Half empty? Everyday we are experiencing the results of our storytelling and our focus. I believe that I am currently resonating with the results of my focus and the momentum of my repetitive story telling. In other words, the stories I tell repeatedly have a direct impact on what’s happening in my world.

Creating a new experience could be as simple as telling a new story. Telling conscious stories of what we love, appreciate and want are powerful steps to becoming the author of our own lives.

New Story: Hello beautiful, healthy, strong body! I love how strong my legs feel. I appreciate my great hair. I so enjoy feeling myself smile, and…

Now when I see myself in the mirror, I shift my focus from what’s wrong to what do I like, appreciate and even love about being in my body. Whenever I remember, I tell myself the new story of what I want, with an added infusion of appreciation. As often as I can remember~ I am the creative, imaginative, artful author of my life.

Are you ready to be the author of your own life? What stories do you tell about your body? What body stories keep repeating that you want more or less of? And are you willing to introduce a new story into your experience? What is your new body story?

Sending love and appreciation to all who dare to become the genius creator that you truly are!!

No Regrets

No Regrets

Have you ever woken up thinking about something you have to do or something about a relationship comes to mind? Or, have you ever tried falling asleep and the last thing on your mind is that event or person? Then, according to the Foundation of Conscious Living, you may have an incompletion.” 

For me, incompletions exhibit themselves in my body intelligence as unresolved feelings, pain or tension, twinges in my belly, and feelings of embarrassment or regret. I experience having an incompletion as uncomfortable, draining, and a huge distraction.

Today, I was noticing what felt like a never ending “to do” list, and I committed to creating resolution! I looked at my list and began to appreciate that most of the things I wanted to complete are easily completable and some others may take time. So, I got to it.  First the phone calls that needed to be returned, papers that needed to be filed, mailed or filled out. Then I fixed my water filter, planted the flowers and made a goodwill drop off. I also, finally got off my chest what I have been meaning to say to an old friend. Ahhhhh…what a relief!

Creating completions feels good. I learned that I love checking stuff off my list and so enjoying new space and time available to me for new or evolving friendships and ideas to emerge.

Now that I have made the commitment to be complete (and often, I need to recommit over and over), I regularly feel more energized, clarity about what I want, and a lot less pain and tension in my body. I wake up feeling rested and ready for what magic the days beholds!  I am now living more often in completion with my work, house stuff, and my relationships.

I commit to living a life of no regrets. I commit to living a life of completions.

As I connect to the feeling of a life of completions I notice myself breathing more deeply. My shoulders relax down and back, and my heart opens at the same time. I can feel a smile widen across my face. I wonder how you feel about experiencing a life of completions…

Creating completions is one way I practice feeling accomplished and happy. Do you have any incompletions that you are willing to resolve? When can you make your first completion? What’s the easiest, simplest and more pleasurable first action step you can make to begin your life of completion?

– Blog Complete 😉

“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” –Mike Dooley

Emotional Genius

Emotional Genius

Emotional Genius is the ability to change your state by choice. I heard this statement in a workshop I recently attended with Foundation for Conscious Living,  And I find this statement to be empowering. Life is a series of choices: Life is happening to me or I’m happening to life. Am I creating from the outside in or Am I creating from the inside out? My newest life choice is to make friends with all my feelings so I can create from the inside out.

I am fueling my full expression and experience with a practice that welcomes, attends to, and allows the expression of  joy, sadness, anger, scared, and  sexual feelings.  As I start to embody this new experience of making friends with All my feelings I notice all the rules I put on my feelings: I will only allow myself to feel certain feelings at certain times. I shouldn’t feel this way. I will feel that later. I can not express these feelings in public. I can feel certain feelings with certain people. I also label some emotions like joy and even sadness as good feelings and regulate other feelings like anger and fear as bad. Along with the revelation of all the rules I am now increasingly aware of all the drama, static, resistance and debris I create from putting off, hiding and ignoring what I’m feeling. Wow! I feel like I put a lid on myself that prevents me from experiencing and expressing fully. Poop. Hmmm…so now what!?

I want to change that state of being a victim of my feelings to befriending. I wonder what would it feel like to make friends with all my feelings? I wonder what it would feel like to express my feelings fully in a way that is kind and nourishing to me? I wonder what it would feel like to grow my emotional intelligence and change my state by choice?

It is my experience that turning towards my feelings supports changing my state by choice. The following is an experiential exercise that allows the being with, and acceptance of All feelings. All you need is pen and paper and willingness to make friends with your feelings.

  1. Think of a recent issue, or conflict that is recurring. Now write in an unedited way all about it. All your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of this issue.
  2. Now focus your awareness on your specific body sensations. Where do you feel this issue in your body? It may be in more than one location.

Back of neck, across your shoulders and jaw? (anger zone)

Across chest and upper throat? (sad zone) 

Around or in your belly? (fear zone)

       3. Notice where you feel the most sensation and begin  to say one or a combo of the feeling statements that matches the feeling zone in your body.

If you feel the most across your shoulders say “I feel angry about…”

If you feel the most sensation in your upper chest area say “ I feel sad about…”

If you feel sensation in your belly say “ I feel scared about…”

   4. Repeat saying your statement several times out loud while trying out different intonations, emphasis, different voices.

   5. Now think of something or someone you love unconditionally without question. 

   6. Turn towards…Give yourself that same love for feeling what you feel. Like an old friend invite the feeling into your love.

Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron

Thank you Katie Hendricks for creating and leading me through this exercise numerous times to support my full embodied expression.

Conscious Agreeements

Conscious Agreeements

Heath and I are generating new ways to expand our capacity to connect, appreciate and trust each other and ourselves. We are experiencing the beauty and freedom that comes from making conscious agreements. Agreements regarding our relationship, our business, our money and our home. The last time we made conscious agreements with each other was when we got married and said our vows 14 years ago. We are inspired by the work of Gay and Katie Hendricks and their new book Conscious Loving Ever After. They make a distinction between conscious agreements and conscious commitments.

Agreements are made between people, such as “I agree to meet you at a scheduled time for a session.” Commitments are made between me and the universe, like “I commit to seeing the world as a friendly place to thrive in” or “I am lucky and experience my good fortune daily.”

Oftentimes, agreements and commitments are made unconsciously, and are the most likely to be broken. Unconscious agreements may be made without much consideration, or we say yes when we mean no. Unconscious agreements may have been created only on one side of the relationship equation, maybe even silently or assumed. Some agreements may have been inherited from our families and we never questioned them.

We have found making and keeping conscious agreements is a way to ignite trust. For me, conscious agreements also generate immense clarity. Agreements are a way to take the guessing and the assuming out of relationships. And writing my commitments is a way for me to see more clearly what is I want to create. Suddenly, I am in full cooperation and collaboration with the world around me and those who love and support me.

As I write this I feel my breath, and the space between my shoulder blades widen.

I also notice that as I get clear with Heath, I get more clear about what I want.

“Except for this point, this still point
there would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.”
T.S. Elliot

Here are some examples of the agreements we are making with each other, and ourselves.

I agree to lead with appreciations; energetically, verbally, and physically.

I agree to enjoying plenty of money to do everything we need, want and love to do.

I agree to revealing and truth telling versus withholding.

I agree to create a safe container for communicating; using conscious listening, free from blame talk.

I agree to follow my body intelligence, follow my emotions to completion and find nourishing ways to care for myself.

I agree to be present with you when we are sharing space and when I can’t be present, I agree to communicate with you as to why.

I agree to spiritual, emotional, and physical devotion between you and I, conducting myself with others at all times as if you are there with me.

Notice how you feel as you read and say out loud the agreement statements. Does it make you smile, tense up, twitch or glow? Connect how you feel with the agreements you want to create. Choose to make agreements that feel good!! Wait for your full body “Yes” to emerge and just say “No” to compromise!

And now I’m wondering if you are willing to create one or two or maybe even ten conscious agreements and commitments that align with who you are now and what you want to create?

Coming Soon: More on Commitments

“The world will fully offer itself to you, to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet” ~ Franz Kafka

Wondering Into Presence

Wondering Into Presence

Lately curiosity and wonder have been playful parts of my personal practice of “presencing”. Placing a new priority on wonder and curiosity is changing me. It is changing my experience of the world. I notice shifting my attention to wonder questions like “I wonder how” or ‘I wonder what “, shifts me from feeling stuck, worried, tired, scared, irritated or bored into feeling possibilities, flow, creative expression, expansiveness, and light hearted.

I feel like I am growing a new muscle! Like any new muscle the first few times flexing it felt weird, a little goofy and felt like work. As I practice more and more connecting to my new wonder muscle, it’s slowly becoming a little more natural and easy to access.

Audrey Hazekemp says that accessing wonder “fuels evolution”. Wonder has the potential to propel us from the predictable to possibility. We recently heard a definition of positivity as an active willingness to favor possibility. Cynics and pessimists focus on what’s not possible. Favoring what is possible creates the opening for incalculable solutions, random connections and delightful surprises. Juicy!!

I am having so much fun and I want to share my fun with you. (Warning: You are entering the unknown) Are you are willing to favor possibility over predictability? Are you willing to ask questions that may not have a direct answer? Are you willing to favor wonder over worry? Notice how your body is responding to these questions?? What do you feel as you become willing? hmmmmm….

“Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”~ Walt Disney

Want to try wonder on for yourself?? Experiment. Start by floating one of the below wonder questions around you throughout the day. Perhaps write it down, use it as reminder on your phone, or repeat it to yourself in way you can access it whenever you remember. (Perhaps choose one per day for a week, and notice what emerges.)

Wonder Questions for a Week

  • I wonder what magic will unfold today, next, now?
  • I wonder what will nourish my body right now?
  • I wonder what I want?
  • I wonder how I can experience myself as my ally?
  • I wonder how easy this can be?
  • I wonder how this is in service of my evolution?
  • I wonder what part of my body feels most alive?
  • I wonder how much laughter I can infuse into my day?

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” ~William Samuel Johnson

Experience the Wonder Powers of Audrey Hazekamp in her Wonder Craft Series online… it will expand your Wonder Powers!!  Thank you Audrey…you inspire and enliven!! 

Grow Your Body Intelligence Now!

Grow Your Body Intelligence Now!

There is IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient) now there is BQ (body quotient). Body Intelligence includes the ability to becoming increasingly aware of the body and respond to the bodies messages. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us. It has been my experience that most people who get on my table have little to no idea what they are experiencing in their body and/or have a limited vocabulary to express what is happening in their body. Sensations, feelings and emotions often time go unnoticed, shelved for later, ignored totally and seen as unimportant. We treat the body like it’s a machine that either functions or it does not. It fails us, betrays and limits us. The body is often a source of discontent, criticism and shame. Thomas Edison once said “the chief function of the body is to carry the brain around”

As bodyworkers we can create a body shift. We can become willing to see the body and all the messages being communicated as valuable. We can choose to see our bodies as a viable consort that includes acknowledging all feelings and inner experiences. We can become genius at hearing the messages being communicated to ourselves and from our clients.

One way to get clear with your body messages is to embody and practice feeling how you experience Yes and No. What are the body sensations related to and often time experienced when we are making decisions.

For a moment sit or stand in any way that feels good to you. And begin to list out loud or silently all the Yes moments and choices you have made so far that you can remember.

For example: Yes to that cup of tea. Yes to spending time chatting with a friend. Yes to watching your child be in an event. Yes to that car.  Yes to that smell. And so on…

As you allow your Yes’s to roll over you, notice how you experience Yes in your body. What body sensations come alive, or get turned on? How does your breath respond? What feelings emerge?

Write down your body messages in a free flowing style and  Avoid editing yourself.

For example: you may notice warmth rising up into your chest. A fluttery feeling in your belly. The breath may get short. Your head may tilt one way or another. Etc…

Shake it off and start again. This time list all the No’s. and write down all the sensations, feelings and experiences your body has when you list and experience saying No over and over again. What are your body cues when you say No? 

This time you may notice your jaw clench, a tightness indoor shoulders. Your feet may feel stuck. Your breathe may get heavy.

You are now growing your Body Intelligence!!

Continue to grow your body intelligence. Spend the day practicing your full body yes’s and no’s. Practice at the grocery store, the next time you’re deciding what you want to eat, the next time you’re get dressed. Have fun building and expanding your capacity to open to and listen to your body cues.

“The power of my impact in my world is directly related to my ability to say No.” ~ Gay Hendricks

For more on Body Intelligence check out the Foundation for Conscious Living Now!!

Moving Into Essence

Moving Into Essence

When is the last time you remember experiencing moving at your own natural pace without feeling rushed? What would it feel like to move at the pace of your essence? When do you feel your most natural self?

Time urgency is a constant stress that has us moving out of pace with our own essence. The feeling that ‘I have to hurry up and get done, so I can get to the next thing,’ has taken the pleasure out of doing anything at all. I notice that in time urgency or clock consciousness I feel awful. My shoulders rise up into my ears, my breath shortens, my stomach tightens and there is crazy tension in my mid back. (I wonder what it feel like in your body when you feel rushed by time urgency?)

Researchers call time urgency a hidden driver of stress and demonstrate that it plays a major role in the cause of heart attacks, feeling distracted, indecisiveness, irritability, and the inability to connect and feel connected.

Time urgency feels unnatural to me and I began to wonder what would it feel like if I started to work at my own pace…What would it feel like to work on projects as though time didn’t matter? hmmmmmmm

If time didn’t matter, I wonder how quickly I would move around the table doing bodywork? and How long would I linger in different places on the body?

This year I commit to discovering how to support my own essence.

One way we can discover new ways to support the experience of our most natural selves is with the Essence Interview.

Take a moment to presence yourself. Open to a clear space at the center of you…who you are at your core. Consider taking three deep breaths or more between each question. I invite you to jot down your answers and possibly share the most surprising ones with someone you love.

Essence Interview: Discover and be delighted by your responses.

What is your experience of moving at your essence pace?

What most nourishes you?

What colors/textures support you?

What movements delight you?

What do you most appreciate about yourself in this moment?

What are your favorite action verbs?

What can you do now to support your most natural self?

We wish you a year full of wonder, discovery and moving at the pace of your essence!

Many thanks to Katie and Gay Hendricks for putting this interview together so I may continue to grow and share.

It’s A Wrap

It’s A Wrap

I am wrapping things up…literally, physically, mentally and emotionally. Not only am I wrapping gifts to share with friends and family. I am also freeing up some bound up energy by wrapping up some old business. I am creating completions and it feels really, really good!

According to the online dictionary, “to complete” something is the same as accomplishing, achieving, fulfilling, finishing, concluding and closing. All of which, for me, feel satisfying.
And I’m noticing how completing even the most “un-important” items on my list frees up energy, creates more space and feelings of aliveness! I am finally making that dentist appointment I put off, I am finally returning that call, bringing that stuff to goodwill, and recycling all those plastic bags.
My mind is less cluttered, distracted and I no longer feel the pulling of my awareness in different directions with an ongoing unfinished “to do list”.

As I create and continue to create a list filled with all kinds of “big” and “little” incompletions my brain no longer has to sort, memorize and file. I had no idea what an energy drain holding onto all these incompletions feels like until now that I’ve liberated some of my focus. I now have more energy and feel more open to solutions, creative expression and cooperative connections. Convinced yet??

One clue you may have some unfinished business is if you find yourself avoiding someone, or something. Or maybe you notice an event, person or thing that keeps coming to mind over and over and over again. Perhaps there’s something or someone you keep “forgetting” about. Hmmm.

Together we can start next year feeling refreshed and ready for what’s new by letting go of all those projects put on the back burner, and random things to do. We have a week to complete! It may sound overwhelming or maybe you don’t know where to start. My suggestion: Start first with whatever comes to mind. Begin with what’s easy and spark the new year feeling free and celebrating completions!

My list of completions (so far):
Call the gardner and schedule yard cleanup
Make dentist appointment
Finish preparing and filling out refinance papers
Follow up on scheduling clients for massage
Schedule massage appointment for myself
Answer list of flagged emails
Clean out garden bench
Recycle clothes I haven’t worn in over a year
Create invitations to 2015 Thailand trip
Create and finish last blog post of 2015 😉

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” ~Alan Cohen

The Manifesting Game

The Manifesting Game

 

Heath and I are having fun playing a new manifesting game And it’s super easy. Playing this new game inspired by the Foundation for Conscious Living has helped us get even more clear about what we want, why we want it and how it would feel if we had it. Perhaps you and a friend might like to play too. It goes like this:

1. Begin standing (preferably) or sitting and say out loud

“How it is, is _________fill in the blank “

And

What I want is _________fill in the blank.”

Here are some of our examples to help you get started:

Nicole ~ “ How it is, is that it takes a lot of time to clean the house” And  “What I want is to feel like I have plenty of time to care of our house.”

Heath ~ “ How it is, is that our Christmas lights on the house look weak” And “What I want is to find great deals on outdoor Christmas decorations to make it fun for us and neighbors to see our house at night.”

As you play let the details of your desires become more and more specific each time, notice how you feel as you describe what you want, and notice how you are experiencing your desires in your body. Repeat and play as often as you like and have fun manifesting!!

“Every thought we think is creating our future.” ~Louise L Hay

Appreciation Project

Appreciation Project

Did you know one major component of a healthy, happy and thriving relationship is appreciation? Recent research by John Gottman has shown that “couples, while discussing problems, who make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones are happier.”  Heath and I are putting this new research into practice in our relationship with each other, and in our relationships with friends and family. We notice that when we lead our day or conversations with appreciations that we feel wonderful and refreshed with positive momentum! We feel closer, more connected and loved. We also notice that once we get started on appreciations, they begin to snowball and the process becomes self-reinforcing. We also became surprised that we were leaving our most important relationships out of the 5:1/appreciation to criticsim ratio:  our relationship with our self.

There are days when the negative criticism and judgement cloud and pervade the day. The internal berrating  can be endless and exhausting!…yuck!! Why not turn some of those outward appreciations inwardly, we thought.  I’m very interested in consciously interrupting the pattern of “what’s wrong” and shift into a context of “what’s going right”. If you feel like me, I invite you to introduce a practice of appreciations into your daily routine. As I practice I notice this evolves into a much happier relationship with oneself and with the world and people around you.

For me, the simple shift into appreciations takes me from feeling ugly, depressed, stupid, and [fill in the blank] to filling my days with possibilities of connection, creativity and flow! My practice has led to a new habit of starting the day with appreciations. What was really surprising and wierd to me  about this practice was I needed a little help to get me started. At first I had trouble coming up with things I could appreciate about myself. Experiement yourself: imagine five appreciations about yourself right now. So I wondered does anyone else have trouble finding different things, traits to appreciate?? In respose to my wonderings, I realized yes, some people do. Thank you Audrey Hazekamp for putting this list together and getting me started on the road of appreciation.

Included for you is a 7 day appreciation project or challenge. If you are open and willing to feel more valued, energised and loved then this challenge is for you!

Begin Now!

For one week choose to lead your day with appreciations about yourself. Feel free to express your appreciations to yourself internally and out loud (maybe as you look at yourself in the mirror). Keep this page as an open tab on your phone, or print this out and place some place you are sure to see as you start the day. You may also find that as you open to more appreciations for yourself, more appreciations may naturally begin to spill over into all your relationships(lucky people!!).

7 days of Appreciation:

Day 1: Make easy touch contact with yourself and say inside and outside yourself ” I appreciate me” (touch your face, your shoulders, your knees as you say “I appreciate me”)

 

Day 2: I appreciate my skill in ___________ ( cooking, drawing, organizing, cleaning, decorating… feel free to appreciate more than one skill)

 

Day 3: Qualities I see and appreciate about me is __________ ( willingness to laugh, connect with others, compassion, clear boundaries)

 

Day 4: I appreciate how much I enjoy______________( good music, writing, moving my body, yoga)

 

Day 5: I see and appreciat my body, especially my______________( strong legs, soft belly, smile)

 

Day 6: I appreciate how I love to discover______________________( new techniques, unusual things about the place I  live)

 

Day 7: I appreciate how I easily communicate about ______________(my dreams, my feelings, directions, anatomy)

As you notice the internal judge show up, you can now use appreciations as a way to shift from what’s wrong with you to what’s right with you.  Remember to give yourself 5 appreciations for every 1 negative comment.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

-Alan Cohen

Body Awareness

Body Awareness

listen-to-your-bodyAs bodyworkers we are constantly listening to how our clients are responding to our touch. We feel for tension, resistance, and freedom. We then make adjustments to our session to meet their needs, but how often do we extend that same kind of attention to ourselves. How often do we tune into our own body cues and then respond to them in a way that nurtures our own wants, needs and desires. One definition of body awareness that resonates with us is described as the conscious awareness and perception of where our bodies are in space and time. Body awareness is a skill developed with consistent practice. With practice our bodies can become a reliable resource of information and truth telling. A regular body awareness practice reveals the wisdom of our bodies and gives clarity to how we can take care of ourselves and our clients without ever feeling drained, tired, or in pain.

Included are some self exploration questions that may reveal how well you listen to your own body. As you ponder each question first presence yourself and then notice how and where the questions land. How do you feel your body respond to the questions being asked? You can rate each question on a scale of 1-10. (1- never,10 all the time)

I can easily discern the difference between my emotions and other body sensations

I move towards what nourishes me in times of stress

I experience my body as my ally

I appreciate and follow my deep body impulses

I attune my body preferences to things that support my optimum well being

I create friendly conversations with my body and how it is communicating

I listen to my body as a source of guidance and useful information

I know how to take care of myself in ways that I know are deeply satisfying

I sense and express my body awareness such that I create connections with others

I appreciate Audrey Hazekamp who put this list together and for the opportunity to explore these questions for myself. I recognize which ones I am really good at and which ones could use more loving attention. I am having so much fun discovering and creating reliable body signals that I can use to create connections from the inside out.

“The beauty of my body is not measured by the size of the clothes it can fit into, but by the stories that it tells.” ~Sarah, from I Am Beautiful

Looping Your Awareness

Looping Your Awareness

Recently we were introduced to the practice of “looping”, and if you have been in a class with us lately you may have heard us talk about it and how to do it. It’s a practice based on the Hendricks Leadership and Transformation Program, which Heath and I are now apart of. This practice helps bring more energy and flow to any moment and relationship. It helps expand your awareness and free your attention. Looping can be done with the space around you or with a person. Whenever we consciously loop with our clients, family, friends and even with the space around us, we experience smooth shifts into expansion, alignment, and greater trust in our intuition.

To practice “looping” with the space around you: first direct you attention to yourself. Notice one thing about you; notice your breathing, a feeling in your body, your posture etc…

Now direct your attention to the space around you. Notice one thing about the room, the color of the walls, the temperature, the way the light enters the room etc…

Direct your focus back to yourself and then go outside yourself to the room around you. Oscillate your attention back and forth, out and in as often as you like. Leave judgment behind you and simply notice. Notice the feelings that arise from gently shifting your attention out and in.

The practice of looping with another person is just as easy. First, notice something about yourself. Become aware of your breath, how you’re standing or holding your head. Then loop your attention out, and notice the other person’s posture, breath, where they are or are not moving, etc…

Pivot your attention from yourself to someone else. Continue shifting your awareness back and forth. Your attention going inside then outside. Consciously shift back and forth to free yourself of judgement and criticisms and instead, feel how powerful your attention is.

“It’s amazing how much how little can do”- Hugh Milne

Just by looping and oscillating your attention on something about yourself to someone or something else enhances your experience and relationships. Looping refreshes your energy, expands your consciousness, and create more opportunities for connection, support, and play.

Deepak Chopra says since “consciousness is the basis of all reality, any shift [even the smallest] in consciousness changes every aspect of our reality…Reality is created by consciousness. As consciousness evolves, different aspects of consciousness also change.”

Looping is a fun and practical way to expand awareness inside and outside. We invite you to play with consciousness and to lead from a space of inner and outer alignment. Shift your attention and create more possibilities. Oftentimes, the greatest improvements  are found when we make the smallest adjustments.

Pattern Interrupt

Pattern Interrupt

“Movement is the physical acceptance of change.” –Dr. Ida Rolf

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions. Note the distorted companion galaxy on the left side, shaped like the greek letter "theta". NGC 1232 is located 20º south of the celestial equator, in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The distance is about 100 million light-years, but the excellent optical quality of the VLT and FORS allows us to see an incredible wealth of details. At the indicated distance, the edge of the field shown corresponds to about 200,000 light-years, or about twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy. The image is a composite of three images taken behind three different filters: U (360 nm; 10 min), B (420 nm; 6 min) and R (600 nm; 2:30 min) during a period of 0.7 arcsec seeing. The field shown measures 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin. North is up; East is to the left. #L

Everything is moving! From the cosmic whirling of galaxies to the microscopic shape-shifting of electrons transforming from waves to particles: our world is in flux! Even if we hold our breath and appear to be motionless, our heart continues to beat, our cells are endlessly dying and being reborn in infinite chemical exchanges, and let’s face it: every second we’re alive we move closer to death. As our bodies vibrate 570 trillion times per second and we experience fluctuations of blood, breath, thoughts, and infinite alterations, we continually readapt to our shifting internal and external worlds.
In Perfect Health, Dr. Deepak Chopra illuminates the science behind our body’s endless reincarnations, stating that 98% of our atoms are replaced annually. Our stomach lining recreates itself every 5 days, our skin is refashioned every month, and our liver cells are resurrected every 6 weeks. Even though the body appears fixed, it is constantly changing and recreating itself. Our bodies are designed to move, let go, and recreate!

Humans are not hardwired to be sedentary, but societal and technological changes have exponentially limited our movements. As technology becomes more compact and readily available, our culture is developing digital-device pains like, “Computer Hunch” (clinically known as Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis) and “Mouse Shoulder” (clinically known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

“Sitting is the new smoking.” Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative
Depending on which study you reference, Americans sit between 7-15 hours a day. There are some serious consequences to sitting, particularly when sitting more hours a day than some of us sleep. Due in large part to the rampant increase in sitting, obesity is on the rise, life spans are actually shortening, and postures are degraded in ways that cause people more pain every day.

Ah, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. As discussed earlier, all our cells our constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Not only does the body change, but pain is malleable, too. Pain is a signal for change. One way out of pain is to change or move differently, outside your regular pattern. Sometimes all it takes is one shift, one move, to change our mind and change our body.

Interrupt the pattern of sitting: Get up and move! Happy news bodyworkers… because our profession demands we get up and move, we are already 50% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than our sitting cohorts. Sitting less and moving more improves more than our heart by lowering the chances of developing Cancer, Diabetes, and Musculoskeletal disorders. Moving is good for the body and good for the mind enhancing cognitive function. Our brains light up as movement encourages new brain cell growth (“neurogensis”), increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor, AKA fertilizer for the brain), strengthens secondary dendritic branching, thus enhancing memory retrieval, and improves our mood by balancing endorphins, dopamine, cortisol, and serotonin neurotransmitters.

Consciously interrupting your normal routine and habits can liberate your energy. Life can feel more vital and even appear more crisp when we consciously choose to experience something brand new. And, every moment is brand new. In Zen, it’s called “Beginner’s Mind.” Looking at the world with childlike amazement. Putting lotion on your hands as you begin your session acting as though you’ve never done this before. And, in fact, you haven’t…you truly have never given this session before at this time, or in this way.

Pattern interruptions unhinge unconscious or habitual choices and align you with the present moment. Pattern interruptions can be used as a daily practice of shifting away from “what I don’t want to feel”, into “feeling more of what I do want to feel”. It’s been said it takes 40 days to create a new habit, so why not make a new choice: pattern interrupt! Just like the bodies trillions of cells, we can shed habits that promote pain and we can create new habits that steer us into ease and flow.
We invite you to change one thing you do today. Change where you begin your massage session. Change the route you take home. Change where you eat dinner. Change how long you sit. Change how you sit. Consciously interrupt your everyday habits, and notice yourself becoming more creative, present, and perhaps, happier every day of your life!

“Changing one thing, changes everything.” – Nelson Mandela

Drain the Pain Acupressure Points

Drain the Pain Acupressure Points

Acupressure is a safe and effective way to enhance yours and your clients sense of wellbeing.  It’s an ancient art practiced for centuries that has been used to to stimulate an individuals ability to heal and find balance. Acupressure can be done anywhere, at anytime, and repeated multiple times a day. In fact, the benefits of Acupressure become enhanced the more often you practice, and there is no limit to how long you can hold or massage an acupoint. Below are two very potent acupressure points that relieve muscle tension and aches, calm the nervous system, and promote the circulation of blood and Qi (energy) to restore mind-body balance. You may hold these acupoints lightly or massage them with mild to firm pressure. Explore and harness the body’s natural ability to self heal and eliminate discomfort.

li4_demo1Large Intestine 4 (LI4) or Joining the Valley

Also referred to as a “Gate of Pain”, LI4 is a general pain reliever for the upper body. Use LI4 to relieve frontal headaches, constipation, balance the GI tract, and ease arm, shoulder, hand, and wrist discomfort. You can find this point in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. Try working this point on yourself; you can use your opposite finger and thumb to squeeze, massage, or gently contact LI4 to drain any upper body pain or fatigue from a long day of sessions.  To integrate LI4 into any session hold or massaging both points on each hand until you feel a release (1-2 minutes minimum) These points are usually sore, so be mindful of your pressure.

0_0_0_0_250_166_csupload_47023016 Liver 3 (LV3) or Bigger Rushing

LV3 is the second pair of points referred to as the “Gates of Pain”  and act as a general analgesic or pain reliever, especially in the lower body. We use these points when a client has low back, hip, knee or foot pain. LV3 also eases headaches, tired eyes, congestion, and hangover symptoms. To find these points on yourself; take a seat on the floor or in a chair, remove your shoes and cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. LV3 is found on top of the foot, in-between the first and second toe, and just a couple inches away from the webbing. Use your thumb or fingers to massage this area and repeat on the opposite side. If you’re experiencing arthritis, foot or knee pain predominantly on one side of your body, you may want to spend more time massaging LV3 on the same side as your discomfort. To integrate into any session consider working both points on both feet at the same time. Massage gently or hold points until you feel the body soften or a non-blood pulse rise to the surface.

*Do not work this point during pregnancy as LI4 and LV3 are said to promote labor. If labor has begun, these points are sometimes stimulated by nurses, doulas, or midwifes to help encourage delivery.

Acupressure is a natural and simple approach to taking good care of yourself and is easy to integrate into any bodywork session. It’s a great way to help circulate the Qi (energy) and help the body help itself. We invite you to use and share these Acu-points whenever and wherever you’d like to enhance yours and your clients sense of ease, flow, and wellbeing.

Recipe for Spring Cleaning

Recipe for Spring Cleaning

A once-a-week liquid cleanse gives your metabolism a break and allows the liver (the chemical factory of your body) and other organs to focus on metabolism, healing, and restoring balance to the body. The idea is simple: for one day of the week, eat/drink only smoothies, juices, water and soups throughout the day, and eliminate anything you have to chew (this gives your jaw a break and often demonstrates how habituated we are with “chewing things over”). This once-a-week liquid cleanse powerfully inserts an intentional change to habitual eating routines and cultivates a conscious relationship with our food cravings, appetite, and nutritional behavior. To realize the best results, practice a once-a-week liquid cleanse for at least a month, or anytime you would like to feel a little lighter and clearer. Green is the harmonizing color associated with the Wood Phase, and during Springtime, we recommend adding plenty of locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables to our nutrition, especially if they happen to be green.

Broccoli-soup1

Creamy Broccoli Soup Recipe
This is one of our all-time favorite soup recipes, and we invite you to modify the ingredients to your taste, and share with us what you like best!

What You’ll Need:

1 TBsp Olive Oil
4 oz Sliced Onion
3 oz Diced Celery
1 TBsp Minced Garlic

1 Cup Chopped Broccoli
1/2 Tbsp Bay Leaves
1 LB Sliced Potatoes
1 QT Spinach
1 QT Vegetable Stock
1 Tsp Pepper

Optional Seasonings: Salt, Tahini (ground sesame seed butter), and/or Nutritional Yeast (significant source of B-complex vitamins)

Directions:

1. Sauté Onion, Celery and Garlic in Olive Oil just until flavor is released

2. Simmer all ingredients until volume is reduced by approximately one-third

3. Strain or remove Bay Leaves

4. Blend in a food processor

5.  Season to taste with Salt, Tahini (for added protein and a more nutty flavor), and/or Nutritional Yeast (providing a faux-cheesey flavor)

Serves 2-4, yielding about 1 Quart

Shift into Alignment 

Shift into Alignment 

Chakra-Portal-7What are the body cues that keep us from feeling at our best, passionate, alive, connected. Often it’s our bodies that are telling us something is out of alignment, literally expressed through subluxations in the spine or as simply as feeling tired. We can see these symptoms as signals for change. Feeling less positive and energetic, less open and receptive, reactive and critical, injured or hurt is a symptom. All these symptoms are signals that something has to change in a way that encourages our alignment, happiness and wellness. There are some shifts we can make to create and maintain wholeness. I will say it’s not always easy, but I find it to be worth it every time.

Possibilities to change & shift into alignment:

~Wiggle or Shake your body

~ Lengthen your exhales

~ Walk or Move around the room

~Smile at yourself

~Squeeze a muscle in your body; nose, glutes, rhomboids

~ Think of something you know and love

Sometimes all it takes is one shift to change our mind and change our body. For me, it’s a daily practice of shifting from what I don’t want to feel, into feeling more of what I want.  It’s been said it takes 40 days to create a new habit, so why not, celebrate every opportunity you consciously make a new choice for yourself.

We invite you to change one thing you do today; change where you begin your massage session, change the route you take home, change where you eat dinner, change how you hug your favorite person, change the way you say hello. Each of us is like the thousand petal lotus; experiencing wholeness in a thousand different ways.

Nelson Mandela said “Changing one thing, changes everything.”

Practical Body Wisdom

Feminine-Body-WisdomOur bodies are constantly providing us feedback about the choices we make. Usually, we hear don’t hear that feedback until after the choice has already been made…in general we either feel good or not so good about what just happened. Are you curious to learn what some of your body cues are when you are making a decision? I know that Heath and I are very curious! It’s fun to discover what the intelligence of my body is offering up to help inform and guide me to what I want. I feel as bodyworkers we are actively listening for our clients body’s response to our touch. A good therapist can often recognize the body cues that our clients make when we use too much pressure or not enough. Imagine using that same focused listening with yourself every day to help guide you to what you want.

Recently we learned a new body cue that can help us know more of what we want, especially when it comes to food. Have you ever been out to dinner and look at the menu blankly, not knowing what you want or what you feel like eating. There have been many times when I have chosen something off the menu that sounds like a good idea until later that night I feel bloated, uncomfortable and full of regret. I have a new tool for you to experiment with and to turn your awareness on to yourself. I invite you to try this experiment on yourself the next time you are out to dinner, at the grocery store, looking in your refrigerator or rummaging through the cupboards for what you want to eat.

The next time you are wondering what you want to eat notice when you begin to salivate. Notice when your mouth waters as you think and look a what you might want. Peruse the menu, pull food out the refrigerator or pantry while you feel for what you want. Do this long enough to allow your body to inform your choice…give yourself a chance to discover what your body wants and what feels good to you. Have fun with this :) You may reveal something new to your palate and may never regret another food choice. Since we started playing with this body cue game we have made some surprising choices that have been delightful.

Practice listening to your body wisdom and delight in the food you eat.

Casual Disicpline

Jack Kornfield quote
Have you ever heard the expression, “Casual Discipline”? This year, I have been invited to treat myself with casual discipline. Up to this point, I had never heard of such a notion. I was immediately intrigued and like a fish, I took a nibble.  Now I am in: hook, line and sinker. Though, initially I wanted to know more and figure out what does it really mean.

I looked up the meaning of both these words and found myself delighted by their associations. So, according to the internet, discipline is defined as a practice; a training that improves skill. Casual is defined as relaxed, friendly, and easy-going. Combine the two words and you have a friendly, easy-going practice. I can do that :)

Another more familiar expression comes to mind: practice makes perfect, though I disagree. Practice doesn’t make perfect but rather “Practice Makes Permanent.” If I repeatedly practice yoga with poor form, for example, I’ll hurt myself and cement in several potentially permanent poor postures. Or if in my massage practice I made it a habit to stack my shoulder over my elbow while using a forearm technique, I will be reinforcing healthy body mechanics and protect myself from injury. Why would I ever choose not to take care of myself.

This year my resolution is to have a friendly practice—to treat myself with friendliness. I believe friendliness is a noble trait, even a virtue, worth refining. I’m choosing relationships, foods, attitudes, and postures, that are friendly. It sounds easy, but I had no idea how un-friendly I’d been treating myself. Practicing friendliness is a discipline that requires attention to how I think and talk about myself, to others and myself. Can I be friendly with and towards myself all the time, or at least when I remember?

Sometimes it feels hard to step away from the whirlwind of schedules—when I notice the urgency of so much to do, some many places to go, and several people wanting things from me— I step back and notice: Am I being friendly towards me? As soon as I ask myself this question I immediately notice a shift. I feel more relaxed and a little relieved. I notice that my shoulders drop, my spine lengthens, and my breath deepens. I must say I am liking this practice that allows room for good feelings to flow in with regularity.

I am sharing this with you because what I would like for you is much of the same feelings and things I would like for myself. And thats to feel the warmth of friendship to build from the inside out. Be your own best friend! Be your own best company!

I invite you to join me for a year of casual discipline. Try out a regular practice of friendliness towards yourself and together we can unfold greater love, acceptance, and empathy for all those we touch.

“A Quality of Mature Spirituality is Kindness. It is Based on the Fundamental Notion of Self-Acceptance” ~Jack Kornfield

 

Affirmations

Remember the greatness that you are! New research provides evidence that self affirmation can protect against the damaging effects of stress especially when faced with a problem, improves our willpower, and increases our self control. More research shows that affirmations contribute to the rise and circulation of feel good hormones and helps our brains push to form clusters of positive thought.  Originally the word affirmation was defined as, “to make steady, to strengthen”.  Affirmations do strengthen us by helping us believe in our potential and recommit to what we want to be, feel, and see.

Our gift to you this holiday season is a steady stream of feel good thoughts to strengthen your ability to make your dreams into reality.   We encourage you to repeat any affirmation as many times as you remember and to say them with feeling. The longer you practice the more likely you will see changes, and notice how the good thoughts replace those ones that no longer serve you. Louise Hay,  the guru of self help says, “Change your thinking and Change your life.

sparkles

 Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy

Creative energy surges through me and leads me to new and brilliant ideas.

 I am courageous and I stand up for myself.

 I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends

 My efforts are being supported by the universe; my dreams manifest into reality before my eyes

 I radiate beauty, charm, and grace

 I wake up today with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind

 My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil

 I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen

 I am surrounded by love

 All is well

 I have the power in me to make good things happen

 My heart is open and  I speak with loving words

 Every decision I make is the right one for me

 

 

More Resources:

http://thebathtubdiva.com/scientific-results-for-affirmations

http://www.theemotionmachine.com/the-science-of-self-affirmations

 

No Mind

smiling thaiMai Pen Lai is the Thai expression for, “don’t worry about it.” Mai Pen Lai (my-pen-lie) literally translates as “no mind”, and is similar to saying never mind, or don’t think about it. For us, going to Thailand is an opportunity to let go of too much thinking, to let go of expectation, and instead embrace the moment. During this trip to Thailand a couple weeks ago, we allowed ourselves to suspend judgement, grow our practice of present-moment focus, and smile with 12 other brave individuals (those 12 joined us on our Thailand Immersion Retreat).

Thailand is nicknamed the “land of smiles” and they have about as many words for smile as the Inuit have for snow. There’s the “I admire you smile”, the “I disagree with you smile”, the “sad smile”, the “i’m trying to smile but can’t”, and several more. According to the World Database of Happiness, Thailand has been recognized as one of the most happy places in the world. (No wonder we love it there so much:) It’s easy to feel happy, safe, and relaxed in a place where everyone is putting you at ease with a smile. But what happens when you return home…back to “the real world”?

I recently read there are three ways to make yourself happy. 1. You can increase the amount of good feelings you are experiencing. 2. You can decrease the amount of bad feelings occurring. 3. Or, you can do what we did and what the Thais do, which is to change the subject. We deliberately choose to “Mai Pen Lai” or not think about the stuff that doesn’t make us happy.

Perhaps this is our best option, no matter where you are and no matter how you experience “the real world”. When we change the subject, we stop paying attention to what we don’t want and start to pay attention to what we do want. Sure it may seem like we are avoiding it, or copping out but, but it sure as heck feels better than wallowing in it or analyzing it all to death. Practice a little “no mind” this holiday season and see if it can help maintain your smile and feelings of overall happiness. “Mai pen lai” the crowded stores, the discourteous drivers, the totally unpleasant or intolerant family member:)

Maybe we can a learn a thing or two from one of the happiest places on Earth. Opening your heart and allowing your mind a respite may evoke greater ease and flow, and ignites your inner, radiant smile for all those you touch!

“We create our own Happiness, and the first step in creating anything is to Imagine it”

– Eric Weiner

Thai Yoga Massage Techniques You Can Use Now!

Pillow CobraOur Thai Yoga Massage practice is inspired by our studies in Thailand and our experience in Yoga Therapy. For decades Traditional Thai Massage and Yoga have demonstrated to us that the more we move the better we feel!

Ida Rolf said, “Movement is the physical acceptance of change” and Thai Yoga Massage explores and enhances movement more than any modality we’ve experienced. “Use it or lose it” speaks to the misery of non-movement. Whereas moving with ease and grace helps us feel aligned and powerfully alive! Thai Yoga Massage enhances our most natural movements, and provides the possibility for even greater mobility. Clients leave their session saying they feel “longer”, “taller”, “more open”, “more grounded”, and “relieved”. Ahhhhhhh…

The benefits of Thai Yoga Massage don’t end after the session is over. Most our clients become inspired to build on the momentum of their Thai Yoga Massage experience and begin exploring more ways to sustain the range of motion and flexibility gained in their session. One of our favorite aspects of practicing Thai Yoga Massage is how excited our clients become to be more actively involved in their own health and well-being!! [Read, responsible] They feel empowered by the work and what their bodies can do! They join workout programs, Yoga or Tai Chi classes—they are going on more hikes, swimming more laps, and overall experiencing greater quality of life.

Thai Yoga Massage often removes the fascial impediments and the energetic fears associated with moving. Clients then are more easily able to move beyond their past painful experiences or limitations and create more opportunity for life, flow and love for oneself! This work rebuilds trust and empathy for one’s own body that may have been lost after an injury or accident. Thai Yoga Massage is a safe way to remember just how good it feels to move with ease, grace, and flow!!

Not only do clients experience renewed freedom and mobility in their bodies—Thai Yoga Massage also encourages the therapist to experience greater movement possibilities. Do you know that Westerners move 90% less than our ancestors did just 100 years ago? Our culture is experiencing an epidemic of decreased mobility leading to an alarming increase in inflammatory conditions, heart disease, and chronic pain (link to “Sitting is the New Smoking”). The practice of Thai Yoga Massage requires the therapist to move and leverage their body mechanics in new, and exciting ways. Thai Yoga Massage is like juice for the central nervous system: a proprioceptive party ensues when we incorporate more 3-dimensional ROM and stretching in our bodywork!

At the heart of Thai Yoga Massage is the Thai word, “Metta,” meaning “loving kindness.” We apply metta when “it feels good to give and it feels good to receive” (that is, practicing loving kindness for oneself, and practicing loving kindness for our client)…We invite you to move with us and to bring more movement into your sessions. Enhance your capacity for more movement and open-hearted kindness as you practice Thai Yoga Massage techniques. These techniques may be performed on a massage table or on a mat, and you can immediately introduce these to your clients to inspire you, and to inspire them, to feel more, move more, and live more fully.

Practice and experience Thai Yoga Massage with the following resources: our YouTube channel, our Table Thai DVDs, or with our online Home Study Course in Table Thai Yoga Massage.

“Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that they’re dead.” – Twla Tharp

Letting Go Breath

Fall leavesFall is fast approaching and soon we will experience a shift and change of season. The Autumn Equinox brings a time of balance, when there are equal hours of darkness and light. It is a time of harvest: an opportunity to reap the benefits of our efforts and a time to be thankful and grateful for the abundance we receive. Autumn also marks a period of letting go. As we watch nature let go of leaves from the trees, we too can let go of habits, thoughts, and relationships that no longer deserve our focus.

We often use this ancient healing sound after each bodywork session or in between clients as a way to let go of what just happened or didn’t happen. Sometimes we will use it at the end of the day or before going to sleep to help release stored and built up tension.

To practice the Letting Go Breath, draw in a large inhale and on your out-breath simply create an audible “Ssssssss”-sound, like air leaking out of a tire. Repeat making the sound “Sssssss” as many times as you like or until you feel a shift in your attention and notice yourself feeling more relieved.

This ancient healing sound has been practiced for millennia by Taoist Qi Gong masters and their students. We learned this ancient healing sound while studying with Mantak Chia at the Tao Healing Garden in Thailand. This sound is part of the Inner Smile and Six Healing Sounds Meditation, where you blend intention, attention, visualization, breath work, movement and the six ancient healing sounds to restore balance and recycle emotions.

We have recently released the Smiling Organ Meditation audio CD so you can practice along to the verbal directions.  Click here to Purchase

Enjoy Letting Go~

“The day I understood everything, was the day I stopped trying to figure everything out. The day I knew peace was the day I let everything go.”  -JoyBell C.

 

 

Happiness Interval Training

Take-care-of-yourselfHow would you feel if you treated yourself as good as you treat your clients?

I recently came across an article that shared some reasons why Massage Therapists love their job…the resounding answer: the feeling gained from helping others.

Why does it feel so good to give?  A cornucopia of research has been done related to this very question. Research after research shows that people who give time, money, or support to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives and less likely to be depressed. One study showed that by simply making a donation, the part of the brain that produces feel-good chemicals, like oxytocin, is activated.  Another study found in Dr. David Myers’ book, The Pursuit of Happiness, observed that “happy people are more helpful” and that “helping others is one of the best ways to overcome stress and anxiety.”

Stephen Post, Ph.D., a research professor and co-author of the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People has found that “[w]hen you’re experiencing compassion, benevolence, and kindness, they push aside negative emotions.” When we give a massage we shift our focus from ourselves to someone else.  Dr. Post continues saying that empathic sharing “creates a chain of feel-good-feelings where doing good helps us to feel good; and feeling good also makes us more likely to do good.”

But there is one caveat…The caregiver, the helper, the massage therapist MUST feel supported. It’s imperative the giver “feel like they have time to have fun and take care of themselves.” And believe it or not, research supports this!

Research shows “negative mental and physical consequences [arise] for givers who are overburdened and stressed by their duties.” Maybe you have already felt the consequences of not feeling supported or as though you don’t have enough time. If so, allow science to affirm to you the value of having fun, and the importance of taking care of yourself!

Schedule time to take care of yourself, everyday! Perhaps every morning, stretch and mediate for 5-15 minutes. Every Wednesday try a new recipe. Maybe schedule time to take that Zumba or Yoga class. Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it has to be expected and consistent in order to provide prolonged and sustainable benefits. Self-care is about doing things and being in places and around people that make you feel supported and encourage fun! I call it “Happiness Interval Training!” The more you train yourself to feel good the more likely you will feel good. Woot! Woot!! Ride that train to happiness! Experience more highs than lows and remember why you do what you do.

I heart Massage Therapist! They are the most generous people I know. Generous with others and now maybe more generous with themselves 😉

Say Yes to the Breath

breathing inDid you know that when we are at rest, we average about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. 

Also, do you know we eliminate MOST of our body’s wastes not through our large intestine, but through our lungs. A hefty 70% of our body’s waste are eliminated through the exhale and the other 30% of our body’s wastes are eliminated through feces, urine, and sweat.

Breathing, for the most part, is an unconscious process, yet it is one we can adjust, modify and refine. Breathing responds and adjusts according to the thoughts we are thinking, the things we are feeling and sensing, and what we are seeing and experiencing. Breathing is intimately connected to our physical and emotional state and vice versa. Our breath may be used as an indicator of our feelings, and our feelings may be used an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breathe we can change how we feel. For thousands of years the ancients have expressed the importance and power of the breath.

 “… breath as ‘pneuma’ is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss.”

~ Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body

 In a beautiful “Conscious Living, Conscious Loving” workshop with power couple Kathlyn & Gay Hendricks we learned a new breathing exercise that we feel you must experience! We found the breathe reminiscent of the cranial sacral wave and a beautiful way to bring even more ease and flow into our everyday practice. This breath exercise reminds us that breathing is not just for the lungs, but breathing is for the whole body, mind, and heart.

Check out this video demo of what they call the “Yes Breath” and Enjoy!

(Scroll down to see the Yes Breath)

Doing Presence

Presence presenceWe recently attended a Conscious Loving + Living workshop with Kathlyn Hendricks in California and it is wonder-full to be a student! In this very experiential workshop we got to move, breathe and love in new ways.  I am still processing all that we experienced and shared, but there’s one word and feeling that has been an echo in my mind since we left…

The word is “Presencing”. 

We are expanding our concept of presence to transform from a noun to a verb. Presence is not just something we are, but it is also something we do. Presencing asks, “Do I know how to be here?”

Let this marinate a moment and notice where in your body you feel an answer to the question, “Do I know how to be here?”

At the beginning of every session we practice presencing by enjoying an expansive breath, connecting with an intention, and feeling our alignment. “Presencing” takes it an extra step by consciously remembering how to be here in the moment. We get distracted, we think about what to do next, what we just did, how much time is left, did I do that right?…and it’s completely natural to drift. How often we come back to our presence will help us keep our practice alive, flowing with feelings, and churning our creativity. When we are presencing we remember to breathe! When we are presencing we reconnect to an intention, and when we are presencing we recommit to feeling alignment.  Over and over and over and over again we come back to the essence of why we do what we do. Recommit again and again to shift from our drift…

Now I begin to wonder how to bring presencing into the everyday and into all my relationships. Sounds a bit exhausting, but maybe worth it if it means I am making choices, saying words, and feeling from a place of doing presence.

Your deepest presence is in the fine folding and unfolding,
The two as perfectly balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” 
-Rumi

Ahhh-preciate

heart songSummer is the season of the heart, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This time of year, the air is warm, the blood is readily circulating, and our feelings become more palpable as things heat up and intensify! When we align with the season of Summer, our intuition is strong and our hearts project  feelings of joy, love, patience and appreciation.

Parmahansa Yogananda sings, “Listen, listen, listen to your heart’s song.”

According to TCM’s 5-Element theory, the ancient healing sound of the heart is “ahhh”, as in Ahhh-preciation. This is the perfect time to be grateful, thankful and appreciate the things, people, and places that make your feel good.

I know from personal experience that when I begin to appreciate whatever shows up, a mind shift happens and a life change occurs. I begin to radiate and generate more goodness for myself.  My new focus allows me to see and absorb all I have, and for the moment, I let go of what I don’t have. I notice that the more I love what I have, the more I get what I want!

I want you to have your heart’s desire. What do you love and ahhh-preciate? Maybe a cup of tea, a great song on the radio, painted toes, air conditioning, toilet paper with hearts on it…Generate some fuel for the Summer Fire with a list of the things that make you go  “ahhh.”

Keeping a gratitude journal, or what I like to call an “Ahhh” journal, is one of the best ways to retrain your thoughts to focus on what’s going right–instead of what’s going wrong. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal can have many benefits. For example, a study from the University of California  demonstrated that participants who kept a gratitude journal complained of fewer physical symptoms, felt happier and more optimistic about their lives, were better able to meet goals, and they exercised more.

Need more evidence???  Be a good scientist and test the hypothesis yourself!

Can you change your focus and change your life experience??

Write down five things you’re grateful for each day for a week and watch what happens. Hopefully some sighing ahhhhs of relief will cool your Summertime.

” Find that magical place in your world , and live there.” -Laura Loukaides

Computer Hunch

The Computer Hunch

kyphosisAmericans spend six to nine hours a day in front of a digital device. It is becoming increasing clear that more time spent working, communicating, playing, and interfacing with computers and phones has its consequences. Prolonged sitting (at a computer, at home, in a car, etc) increases the likelihood of developing painful holding patterns that cause Repetitive Strain Injuries. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) describe musculoskeletal pain related to the repetitive actions, behaviors, or habits, such as the pain that develops from poor posture while sitting at a desk, or from repeatedly preforming tasks like typing and clicking a mouse. One study on office workers found that 58% had eye strain, 45% had shoulder pain, 43% had back pain, 35% had arm pain, and 30% had neck and wrist pain (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17599795).

Increasingly more studies are being conducted demonstrating the powerful link between computer use, posture while at work, office ergonomics, sedentary life and chronic musculoskeletal pain. If you or your clients experience tenderness, stiffness, cramping, or pain in the neck, shoulders, arm, wrist, and back—especially after spending time at a computer or digital device—you may be experiencing the symptoms of a Repetitive Strain Injury. RSI can be serious, painful and debilitating but it can be prevented, circumvented, and even rehabilitated. There is hope!

One of the most common computer related postures is the Computer Hunch. Clinically known as excessive thoracic kyphosis often involves rearward curving of your thoracic spine, forward drawn head, rounded shoulders. The gradual creep into the computer hunch has its deleterious effects on the body and mind. Some symptoms to be aware of include headaches, general pain and limited function in the neck and upper back, nerve impingement, and reduced blood flow to the upper body and head, breathing problems, and even gastrointestinal upsets and increased mental stress.

Do you have the Computer Hunch??


Standing sideways in a mirror, place a finger of one hand on your sternal notch

Then put your finger of your other hand on T1

Now, looking towards the mirror and/or feel for the relationship of your front finger to your rear finger. If the finger on the front of you body is lower than the one on the back, your spine is rounding forward.

To counteract the hunch, simply strengthen the muscles in the upper back and stretch the muscles in the chest. Additionally,  adjustments to a work space can reduce our tendency to hunch over the computer; consider moving the computer screen either at eye level or slightly lower, adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, or use a footstool, use an ergonomic chair, specially designed to help your spine hold its natural curve while sitting, every 30-60 minutes take a short break, go for a walk, or do stretching exercises at your desk, and consider a standing work station.

“Your Best Posture is Always Your Next Posture”

A Thought Experiment

what-are-youWe create through the power of our focus. This is not a new idea, though, putting this principle into regular practice supercharges our ability to create our own reality!

What you focus on grows…And, what you focus on with feeling becomes real! When we utilize our emotional wisdom and add feeling into any recipe of manifestation, we push the fast forward button on creating our own reality. Want to try it out with a simple thought experiment?

Try this: For a moment think about something you want. A new car, bigger house, a forever partner, a vacation, more money, more clients, more time, a healing, etc. Whatever it is, think about how you will feel when you get that, and practice the feeling of that thing or someone you want.

Most of us want something because we believe it will somehow make us feel better, more relieved, provide more freedom, make life easier, make us feel happy, connected, fulfilled. In reality, though, the thing or person doesn’t provide the feeling. The feeling provides the feeling. Feelings are the bridge between the unseen and the seen.

Instead of focusing on the thing you want, imagine as though it’s here. And—this is the most important part—practice feeling the emotions associated with that accomplishment. Practice that feeling now…FEEL relieved, happy, eager. Feel yourself relaxed and smiling. Better yet, make it a daily practice and close your eyes and sit with this feeling for a few moments and a few breaths. That’s it. Practice those good feelings every time you think of what you want. Rather than relying on the external environment to provide you with a particular feeling, harness your own emotional wisdom to materialize, sustain, and reinforce the feeling that you want. Watch what happens and let me know how it goes-Happy Manifesting.

Your Heart

“There is no feeling in a human heart which exists in that heart alone–which is not, in some form or degree, in every heart.” ~ George McDonald

human-xray-heart-anatomy-in-detail

When we become more aware of our heart we connect not only with the mechanics of it, we also connect with its electromagnetic field, and its  emotional energy. The heart is the first organ to form in the body and is the hardest working muscle in the body. “It is the organizing factor for physical formation, including brain formation. The heart contains extensive brain-like neural matter and has recently been classified as a gland because it produces its own hormone. In addition to our cerebral brain, we indeed have a “heart brain.” The heart not only puts out its own balancing and regulating hormones, but also instantaneously communicates electromagnetic and chemical information to the rest of the body and to other bodies near it”

Every time we reach out and touch another person, we are literally extending the energy of our hearts. Our arms, hands and fingers become the wings of our heart. With heart awareness the quality of our intention and presence grows. If you have taken a class with us you know that practicing presence is more important than any one technique. Loving, present, respectful touch from the heart is a powerful healing force and now there is science to prove it!  More heart science: http://www.healingheartpower.com/power-heart.html

Heart Facts:

  • The heart can keep beating even if it separated from the body, because it has its own electrical impulse
  • The magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 5000 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain
  • Every day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, that is equivalent to driving to the moon and back
  • Your heart pumps out 2 ounces of blood at every heart beat . Daily it pumps at least 2,500 gallons of blood and 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime
  • Blood is pumped through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day
  • Cardiac muscle makes up the wall of the heart and is responsible for the forceful contraction of the heart.
  •  Instead of chest pains, heart attacks in women have nausea, indigestion and shoulder aches
  • The heart has the ability to beat over 3 billion times in a person’s life, 100,000 times a day and 72 beats a minute on average.
  • Your heartbeat changes and mimics to the music you listen to.
  •  Your heart weighs only 11 ounces
  •  One person’s heart signal can effect another’s brainwaves, and heart-brain synchronization can occur between two people when they interact  

There is an energetic current transmitted from one person to another that varies with the feelings of your heart. Nourish yourself.  Smile into your heart and into the hearts of all those you know and feel that hearty connection. smiling heart drawing

Heart Resourse:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/heart/heartfacts.html

http://www.factslides.com/s-Your-Heart#

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/music-therapy-heart-cardiovascular/

Eye Palming

TREE

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the “Wood” Element exerts its power influence over the Spring season. The Wood Phase is embodied by the movement of all things living, growing, and building momentum. Think expansion from the inside out and the outside in, like a tree developing a deeper and wider root foundation and simultaneously reaching its branches to greater heights. Each of us feels the expansion of wood energy manifest differently depending on our ability to stay balanced as spring winds blow. The winds can feel fresh and new; shaky or irritating. Physically, the organs associated with wood are the liver and gallbladder, and this energy opens into and rules over the eyes. Energetically, the wood element grows clarity and focus, sprouting of new ideas, and the propulsion of turning a new leaf to act on a new plan or vision.

This time of year the bumblebee “buzzzzz” of a new vision slowly coming into focus becomes palpable and I like to look for ways to clear the energy and emotions related to what’s on the horizon so that I may see more clearly. Recently, as I looked around for some new options I was reminded of a beautifully simple eye exercise to help. It’s amazing how easy it is to see things in a new way when we give ourselves the space and time to offer our presence without resistance.

Eye Palming

Rub your palms together until they feel warm, and then place your palms over your eyes as you rest your elbows on a table.

Rubbing the palms together helps activate the energy centers in your palms and we can use our own qi to relax and heal the eyes. Most of us have experienced and seen  the healing benefits of  qi that comes from our hands, so why not direct that qi to ourselves every now and then 

Soften your shoulders, neck and eye muscles while the heat from your palms soothes your eyeballs and the surrounding muscles. Breathe in deeply and imagine that you are looking off into the distance as if you were watching ocean waves, clouds floating by, or anything else that is relaxing and pleasing to you.

Aim for 5 to 10 minute anywhere and anytime you think of it…like while sitting on the toilet LOL, after spending long periods of time staring at a computer screen, before you go to sleep or when you wake up. Why not give it a try now?

eye-palming

“Sometimes We Have to Close our Eyes to See” John Penn

Chicken Soup for Your Nose

smell soupSpring is in the air, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming and my sinuses are clogged! I love Spring but it takes some helping from the foods I eat to help me  maintain a sunny disposition :) For me this season,  an old friend has helped me keep congestion at a minimum. That old friend is chicken broth with a pinch of salt. Besides keeping dairy and flour to a minimum, chicken broth has come to save  me during this beautiful spring season.  It’s not just a folklore remedy for the common cold and flu, but many studies have shown that “chicken broth acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”

Convinced? If not, and you want to experiment on yourself  I have included a light, fresh and ridiculously easy to make vegetable soup that includes chicken broth.  Enjoy and Breathe Easy.

 

Fresh Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • Chopped raw vegetables, such as 1 onion, 6 celery and 6 carrots (or whatever odds and ends you have in your crisper)
  • Approx 4lbs Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 24 ounces of Chicken Stock
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, oregano), to serve

Directions:

  1. Fry the chopped raw vegetables with the potatoes, peeled and cubed, in a little oil for a few minutes until beginning to soften.
  2. Cover with the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are  tender. Blend until smooth, then season. Serve with some fresh herbs.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Successful Habits of a Massage Therapist

Yoga pic 014Recently we taught a deep tissue class in which we shared some frequently recurring themes that we  have found to be the foundation of our success as therapists while working at the table. We thought we would share some of those themes and practices not only with them but with everyone!

We like the idea and all the possibilities that occur when we remember  that  every session is the opportunity to practice letting go and become a mirror of freedom for our clients to reflect. When you let go of your shoulders while giving, the more likely your client will also let go of their shoulders as they rest on your table. When we soften the body, the mind relaxes and the heart opens.  The doorway to healing opens when we not only attend to our clients needs  but also to ourselves. Attend to Yourself:

  • The Deeper you go the Slower you go. Practice patience and wait for the structure to accept your presence-allow the tissue to tell you how quickly to move.  1 slow, deep stroke can be more effective than 5 fast, light strokes.
  • Work the tendinous attachment sites of muscles first to reduce your  effort and soften belly of the muscle.
  • Work Smarter not Harder.  Use your legs to add depth and pressure. Avoid any bending in your spine. Push never pull.
  • Does it Feel Good to Give?, if not,  Stop it!
  • Save Your  Thumbs for small places
  • Improve Rather Than Fix
  • Let things happen, rather than trying to make things happen

If you have attended any of our classes,  you may have heard some of these ideas circulating throughout our conversation and we hope they are effective approaches that continue to support a sustainable practice.

Many Thanks to our students and teachers that continue to inspire, encourage, and  ignite our own practice with enthusiasm!

“Nothing Great Was Ever Achieved without Enthusiasm”

 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Can You Say It Better?

As I sit in traffic, running late for an appointment I find myself starting to get tense. I hear myself saying things like “I’m never going to make it on time, why is everybody going so slow, I should have left earlier, I hate traffic!” I feel frustrated, impatient, and stressed.

After remembering the idea that “what I feel becomes real”…I think, let’s put it to the test. I readjust myself in my seat; I sit a little taller, turn the news off, and take a long, deep breath. I try to say it better. I begin with…”okay, traffic sucks but at least we are moving. I’m not usually late. Someone will be at the studio when I get their. I’m not alone in the car so I can use the HOV lane. I am going a little faster than the speed limit so I actually might make it just in time. I do enjoy driving especially with the tall cup of tea sitting beside me. I have perfect timing!

My shoulders drop, my breathing is relaxed, I feel myself smiling and feeling relieved.

It turns out somehow I arrive with time to spare. I didn’t have to rush or worry.  Again I feel relief. Ahhhh. Feeling happy is one thing, but, wow relief turns out to be a powerful feeling that attracts an easy going reality.

So my challenge to you is to take pause when you’re feeling overwhelmed, rushed, resistance, stressed, tense, short of breath, or without enough time. Can you say it better? Is there a way to redefine the moment you’re in to make it feel just a little better than it did before? Practice, my friends, and notice the magic that unfolds before you. Ahhhh

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” Rumi

Clean Slate

It is the year of the Horse according to the Chinese calendar. This is a year of resilience, strength and hard work. It will also be a year to cultivate and practice patience.  This is a year of resilience, strength and hard work. It will also be a year to cultivate and practice patience.  As this new cycle emerges we sometimes experience great excitement and/or resistance. Jin Shin Jyutsu is a healing art that has recently re-emerged in our practice. It’s a lot like Acupressure and Shiatsu (same same but, different). You are working directly with the flow of energy in the body to create greater harmony from the inside out. We have found working with Jin Shin Jytusu points to be powerful and easy to use. You can hold these points for someone else or hold them for yourself. Imagine your hands as “jumper cables”, no strength is required and there is no need to massage (although, feel free to do so). Simply relax as you hold over the points for a few minutes until you feel an even, rhythmic non blood pulse. That is all. In addition to helping let go of the old and take up the new, these points are good for chest congestion, hip discomfort and sprained ankle. Remember as you practice any healing art to connect with your breath, rest easily in your alignment, and allow for whatever is right for you and your clients to come through.

jin shin jyutsu chart

  •  If you are supporting someone else’s clean slate, hold what are called the 9’s.  They are found at the medial border of the inferior angle of the scapula. 

 

  • If you are holding points on yourself you can instead hold at the thumb side crease of both elbows at the same time. These points are called the 19’s.

*Look for points 9 and 19 on the chart for greater clarification 

 

 

We wish you great luck and wealth in this new year. We live in our own way, and we share some commonalities that help us feel connected to one another and simultaneously part of something greater than ourselves.  “At the heart of each of us exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm.”- Mary Burmeister (World Leading Instructor of Jin Shin Jyutsu)

Source of Happiness

hug freeHave you heard of the “Hugging Saint”?  She is for real and she travels the world simply taking time to hug everyone she meets. Her name is Mata Amritanandamayi, she goes by Amma, which in her native language means “mother”.  When she travels the world auditoriums, and banquet halls fill with the expectation of a hug. So far she has hugged over 33 million people, many who say their livers are forever changed by just one rose scented embrace.  Amma says “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”

As I write this and imagine being hugged by this woman A glowy warm feeling builds from the inside out…I kind of want to hug and be hugged. Paul Zak, also known as “Dr. Love” would say it’s an increase of oxytocin circulating in my system that is making me feel all warm and fuzzy. Oxytocin is a molecule released throughout our system whenever we feel connection and begin to empathize with others. As a massage therapists we must get surges of oxytocin all day long…Fun! In order  for our endocrine system to keep releasing the hormone that makes us feel good, happy, and connected Dr. Love perscribes at least 8 hugs a day. A simple, natural remedy to be happier and to help make the world a better place. I am in!

When one person looks at a flower, he will think about the joyous moments he spent with his beloved. But when another person looks at that same flower, he remembers how his lover jilted him. But the flower remains the flower. “Both of these emotions are created by the mind,”  “Just like any other decision, happiness is also a decision.”

Just One Question

olympic medalist

A question worth answering: Am I able to feel good and have my life go well all the time?

When I answered this question for the first time I thought, “Impossible!” After contemplating the idea for some time, I thought, let’s put it to the test. First, what does it mean to feel good? Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, describes feeling good as “a natural, inner sense of well-being that’s not dependant on outside factors such as what you’ve eaten or what you are doing.” Based on that definition, feeling good sounded more attainable. I examined this deeper and soon realized: life isn’t just happening to me. Rather, I get to choose how I feel about what’s happening.

A study was done with Olympic medalists measuring their emotional reactions to their event. Not surprising, the gold medalists ranked the happiest of the lot. Here’s the surprising discovery: bronze medalists tended to be happier than silver medalists. Very Interesting…This shows that what we feel on the inside is more important than what is happening on the outside.

 

Now with greater understanding, and a regular practice of feeling good, I do believe  it is possible to feel good today and feel even better tomorrow and better the day after that and better the day after that…A belief is simply a thought you keep thinking. We can’t always control our experiences but we can manage how we feel about them. As we head into the New Year full of resolutions, things to do, places to go, remember you are always in charge of your own emotions and you get to decide how you feel. May you feel good every day of 2014!

“You have everything you need for complete peace and total happiness right now.”-Wayne Dyer

Inner Smile Organ Meditation

InnerSmile1This meditation provides us with the opportunity to cleanse, rebalance, and recharge the energy of five major internal organs. Just as we take steps to clean our bodies and brush our teeth, this exercise gives us an opportunity to wash away any residual stress, tension or emotions we may be holding on to. Espoused by Mantak Chia, a Qi Gong Master, this meditation may be done daily, and with practice can be completed within 5-10 minutes at the beginning or end of your day. According to Five Element Theory and Taoist philosophy, 5 major organs are each associated with a sound, color and other specific qualities like emotions.

If you have attended one of our workshops you may have experienced this meditation in part or in its entirety. Based on popular request, the following is one of our favorite and most often practiced meditations. Enjoy and may the chi be with you!

Beginning at the lungs:
Place your hands on your lungs while standing or sitting at the edge of your seat. Begin to rock from side to side on your sits bones (ischial tuberosities) and allow your gaze to follow the same side-to-side movement with your eyes closed. Imagine your eyes are like giant erasers sweeping across your lungs erasing any grief, sadness or depression. Once that feels complete take a deep breath in and create the sound SSSS as you exhale out 3X. After your 3rd exhalation hold the breath out and stretch open your chest as you tapote your lungs until you can’t hold your breath any longer. Raise your hands above your head as you suck the breath back in. And then press your palms down in front of you while breathing out the SSSS sound. On your next inhale float your hands back to the lungs and visualize the lungs filling up with white light. Continue to fill your lungs with courage, strength, and right action. Finally, smile (a gentle Mona Lisa smile) into your lungs.

*For each of the remaining 4 organs, repeat this sequence: 1. Hold over each organ releasing associated negative emotions or memories 2. Exhale the “sound” of each organ three times 3. Tapote all over the organ while holding the breath out 4. Raise the arms up on a strong inhalation and lower them in front of you with the sound of “Sssss” 5. Hold over the organ while visualizing the “color”, restoring positive qualities, and a gentle smile into the organ.

Lungs
Release sadness, depression and grief
The sound is SSSS (tongue behind the teeth
The color is white
Restore courage, strength and right action

Kidneys
Release fear and anxiety
The sound is Choo (as when blowing out a candle: lips form an ‘o’)
The color is blue
Restore calm, stillness and gentleness

Liver
Release anger, jealousy and frustration
The sound is SHHH
The color is green
Restore forgiveness, acceptance and kindness

Heart
Release hastiness, cruelty and arrogance
The sound is HAW (mouth is wide open)
The color is red
Restore gratitude, patience, joy, love and sincerity

Spleen
Release doubt, worry and negative speak about self and others
The sound is WHOO (from the throat, guttural)
The color is yellow
Restore trust, fairness and openness

Once you finish the healing sound for all five major organs, ground, center and assimilate the benefits of this meditation by making the sound of the Triple Warmer. Inhale and raise your palms up, and then exhale the sound Heeee while pressing the hands down in front of you from your head towards your feet. Repeat this two more times to complete the Smiling Organ Mediation.

You can find this meditation in greater detail in Mantak Chia’s book, Awaken Light of the Tao. You may also find more about Mantak Chia at his website 

Winter Soup

lentil soupTime for soup!?!  This year Heath and I have been enjoying the wonderful array of lentils available in the dried bin section of our Sprouts supermarket. After exploring the many varieties, I offer you a quick summary of your choices and which one we recommend for our favorite lentil soup. Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare. They readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings, are high in nutritional value and are available throughout the year. They come in brown, green, red, and all shades in between. From what we have tried we notice the brown and green varieties being the best at retaining their shape after cooking and have a mild earthy flavor.  The red are the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentils and tend to get mushy when cooked,  so they’re perfect for thickening up our favorite lentil soup recipe.

Easy Lentil Soup: (serves 4)

3/4 cup Red Lentils( our preference) or Green Lentils

4 Garlic Cloves (at least) chopped

1 Onion chopped

4 Celery Stalks chopped

4 Carrots chopped

Veggie/Chicken Stock or Water

Juice of 1 Lemon (or more for your taste)

1/4 tsp Cumin (or more) & Salt

Instructions:

Sauté the Garlic, Onion, Celery in olive oil until flavor is released.

Add all other ingredients,  except the lemon  add at the very end.

Simmer.

Feel free to add more or less of anything. We suggest taking some liberty with the recipe and have fun with finding the perfect blend of ingredients and flavor for your taste. Depending on our mood we will blend all ingredients until smooth or just let simmer in the pot for at least 20 minutes. I think you will find this is a good starting point for a cup of warm deliciousness. Sending Warmth to you and yours as we approach the winter season. Enjoy.

Strike a Pose of Balance

The kidneys, the organ related to winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine, when in balance help us express and emanate a sense of  calm, clarity and peace. I am calm, I am peaceful  and I am clear sings like a mantra in my brain, vibrating all the cells of my body until I can feel my kidneys smile. As I attempt to sit quietly, a storm of change, challenge and excitement swirl around me. Maintaining a feeling of contentment and ease is not easy. I soothe myself into alignment with the feelings I want more of by turning my attention to all things comforting like;  hot cocoa, good music and yoga. What feelings are you focused on and want to emphasize? What soothes you?  What comforts you?

I have been using balance poses from yoga to help soothe myself back into alignment. Literally aligning the body with gravity builds strength and focus. The sustained effort to center and re-center without falling brings not only our flesh and bones into balance but also our nerve impulses, thoughts, emotions, and consciousness. It creates a sense of calm.

I have found that equilibrium brings equanimity.

Consider adding a balance pose to your next morning or evening stretch…you are stretching, Right!? or most importantly, include more of anything that comforts you. Here’s a progression of balance poses from easy to more challenging:

balancing tableBalancing Table: This pose is a great Back Strengthener. Start on your hands and knees. On an exhale raise one hand and opposite knee off the ground reaching them to the opposite ends of the room. Hold about thirty seconds and repeat on the other side. Think of contracting the Glutes and the Trapezius with an emphasis on balancing the opposing forces of each limb equally.

 

 

 

 

One-leg-standing-balanceSingle Leg Standing Balance:Start standing and gently lift one leg, hold onto the knee or let the leg float in the air. Hold for 30 seconds each side. Focus on one point in front of you for greater stability. To challenge yourself further, try closing one eye or both eyes. For an easier alternative, practice against a wall.

 

 

 

 

warrior3Warrior III lean the upper body forward while raising one leg back and up. Take the hands out sideways or straight in front of you as you push through the heels, toes or ball points of the feet. 30 seconds each side.

 

“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others is stronger than any physical force in the universe.”
Wayne W. Dyer

Got Your Back

facet joint Low back pain is estimated to affect 90% of the population at some point in their lives.  Low back pain has different causes, which leads to different experiences of pain. Some causes of low back pain derive from pregnancy, falling, a direct blow, pulling, coughing, sneezing, or having a short leg. Two common types of low back injuries are disc injury or facet joint injury. Remembering the difference may change your approach to the low back.

A disc injury is most often caused by bending, lifting and twisting. A client often feels some sensation as they were lifting, though the onset of pain usually occurs one to two days later. The disc injury will radiate pain and/or numbness down the leg and be very intense. It is essential your client see their physician prior to addressing this injury.

A facet joint injury is also often caused by bending, lifting and twisting; however, the onset of pain is immediate! A client usually feels severe pain and is unable to stand up. In the instance of a facet joint injury, the ligaments have been strained, rather than the disc being displaced or damaged. Facet joint injuries are easier to address and yield more benefit with massage therapy than disc injuries.

Consider working with the following muscles when helping heal a low back injury: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, Quadratus Lumborum, Piriformis, Rectus Abdominus, Psoas, Iliacus, Erector Spinae.

It has been our experience that those with low back injuries heal faster when they feel supported. Answer the question- What will support me? Feeling and allowing support is paramount to maintaining a healthy alignment in the spine, a clear mind, and a happy heart.

“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”

– Rachel Naomi Remen

Skin Breathing

Our skin is our largest organ and can be considered our third lung. Our skin breathes. It is alive and it has a rhythm, an inhalation and an exhalation. It absorbs (inhales) oxygen, nutrients, senses light, and regulates heat and cold. It releases (exhales) carbon dioxide, sheds dead skin cells and completely regenerates itself every 28 days. It protects our bones, organs and allows us to feel the power of sensation!

In each square INCH of skin there are:
65 hairs
95-100 sebaceous glands
78 yards of nerve fibers
19 yards of blood vessels
650 sweat glands
9,500,000 cells (this blows my mind)
1,300 nerve endings
19,500 additional cells at the end of the nerve fibers
78 sensory apparatuses for heat
13 sensory apparatuses for cold
160-165 pressure apparatuses for the perception of tactile stimuli

-excerpted Joel Gerson, Milady’s Standard Textbook for Professional Estheticians

The skin is like an outer lung and the pores are seen as the “doors of Qi” according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. To maintain the body’s defensive energy (“Wei Qi”) and protect from pathogenic forces we must care for our first line of defense: our skin. Scrubs boost our immune system and keep clear the doorways of qi. Scrub this Fall season to cleanse, smooth, moisturize the skin and restore its natural balance. I find sugar scrubs to be less abrasive than salt scrubs and use these most often. Try one out from the store like Albas Hawaiian Body Polish or you can make your own.

Here’s The Basic Recipe:

Use 2 parts sugar (regular white or brown sugar work great) to 1 part oil (almond, olive and coconut are great), add 1/2 tsp Vitamin E oil or jojoba (a little added luxury), essential oil, and mix well. Your medicinal scrub will retain freshness for up to 2 months.

Fall Scrub:

  •  Sugar 2 cups, all finely ground
  • Sweet Almond oil 1/2 cup (or until desired consistency is reached)
  • Jojoba oil or Vitamin E oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Essential oils of tangerine (5 drops) and lavender (2 drops)

“And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment.”- Alan Watts

Care for yourself and be Comfortable in your skin. Warm Smiles, Nicole

Build Your Wei- Qi

As nights grow longer and days grow colder now is the time to strengthen your Qi in order to build your immune system.  The lungs are the internal organs related to fall. They  are  considered by Traditional Chinese Medicine to be the “tender organ.” This is because the lungs are the uppermost organ in the body and especially susceptible to wind and cold.  The lungs control the circulation of the Wei-Qi, which is the defensive Qi that protects you from the invasion of flu and colds. The Wei-Qi circulates on the surface between the skin and muscles and works to warm the body. Keep yourself warm and build your immunity with a few new additions to your daily routine:

 

Dry Skin Brushing may reduce duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins by stimulating the lymph vessels to drain more quickly.

More Sleep The ancients advised that people should retire early at night and rise with the crowing of the rooster during the autumn. Although personal needs vary, on average, adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH.

Netti Pot  because the nose is the opening to the lungs, you can prevent colds by keeping your nose and sinuses clean and clear using a netti pot  with some sea salt and warm water.

Pungent Foods, Teas, and Spices that reduce phlegm like garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and mustard are beneficial to the lungs. Include white foods such as pears, radishes, daikon radish, cauliflower, and cabbage. Also reishi mushrooms and astralagus tea support lung energy and the immune system.

There was temperance in eating and drinking. Their hours of rising and retiring were regular and not disorderly and wild. By these means the ancients kept their bodies united with their souls, so as to fulfill their allotted span completely, measuring unto a hundred years before they passed away.” –Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen

Choose your Space September 18, 2013

Heath and I are in the process of moving to our new home. As we look around our empty new house we realize this is a clean slate for us, a new energy  and a new beginning. We are excited to begin again and want to do so by putting our best feet forward…by consciously preparing and creating a space for us to live, laugh, and love in. It reminded us that yogi’s do that too. They say it’s important to ask ourselves, “What kind of space would I like to create?” In yogic philosophy, you can choose to create bad space, (“dukkha“) or good space: “sukha. Bad space leads to suffering and good space leads to contentment and ease in life. Originally, sukha referred to the space at the center of a well-crafted wheel. The well-crafted center of the wheel prevents the wagon or cart from wobbles and jolts while providing a smooth, easy ride. Creating good space requires us to practice steadiness in our mind, body, and heart.  In yoga, this is called “sthiram” or feeling grounded and anchored in the present moment. When we’re feeling grounded life is comfortable and easy. I like the idea of our new home sitting steady at the center of the coming and going of friends and family, at the center of celebrations and holidays, holding center for the rise and fall of life in session. It is our intention to make our home a peaceful respite, our oasis in the desert, a place where we go to rest and restore. It is with mindfulness we prepare and set good feelings in motion. The opportunity to create good space is far reaching and it can be done as  often as you think of it. As you consciously prepare for the day and do your work consider the idea of resting in your center like a well-crafted wheel to provide a good space for you, your family, and your clients. 

Everything is Moving!

whirling galaxyFrom the cosmic whirling of galaxies to the microscopic shape-shifting of electrons transforming from waves to particles: our world is in flux! Even if we hold our breath and appear to be motionless, our heart beats, our cells are endlessly dying and being reborn in infinite chemical exchanges, and let’s face it: every second we’re alive we move closer to death. Dr. Ida Rolf, wisely posited that

“Movement is the Physical Acceptance of Change.”

   The body reflects movement in its capacity to change and heal. Scientific studies show that 98% of our atoms are replaced annually. Our stomach lining recreates itself every 5 days, our skin every month, and our liver cells every 6 weeks. Even though the body appears fixed, it is constantly changing and recreating itself. Nothing lasts forever…including pain.

Not only does the body change, but pain is malleable, too. Pain may be a great motivator to change (even though we feel that it doesn’t have to hurt to heal). And, what you focus on with feeling becomes real–sooner or later. Lately our focus has shifted from ” Fixing” to “Improving”. Shew-What a relief! I now have room and time to focus myself to the best of who they are…and that person is smiling. Feeling good is a journey that we share with our families, friends and clients. Daily we give ourselves permission to feel good and remember that we deserve to feel good.

Is it possible to feel good every day? If not, is it possible to feel a little better today than yesterday? It’s a great question to ask ourselves and ask our clients. Every day is an opportunity to change our relationship with pain. Simply focusing on something that feels good gains momentum and this can lead us to better feeling-thoughts and experiences. It’s worth a try…there’s nothing to lose but the pain.

The Heart of the Work

Story of the Greatest Master

Body-WisdomThere were three brothers who were each studying with a different master. One day they were sharing stories about how great their masters were. One brother bragged that his master was so great that he could walk across the mighty Ganges River from bank to bank without a drop of water touching him. Another brother boasted how his master could balance upside down on the tip of one finger with an elephant balanced on his feet. These seem like very impressive acts defying belief; however, there was still one more brother to share the great feats of his master. This brother spoke of how his master was so great that she drinks when she is thirsty, eats when she is hungry, and sleeps when she is tired.

Keeping hydrated and rested, and feeding ourselves may sound simple and easy to do; however for most of us these are some of the hardest tasks to accomplish. So often, we push on through even though we are exhausted. We ignore our thirst for water and substitute something else that will keep us up longer. Sometimes we forget to eat or ignore our need for good nourishment and choose foods that are convenient because we feel like we don’t have enough time for healthy nutrition.

It is a great act of self love when we remember to sleep when we are tired, drink when we are thirsty, and eat when we are hungry. One of our masters reminds us to fill our own cup first. If our cup is not full — and still we share — we may find ourselves in a situation of loss. This loss may show up as a loss of range of motion, loss of time, loss of money, or a loss of gratitude. It is a priority to take time to take care of ourselves in order to sustain a happy and healthy practice.

Osteoarthritis & Massage

synovial jointArthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis.  By far the most common type of arthritis in the world is Osteoarthritis or “OA”, also known as “degenerative joint dysfunction”.  In Ruth Werner’s book  A Massage Therapists Guide to Pathology ( a must have), approximately 10% of Americans suffer from “OA”,  and “more than half the people over 75 have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in at least one joint.”  It is a condition that describes the loss of healthy cartilage in one or more synovial joints. Weight bearing joints are the most affected joints, such as the knees, hips, and spine, but also may be commonly found among the distal joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis is related to age, and caused by muscle imbalance, repetitive use, and/or inactivity that lead to wear and tear.

Osteoarthritis is often felt daily in which there is ongoing deep pain and stiffness around a joint(s). The site of pain is rarely swollen, red and  hot–the telltale signs of inflammation. But, pain is exacerbated when a joint is not properly warmed up, or has been over-used. Once ‘OA’ is diagnosed, clients and therapists may take steps to help halt the exacerbating contributing factors of the disease and may be able to stop and perhaps reverse its debilitating effects!  Based on our experience, articles read, and Ruth Werner’s A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, some of  the following approaches may be beneficial for you or your clients suffering from Osteoarthritis…

Effective Massage Therapy Approaches for Osteoarthritis:

  • Release the muscles surrounding the effected joint(s)
  • Use range of motion, gentle active movements, and gentle stretching
  • Focus on the Gallbladder, Triple Warmer, and Spleen if working with meridians
  • Stimulate the glands, kidneys, and lymph points for reflexology
  • Include Essential oils that reduce inflammation and are analgesic

Analgesic oils to consider would include: angelica, aniseed, black pepper, cajuput, chamomile, cinnamon, citronella, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, juniper, laurel, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, thyme.

Anti-inflammatory oils to consider would include: aniseed, cardamom, chamomile, citronella, clary sage, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, hyssop, lemongrass, orange, patchouli, peppermint, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, yarrow

Check out this  recent study demonstrating that regular treatments of  “Massage therapy is safe and effective for reducing pain and improving function to patients with symptomatic Osteoarthritis of the knee”  After reading this study it has become obvious that massage therapy is a valuable addition to traditional osteoarthritis treatments. In addition,  massage  may stimulate the mind-body connection which can lead to more positive attitudes about the body and a greater sense of well-being. Another win for Massage!

                          “He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe”

Marcus Aurelius

Smiling Small Intestine

The Small Intestines, one of the organ pairs related to the season of summer that could use some care right about now according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Together with the large intestine and the stomach it forms the gastrointestinal tract. In living humans, the small intestine alone measures around  23 feet. The proper functioning of the small intestine is key to our nourishment because the only nutrients we can actually use are those which we digest and assimilate through it. Give one or all of the below a try if your digestion is sluggish, or moving to loosely, and/or  you feel bloated and gassy.

The small intestines  responds well to digestive breaks; a day of just juice or a few days off from meat, dairy, sugar  and other mucus forming foods. The small intestines can be tonified when we make good food combinations like: equal parts rice, lentils,  and sunflower seeds. It also responds well to a little outside help in the form of abdominal massage. I found this mini massage protocol @tummytemple and I feel it’s a must share. Try it out to feel a happy belly and a smiling small intestine.

The Super Seed: Chia

Have you tried Chia Seeds yet??  People are adding them to their salads, shakes, yogurt and even ice cream…all of which are great options but our newest favorite is making it into a breakfast or desert pudding. However, first you may be wondering what is a chia seed and why would I want to eat one? I did too. Yes, it is the seed from which the hair of a Chia pet grows. Chia seeds have had a household name for years but now folks are eating them instead of just watching them grow at miraculous rates. Most people eat them because how incredibly fiber dense, nutrient rich, and the amount of healthy fats they contain. They are believed to slow down digestion, stabilize blood sugar, regulate appetite and provide a source of protein. With all these great health benefits we can’t resist the chia fever. Thanks to Heaths sister sharing her recipe with us we now enjoy it as a breakfast alternative and sweet tooth fix. We hope you enjoy as much as we have…Give this super simple recipe a try and tell us what you think. Enjoy.
Ingredients

  • 1/2 chopped banana
  • 1 tbsp. Chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup vanilla coconut milk or almond milk
  • Optional: Dash of vanilla extract
  • Optional: Pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: Sweetener
  • Add your favorite fruit on top…blueberries were a hit in our house

Instructions

  1. Mash the banana in the bottom of a jar or bowl. Add the chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Stir everything together.
  2. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or more. Eat for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.

Clear, Calm & Energizing

Today we bring to you an oldie but a goodie…a mantra meditation that has recently recycled its way back to the surface of our consciousness. It’s a powerful meditation in that every syllable  you make consists of the 4 primal sounds and describes the eternal cycle of life: birth, life, death, rebirth. In Kundalini Yoga it’s referred to as the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation and it can be done sitting or during one of our favorite pastimes – walking. Especially since Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. James A. Levine is calling “Sitting the New Smoking” .  Dr. Levine says that “scientific evidence is mounting that being idle for long stretches, day in and day out, may be the root of our nation’s poor state of health, contributing to not only back pain and obesity but shorter life span, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of colon and other cancers.”

In honor of the approaching days of summer we encourage you and your family to get moving and spread the word. Let’s Move Outside is an organization designed to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors and helps us remember the benefits of moving more. Moving not only feels good but it is proven to improve mental health, boost immunity, improve bone health and lower stress. They suggest and encourage kids and teens to be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week and adults to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.  Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, in a park, or on a trail-walking has recently been proven by researchers to add YEARS to your life (read more). Walking 64 minutes a day can add up to four and half years to your life. Crazy, right!!

So… why not integrate walking with mindfulness. An opportunity to  practice wholeness. To give it a  try, repeat the mantra in the following way while integrating your breath, the steps you take, and a little finger tapping:

1. Say the syllable “Sa” as you touch both hands’ index fingers to your thumbs and take a step.

Sa- literally means birth or the start and evokes a  sense of expansiveness. (Say this and all the sounds with a long, drawn-out, near sing-songy “a” as in the word “father.”)

2. On your next step, say “Ta”  the next syllable as you touch the middle fingers and thumbs of each hand together.

Ta- translates as life and creates a feeling of transformation and strength.

3. Next step, speak “Na,” as you touch your ring fingers and thumbs together.

Na- meaning death, in a regular voice, stimulating a sense of universal love

4. Another step and complete the cycle with the syllable “Ma,”  touching your pinky fingers and thumbs together.

Ma-meaning rebirth and evoke the qualities of openness and trust

5. Repeat Steps 1-4 as you enjoy a Walking Meditation

Speak “sa-ta-na-ma” aloud and touch the respective fingers together for the first 5 minutes. Whisper the chant the next 5 minutes, and then speak it silently the next 5 minutes. Adding 15 minutes of conscious moving to your daily practice feels good and allows you to move your body in way that brings the focus inward. The result- a clear, calm,  and energizing summer!

Cultivate Self Love

Self-love is both an attitude and an act. It’s how you view yourself, and how you live your life. Self-love is about tuning into your needs, honoring your body and boundaries and taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Self-love is a daily practice – not a destination.  It is through a practice of self-love that we move away from self-criticism towards a more peaceful relationship with ourselves. As we practice self love we treat our bodies with the honor they deserve for the miraculous work they do to keep us alive. An added bonus of pursuing self-love is that it will positively transform your self-care behaviors. The more you love and respect yourself, the better you will care for your physical body.  A loving, respectful relationship with your body allows you to listen to and trust it to guide you in making healthful, balanced self-care choices.

You can show yourself some self love and self care with one or all of these exercises:

  •   Practice Compassion. Everyday look at yourself in the mirror- look into your eyes and repeat:

“I totally love and accept myself as I am here and now”

  •  Appreciate More. Write down a list of everything you can think of that you are especially thankful for and especially appreciate having in your life. Put it somewhere you can read it daily and add to it as you are inspired by more good things coming your way.  This exercise focuses on opening your heart, expanding  your awareness of prosperity and increasing your ability to manifest to appreciate more.
  • Surround Yourself With Supportive People. The people you surround yourself with play an important role in your health and happiness. They can contribute to the joy in your life or it can feel as though they steal it. Include more people in your life that you trust, who have your heart in mind. Who are the people in your life that support you now? Who do you spend the most time with?

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.

It’s a Spring Revival: Practices to Realign with the Changing Season

Spring Flower in Bloom Spring is here! It’s  the greening season. Seeds begin to sprout, trees bud, and Nature awakens in all her flowering beauty. This is a time of creation and development. We and nature will flourish this season. It’s time to make a new plan, be filled with inspiration, and let our dreams bloom. To make this transition smooth and easy it’s imperative to find ways to release unnecessary tension and resistance. We can release resistance by clearing the channels and allow the free flow of energy to circulate within us by choosing to do one or all of the following reviving practices:

Dry Skin Brushing is a great way to literally shed the old and make way for the new! It boosts the immune system, increases circulation, and inspires new cell growth. Dry Skin Brushing is done prior to bathing with a long-handled natural fiber brush. Brush in the direction of venous return (moving towards the heart) from the feet all the way up to your chest and head.

Morning Gratitude Pint may be practiced daily or weekly. Place a bottle or glass  of water next to your bed before going to sleep. When you wake up, sit on the edge of your bed with your feet touching the ground, and drink the water slowly and mindfully. As you take your first sips of the day remember all that you are grateful for.

“There’s nothing you can’t do when you start your day in a positive way!”

– Dr. Dharma Khalsa

Move and Sweat! Take a yoga class, practice Qi Gong, sign up for Zumba, go for a bike ride, a walk, a run, or wog (combination of walking and jogging). When you challenge the body you change the body. However, if you are exercise averse, try a sauna or steam to encourage the release of toxic buildup, release stored muscle tension, cleanse the blood, and free the Chi.

When we cultivate daily rituals to support and align ourselves with nature we release tension, feel at ease and create a greater body-mind-emotional harmony. Practice feeling Spring and Be Well!

Vow to be valiant;

Resolve to be radiant;

Determine to be dynamic;

Strive to be sincere;

Aspire to be attuned.

-William Arthur Ward

Acoustic Music for Massage

By popular request we are sharing more our favorite music for relaxation and massage. Last month’s playlist consisted of groovy tunes for more of an upbeat, rhythmic session. This month we put together a soothing acoustic guitar playlist for the times when you’re seeking to create a mellow mood. We hope you enjoy.

 

 Help Yourself- Sad Brad Smith

All My Days Alexi Murdoch

Great Big Mind- Josh Ritter

Sonha Iaia- Isaias Savio

A Quiet Walk- Michael Mucklow

Nothing Lasts Forever- Brett Dennon

Butano Lullaby-Dale Miller

Acoustic Healing- Ahanu

Smiling Teardrops-Bob Stanton

Air on a G-String-guitar music songs

Roslyn- Bon Iver

Wldflowers_Tom Petty

From the Morning- Nick Drake 

Only Now- Chris Proctor

A Sweet Persimmon (december 8th)- Ottomar Liebert

A Chillout Playlist

In recent workshops we play music that isn’t necessarily ‘massage music’ but still creates musical environments that feel relaxing and fluid without being too intrusive. I have compiled a requested playlist of songs that  are rhythmic, super chill down tempo beats.  You may want to include some of these songs to create your own groovy massage experience or simply play for your own enjoyment.  I would also love to know what non-traditional  massage music you are rhythmically moving to, so please share. Scroll over each  song to listen and enjoy.

 

1. The Cosmic Game- Thievery Corporation

2. Les Nuits-Nightmares on Wax

3. Give it Away- Zero 7

4. Under the Stars- Cantoma

5. Guru Mantra-DJ Drez

6. The Last of the West- 9 Lazy 9

7. Anchorless- De-Phazz

8. At  the River-Groove Armada

9. Go Easy- Afterlife

10. Kid for Today- Boards of Canada

11. Come-Lemonjelly

12.  Don’t Look Back- Bliss

Medical Massage for Low Back, Hip, & Sciatic Pain 7/28

Preview Seminar

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Low Back and Hip Pain, Disc and Facet Joint Injuries, and True and Pseudo-Sciatica. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and more) to relieve these conditions. Also, movement and repatterning exercises are offered for clients to incorporate between sessions and to practice at home.

Medical Massage for Shoulder, Arm, & Wrist Pain 7/29

Chandler, AZ 8.5CEs

Seminar Preview

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Low Back and Hip Pain, Disc & Facet Joint Injuries, and True & Pseudo-Sciatica. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and more) to relieve these conditions. Also, movement and repatterning exercises are offered for clients to incorporate between sessions and to practice at home.

July 29, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Windmill Suites in Chandler, AZ

$130 before June 29th/$150 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration
Receive a $30 Discount
$360 for all three July 28-30th Medical Massage Seminars

Click to view our Cancellation Policy

Medical Massage for Neck, Jaw, & Migraine Pain 7/30

Chandler, AZ 8.5CEs

Preview Seminar

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Neck and jaw pain and stiffness, tension and migraine headaches, teeth grinding, tinnitus, and TMJD. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and more) to relieve these conditions. Also, movement and repatterning exercises are offered for clients to incorporate between sessions and to practice at home.

July 30, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Windmill Suites in Chandler, AZ

$130 before June 30th/$150 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration
Receive a $30 Discount
$360 for all three July 28-30th Medical Massage Seminars

Click to view our Cancellation Policy

Medical Massage for Neck, Jaw, & Migraine Pain 8/4

Las Vegas, NV 8.5CEs

Click to Watch Seminar Preview

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Neck and jaw pain and stiffness, tension and migraine headaches, teeth grinding, tinnitus, and TMJD. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and more) to relieve these conditions. Also, movement and repatterning exercises are offered for clients to incorporate between sessions and to practice at home.

August 4, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, NV

$150 before July 4th/$170 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration
Receive a $50 Discount
$400 for all Aug 4-6th Medical Massage Seminars

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

Medical Massage for Shoulder, Arm, & Wrist Pain 8/5

Las Vegas, NV 8.5CEs

Click to Watch Video Preview

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Shoulder Bursitis, Rotator Cuff & Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Golfers/Tennis Elbow, and Carpel Tunnel. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Trigger Point, Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Muscle Release Technique, and more) to relieve these conditions.

August 5, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, NV

$150 before July 5th/$170 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration
Receive a $50 Discount
$400 for all Aug 4-6th Medical Massage Seminars

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

Medical Massage for Low Back, Hip, & Sciatica Pain 8/6

Las Vegas, NV 8.5 CEs

Click to Watch Seminar Preview

We review the anatomy and contributing factors of Low Back and Hip Pain, Disc & Facet Joint Injuries, and True & Pseudo-Sciatica. We then learn highly effective techniques integrated from various modalities (such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Structural Integration, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and more) to relieve these conditions. Also, movement and repatterning exercises are offered for clients to incorporate between sessions and to practice at home.

August 6, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, NV

$150 before July 6th/$170 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration
Receive a $50 Discount
$400 for all Aug 4-6th Medical Massage Seminars

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

Table Thai Yoga Massage 9/15-9/17

Chandler, AZ 25 CEs

Click to Watch Seminar Preview

Learn over 3 hours of facilitated stretching using diverse tools like elbows and feet. You will be able to perform a full body Thai Yoga Massage on the table or be able to integrate these stretches into any massage session.

August 4-6, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Windmill Suites, Chandler, AZ


$360 before August 15th/$400 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

Table Thai Yoga Massage 10/27-10/29

Las Vegas, NV 25 CEs

Click to Watch Seminar Preview

Learn over 3 hours of facilitated stretching using diverse tools like elbows and feet. You will be able to perform a full body Thai Yoga Massage on the table or be able to integrate these stretches into any massage session.

October 27-29, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, NV


$400 before Sept 27th/$450 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

Table Thai Yoga Massage 11/3-11/5

Chicago, IL 25 CEs

Watch Preview

Learn over 3 hours of facilitated stretching using diverse tools like elbows and feet. You will be able to perform a full body Thai Yoga Massage on the table or be able to integrate these stretches into any massage session.

November 3-5, 2012 – 9am-6pm
at Comfort Suites in Chicago area (Schaumburg), IL


$450 before October 5th/$500 after
Half Tuition Due Upon Registration

Cancellation Policy:
Deposits will be fully refunded minus a $20 processing charge if notice of cancellation is received by Heath and Nicole Reed at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of the seminar. Cancellation notices received after this date are non-refundable but can be applied to future seminars, subject to availability.

To find out about future massage therapy seminars and for Massage, Yoga, and Movement Therapy tips, join our Newsletter, Healing Matters.

If you are having problems or concerns, contact us via email or call us at (602) 751-1201

Disclaimer: All seminars are based on a 8 participant minimum. If minimum is not met, seminars are subject to change or cancellation with ten day prior notification, and your deposit will be refunded in full.

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