Health

Complementary Medicine for the Win

My son developed psoriasis. HIs first-ever outbreak was a real doozy (vulgaris). He had the tell-tale scaly “plaque” on his elbows, knees, forearms, hands, low back, belly, and feet. 

I took him first to see a dermatologist, who started treatment conservatively with a topical ointment. The doctor mentioned that it would be supportive to get a little sun exposure and some time in salt water—either in the actual ocean, or soaking in Epsom salts in the tub. 

The topical medicine didn’t get the psoriasis under control. My son did occasionally go outside for some sun, but not regularly, and he didn’t embrace the salt water therapy. The psoriasis worsened, and another trip to the doctor resulted in adding an oral medication and trying a higher grade (and higher priced) topical medication.

This combination did help at first, but my son slipped up on his dosage one weekend, and may have missed a day or two on the topical stuff, and soon his condition worsened. 

Some of the sores became red and inflamed—open wounds that scabbed over but didn’t stay closed. At one point he had difficulty walking because his knees were so raw he could barely move them without pain.

Miserable, he got more diligent about both kinds of medications, and he also started getting sun exposure and Epsom baths daily. Then one of my clients told me about an old-fashioned remedy that had helped a nasty post-surgical wound heal: honey.

Honey has been used for healing since ancient times. Modern research is confirming it has antibacterial properties, and that it may be an anti-inflammatory and stimulate immune responses within a wound.

Apparently Manuka honey is the best, and you can actually buy ointments like Medihoney and other brands, and even bandages with Manuka honey embedded in the non-stick pads.

I hesitate to use words like “miracle,” but once we added honey to the regiment, the results were astonishing. 

But wait, there’s more! In addition to modern day medicine, naturopathic and ancient healing methods, we added something almost futuristic: electronic vascular therapy. 

Just by sitting on a mat that creates a pulsed electromagnetic field—which targets the peripheral nervous system and increases blood flow in the small and very small blood vessels (microcirculation)—my son’s skin improved dramatically!

The psoriasis outbreak is almost completely resolved, and I hope that it will never flare up with such intensity ever again. But the moral of the story is: medicine has its place, as does “old fashioned” home remedies and new fangled technology. All of these therapies can work well together—we aren’t limited to one approach or another!

The doctor didn’t mention using honey, and he probably has never heard of the electromagnetic mat. But doctors can’t know everything! We must do our own research, self-advocate, and explore options to achieve our best outcome possible.

Category : Blog &Health

Compassionate Listening, Part Two

When I was in my reflexology certification program, several mornings started with a reading from a poem titled “The Unity of All Life,” by Evelyn G. Mulford. Notice how the first few lines make you feel:

“The carbon atoms that whirl and dance in me came from South Africa, and were the ones which chose to be me instead of a diamond.

My iron atoms lay for aeons in their bed in Minnesota, and the copper dancers within me came from Montana.

The salt in my tears and blood washed upon the shores on earth for billions of years, and prehistoric fish swam in my water.

My atoms were in one of the first flying creatures that dared to overcome the law of gravity.

Even now they whisper ‘Freedom.’”

Pretty cool, eh? But it goes on:

“I was part of the fire that consumed sacrifices.

My atoms were in the blood of wounded feet at Valley Forge and Gettysburg.

My atoms were in the hand that placed the ‘crown of thorns’ on the Master….

I was part of many weapons that killed in the name of love and peace.”

How did that make you feel? It made me feel uneasy. I don’t WANT to be part of the ugly aspects of life, but I am. We all are. We are ALL connected—all of humanity, all the elements in the universe, all of history. 

The carbon, iron, salt, and freedom, the inspiring things and the violent things that comprise me also make up YOU, and your loved ones, and also the people who stand firm for everything you or I stand wholeheartedly against.

The poem includes the lines, “I came from far reaches of infinity to become a part of humanness. … My own grandeur is more than I can contemplate. I am part of all that is or ever will be. … You are part of me and I of you, and there is only one Presence and one Power.”

It’s true. We are magnificent—I am, you are, and so even is the person who chooses in one heated moment to write something very ugly on a Facebook post. 

I hope we can try harder to live in the Middle Way—to listen with compassion, to appreciate someone’s passion and grandeur even when we vehemently disagree. 

Carrie Jones concludes her article with “I am loving everyone for the light energy they permeate and not the opinions they carry. I am a safe place and I will be listening, learning, and loving.”

May we all be!

Sources: 

“The Middle Way: When Clients Vent, by Carrie Jones, “Massage & Bodywork” Magazine, November/December 2018

“The Unity of All Life,” by Evelyn G. Mulford, originally published in the newsletter “Phenomena” as “Thoughts while Contemplating Teihard de Chardin.”

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Compassionate Listening, Part One

Recently I read some comments on a Facebook post about an American athlete who chose to take a knee when our national anthem was being played at an international competition.

As is typical for these types of emotionally charged discussions, it escalated into an ugly exchange very quickly. When I read, “I hope you get hit by a truck,” I was so dismayed I had to move on to something else. 

I don’t know if we can ever get to a place of tolerance from our current divisiveness, but if we do, I believe it will be through compassion. I also believe we have to try.

In “The Middle Way: When Clients Vent,” massage therapist Carrie Jones states that more and more clients these days need to talk instead of zone out during their sessions. Many people have increased daily stress that leads to the need to vocalize their emotional turmoil.

How does a therapist best respond to that? I was taught in massage school that we allow the client to direct the session. If they want to be quiet, we are quiet. If they want to talk, we probably need to allow it. For some, venting is part of the “therapy.” Not that we are trained counselors—we are not! But simply being present and allowing the clients to express themselves can be more therapeutic than insisting they stay quiet and keep pent up frustration within. We don’t have to agree; in fact, it’s better if the therapist keeps her opinions to herself.

Jones challenges therapists to go one step further, to live in the Middle Way. This is a Buddhist principle that promotes a balanced approach to life. We are encouraged to take a long time and ask a lot of questions before we form an opinion on an issue—if we form an opinion at all. It’s imperative to research both (or all) sides of an issue from a neutral stance in the middle.

She shares, “It is only when we inspect both sides that we can truly form an educated opinion. Imagine for a moment if all the extreme thinkers stopped arguing and disagreeing and simply listened without the intent to respond or change others. Would they be more or less likely to have stress? Would this Middle Way unify such divided people?”

We can only hope. By seeking a greater understanding of WHY we feel the way we do, and why others feel they way they do, we can increase compassion and reduce the hate or anger or tension that can accompany having opposing viewpoints.

I have to admit, I feel very challenged by the idea of being so completely neutral that I agree to form no opinion one way or the other. Could I live that much in The Middle? Isn’t it important to take a stance and fight for what you believe in?

I think so! At least about the things that are most important to us. But we also have to find a way to be respectful and diplomatic. Perhaps we can remember that other people feel just as passionate as we do, and maybe we can even admire each other’s passion when we passionately disagree!

We have to get better at listening, at finding our commonalities so we can have compassion toward one another. To be continued next week…

Source: “The Middle Way: When Clients Vent, by Carrie Jones, “Massage & Bodywork” Magazine, November/December 2018

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Are You Body Positive?

An article notification popped up on my phone one day that asked, “Is summer sexist?” I didn’t read the piece, but I gathered that the gist of it was how summer is more demanding of women, who feel like they must be thin and hairless to look good in swimsuits.

I remember a meme that went around one other summer that said, “How to have a beach body: 1) have a body, 2) go to the beach.”

It really is that simple, isn’t it? The advertising and weight loss and fitness and cosmetic surgery industries would have us believe that we have to achieve a certain level of sex appeal before we can wear shorts or sleeveless shirts or bathing suits. 

I feel so sad to know that there are people who will avoid going to the beach or being outside at all in the summer because they’re afraid they don’t measure up. 

Hopefully they’ll take to heart the message of the body positivity movement. In her article, “An Imperfect Human’s Guide to Body Positivity,” Nora Whelan explains, “Body positivity is unlearning the idea that only certain bodies are worth acceptance and praise, and instead recognizing that all bodies are equally valuable. It’s deciding what feels good and healthy for you personally, and letting other people do so for themselves. It’s understanding that you deserve to live in your body without receiving the prejudice of others (whether that means rude comments, reduced economic opportunity, inadequate health care, or something else), and working toward a world where no one’s body is the target of such bias.”

She points out that 

  • modern body positivity is 100% inclusive—of people of any gender or skin color or size or disability
  • fat acceptance is not promoting obesity (rather, “Living joyfully in one’s body and not hesitating to share those joyful moments with others, or giving representation to people who aren’t normally visible in media, only *promotes* not delaying happiness until you reach a certain dress size or number on a scale.”)
  • accepting and loving your body doesn’t make you vain
  • it’s not OK to make yourself or someone else feel better by insulting someone with a different body type (the author mentions a song by Meghan Trainor who proudly sings she’s “all about her bass” but puts down “skinny bitches”)
  • advertising is manipulative; some ads promotes thin, hairless models with airbrushed perfection, while others promote an image of inclusion that’s not real
  • we can accept people now and still encourage healthier lifestyle choices with genuine love and sensitivity
  • we need to be authentic: we can be honest about not being attracted to everyone, but we owe it to ourselves to think about WHY we have the outlook we have.

Ultimately, it’s about body autonomy. “Body positivity is about working toward a world where everyone can live in their bodies as they please while receiving the same respect, representation, and opportunities as everyone else. So explore why you feel the way you do about your body, decide based on those factors what the correct decisions are for you, and be kind and empathetic toward — and consistent in your defense of — other bodies, and you’re off to a good start.”

Now get out there and enjoy your summer!!

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/norawhelan/body-positivity-101

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Importance of Down Time

“How wonderful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterwards.” — Spanish proverb


If you were to take out a sheet of paper and write down the things that really matter to you, what would they be? Spending time with loved ones? Enjoying the outdoors or hobbies that bring you joy? How about your health? Would you put rest on the list?

If you were to flip that paper over and write down how you actually spend your time each day, how many of your line items would match the things that really are important to you? If you’re like most people, you probably spend so much time getting stuff done, that you don’t make enough time for things you love, or for things like your health, and rest.

It seems we tend to get so caught up in being productive that we become human doings rather than human beings. How much happier—and healthier—would we be if sometimes we could give ourselves permission to take the time to just BE?

It’s not just an indulgence! A stressful, busy life out of balance leads to a lot of health problems. The body (and mind) need periods of rest between stressful situations. Not just sleep, though getting enough sleep at night and/or taking short naps is really beneficial. I’m talking about mindful, purposeful relaxation—being fully in the moment and enjoying the resting process.

Here are some of the best ways to relax fully:

  • Meditate. There are many resources on how to meditate. As an introduction: if you have trouble turning off your inner chatter, try just focusing on your breath. Nice easy deep breaths in a quiet, comfortable place. If your “monkey mind” starts chattering, don’t get upset or give up. Just identify that you are having a thought, and you will think about that thought later, but right now you’re not going to think about anything in particular except breathing in, and breathing out. Or try dropping the thought into an imaginary stream and watching it float away—you don’t have to hang on for its crazy ride!
  • Massage and reflexology. Bodywork activates the part of our nervous system that is responsible for calming the body down. It literally lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation and feelings of wellbeing.
  • Exercise. IF it is a type of exercise that promotes mindfulness, such as yoga or Tai Chi. (Not a competitive sport or an activity that revs you up.) If you can clear your head by walking or swimming, those can be good ways to relax.
  • Breathing exercises. I learned in martial arts training that if you can control your breathing, you can control your heart rate. Taking a deep breath is not only relaxing, but it’s good for all the tissues in your body to get fresh oxygen.

This is my favorite breathing exercise: (the goal is to get as much fresh air in and get as much old air out as you comfortably can. Start with a slow count of 3, and see if you can work your way up to 5 or 6 seconds in each step. As with any mindful relaxation, find a comfortable, quiet place (although you may find that doing this exercise at your desk, in a conference room, or in a car and beyond may really help you get through some stressful situations!). 

Close your eyes if you can. Breathe in to a slow count of 3. See if you can really move your belly, and your ribs, and fill your lungs as fully as you can. Hold your breath for a slow count of three. Then let it out to at least a slow count of three. When you think you’ve exhaled all the way, see if you can push out a little more air. The more you empty your airways, the more fresh air you can take in!

I can almost guarantee you that if you find yourself breathing fast, taking shallow breaths, because you feel angry or afraid or stressed, this exercise will help you breathe more slowly and will in turn slow down your heart rate and your adrenaline rush.

  • Relaxation exercises. These exercises use breathing and guided meditation to help you visualize a restful situation. They are very effective, because your brain reacts to imaginary things the same way it reacts to real things. So you could imagine you were lying next to a peaceful body of water on a beautiful day, for example, and your brain would help you feel as good as if you were right there. 

You can research relaxation exercises that help you with techniques like “breathe out tension, breathe in relaxation.” Or imagining that a loose band is passing over your body slowly, one section at a time, and while that body section is under the band, all the muscles and tissues just relax, completely releasing all tension until you’ve focused on relaxing from head to toe.

A client recently told me about “The Happiness Frequency” on YouTube. It’s etherial music and tones and chimes that are deliberately designed to help the brain release endorphins and dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitters. I encourage you to check it out for a soundtrack for your meditation and relaxation.

Taking some time to do nothing once in a while will help you feel refreshed so that you can have more energy to get stuff done the rest of the time. But more importantly, it will contribute to your health and wellbeing. I encourage you to put taking care of you at the top of your to-do list!

Source: The Power of Rest, “Healthy Musings” Blog, May 7, 2014

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Aging Happily

Do you associate aging with pain/discomfort and a loss of mobility? I hear lots of comments like “my ____ hurts all the time but, let’s face it, I’m getting old,” or “Growing older is hell!” (Or, “not for sissies!”)

But does it have to be that way? Certainly our tissues do deteriorate as we age—they’re just not made to last forever. But what if we changed the way we THINK about aging—could it help us hurt less and move better?

Clinical psychologist and cultural anthropologist Mary Pipher says yes! In fact, she says, it is possible to age with joy. Here are 5 ways she recommends for beginning to shift our thinking and cultivate happiness:

  1. Accentuate the positive. Attitude is almost everything, and we can control how we react to the hand we’ve been dealt. Pipher says a good support network is critical—friends and family are like an emotional health insurance policy. Whether you have a book club, travel buddies, lunch group, or time with grandchildren, reaching out and spending time with people close to us can help us cope with challenges.
  2. Take action. Sometimes people with a terminal diagnosis are the ones most committed to living life to the fullest. Sometimes surviving something difficult makes us that much more resilient. Pipher states, “Part of what allows us to deeply appreciate our lives and savor our time is our past despair.” Finding purpose in our lives is beneficial, like volunteering or becoming an activist. But, it’s important to be realistic. “Our goals can be greater than our energy level,” Pipher acknowledges, and we shouldn’t let them become a burden.
  3. Reframe your story. We can get stuck re-telling tales of woe: difficult surgeries or illnesses, loss of loved ones, children moving away or relatives becoming distant. Rather than focusing on pain, tragedy and loss, Pipher says we can “train ourselves to think in stories that allow us to flourish.” Rather than rehashing the challenges, we can reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown from the experiences.
  4. Make peace with death. Pipher refers to a “death positive movement” which includes making hospice more accessible, and speaking more honestly to the dying about what is happening to them. The more prepared and informed we are, the better equipped we feel to deal with reality. Fear doesn’t help! Like dealing with a bad storm or other challenges, when faced with death and loss “often we discover surprising reserves of strength and courage,” Pipher writes.
  5. Be kind to yourself. We need to be true to ourselves, say no when we need to, and say yes to our own needs. With age comes the wisdom of self-awareness, and we can embrace being more authentic. “As we age, we gain perspective,” says Pipher, “hopefully a forgiving one of ourselves.” We can appreciate who we are, decide what we really desire and go for it!” We can also choose to help others let their light shine.

I learned that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, they believe that everything starts with an idea. We put energy toward the idea, and manifest it into reality. If you think you are hurting and stiff and there’s nothing you can do about it because it is simply a part of aging, you will probably continue to hurt and feel stiff. But, if you can work on coping skills—focusing on the positives like wisdom/perspective and your support network—and enjoy whatever activities are still realistic for you, you will very likely be motivated to move a little more, and you will hurt a little less. 

“And while we are reframing our own stories, we can also reframe the story of aging that society enforces and that minimizes everyone of a certain age.”

Source: https://considerable.com/5-things-to-be-happier-as-you-age/

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Pollen Coping Skills

Almost everyone coming into my office these days is suffering from allergy symptoms (myself included!). It’s wonderful to see nature spring to life, but so many things blooming at once can cause suffering.

Even if you don’t have a true “allergy,” pollen can be irritating. It’s shaped like microscopic spurs. This helps it catch a ride to its target, by hooking onto insects and animal fur, etc. When it hooks into our eyes and nostrils and mucous membranes, the irritation causes our bodies to try to expel it through sneezing and tears and coughing.

Here are some tips to minimize discomfort:

  1. Monitor pollen levels. Most weather services give pollen updates daily. It’s best to avoid outdoor activities when the pollen level is high.
  2. Control your indoor environment. Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner. In your car, recirculated air will have the least pollen in it.
  3. Stay clean. Change your clothes and shoes if you’ve been outside. Shower and wash your hair before going to bed. This helps keep pollen off of pillows, sheets, and furnishings.
  4. Wipe off your pets. If your pets go outside, wipe them off with a microfiber cloth as they come in. If you’re really sensitive to pollen, you might need to keep pets out of your bedroom.
  5. Rinse your sinuses. Use a Neti pot or commercial squeeze bottle to flush saline solution through your sinus passages. You can buy kits at the supermarket that include saline packets, or you can make your own solution with distilled water, salt, and baking soda. 
  6. Baby your eyes. If your eyes feel irritated, you can use an over-the-counter moisturizing or antihistamine drops. Be sure to clean your contacts if you wear them. My eye doctor told me to gently wash my (closed) eyelids and lashes with a washcloth, warm water, and a tiny droplet of baby shampoo. It really helps prevent problems for me!
  7. Consider a nasal spray. Over-the-counter corticosteroid nasal sprays (my doctor recommended Flonase) work well without making us sleepy. You could also try a more natural spray like Xlear (I use that one, too!). 
  8. Consider oral antihistamines. Ask your medical care provider if taking medicine would help you with your symptoms, or if there’s a homeopathic remedy that can provide relief. “First-generation” antihistamines like Benadryl work fast, but they don’t last long and they can make us really sleepy. “Second-generation” antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec last longer and tend to be less sedating for most people. Second-generation antihistamines and homeopathic remedies usually need to be taken daily/regularly, starting a week or so before you really need relief.
  9. See a doctor. If you’ve tried at-home remedies and you’re still really suffering, or if your symptoms progress to sinusitis, asthma or other ailments, you might want to seek medical help. Try to find a board certified allergist.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for information/entertainment only and is not meant to serve as medical advice. Please work with your trusted medical care provider to create a detailed treatment plan that’s right for you.

Source: http://www.futureofpersonalhealth.com/prevention-and-treatment/a-10-step-guide-to-overcoming-your-pollen-allergies?utm_source=propeller

Category : Blog &Health

A Step Backward in Boosting Memory

 

The next time you can’t quite remember something, try walking backwards.

Not retracing your steps, but literally taking backward steps!

Multiple studies have shown that backward motion, imagining backward motion, or even watching a video simulating backward motion helped people remember past events compared to test subjects who walked forward or sat still.

No one really understands why (yet), but it may be that we simply associate moving backwards with the past, and it triggers a memory response.

Law enforcement may begin adding this technique to their interview protocol to help witnesses recall details of a crime. More research is being done to see if movement can help persons with specific memory challenges like dementia. 

But for now, we can all employ this simple technique to jog our memories. And you don’t have to jog! Just walk. Backwards!

Source: 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/can-you-boost-your-memory-by-walking-backward?

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Importance of Self Care

 

I caught up with a friend over coffee this morning (something I HIGHLY recommend for soul nourishment!) and, knowing that I’ve been going through some challenges lately with my family and ex-family, she asked, “What have you been doing to take care of YOU?”

Here’s what I told her. Even as a busy self-employed person and advocate/caregiver for an adult child with a disability, I nurture myself with:

  1. Regular massage therapy, reflexology, and acupuncture. I’m lucky to have great relationships with colleagues in alternative care, and I enlist their help in staying healthy. Between 2 LMTs, 2 certified reflexologists, and a wonderful acupuncturist, I receive some kinds of bodywork almost every week. And I add chiropractic adjustments and sessions with a physical therapist when I need them to keep me going as well.
  2. Eating healthy. I now give myself permission to supplement what I have time to fix each week with a food service that delivers fresh plant-based meals and snacks to the house, all beautifully prepared and ready to eat. It costs a little more than making all my own meals, but it’s a huge time saver. And it’s very healthy. And at least I’m not throwing produce away because I can’t prepare and eat it all before it goes bad.
  3. Daily exercise. I got a dog. Six months ago I rescued an older lab mix who was so depressed and out of shape from being in the kennel for too long, that she couldn’t take long or brisk walks. I took her to obedience school where we had fun while learning and bonding. I gradually increased her walks and added run/walk/run intervals 2-3 times/week. Now she is healthy and happy and so full of energy we’re questioning if she’s really as old as we thought she was! She makes me laugh and makes me exercise and gives me tons of love and good protection.
  4. Classes for enrichment. Right now I’m taking a class at Flagler College called “World Geography.” It is “world geography,” but it explores the globe in a way that is of particular interest to people who like to travel: a little history, a little culture, a few travel tips. It’s easy, fun and interesting. Sometimes it’s good to open ourselves up to new experiences and challenges! I’ve also taken continuing education classes for my licenses, Spanish and American Sign Language, art workshops, writing seminars—there’s so much to choose from, it’s easy to be a lifelong learner.
  5. Creating art and crafts. When my younger son asked if he could move back home, I wanted to support his quest to save money and continue his education. It’s worked out well because he offers valuable emotional and logistical help as well. The only drawback was that I had to relinquish my craft studio. I moved all the supplies into my office and created a tiny workspace there. It’s a bit cramped, but actually, it’s great because I can work on projects little by little when I have gaps between client appointments. I don’t have as much time to work on this as I would like, but it’s a good example of doing the best you can with what you’ve got to work with.
  6. Rest. I have to remind myself sometimes that “a good day” is not necessarily defined by how much I accomplish. I need downtime, especially on weekends, and I honor that. Even if it means saying no to some social things that might be enjoyable in order to stay home on a nice day and look at a magazine out on my swing with a cup of tea or glass of wine. I simply can’t cram non-stop activities into every available moment. In that way, I’m kind of not as much fun as I used to be. But I am at peace.
  7. Cutting myself some slack. The house is a mess. Seriously, I would be pretty embarrassed if someone stopped by unannounced and saw how we really live. It’s not dirty, but it’s cluttered from multiple projects that seem to never end, and from being generally very, very lived in. There are lots of things I don’t do that I would like to. For example, one of my New Year goals was to meditate, journal and stretch each day, even for just 5 minutes each. I don’t do it, not even close to every day. 

But every day is a balancing act. As I contemplated the things I do to take care of myself to answer my friend’s question, I realized this was a pretty good list. As I do love to travel, I’m planning to see my sister in Phoenix in May, and finally visiting Italy in October (a bucket list item!). It’s good to have things to look forward to. I also discussed with my friend my vision and plans for growing the reflexology side of my business, and for helping my son achieve more independence and a better quality of life. We’re slowly chipping away at long-term goals while juggling work and some fun stuff and all the necessary chores and errands.

Do I feel overwhelmed some days—yes! Do I have trouble sleeping some nights—yes! But that’s all the more reason to take care of myself with the 7 things outlined here!!

What do you do to take care of YOU? Your list might be very different from mine, but I hope you do make self-care a priority.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Healing Is a Collaboration

 

I recently read the most marvelous quote: “When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘We,’ even ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness.’” (It’s been attributed to different speakers, most often Malcolm X.)

It made me think of my own profession immediately. People sometimes ask if I think of myself as a “healer.” I don’t. 

I believe that our bodies know how to heal themselves. But sometimes they need a little help because we have more stressors in our modern world than our bodies can handle. And also because we’ve lost touch a little bit with our intuitiveness and somatic sense.

So professionals like me can help. I’m not a healer, but a facilitator. I hope to be part of the “we” in “wellness”!

As I like to tell people: “Your body is trying to tell you something; I’ll help you listen.”

In his book, “In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness,” Dr. Peter A. Levine describes how our typical western medical model of seeing a doctor for “treatment” just doesn’t work in the case of healing from trauma. 

Of course, there are times when it makes sense for a doctor to stand as the authority figure, holding all the knowledge and “treating” the patient.

But in the case of stress, (trauma, PTSD), this power differential and sterile separation between doctor and patient tend to disempower and marginalize the sufferer, adding to their sense of despair. “Missing,” Levine writes, “will be the crucial collaboration in containing, processing and integrating the patient’s horrible sensations, images, and emotions. The sufferer will remain starkly alone, holding the very horrors that have overwhelmed him and broken down his capacity to self-regulate and grow.”

I like to think that massage therapy and reflexology both involve a lot of collaboration. There’s definitely trust. And there’s definitely communication that happens, both spoken and unspoken. People ask me, “How did you know that that was a problem area for me?” “Your body tells me,” I answer. I can feel tension and “knots” and heat in tissues, and “congestion” in the hands and feet that indicate an area is stressed.

I’m not suggesting that I can help people resolve horrible sensations, images, and emotions. That is way out of my scope of practice. But, the healing power of touch is a fantastic way to get back in touch with our bodies, replace tissue memories of hurtful events with supportive touch, and begin to heal mind, body, and spirit. It can help us self-regulate, as we calm stressed-out systems and restore balance (homeostasis).

Levine writes, “Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. It is possible to learn from mythology, from clinical observations, from neuroscience, from embracing the ‘living’ experiential body, and from the behavior of animals; and then, rather than brace against our instincts, embrace them.”

Hm, healing involving neuroscience AND instincts—sounds amazing! Bodyworkers like me endeavor to effect change in the “living, experiential body,” and hold space for clients dealing with challenges, without judgment. I learned in meditation to be unconditionally present with whatever comes up, and I try to bring this to each therapeutic session.

If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources for you:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/2231/in-an-unspoken-voice-the-changing-face-of-trauma-peter-levine/

https://theconnection.tv/the-proven-healing-power-of-touch/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug02/massage

https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/amrit-blog/vibrant-health/wired-touch-connecting-others/

http://pediatrics.med.miami.edu/touch-research

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth