Health

Thinking Vs. Feeling

In a conversation the other day, a gentleman reminded me of something I learned from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now.”

This particular conversation had to do with food choices—specifically, that this gentleman had purchased a delicious doughnut during a weak moment, but after a quick, clear-headed reflection on his weight loss goals, he ultimately decided to throw away 50% of the delicacy and enjoy eating just half of it.

But the technique he used was a really good one, and is applicable to any situation in life. It’s along the lines of “act, don’t react.”

He described imagining himself up on a balcony, literally looking down on himself with his coffee and doughnut. Up on the balcony, he just observes without emotion. He allows his higher-thinking self to assess the situation.

The part of him sitting with the doughnut was caught up in the drama of WANTING the pleasure of indulging. Don’t we all have that one voice in our head that cries out for instant gratification?

But we have other voices in our head, too, constantly. One is always the voice of reason.

One is the inner critic, insisting on negative self-talk. One is the inner cheerleader, encouraging us as we go.

One voice is the judge, continuously making judgments. Sometimes we really need that voice to save us from doing something regrettable! Other times, it’s entirely appropriate to shut that voice down.

I like thinking about the voice of the observer, the one who notices without judgment. Like when I’m trying to meditate, and focus on my breath, and some random thought pops into my head. I just notice it. Mm hmm, that’s me having a thought. Not good timing, thought! Just float on by now, and I’ll revisit you later. Breathe……

Or when I’m tempted to eat some empty calories like a doughnut. I can step back (or up to “the balcony”) and think, Mm hmm, that’s my inner three-year-old demanding gratification. I acknowledge that she wants some attention. What else would help her feel nurtured? Does she really “need” a doughnut? Or does she really need a hug? A bubble bath? An adventure? Someone to talk with to sort something out?

Oh, that’s the inquisitive voice!

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself about getting out of exercise? I’m just not feeling it today. I don’t have time. I’m really tired. I think a little headache is coming on.

Try stepping back and observing. What is really going on? What are you feeling? (I feel like skipping it today!) What are you thinking? (I think it would be a good idea for me to get my heart rate up, and then I think I will feel a lot better afterward. In fact, I think I’ll feel proud of myself! And that’s a really good feeling! I can do this!!)

The great news is that we get to decide which voice in our head to listen to. We get to climb up to the balcony and observe before we make a decision. We don’t have to “react” to the emotion. (This is true, too, for confrontations—in person and on social media!)

I was so happy to have this reminder the other day. I’ve been “thinking” about it a lot ever since!

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Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Gratitude Every Day

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Isn’t it wonderful that we set aside a holiday to gather together with loved ones, and feast and relax and reflect on giving thanks?

While overindulging on Thanksgiving may not be the healthiest thing for us, it turns out that feeling grateful really is good for our health! Study after study shows that our attitude affects our health just as much as—or maybe even more than—our habits do.

Every year it seems that people enjoy getting in the “holiday spirit,” and we all express how much we wish that spirit could last throughout the year.

Well, maybe it can! At least prioritizing our focus on gratitude is something that can be practiced all year. Here are seven tips for practicing gratitude every day:

Keep a Gratitude Journal. For whatever reason(s), we tend to focus on what goes wrong in life. The simple act of committing to paper all the little, commonplace things we’re thankful for can help us focus on the positive. Spending just a few minutes each day counting our blessings helps shift us out of stressed out, bummed out mode into a happier, healthier state of mind. Even writing every other day is good!

Acknowledge Negative Feelings, Too. While focusing on gratitude does increase feelings of wellbeing, it’s not all about avoiding the “bad” stuff in an effort to stay optimistic 100% of the time. Setbacks are a part of life, and negative experiences and emotions need to be dealt with and processed. In fact, once we get through a hard time, looking back on how we felt and how we handled that part of our journey can actually help us feel more grateful for our current situation!

“Shower the People You Love with Love” (a la James Taylor). Having a sense of connection with others is one of the key ingredients of good health. Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, says that “Gratitude really helps us connect to other people. It actually strengthens relationships, and relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and coping with stress.” He says gratitude, more than any other, is the emotion of friendship.

 When we express appreciation for loved ones, it creates closeness as we allow them to see how much we value them. And it’s a non-vicious cycle, because when others let us know how much they value us, it increases our happiness and gratitude!

Use Social Media Wisely. Thankful people use social media networks mindfully. Dr. Emmons says those who practice gratitude “use whatever cues exist in everyday environments to trigger grateful thoughts. Pictures and information on social media” are very instruments to do so. In fact, research has found that positive images on social media spread faster than negative messages do! 

Of course, it’s very easy to get sucked in to the drama and negative noise. So, Emmons suggests creating a file of uplifting posts that can trigger happy feelings when you need help feeling grateful. We can also use social media networks to reach out to supportive friends when we need to connect.

Remember Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. To practice gratitude every day, it’s important to acknowledge every act of kindness, no matter how small—and pay it forward. Even just a smile or a compliment from you can make someone’s day. And remembering to be thankful for a smile or compliment can make your day.

One study showed that “everyday” gratitude gave romantic relationships a better chance for success, because “daily gratitude interactions” increased the sense of connection and overall satisfaction for both women and men. (It’s pretty nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? It also feels nice to be appreciative!)

Volunteer. It seems it truly is better to give than to receive. Research shows that volunteering can result in lessening depression and increasing feelings of wellbeing. This might be because service to others helps us get in touch with our own inner spirituality, and we feel grateful for the experience. Interestingly, giving helps people feel more gratitude than receiving.

Exercise. In a symbiotic cycle, people who practice gratitude tend to exercise more (and smoke and abuse alcohol less), and because exercise clears our mind and reduces stress, it sets us up to experience more gratitude. Grateful people who exercise have healthier minds and bodies!

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. And if you enjoy a day of thanks with loved ones, compliments, exercise and so on, I hope it inspires you to consider practicing gratitude every day.

Source: “7 Habits of Grateful People” by Lindsay Holmes on Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/27/gratitude-habits_n_4343934.html

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Healing Power of Awe

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Imagine the sense of wonder you feel when you see something like Niagra Falls for the first time, or feel a newborn baby wrap her tiny hand around one of your fingers, or see a truly astonishing human feat of bravery, or compassion, or athletic or artistic perfection.

Awe is an emotion that has not gotten much attention. (The “big six” emotions that, until recently, have been scientifically studied the most are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise.)

Maybe that’s because awe is sort of difficult to pinpoint and define, or maybe it’s because it was considered to be a luxury item—nice to have, but not as accessible as the common day feelings of fear and happy and sad and mad.

But in 2013, the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab started “Project Awe,” a three-year research project that is finding out how awe is just as basic and important to our existence as the other emotions. In fact, awe is proving to be vital to our health and happiness!

How? First, awe brings us fully into the present moment. Where fear or excitement trip our “fight of flight” response and all the stress hormones that come with it, awe brings us into an attentive state of stillness and appreciation. Studies show that this emotional state makes us more receptive to details and new information, and it causes people to act more generously and ethically.

Second, awe can reduce the level of cytokines, a marker of inflammation that is linked to depression. Many studies are showing that being wowed by the beauty in nature lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system.

And it doesn’t even have to be a major “wow” moment. Studies are showing that awe IS accessible to all of us, and that the benefits are felt even after “small” transformative moments—looking up at a marvelous starry sky or at the Grand Canyon, feeling genuinely touched by the generosity of others, or hearing a moving piece of music.

Third, awe inspires a feeling of connectedness. We get the sense that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.

These ideas are shared in an article called “Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness,” by Paula Spencer Scott (“Parade” Magazine, October 9, 2016).

Here are six things Scott suggests we can do to find awe in everyday life:
Step away from our devices and go outside—gaze at the sky!
Visit a local, state or national park.
Recall a time you felt wonder—describe it to a friend or write about it.
Visit a museum or planetarium.
Get up early to watch the sun rise.
Listen to amazing music, like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or a live version of Santana’s “Europa.” Or whatever inspires you, of course!

Much has been written about the benefits of being in nature. I know when I hike or kayak with others, we always comment on the wonder of seeing a majestic bird or breeching dolphin. Haven’t you ever gazed at the beautiful patterns of light and shadows in the trees, or the sparkle of sunlight on water, or taken in a deep breath filled with earthy scents on a not-too-hot breezy day, and just marveled at the glory of nature?

In his article “What Science Taught Me About Compassion, Gratitude and Awe,” Dacher Keltner expands on that:

“What we know is that awe really happens when you transcend the human scale, big or small, and when you’re around things that challenge your current knowledge structures. You go, ‘Oh, I didn’t imagine trees could be so big, or a baby could be so funny, or this person could be so generous, or music could sound like that.’

“We know … that just brief experiences of awe as short as a minute or two [like walking out in the woods] make you more generous, make you more humble, make you more empathetic, make you better at science. We have findings showing that it actually calms down the branch of your immune system called the cytokine system. The cytokine response is the inflammation response, when cells attack pathogens in your body and you feel like you have the flu. It’s good in the short term if you have toxins in your body, but if your cytokine system is always active, it is very bad news for human health. Awe quiets down that system, which is really incredible.”

How about that—awe is incredible!

We know stress is bad for us, and awe is kind of like a switch that can flip us out of fight-or-flight mode and into mindful awareness of something bigger than ourselves. And now we know we can actually cultivate a feeling of awe.

Here’s a link to Keltner’s whole article if you’d like to read more:http://www.dailygood.org/story/1321/what-science-taught-me-about-compassion-gratitude-and-awe-dacher-keltner/

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Coming Soon!

julies-show

November is shaping up to be a busy month for Holistic Massage & Reflexology!

Art & Gift Show 11/19
As you probably know, in addition to providing massage therapy and reflexology, I also make beaded jewelry. And our resident nutritionist Amanda Perrin makes wonderful miniature tea sets, whimsical castles and huts, dollhouse accessories, and whole dioramas in walnut shells! Together with local artist and author Tina Verduzco, we’re having an art and gift show on Saturday, November 19 from 10-5.

Tina co-authored “Storm and the Mermaid’s Knot” with Meghan Richardson, and will have copies for sale. And if we’re lucky, she’ll also bring a few of her inspired sculptural pieces. Here’s a link for more information about her beautiful novel: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Mermaids-Knot-Meghan-Richardson/dp/1936573156

Below is a link with more information about the art and gift show. If it’s a nice day, the Pink Pineapple Boutique might just have a sidewalk sale for us that day. I will donate 10% of my jewelry sales to local hurricane recovery efforts. Mark your calendars for this fabulous day of shopping for unique items, supporting local artists and hurricane survivors!!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-art-gift-show-tickets-28933474802

Acupuncture to Be Offered on Thursdays!
I am very excited to announce that Michele Rehrer, AP, RM will be providing acupuncture in the office on Thursdays in the very near future. Michele is a Florida board certified licensed Acupuncture Physician. She graduated from Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine in Gainesville, FL. She is a Reiki Master and a Qigong instructor.

From her website: “Michele believes that acupuncture gently encourages the body to regain balance by looking at the whole person and gets to the root cause of the disharmony. Michele is focused on providing quality holistic healthcare with the highest level of professionalism and patient satisfaction. It is her philosophy that in order for every patient to achieve optimal wellness, they must be heard. She strives for excellence in listening, gentle needling technique, and encourages patient involvement in their journey to wellness.”

I have been seeing Michele for several months for a variety of issues, and I can highly recommend her skills and encouraging, gentle demeanor. For more information, visit her website: www.hhacu.vpweb.com To make an appointment, contact Michele at 352-682-6206.

Foot Reflexology Workshop starting 11/29
Beginning in April, I embarked on a teacher training program in reflexology with my mentor, and the founder and director of the Academy of Ancient Reflexology, Karen Ball. As my final student teaching project, I’ll be offering a full workshop in foot reflexology on four evenings: 11/29, 12/1, 12/6 and 12/8. This workshop is not for credit, but is for me to gain experience teaching. It will be held at my office from 5-9 each evening. The cost is only $25, and it’s very important that students be committed to attending every session in its entirety.

In this workshop, students will learn a little about the history of reflexology, how reflexology works and what conditions it helps, when reflexology is not appropriate, foot anatomy and common foot ailments, the location of more than 30 reflex points/areas in the feet, and how to perform relaxation and reflexology techniques. At the end of the class, students will be able to perform a complete foot reflexology session for the purposes of relaxation. In the state of Florida, you will not be able to provide reflexology for compensation without additional licensing, but you can appropriately and effectively work on friends, family, neighbors and loved ones—and yourself!

The only prerequisites are short fingernails, clean feet, and a willingness to touch others’ feet and have your feet worked on. Class size is limited—if you’re interested, please contact me at 904-377-6696.

Category : Blog &Events &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

A Reflexology Demo

If you’ve never experienced foot reflexology before, you can view a sample here! It’s a link to a video that shows yours truly doing a demonstration for this year’s Academy of Ancient Reflexology’s certification students.

I’m showing them a protocol I developed to perform an abbreviated session—one whole foot is covered thoroughly in just 15 minutes. It’s a good practice to be able to work on both feet in their entirety in 30 minutes. Sometimes a shorter session is appropriate; for example, for a baby, an elderly or medically fragile person. Sometimes people who’ve never had reflexology just want to try a short session without committing to an hour (though I HIGHLY recommend giving yourself more time to reap the full benefits of deep relaxation and therapeutic touch). Many of my clients have added a half-hour reflexology session to precede their hour massage.

Don’t worry, no one expects you to watch the whole video! But if you’re curious, you can see how reflexology is done: relaxation techniques, thumb walking and finger walking. Slow, rhythmic, alternating pressure engages the part of our nervous system that’s responsible for calming things down. The recipient was VERY relaxed and feeling good after just thirty minutes.

Enjoy, and let me know if you’d like to try reflexology for yourself! I am also certified in hand reflexology, and I have a hot paraffin treatment for hands that’s terrific for arthritic joints and the aches that comes from overuse.

 

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Exercise Is Good for Your Heart—and Your Wallet!

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Do you need more motivation to exercise regularly?

What if someone offered to pay you $2,500 per year?

That’s what you could, in effect, pay yourself in healthcare savings each year if you exercised on a regular basis. NYtimes.com recently reported on a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, which found that “On average, someone who met the exercise guidelines paid $2,500 less in annual health care expenses related to heart disease than someone who did not walk or otherwise move for 30 minutes five times per week.

“Those numbers included annual savings of about $400 on prescription medicines and far fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations for people who regularly exercised.”

Even those who had already been diagnosed with a heart disease or had multiple risk factors saved significantly on health-related expenses.

There were more than 26,000 persons in the study, and researchers were involved from universities and hospitals around the country. In trying to look at costs related to inactivity, they decided to limit the scope of the survey to expenses related to cardiovascular disease.

Which probably means that people who exercise regularly save even more— because they’re not developing Type 2 Diabetes or certain kinds of cancer, they’re not missing work, etc.

And here’s the best part: all we have to do to improve our health and save $2500 (or more) per year is engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week!

Just a half hour a day, five days out of seven, of moderate exercise like brisk walking, gentle bike riding, or raking leaves.

Fall is a great time to get moving. Even my dog is friskier as the weather cools off! If you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon during the dog days of summer, start up again with just 30 minutes of moderate activity. You’ll feel better, and you can take that to the bank!

Source: www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/well/move/whats-the-value-of-exercise-2500.html

Category : Blog &Health

Holistic Massage & Reflexology Moves and Adds Therapist

Julie Wesling, LMT has moved her practice—Holistic Massage & Reflexology—to a new location at 2820 US 1 South, Suite J, in the Century 21 office complex.

Joining her in the new location is registered dietician Amanda Perrin RDN, LDN, with her nutrition consultation practice, Peace of Nutrition.

Seasoned therapist Shawn Nerveza, LMT will also be offering massage therapy at the new location.

“We’re very excited to have more space,” says Wesling. “And, between the three of us, we can offer relaxation, therapeutic and medical massage therapy, reflexology, and nutrition counseling to clients virtually 7 days/week.”

The office plans to hold classes as well. The first one will be a foot reflexology workshop open to the public over 4 evenings in late November and early December.

An open house is planned for Monday, September 26th from 5 – 7 pm. Everyone is invited to stop by to check out the new space and enjoy refreshment and networking!

For more information, contact Julie Wesling at 904-377-6696 or [email protected]
MA 56383 MM 38038

 

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Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Art Abandonment—Random Acts of Beauty

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Today I placed a beautiful bracelet in a baggie—a piece I consider to be of real value because it’s unique, and because I made it with genuine semi-precious stones and sterling silver—and I took it to the Mission de Nombre Dios, set it down next to a big statue, and walked away.

I “abandoned” it.

Why? Because I’m part of a movement called Art Abandonment, a phenomenon started in June 2012 by Michael deMeng and his wife Andrea Matus deMeng. They published a book entitled “The Art Abandonment Project: Create and Share Random Acts of Art,” and started a Facebook group that grew quickly and now boasts more than 33,000 members worldwide. Including me.

Abandoners simply create something for the joy of making it, and then leave it for an unsuspecting person to find. You put a tag on it stating you are leaving the art as a gift to whomever finds it. They can take it, pass it along to someone else they know would love it, or simply leave it there for someone else to find if they don’t care for it. The tag has directions for how to email or post on the Facebook page telling about their experience of finding free art, if they choose to do so. But it’s anonymous—the finder never knows who the abandoner is.

I’ve done two “art drops,” and so far I haven’t heard from anyone who’s found one of my pieces. But it makes me smile to think about how it might make someone’s day a little brighter.

Recently I read a story on the group’s Facebook page about how a woman found a little painting of a cheerful flower at the hospital on her way out of a breast biopsy. She was so filled with happiness, and was so touched that someone would be generous enough to simply give something handmade and beautiful away with love, that she didn’t have any room left in her heart or mind to be worried about her biopsy results. She posted on the group’s page, and soon dozens of strangers were wishing her well, sending her prayers and words of support that she would never have accessed had it not been for Art Abandonment. Her gratitude kept growing, and I was moved by the abundance of encouragement and kindness.

And that’s really what it’s all about—random acts of kindness in a world that desperately needs more of it.

You don’t have to be a “good artist” to get in on the goodness of the movement. Some people paint designs on stones and leave them out in nature near natural rocks. Some people might color a pre-printed design and cut the pictures to make bookmarks or greeting cards. A few fiber artists are crocheting little Pokemon characters and leaving them where players are known to hunt for the virtual counterparts. The art can be almost anything. The intention of creating and sharing is more important than the “value” of the finished work. Who knows what someone else will find beautiful or valuable anyway? These are lucky, random “finders,” not art critics!

Do you think you’d like to join the fun? Here’s a link to the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/ArtAbandonment/

Happy Abandoning!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Joys of Getting Older

older couple

WebMD recently shared an online newsletter/slideshow on nine surprises of growing older.

A few of them were purely physical things—like growing weird hairs out of your nose or ears (male) or chin (female) due to hormonal changes, or how we actually get shorter because of gravity and degenerative processes in our spines.

But some of the items were pretty fun facts about mental/emotional changes that aren’t all bad. Here’s a summary that hopefully will improve how you feel about climbing “over the hill”:

We are more in tune with other people’s emotions in our 40s than any other time in our lives. This empathy helps us get along better with everyone from family to coworkers.

Older women may have sex less frequently than their younger counterparts, but they enjoy it more! Women 40 and over told researchers their sexual satisfaction improved with age. And women over 80 (over 80!) were more likely than those between 55 and 79 to say they were satisfied sexually.

We get good at using what we’ve learned. It’s called crystalized intelligence (the ability to use learned knowledge and experience, as opposed to fluid intelligence—the ability to solve new problems, use logic and identify patterns), and we get better at it as we get older.

We turn into morning people! Our sleep patterns can change as we age; most people in their 60s get to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. At 65, even people who wake up during the night report feeling like they regularly do get a good night’s sleep.

We don’t all turn into grumpy old geezers. In fact, most people get more agreeable, at least through their 60s. We’re likely to feel happier and less apt to get angry. Scientists don’t know why exactly, but seniors seem to be able to control their emotions better, and focus more on making every minute count.

Retirement is not always the best thing for your health. A study called the Longevity Project found that people who work hard at a job they enjoy tend to live the longest! Having good friends and a good marriage seem to be keys to a long life.

Do any of these findings surprise you? Here’s a link to the full report: 9 Things No One Tells You About Aging

 

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Do You Love to Eat?

lady dog ice cream

I love to eat. Sometimes eating makes me feel quite happy. And then sometimes I feel regret allowing an indulgence to make me feel happy. Am I a food addict? Am I a failure for not having more willpower?

I used to say I had an unhealthy relationship with food. For most of my life, I was a stress eater. And a social eater. I’ve eaten out of boredom and used food to try to fill some sort of emptiness that wasn’t quite boredom or hunger. I’ve celebrated with food, I’ve rewarded myself with food, I’ve distracted myself with food, I think I’ve even punished myself for overeating—with food.

It took a lot of work on my end to find out how to deal with unpleasant emotions rather than feed them cookies. I no longer eat for all the wrong reasons, but I still struggle a bit with my love for all food—healthy and unhealthy—and my desire for variety, and my desire for the joy and ease of being undisciplined about food choices. Sometimes I purchase awful and delicious packaged food because it’s affordable, and everyone in my house likes it, and it’s easy, and I’m tired.

And I feel sort of guilty about taking those shortcuts that are not so healthy. Where is my discipline? Where is my health consciousness?

An article in the March/April 2016 issue of “edible Northeast Florida” gave me some real food for thought. Called “Farewell to Food Guilt,” it covered so beautifully the topic of how we feel about food, that I asked for permission to share it in my blog. So here it is, used with permission. Enjoy. And let me know how it makes you feel! Farewell to Food Guilt

Category : Blog &Health