Reiki and Sugar Addiction

Note: in this post, I’m referring to refined sugar; products of the sugar cane plant, as well as all its nefarious aliases and chemical substitutes. According to UCSF there are 61 names for sugar! No doubt this list will continue to expand as consumers get savvier and manufacturers get trickier. I’m not interested in the naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods which will be included as grams of sugar on a product label; I am strictly interested in the list of ingredients for this article.

I’m participating in a panel discussion through Weavers Way Coop in Mount Airy, Philadelphia on the topic of sugar addiction. Event details here. I will be sharing the stage with a nutritionist and a life coach, both of whom will provide valuable information. As a Reiki practitioner and massage therapist, I’m not qualified to discuss the effects of sugar on the body. As a recovering sugar addict and facilitator of body-mind-spirit healing, I do however bring a great deal of experience and awareness of the emotional component of changing one’s diet.

I think at this point we all know that sugar is not healthy for us. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I’m going to eat healthfully today, where are the donuts?” In fact many of us have a plan in place to avoid sugar, pack well balanced snacks and lunches, and nonetheless end up succumbing to the sweet temptress despite our best efforts. If you’re one of those rare people who can take or leave sugar, more power to you! Perhaps you can sign up for medical testing to see what secrets your body knows that could benefit the rest of us.

This is the piece of the puzzle that captivates me:  why do so many of us fail when we try so hard to avoid harmful sweets? Yes, sugar has indeed been shown to be addictive; some claim it’s more addictive than cocaine. It’s certainly more readily available; in certain environments it’s downright difficult to avoid. Most every gathering I’ve ever been to was centered around some variation of cake. Ack! I will leave the proof of the addictive nature of sugar to the nutritionists and scientists. If you’re doubtful, check out the movie, That Sugar Film. It’s morbidly fascinating and deeply disturbing. But better to know the monster that lurks in your cupboards than to allow it to control your behavior from the shadows. Right? 

In addition to the biochemical nature of addiction, I notice that many of us (myself included) are compelled to eat sugar for emotional reasons. It can be a balm for a broken heart, a celebration, a distraction from upset, and an attempt to soothe stress. Name an emotion, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used dessert to commemorate, numb, or avoid it. The problem lies in the fact that these strategies are hugely unsuccessful! Sugar does not alleviate stress; if it did, Americans would be the most relaxed people on the planet. When we stress eat,  the result is a stimulating chemical reaction in our bodies and quite possibly guilt or shame in addition to the original stress.

From my point of view as a holistic practitioner, the path to breaking the sugar cycle involves emotional healing and being prepared for the inevitable cravings. This is where the healing power of Reiki comes in. Reiki can support us in becoming aware of our feelings, allowing them to surface, and processing them in a healthy way. It can help open intuitive pathways that guide us on the journey and connect us to the wisdom deep within. And perhaps most importantly, it can provide comfort and support in the moments we become triggered and would normally turn to a cupcake or ice cream, or my personal favorite, chocolate chip cookies, for solace.

While the process of examining, handling, and releasing emotional discord can be messy, takes time and effort, and is by no means the popular route; it has the potential for deactivating the landmines that send us running to the pseudo-comforting arms of sugar. It is certainly more effective than white-knuckling it through every party you ever attend, or relying on will power and the knowledge of the damaging effects that sugar has on your health. If you’re interested in a free 15 minute consultation or booking a Reiki session, either remotely or in person to kick that pesky sugar habit, I’d love to hear from you. Check out my website for more information about the services I offer or to contact me.

Bodywork for that pain in the behind

I’ve been working with several clients lately who are suffering from hip pain. Interestingly enough, I myself have been experiencing the same discomfort! It seems I learn a lot about my own healing by helping others. Just to be perfectly clear, Dear Universe, I am totally open to learning under more joyful and comfortable circumstances henceforth!

While my practice is soundly rooted in supporting body-mind-spirit balance, I’m focusing simply on the physical approach for this post. Delving into thoughts and beliefs about security, support, and prosperity as well as a sense of connection to the divine do indeed factor into releasing pain in the hips. So does exploring inflammation, biochemistry and diet. But that is a story for another day…

In myself and the clients presenting with hip pain, I notice an imbalance in all the muscle groups that attach to the pelvis. It’s common for hip pain to manifest in the sacro-illiac joint, which is where the spine unites with the pelvis. Sometimes it gets labelled as low back or glut pain. I believe it is the source of the expression “pain in the behind”. It can be accompanied by shooting or throbbing pain or tingling down the leg. And it can range from mildly unpleasant to downright debilitating. I’ve had many a sleepless night due to this issue lately.

So say someone has pain in the left hip. It’s easy to concentrate on the back of the body on the left side. Clearly there is tension in that area (including hamstrings, gluts, and lateral rotators) that needs to be addressed. But looking at the big picture draws me to the right S-I joint. After all we have only one sacrum and one pelvis; any imbalance affects the whole structure. Often I find the piriformis (a muscle that attaches to the sacrum and tends to be a troublemaker!) on the opposite side to be more tense than on the problematic side! Clients are invariable surprised to realize this; but I’ve come to expect it.

Let’s not forget the hip flexors. (Side note: I have no idea why, but there seems to be a good deal of confusion as to where the flexors lie. They’re on the front side of the hip and include the quadriceps as well as that other troublemaker, the psoas.) Once again the client is startled to feel stiffness, achiness, or downright pain once they’ve turned over and I’m working on the anterior side of pelvis.

It’s impossible for me to say with any degree of certainty where the trouble begins. I can’t discern which of the muscles are compensated for or trying to prevent pain. What I absolutely can testify to wholeheartedly is that the whole lot is in cahoots. It’s impossible to effectively address pain in the posterior left hip without exploring the right side as well and both sides of the anterior pelvis. I explain to my clients that my goal is to get all the muscles communicating and operating peacefully rather than playing a tug of war. From there we can begin to suggest and foster harmony and teamwork in the muscular-skeletal system.

As a holistic practitioner, this seems like common sense to me. We are not working with  two thighs, two hips, and a pelvis.  We are working with one body that is seeking balance any way it can. To support that process, it’s super important to recognize all the players and get them on the same page. While my practice exists mainly in the Philadelphia area, I’m happy to provide coaching for those who reside elsewhere. Visit my website to contact me for details. Life is too short to suffer from a pain in the behind!