Healer, Heal Thyself Part 6: Slow Down

I suspect that the torn meniscus in my knee is a message from Spirit urging me to Slow Down. There were previously other, gentler messages that I chose to ignore. If we don’t answer the knock at the door, sometimes the result is a brick through the window. I am choosing to answer the door. While I snoozed through the first knock and the more instant knock, I’m jumping up (figuratively anyway!) for the loud banging. No bricks needed here, thank you very much!

Part of my slow down plan involves traveling differently. I’m off to Kripalu (!!!) for a continuing education workshop. I’ve expanded my itinerary to allow for one and a half days of travel in each direction. Very different than the original agenda of a 5 am bus with three transfers depositing me disheveled and exhausted moments before the first class.

So I’m on the commuter train on the way to the Amtrak train. It’s altogether a 7 hour journey to Boston where I’ll spend the night and a leisurely morning before boarding another train to the retreat center. For those who view time as money, it’s a horrifically inefficient plan. For someone who’s primary goal is wellness, it couldn’t be more optimal!

For starters, train travel doesn’t charge for luggage. Or make you jump through hoops regarding carry on bags which eventually get separated from you because when an entire plane full of people tries to avoid baggage fees, there’s never enough room in the overhead bins. Grrr! So I’ve been able to pack my big suitcase with a few decadent luxuries like supplements, my yoga mat, and all the aromatherapy oils I desire. Not just the ones the can fit in the quart sized ziplock bag.

I’m traveling in style with my reusable water bottle full of filtered water and travel mug full of my favorite tea. I have a few grounding crystals in my pockets and lace up shoes; neither of which will need to be removed. I have a packed lunch including proper utensils. I’m also wearing a knee brace with magnets without fear of setting off any alarms or being subjected to a body cavity search.

I have several books to read and a presentation to prepare. I’m grateful that I’ll have more than one cubic foot to do my work while riding comfortably with no worry of getting stuck in the middle seat. Once I get there, I have the added bonus of a mini adventure exploring a city I’ve never visited. I have no plan other than a hotel room booked. I have no contacts other than a online dating match that turned out disastrously and clearly I hope to avoid.

So finding an extra three days to journey to your next destination might not be in the cards for you. Yet I encourage you to think how you can create more space in your daily life for comfort, ease, and wellness. Can you allow yourself five extra minutes to get ready in the morning without rushing? Can you carve out a half hour to chew your food and receive pleasure and nourishment from your meals? Can you get to bed any earlier so the next morning arrives more peacefully? On the morning of your Slow Down journey when you obsessively decided to do one more load of laundry, can you leave it unfolded in the basket so you don’t have to hurry out the door? (I assure you that this is indeed possible!)

What choices can you make to set yourself up for success when it comes to living a balanced, harmonious, joyful life?

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 5: Reiki

From the very first twinge of pain I felt in my knee, I’ve been using Reiki. For starters, it’s the most effective natural pain reliever I know. It keeps the ki (life-force /qi/chi/prana- all different words for the same energy) flowing. Combined with the breath, it allows me to release discomfort instead of tensing up, which only worsens pain. So Reiki has been helping me with pain management without dulling my senses. As I’m working on healing a meniscus tear with entirely holistic and alternative treatments, I need to fully feel all the sensations as I believe they are informing me of what my body needs.

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I’m also using Reiki to promote the overall healing process. I truly believe that the body has innate healing abilities. I want to support this process by maximizing the resources available for this inside job. That means reducing stress which drains internal ki, making it less available for cartilage repair. That also means boosting energy to all systems (muscular, digestive, endocrine, etc) as they work together to promote harmony within. And of course that means providing healing energy directly to the knee to facilitate the process at the injury site.

I’m also experiencing a great deal of mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. Acceptance, forgiveness, patience, willingness to integrate wisdom, alignement with my life purpose, awakening, mindfulness, surrender to the divine plan, peacefulness, even joyfulness are all outcomes of the work this injury has inspired. I’m also facing fears of financial scarcity as I’ve been guided to eliminate a day of working at a spa, which is good for my wallet but not my health or mission. Reiki is supporting this deeper level of healing by balancing body, mind, and spirit in each moment.

One of the amazing things about Reiki is that it is activated by my intention, yet guided by spirit, or my Higher Self. I can “program” it to flow steadily for the goal of healing the meniscus tear. I call this the slow release technique, which is amplified by the symbols learned in Reiki 2. Then spirit guides that process; which means I don’t need an intellectual understanding of what the highest good is or what needs to happen. I simply trust in the intelligence of Reiki to cover those aspects which are beyond my pay grade.

It’s spectacularly simple, yet incredibly powerful! Anybody can learn Reiki in a short period of time and use it for anything and everything that ails them. I have several Reiki classes coming up. I’d love to have you attend! If Philadelphia isn’t convenient for you, I bet there’s a Reiki Master in your area who enjoys spreading the healing as much as I do.

 

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 4: Massage

I am a firm believer in the power of healing touch. So it seems only natural to me to get as much massage as I can to support the healing of the torn meniscus in my knee. For some, it might seem like a far stretch that massaging the soft tissue can help with an internal cartilage injury. Over the past 15 years of giving approximately 10,000 massages, I’ve witnessed time and time again my clients experiencing pain relief from a wide variety of issues. My respect for this holistic modality continues to deepen each time I observe it stimulating the body’s innate healing ability.

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Swedish massage is my favorite! The soothing nature of the strokes stimulates the relaxation response and releases the happy chemicals in my brain. You know; serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. It’s quite magical! When I’m on the massage table, I feel like everything is going to be just fine, and I find myself breathing deeply, and while my muscles simply melt.

Stimulating circulation is another important factor in the healing process. Unlike muscles, connective tissue isn’t particularly vascular and this can lengthen the duration of cartilage injuries. The manual manipulation of tissues around the knee increases circulation to the area, which supports the removal of any cellular waste and toxins as well as brings oxygen to the area. This provides the body with the conditions it needs to repair the damage from the inside out.

Perhaps most importantly, the muscles supporting an injured joint and those on the opposite side that must compensate for limited range of motion get tense, stiff, and achy. This contributes to a cycle of pain, more tension, less circulation, more pain… Massage helps to break this cycle and encourages muscles to lengthen and relax. Triggering the relaxation response also reduces the secretion of  the stress hormone, cortisol, which has been shown to contribute to inflammation.

Over time, feeling relaxed and the resulting physiological and neurochemical responses, along with increased circulation, and decreased inflammatory response will speed the healing on most any injury. Given that the side effects of massage include a good mood, nourished skin, and a sense of body-mind connection, I’m delighted to be able to include it in my recovery program. As with most, if not all, holistic and alternative treatments, massage promotes overall health and wellness without the dangers of more invasive procedures. Sign me up!

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 3: Yoga

Welcome to my journey of healing a torn meniscus using holistic, alternative therapies that align with my belief system. I recently explored body-mind-spirit healing, and next up is the ancient sacred practice of yoga. I’m not talking about the fast-paced, “work-out” style of yoga that seems to be popular in the U.S. these days. I don’t like to feel like I’m doing jumping jacks in my yoga practice! That seems like an invitation to injury (or re-injury) which is most definitely NOT part of my plan.

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First of all, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. In addition to following the suggestions of your medical practitioner, you might consider consulting a yoga therapist.

Yoga therapists are trained to help people adapt poses and develop a practice that is safe for any body type or physical limitation. This would be my recommendation for most people wishing to use yoga to support the healing of any injury. Find a trained teacher who can guide you through the practice.

Having been a student of yoga for the past 25 years, I have loads of experience at accepting what my body can and cannot do. I’ve given up the idea of trying to look like the person on the mat next to me. I have no idealized version of how my practice should look and I feel quite comfortable doing what I can, no matter how restricted it may seem. This acquired humbleness and authenticity combined with 15 years of practicing massage therapy allows me to feel confident guiding my own practice safely.

For me, yoga is an exercise of the mind; of bringing my awareness into my body to focus on softening the areas that hold tension. It helps me to inhabit my body rather than just using it as a vehicle to carry me from place to place. Bringing compassionate awareness into the painful areas brings prana (the Sanskrit word for life- force energy that we call ki in Reiki healing) to the tissues that need it- the very tissues that I tend to ignore and numb out.

For me the combination of breathing deeply, infusing my cells with prana, focusing my mind, becoming fully present, and mindful (and in this case slow and gentle) movement is extraordinarily healing. Plus it stimulates the Relaxation Response; a physiological reaction that releases feel-good, calming chemicals in my brain.  It’s like getting the benefits of a two week vacation rolled into an hour. Seriously, what could be better than that? Maybe a massage… but that’s for the next installment. 🙂

Can You Use Reiki for …

I love it when my students and clients ask questions I’d never before considered! Most recently I was stumped by, “Can you use Reiki to have a good hair day?” As my approach to Reiki has always been experimental, I generally reply to these inquiries with “I’m not sure. I don’t see why not. Give it a try and let me know!”

I teach three general guidelines about practicing Reiki.

  • Use Reiki for everything, all the time! No book or course could come close to covering the myriad applications of Reiki; hence my experimental approach. Students have reported success when Reiki’ing all sorts of things I never taught them: windshield wiper blades and goldfish, for example!
  • Don’t attempt to interfere with anyone’s free will.  When we learn this amazing healing technique, it’s tempting to want to help friends and family, but often they are not interested in receiving our help. Free will always takes precedence over well-meaning interference.
  • Reiki always works for our highest good, but not always in the way we want it to work. Just like every process in life, we benefit from trusting in divine wisdom and  remaining unattached to the form of the outcome.

Let’s look at how we can apply these guidelines to a “Can you use Reiki…” question.

If you’re not attempting to manipulate someone’s opinion or behavior, I’d suggest giving it a try. This holds true for Reiki for good hair as much as it does for Reiki for healing mysterious illnesses or relationship harmony or world peace. It’s a universal guideline that can be consulted for any situation.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of this analysis is that Reiki always works for the highest good. Often we don’t see the big picture and therefore remain ignorant of what our highest good is. In this case, it could mean that the hair-holder’s (pun intended 😉 intuition would be heightened and the perfect stylist, technique, or product would be revealed. It could mean that greater self-love, -acceptance, and -appreciate begin to develop, making concerns of good hair days less important. It could mean an actual hair crisis that would lead to meeting a person of consequence or a significant learning experience.

If we remember that an intelligence greater than us has our best interest at heart, it’s much easier to Reiki our goals and release expectation. If we remember that we don’t always know what’s best for ourselves, let alone anyone else, it’s easier to let go of trying to manage another’s health and well-being. When we remember the Reiki is a spiritually guided life-force energy, it’s easier to see how it can support us in enjoying our greatest good in every aspect of life.

 

 

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 2. Body-mind-spirit Healing

Recently I announced my intention to chronicle my exploration of holistic healing therapies for a meniscus tear in my knee. Given my belief system (see Part 1), the infrequency of intense pain, and my knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine (especially Reiki), it is clearly the right path for me. Also, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

Pain is often a message from my spirit or psyche telling me I am off track, misaligned with my True Self or life purpose, or exposing myself to negativity, toxins, or some sort of abuse, misuse or neglect that is taking its toll on my body. I view it as a cry for help. As such, I do my best to welcome it and get curious about the wisdom that this message intends to reveal.

I’m not a masochist by any means. I value pleasure and comfort a lot! However pain seems to be a warning ding (or DING!) that I need to change course. For this reason, I’m not relying on pain killers. I want to notice the dings before they become DINGS! and to do so, I need to be fully aware of what I’m feeling. I do keep a CBD creme on hand for soothing the DINGS! that occasionally reveal themselves, while simultaneously exploring what they are trying to tell me.

Disclaimer: I do believe that thoughts and words have an impact on my health. Holding resentment or anger within me eventually causes pain in my body. Ignoring my spirit’s cries for change will also lead to discomfort. AND I’m certain there are other contributors to pain as well- karma and soul contracts and other mysterious factors which I do not claim to understand. So while I believe that all negative thoughts contribute to pain, the reverse does not follow: not all pain is caused by negative thoughts.

In body-mind-spirit healing, I at least want to explore the possibility that my spirit or psyche is offering me valuable information. In this case, I noticed that twice I tweaked my knee on a Sunday while running for public transit on my way to the spa where I work part time. Aha! This, my friends is a clue!

Stop rushing is the most obvious message. I KNOW this! Rushing creates anxiety, stress, a fight or flight hormonal reaction, and apparently knee pain. Now I must actually HEED this by allowing myself more time to get where I’m going or do what I’m doing in order to create a peaceful mode of being.

When I dig deeper, I recognize that I’m working too much, I don’t want to work on Sundays (that’s when all the fun things happen!), and that the spa isn’t my ideal work environment. It’s pretty obvious that I need to make a change in my life. Of course, fear and scarcity thinking try to creep in and remind me that Sundays at the spa provide a substantial and reliable income; but that’s the type of thinking that got me into this mess! When I dig even deeper still, I become aware that I need the energy that I expend on Sundays to invest in my passion, my life purpose, my own business of offering deeply healing work to clients at my office.

What follows is a leap of faith. Well, I’m not actually leaping these days, so more like a big, carefully aligned step in the direction my spirit sets for me. I’ve told the manager that I will work two more Sundays while she tries to find a replacement, and then no more. It was an uncomfortable conversation. She was clearly disappointed, but I was feeling an amazing sense of liberation as I KNEW I was making the right choice for my health, well-being, and happiness. Nothing means more to me than that.

 

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 1

So. I injured my knee. Much of the time it doesn’t hurt at all. Until it does. And sometimes it really freakin’ does! My chiropractor did an orthopedic test (specific movements with joints held in specific positions) and it appears I have a torn meniscus. Crap. Although… it is a wonderful opportunity to practice what I preach about self-care and alternative medicine.

Let me begin by saying I’m not a doctor. I’m not offering medical advice. I have no idea what you should do about your knee injury. I’m certainly not suggesting you shouldn’t seek medical attention simply because I’m not. However, you might like to include some complementary methods with whatever treatment you are receiving. Legal disclaimer over.

I’m exploring a wide range of holistic techniques to heal my knee. I’m quite certain that the problem is not the lack of a pharmaceutical drug, and surgery or other invasive procedures will only be considered if all other, and I mean ALL other, plans fail.

I believe in the power of body-mind-spirit healing, and listening to the messages the body provides.

I believe in the healing power of Reiki, bodywork, and compassionate touch.

I believe in using plants and food as medicine.

I believe that minimizing stress and inflammation supports optimal health and healing.

I believe in using mindfulness and breath as tools of integration.

I believe in the ancient sciences of yoga and Ayurveda.

I believe healing comes from the inside out and that my body knows what it needs if I only slow down enough to listen.

I believe I am the ultimate authority when it comes to my health, and while I will research techniques and therapies and consult with other holistic health practitioners, my treatment must align with my beliefs.

This is the beginning of a series in which I explore the journey of healing my knee using holistic, energy, plant, and spiritual medicine. And a magnetic knee brace, which I was gifted today. Because I also believe in synchronicity and kindness and hey, it certainly can’t hurt!

Up next: body-mind-spirit healing for a meniscus tear.

 

A Reiki Teacher’s Dream!

Occasionally I have the distinct honor of introducing someone to the body-mind-spirit healing realm. While many of my students have an established meditation, yoga, or spiritual practice, some of them find Reiki as their introduction into the metaphysical world. I attribute this to the wave of awakening that seems to be prevailing on this planet.

Last week a student looked at me with bright eyes and asked, “You mean my thoughts affect my health?”; I could practically see the light bulb over her head! We had been talking about Ki (life-force energy) and how we can expand or diminish it in normal, everyday life. While Reiki is a tremendously easy and effective way to boost Ki, our lifestyles, habits, thoughts, and beliefs also have a huge impact on our health by either draining or building Ki.

Becoming aware that my thoughts, notably the persistent and recurring type thoughts that I engage in constantly, affect my well-being shifted my life more than any other lesson in this lifetime. Recognizing that I have so much control (and eek! responsibility) was truly empowering. To offer this medicine to another young woman beginning her healing journey was such a blessing! As much for me as it was for her.

Of course I appreciate all my students’ questions. Many of them keep me on my toes with deep and insightful queries. I enjoy all the challenges they bring and every discussion about Reiki and healing is valuable to me. In fact I learn just as much from my students as they do from me. I love it when an unusual question activates a level of thinking that I hadn’t accessed before. I am on a lifetime journey myself and every student and client contributes to my map.

Likewise, I enjoy cheering them on for their individual journeys; from those taking their first steps to those in the midst of a marathon. Each of them brightens my life with their curiosity and willingness to learn. Knowing that I have such amazing company on my journey is truly inspiring. I’m feeling both deeply humbled and extremely blessed to allow Reiki to teach through me. It’s quite possibly the best job ever!