Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a root canal. I’ve been preparing for weeks. (See part 1 and part 2 of this dental journey if you wish.) My motivation is two-fold: for the procedure to go as smoothly as possible, and to avoid having to go through this ever again. I’m enlisting all the holistic tools at my disposal to make this a reality.
I continue to use Reiki daily, both for my teeth and jaws, as well as sending it to the procedure itself. Given what I know about trauma, the body’s fight-flight-freeze mechanism, and its physiological responses; my strategy is to promote calmness. Reiki, breathing practices, and yoga are the techniques that come to mind.
I’m also interested in minimizing inflammation, for which I’m using diet, herbs, and aromatherapy. I have propolis and arnica tablets standing by for after the procedure and ibuprofen as a last resort. Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence for stress and trauma, will no doubt be a huge help as well.
I was delighted to discover askthedentist.com during my research of holistic support for a root canal. This sight is devoted to functional dentistry. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! There’s tons of information about how to maximize oral health that extends way beyond brushing, flushing, and trips to the dentist. Nutrition is a prime focus as a preventative measure. I ordered a new electric toothbrush and natural toothpaste based on the thorough product research provided.
I’m feeling quite well prepared. My doctor comes with the highest recommendations and I’m doing everything possible on my end to ensure a positive outcome. Naturally massage, plenty of rest, green smoothies and other soft foods, and several book and video distractions will all have a place in my recovery. Taking an active role in my wellness plan (which now thoroughly includes preventing future invasive dental interventions!) has been an empowering process.
I’m ready for my first and last root canal. Bring it on Dr. Lim!
I spend a lot of time thinking about what “healing” means. I have physical issues that remain unresolved, but feel “healed”. Likely because I’ve come to terms with these issues and have opened to receive any and all messages they carry. I’ve seen other issues supposedly cured, but not “healed”. The symptoms disappeared, but the underlying condition remained unresolved, allowing other issues to pop up as a result. I would not call this chronic chasing of symptoms “healing” even though it might appear to be so on a superficial level.
So, what then is healing?
The current understanding I have on this complex topic is… (drum roll please!) Healing is the integration of body, mind, and spirit.
It is the recognition that while I have, appreciate, and care for this body; I am not my body. Likewise, I am not my mind. Nor am I my thoughts or my aspirations. I am most definitely not my history, the wounds of my past, the failures or successes I’ve experienced, or my genetic blueprint. I am not my status, my career, my possessions, or any of the other labels I have become attached to or identified with.
I am an extension of the divine, here to have a human experience. The more fully I awaken to this reality, the more fully I embody this truth, the more fully I align my thoughts, words, and actions with this concept, the more fully I am healed.
It seems the key to embracing healing is being present in each moment with a loving heart. Being willing to feel all the feelings and speak the sometimes difficult truth. Making choices that reflect my values and taking leaps of faith when my intuition guides me to do so. Quieting my thoughts and taking care of my body so that I am not distracted by their demands. Honoring my tender heart and nurturing the spirit within. Revealing the inner light and sharing it with the world.
In short, the path to healing is remembering that I’m not separate from anyone else or from the divine. And when I forget, I remember again. And again. And again…
It seems appropriate that I’m writing this while swishing coconut oil in my mouth as part of my complementary, holistic campaign for maximum dental health. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique with tons of anecdotal support, but it hasn’t been subjected to rigorous scientific experimentation. I suspect this is because there’s no money to be made from exposing the benefits of simple self-care practices. I’m willing to give it a try as I see no possible harmful effects and have greater trust in folk medicine than western medicine when it comes to promoting wellness.
After 20 minutes, I’ll brush with baking soda and then again with a mostly natural toothpaste, containing flouride. I still believe that flouride is toxic, but I’m using it on a temporary basis, as my intuition is telling me to use all the tools I can right now in this crisis period, and to take extra steps to support detoxification along the way. I should also mention that I’m doing tongue scraping (another revered Ayurvedic recommendation), first thing every morning too.
Yesterday I went in for the root canal. The doctor was very compassionate and took the time to explain the process to me and answer my questions. He was a referral from my dentist, and that referral was independently verified by a client who is also a dentist, so I was feeling quite good about the choices that led me to be reclining in his chair.
I’d been Reiki’ing myself and the procedure for days. I was as prepared as I possibly could have been. But holy hell! Talk about triggering the fight-flight-or-freeze reflex! It was invasive, scary, and I don’t mind sharing- traumatic. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through it without flowing Reiki and deep breathing. While there was very little pain, the threat of it was overpowering and I could feel my body respond physiologically as if I were in actual danger.
As it turns out, he was unable to complete the process and I have to go back in two weeks for the final round! Apparently the alternative was allowing saliva and bacteria to be introduced into the canal, creating the possibility of “big problems” a few years down the line. No thank you! Now that I know what to expect and that I can indeed survive the experience, I’m feeling less anxious. We’ll see if that calm holds when I go in for the next appointment!
I left the office with instructions for aftercare. They did not cover the emotional distress I was feeling, nor the adrenaline that was pumping through me. I felt the familiar compulsion to suppress uncomfortable emotions using the potent distractions of food, drink, and electronics. I resisted, knowing that I needed to release the energy and emotions and not stuff them down inside of myself.
I continued to flood myself with Reiki on the train ride home while practicing deep breathing with extended exhales. I came home and used aromatherapy, yoga, EFT, and meditation to release the excess energy from my system and to engage the relaxation response. I added propolis to the recommended warm water salt rinse. Several hours later, the numbness had worn off and a mild pain kicked in. I took one ibuprofen, thinking that a good night’s sleep was of utmost importance.
Today I’m feeling fine. I already had a Reiki treatment scheduled for myself, and I’ve switched it to a long-distance session so I can stay home and comfortable (it’s cold and rainy here today) and still receive the full benefits of divinely guided life-force energy. I will continue to treat myself frequently, but there is something magical about receiving treatment from another practitioner.
While I’m waiting for the next appointment, along with the extra dental self-care, I’ll explore nutrition for re-mineralizing teeth. My dentist is skeptical, but I personally know someone who succeeded with this approach and avoided multiple fillings. It’s seems obvious that the body needs certain building blocks to maintain healthy teeth and that the food I choose will be able to supply them.
Overall, I’m able to look at this as adventure of exploring the relationship between modern medicine and complementary medicine. The goal is to use all the tools possible to create the greatest, most optimal outcome. I’m the captain on this journey; investigating all the options, receiving advice from various professionals, and making decisions based on my personal value system. While I can’t truthfully say that I’m glad to be here, I’m going to make the best of it, and do my best to prevent booking a return trip.
Well this is certainly a topic I never imagined writing about! I’m no expert on teeth or dentistry, but I am committed to living a life based in body-mind-spirit integration, and that includes my oral cavity. When a filling fell out 6 months ago, and I chose to ignore it, perhaps that was a mistake? OK, it was absolutely a mistake! I recognize now that it was a message that something was out of balance. Sheesh, this is the foundation of my belief system! Moving forward… So when part of a tooth (that was attached to the former filling) fell out, I chose more wisely.
So what to do when you believe in holistic healing and there is no holistic dentist in your area, when you have no dental insurance or excess cash, when you’re not in pain but are aware that it’s a distinct possibility in the near future? You do the best you can to stay aligned with your values and take immediate action.
So I did. I’ll share the journey here with the hopes that it might be of assistance to someone else on a similar path.
For starters, I turn to my primary tool: Reiki. I used Reiki for clarity and intuition when choosing a dentist. I wanted someone who would be compassionate and understanding of my alternative views about healthcare, and open to working with me in this regard. I sent Reiki ahead to the appointment for the best possible outcome, to calm my nerves, and to attract the means with which to pay. (For now, that’s my credit card, but I’m confident the means to pay that bill will follow!)
Being devoted to holistic healing does not prevent me from getting help when I’m out of my league. A decaying tooth with a nerve that is apparently quite nearly exposed is way out of my league. And preventing pain is a top priority in my book. So, off I go for a root canal tomorrow. I’m already sending Reiki to the appointment for a smooth, painless procedure and speedy healing.
I’m also going to pick up some propolis, which I’ve been told by a bee-loving friend, is an excellent choice for healing gums. I’m preparing soft foods for aftercare and creating as much space as possible in my schedule for a restful recovery. I have herbs and essential oils on hand for managing inflammation through stimulating the body’s innate healing ability, rather than using OTC meds to suppress it. Meds are on hand, just in case, as I don’t believe in suffering needlessly.
As for the other issues that the dentist found… well I’ll be working on them in the meantime. She can have this urgent intervention. But this does not mean that I’m giving away my power as the primary medical expert of myself; I will be doing my magic as well. The very same tools I use as preventative and alternative medicine on a daily basis can also be used as complementary medicine.
It seems that teeth have simply not been on my radar beyond the basics. I don’t recall ever having sent Reiki to my teeth. That’s weird because I Reiki everything! Outside of minimizing sugar, I haven’t thought at all about what foods support healthy teeth. I have avoided fluoride, but not considered what the most helpful toothpaste ingredients are.
Those days are over. Dental health in now on my radar. I’m getting involved and applying every trick I’ve ever learned from nutrition to stress management to sound healing, plant medicine, and ancient Ayurvedic techniques. And dental reflexology. What?! It’s a thing! New to me, but I’m going to check it out. All holistic remedies will be explored.
Recently someone asked if I was familiar with the phenomenon of women experiencing joint pain after the delivery of a baby. I was not. But this conversation certainly got me thinking! Given my model of understanding pain as an indicator of imbalance, then massage could certainly be of benefit in this circumstance. As I’m always on the lookout for new material for this blog, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore and share.
It seems quite common for hormones to be imbalanced during this time of major transition. I find Swedish massage to be spectacularly helpful for supporting hormonal health. Manual therapy is a lot like wringing out a sponge. Massage can physically stimulate the removal of cellular waste and other debris from the tissue. The lymphatic system can then “take out the trash”, encouraging the body to return to equilibrium.
Another obvious factor would be the change in structure of a women’s body once the baby is no longer within her. The center of gravity shifts and the hip flexors and extensors negotiate a new relationship. This will have an impact directly on the hips, knees, and back. From here, imbalance can radiate to the entire body. Releasing tension from tired, overworked muscles and stimulating circulation to weak and underused muscles can absolutely assist the body in returning to structural balance.
Never having delivered a baby myself, I don’t have first-hand knowledge of what the experience is like. I do think it’s safe to say that as far as the nervous system is concerned, it is a traumatic event. Regardless of the possible joy of bringing new life into the world, or achieving the important goal of becoming a mother, the physiological response to pain is swift and thorough. From the first contraction, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, and muscles tense. Massage can help reset the parasympathetic nervous system and nudge the body back into balance through activating the relaxation response. Reiki can be wonderfully helpful in this aspect as well.
Upper body discomfort is common with new mothers as the body adjusts to carrying, holding, or nursing a baby. This is more of a repetitive movement issue as muscles are being asked to behave in new ways for great lengths of time. Massage can indeed provide relief for those achy and exhausted muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and arms.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of deep-tissue massage in most cases. In this particular case, I’d go so far as to say that intense pressure would only cause more tension and create more pain. Deep-tissue work is actually contraindicated if a mother is breastfeeding, but even if she’s not I fail to see any possible benefits. Skillful and mindful work in the hip flexors, lateral rotators, and gluteals might edge on unpleasant, but crossing the border into pain is going to be counterproductive.
As always, it’s important to check with your doctor when experiencing pain. Western medicine is brilliant when it comes to detecting severe health issues. It’s not so great at treating pain, so unless there’s a condition preventing you from receiving treatment, I have no doubt that some TLC for mama could help tremendously.
The more I learn about trauma and its devastating effects, the more I realize that the adage “time heals all wounds” is completely wrong. Not matter how long ago one experienced a traumatic event, if the energy generated at that time has not been released and integrated, it remains in the body. It might hibernate or seem dormant, but it lurks beneath the surface, often creating pain or influencing behavior and emotions from the shadows.
“If you are experiencing strange symptoms that no one seems to be able to explain, they could be arising from a traumatic reaction to a past event that you may not even remember. You are not alone. You are not crazy. There is a rational explanation for what is happening to you. You have not been irreversibly damaged, and it is possible to diminish or even eliminate your symptoms.” Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger
I find this quote from one of the world’s leading experts on trauma to be so helpful. Many of my clients suffer from mysterious symptoms that their doctors are unable to explain. Just because western medicine doesn’t have an answer does not automatically mean that there is none; they just haven’t fully understood the affects of trauma or the awesome power of the body-mind-spirit connection.
I was horrified to hear that a neurologist told a woman experiencing hand tremors that she should see a psychologist because there was nothing physically wrong with her. I have nothing against psychological treatment, but this doctor was implying that she suffered from a mental illness because he was unable to find a diagnosis. I wonder if he would have treated a male patient the same way, but that is a topic for another day.
“Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the “triggering” event itself. They stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits. The long-term alarming, debilitating, and often bizarre symptoms of PTSD develop when we cannot complete the process of moving in, through and out of the “immobility” or “freezing” state. However, we can thaw by initiating and encouraging our innate drive to return to a state of dynamic equilibrium.” Again from Waking the Tiger
Clearly I am enamored with this book! I believe it offers valuable wisdom in a form accessible to the layperson. Somatic Experiencing is the therapy that has evolved from Levine’s work. While I am not a practitioner of this modality, I have absorbed and integrated much of its philosophy into my therapeutic massage and Reiki practice. Acknowledging the whole person, compassionate listening, nurturing touch, allowing an organic unwinding of tension patterns, and supporting the process of body-mind-spirit integration is the approach that has benefited so many of my clients.
While I have much to learn about healing, for my own journey and to support my clients, what really stands out to me is that trauma requires some form of intervention to be released. This appears to be a physiological fact, according to Levine. It does not simply go away over time. There is no shame in reaching out for help healing a wound, no matter how old, how seemingly insignificant, or how much we might believe it shouldn’t be affecting us anymore.
Please know that whatever terrible experiences you may have endured, you are not broken. Your spirit remains perfect, whole, and complete. Your body and mind can be healed and the residue of any trauma is treatable. There is hope.
Here’s a link to a directory of Somatic Experiencing practitioners.
If you’re interested in exploring if long-distance Reiki, or in person Reiki or Swedish massage for stress and pain relief through body-mind-spirit integration might be right for you, please do contact me to schedule a complementary 15 minute phone consultation.
Like many Americans, the evidence and aftermath of sexual assault has been on my mind lately. It seems that this type of trauma has touched the lives of most people I know. I’m saddened by the daily #metoo reports I find on social media, and the secrets that have been held for decades that are rising to the surface. Yet, I know that this is how healing begins. I’m finding hope for the future, and intrigued by the power of Reiki to support the process.
Being saturated with spiritually-guided life-force energy is an amazing strategy to encourage body-mind-spirit balance, to prevent trauma from becoming internalized or a point of self-identification, and to tap into inner resources of intuition and resilience. Reiki can help keep emotions and energy flowing, expressing, releasing, and integrating. It can connect us with our wholeness, beauty, and perfection; which are eternal and rightfully our own despite any experiences which might suggest otherwise.
Compassion and non-judgment are part of the foundation of this practice. As Reiki is given as a gift from the divine, it is never tarnished with blame, or opinions and interpretations of society or the practitioner. It is pure, healing energy that is available to be used as each individual’s higher self deems it is needed.
In addition to being such a beneficial treatment for trauma, Reiki can be administered without any touch. It can be offered from across the room, and received while fully clothed and seated upright if lying down feels too vulnerable. Reiki can even be received from the comfort of one’s own home if this feels more secure, comfortable, or convenient. One of the sacred symbols is a tool for bridging time and space, and allows level 2 practitioners to share healing energy with people who are elsewhere.
If you’re in need of support for healing of sexual trauma, I encourage you to explore distance Reiki as a viable option. If you’re a Reiki practitioner, I encourage you to join me in offering Reiki to the collective feminine, to be received by those who are suffering and open to accepting energetic healing. If you’re eager to be an agent of support for those of us who are struggling in these difficult times, I encourage you to seek a Reiki teacher for training. I don’t know of any other modality that is completely natural, holistic, can do no harm, complimentary to all other therapies, and so easy to learn.
The only way out is through; let’s help each other along the way.