Healer, Heal Thyself Update

It’s been nearly two months since I posted about my journey of using alternative, holistic medicine to heal a knee injury. I am being super careful about keeping the joint aligned (twisting is that action that hurts), but otherwise not really applying myself to using all the tools in my arsenal. I suppose you could say I’ve fallen into complacent acceptance. I altered my behavior to avoid pain and went about my business.

I’ve learned to modify my home yoga practice to avoid deep flexion of the knee (alas, that includes child’s pose, one of my all-time favorites!) and several other postures that aggravated the injury, and now allow myself plenty of time to get where I’m going so I don’t add the stress of rushing to my compromised state. I continue to get lots of bodywork and have been massaging my own calves with a softball several times each week.

This probably could have gone on indefinitely as I rarely had pain and the occasional twinge served as a reminder to be more mindful. But then… I went hiking. How could I not? Spring in the northeast is gloriously beautiful and soon enough the heat and humidity will be oppressive and I will be hiding inside. Unfortunately the rocky terrain led to twisting movements in the knee joint. I will also confess to consuming an excess amount of sugar over the past few weeks, which I know causes inflammation and irritates my joints, even those in the healthiest state. Not a brilliant combination at all. 😦

 

 

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Next time I’ll just go sit by the water and enjoy the vibes without re-injuring myself!

So I’m applying the motivation to prevent further discomfort and my recent learning to my new healing plan. Coming up soon will be a full on 4 week cleanse based on the book “Clean” by Dr. Alejandro Junger to eliminate inflammation. I’ve done this twice before and recognize that the rewards are spectacular. I notice an improvement in digestion, sleep, mood, skin, and mobility that is simply incomparable.

I’ve started formally applying the knowledge I gained from “The Intention Experiment” every morning, by actively visualizing the enjoyable activities I will explore once I am fully healed. If you’re skeptical about the healing power of the mind, this book goes heavily into documented experiments- quantum physics and such. It was a bit too science-y for me, but as a believer I’m not in need of proof . If you’re questioning the validity of the potency of intention, I suspect this book will change your mind.

And my newest, and perhaps funnest toy: sound healing. I took a class last week about the amazing effects of vibrations on our molecular structure. “The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing” by Jonathan Goldman is an amazing resource, and completely accessible to beginners. I’ve always known that music has a healing quality, but I have a much greater appreciation for it now. I’ve discovered YouTube videos with specific frequencies for healing knees! I’m listening to one now.

The great thing about holistic medicine is the absence of harmful side effects. Some people might be rolling their eyes at the seeming lack of action that I’m taking in the healing process, but it’s impossible to suggest that there will be any dangerous repercussions to my plan. Shamans and healers have been using these tools for thousands of years with incredible benefits. That gives me great hope. Knowing there will be no damage done (to body, mind, or spirit) gives me tremendous relief. Together, this provides the inspiration I need to keep up with my practices. Onwards!

Map for Self-Healing

Holistic health is a journey with numerous twists and turns. For many of us it includes finding body-mind-spirit balance in a world that idolizes the mind, abuses the body, and ignores the spirit. As I choose to cultivate wellness more and more frequently, I am rewarded with greater physical comfort, more peace and calm, enhanced productivity, and a deeper sense of connection with my true self and life purpose. This encourages me to forge onward, despite a glaring lack of support from society at large.

So… I did a Reiki healing attunement for myself the other evening. This is a technique for removing blockages which prevent the arrival of desired goals. It’s very powerful, and sometimes disruptive as it can demand changes in belief systems and lifestyle to support the healing intention. It’s very much about re-establishing balance; therefore we need to eliminate the activities that create imbalance. All. Of. Them. (Chances are you already know what they are!)

I asked to release a pattern that has plagued me my entire adult life. Afterwards, I was gifted with a series of dreams that displayed in brilliant array the negative thought patterns that prevent me from receiving my petition. I am now abundantly clear that I’ve been given a road map: If I want to go to Point X, I must relinquish these false beliefs that derail me, and I’ll make better time if I stop wasting my energy on judgments and criticisms. All. Of. Them!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now it’s up to me to follow through. It’s no easy job to recognize that your own thoughts are what obstruct you from going where you want to go! And certainly no easier to break mental habits that have developed over decades. But it’s the route to my success, so you’d better believe I’m going to give it my all!

The work to be done is entirely internal. There is no book, no class, no pill (herbal or pharmaceutical!), no therapy, no alternative treatment or practitioner, no exercise that can do this for me. I’ve been given a road map to my personal healing, and now it’s up to me to reprogram my mind with compassion, persistence, and awareness. Then I can get started on my journey with a new, accurate guidance system. Onward!

Contact me if you’re interested in your own personal healing map. Reiki can help you navigate it.

Preventing Burnout

I’m noticing a lot of educators feeling burned out as the school year draws to a close. While they face different challenges than I do, the route to wellness follows the same general direction. Keeping one’s energy up requires a multi-pronged approach: refill positive energy, plug energy leaks, and release negative energy. I put together a list of easy strategies that you might find helpful.

Doing these practices throughout the year will help build up your life force energy, and therefore overall health and happiness. Doing them during a time of acute stress can protect mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As a proponent of alternative and complementary therapies, I’ve explored holistic techniques for protecting my health over the past two decades and strive to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to stress management.

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  • Get out into nature (trees and running water are ideal, but an urban park is a good substitute if that’s what’s available to you) and put your bare feet on the earth. Google “grounding” or “earthing” if interested in the reasoning.
  • Soak in epsom salt baths with pure lavender essential oil.
  • Consistently eat quality protein. Humanely raised grass fed beef or pasture raised chicken and eggs. Humus. Organic nuts. Yes, it’s expensive; you are worth it.
  • Reduce intake of refined sugar. Seriously- this is so helpful! Paleo desserts are pretty yummy and satisfy my sweet tooth without crashing my blood sugar or triggering inflammation like traditional desserts do.
  • Unplug. As much as possible, take a break from all electronics- especially 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Practice pranayama/ breath exercise. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold breath in for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 8. Trick your brain into thinking you’re relaxed.
  • When spending a marathon day doing desk work, take dance breaks.  A friend who recently survived a PhD acquisition turned me onto the Pomodoro technique, a time management method which breaks work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. During the break intervals, I like to get up and move my body.
  • Get Reiki and/or massage 🙂 from someone who is not burned out! Allow a professional to help you recharge your batteries.

What techniques do you use to help manage intense stress and prevent burnout? I’m always interested in learning new tricks!

Living Pain Free Summit

I’ve spent the past 34 years exploring strategies to avoid pain. Over time I’ve come to recognize that the debilitating back pain I experienced for the first time in eighth grade was a blessing as it led me down the path of holistic wellness, alternative and complementary medicine, and body-mind-spirit healing. I’ve learned how to prevent discomfort in my own body and have spent 15 years helping my clients do the same. All without relying on numbing symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

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Last month I took a workshop, Positional Release for Chronic Pain, with Lee Albert. His teachings are very much aligned with my own beliefs and experiences. In fact, he didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know; rather he validated many vague concepts that had yet to been given shape and structure in my mind. I’m thrilled to have some new tools both for myself and for my clients.

Today I received an email that Lee is going to be participating in a NO cost online series of 20 experts in the field of holistic healing. “Isn’t it time to find out what options are available so you can get your quality of life back and start living the life you deserve?” is the invitation from his newsletter. If you want to experience something different than what you currently are experiencing, it’s necessary to DO something different. Perhaps one of these speakers will have the key that fits your lock.

The summit begins May 14. You can register here. Pain is a message that something is out of balance. Learning to decode the message and correct the imbalance is very often possible with the help of alternative, holistic therapies. I’ve found tremendous relief through yoga, meditation, prayer, contemplation, nutrition, plant medicine, Swedish massage, and Reiki. When I stick to my regime, the chronic back pain that plagued me throughout my youth is but a memory. If there’s a chance that yours could be too, wouldn’t you want to find out?

Getting the Most out of My Massage

Today it’s my turn to get on the table and receive a nurturing, nourishing massage. Yay!!! I’m so enamored with the benefits of gentle, healing touch that I aim to get at least two every month. Massage is a huge part of my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health care plan. It’s my goal to use holistic, alternative, and complementary medicine to cultivate the optimal health available to me.

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In order to get the most out of my session, I want to arrive in the most relaxed state that I possibly can. That way I can sink even deeper into my treatment, reaping the most rewards available to me, and experiencing the greatest peace and relaxation. Some days, the most relaxed state that I’m able to conjure up is, well, loosely described as a hot mess. And that’s just perfect. If I’m upset or agitated, there’s no greater cure than healing touch. I leave feeling like I’ve been restored to my essential, loving self.

However, when grace allows and I begin my treatment from the maximum state of relaxation I can achieve on my own, the therapist helps me arrive at a whole new level. So I take the time to meditate and clear my mind. While this is obviously not necessary and most people enjoy a massage without preparing for it with meditation, I’ve noticed that when I don’t, I spend the first 20-30 minutes just settling into my session. When I’ve meditated beforehand, I settle almost instantly, allowing myself to sink deeper quicker. For the same reason, I like to do some gentle yoga in preparation as well.

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that late morning seems to be a really good time for me. I’ve eaten a hearty breakfast earlier and it’s mostly digested by then but keeps my blood sugar stable; I’ve hydrated quite well and don’t need to worry about a full bladder disrupting my treatment. I like to dry brush, so that I’m more able to absorb all the healing qualities of the natural oil being slathered on my skin.

Because I’m aware of the value of treating the muscles of the face, scalp, and upper neck that attach to the skull, I prioritize these benefits over my appearance. I don’t mind walking home with massage hair, and I imagine what people notice most about me is my calm presence and radiant glow. On the rare occasion that I have somewhere fancy to go, I let my therapist know to avoid my head and I protect my locks by tying them up out of the way.

Naturally I don’t want to feel rushed and I want to receive every minute of massage bliss, so I allow plenty of time for getting there calmly. It’s a beautiful day outside, and I’m blessed to have a gifted therapist within walking distance of my home, so I make time for a leisurely stroll there and back. Hurrying to or from a massage is a great way to eradicate most of the benefits by triggering stress hormones. No thank you! I make space in case I encounter every single red light, a long lost friend who wants to say hello, or an adorable puppy.

Perhaps the most essential strategy for getting the most out of my holistic health care via massage is to communicate my desires and needs clearly at the beginning of my session. I tell my therapist two or three things I’d like to focus on, as well as anything I’d like to avoid. Because I’m healing a torn meniscus in my knee, range of motion or stretching makes me nervous, which is the exact opposite of relaxation, and to be avoided for now. I have some tension in my neck that needs some therapy, so I mention that as well.

Now my work is done. I get to lie back, relax, and receive. I enjoy the greatest rewards when I turn off my thinking and let the therapist do the job for which s/he has been highly trained. Micromanaging is a sure way to interrupt the flow and interfere with my ability to release stress. Assuming that I know the best course of action discounts the therapist’s skill, experience, and intuition. Generally, I have a blind spot when it comes to my own tension patterns as I can’t see the bigger picture. Unless something is painful, or I’m uncomfortable in any way, I get the most out of my massage by allowing myself to receive the gift that is being offered to me.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve probably been the recipient of over 400 session! I’ve only had a handful of what I would call “bad” massages, several mediocre massages, and loads of really wonderful massages. As I’ve been perfecting my receiving technique, I’ve noticed that much of the responsibility for experiencing a great massage is mine. Practicing the above strategies makes a huge difference for me, and I hope it will for you too.

 

Simple Headache and Computer Posture Antidote

Today my Reiki students helped me name this extremely useful position. Beach pose! It’s a powerful complimentary and alternative medicine and holistic therapy remedy for a wide variety of common complaints that arise from less than ideal posture.

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Beach pose

It’s my number one recommendation for people who suffer from headaches or neck pain, work at a computer all day, or do massage or any other activity with the arms forward (pretty much everything, right?!). When there’s only time for one hand position for applying Reiki, this is a good choice. If you have just 3-5 minutes, put yourself in this position, and invite the healing energy to flow. The results are instantaneous and potent.

There are benefits available to those who haven’t been trained in the magical powers of energy healing. This pose is a slight, gentle backbend; a counterpose to computer slump. It reverses the forward hunching, chin jutting position many of us find ourselves in when sitting at a desk behind a keyboard. It opens the chest and throat, encouraging respiration and circulation, and lengthens contracted muscles in the chest and neck.

But that’s not all! It puts the upper trapezius into slack, counteracting its habitual overstretched position and offering an invitation for this poor, overworked, unbelievably tight muscle to reset. Taking the strain off of a muscle that has been locked in an overstretched position not only relieves pain, but stimulates a physiological healing response. This technique is called positional release; it is super gentle and incredibly potent. Just like Reiki!

Wait, there’s more! Placing the body in this relaxed, confident posture sends a signal to the brain that all is well. Clearly we are safe and secure if we are willing to expose our vulnerable belly and throat. Add a few deep breaths, and now we’re triggering the relaxation response, feel good brain chemistry, and decreased blood pressure. All from lounging in a chair, wherever we may be, in the middle of the day! Just a few minutes can initiate a cascading effect of relaxation, which promotes productivity, focus, and pain relief. And the only side effect is a better mood. 🙂

The modification for someone with a shoulder injury that prevents the hands from going behind the head would be the Scarlet O’Hara pose, with the back of the wrist to the forehead. Switching sides after two minutes allows for equal shoulder release. If that’s too much for the shoulders, simply broadening the collarbones and looking up ever so slightly can do the job.

I call this strategy “stacking practices”. Accomplishing multiple goals with one action is the opposite of multi-tasking. Beach pose can positively affect the nervous, glandular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, energetic, and emotional systems simultaneously. It fits in with my model of working smarter, not harder and addressing the root issue rather than attacking the symptoms. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

 

Healer, Heal Thyself: Listen!

My meniscus is healing quite nicely despite the absence of medical intervention. I’m not a doctor and do not wish to imply that I know what’s best for your own healing. Figuring out what is best for my own healing is quite the endeavor and I have no desire to project! I am, however, suggesting that whatever route you take, holistic techniques can be beneficial. I’m using them exclusively as alternative medicine, but they also work brilliantly as complementary medicine.

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I’ve reached a stage in which I rarely have knee pain, but my range of motion remains limited. In the past, I might have been tempted to power up and get aggressive. In my current level of wisdom, I’ve chosen to do otherwise. Healing does not come about through force.

It seems the most supportive course of action is to tune in and listen to what my body needs. This is a skill which, like every other skill, requires patience and practice. We live in a world that promotes overruling the body, giving it orders without regard for our overall well-being. We’ve been taught to ignore and suppress messages (AKA pain) that we receive and push on through. Well, I’m here to advocate for the alternative path.

Pain is a message that I am out of balance. Numbing the pain (or as I like to quip, shooting the messenger) might allow for a temporary reprieve, but the imbalance remains and will continue to send messengers until it is resolved. I’m taking a good, hard look at what I can do to create more balance. Just as importantly, I’m taking the action steps necessary to move my life in the direction of greater equilibrium.

For me, that means taking Sundays off so I now enjoy a 5 day workweek. Woohoo! It means resting and playing more. It means acknowledging the muscular imbalance in my legs and hips that puts strain on the knee joint, making it vulnerable; and it means learning how to revise my yoga practice to facilitate this rebalancing. It definitely mean receiving lots of Reiki and massage and choosing which thoughts I want to energize.

For the first several weeks, it meant using all the holistic potions that came across my radar. Plant medicine stimulates the body’s innate healing abilities, not at all like pharmaceuticals which tend to suppress symptoms. I had been happily applying essential oil and Ayurvedic oils topically, ingesting homeopathic remedies, smearing on gels and cremes, and taking a Chinese remedy made from deer antler (said to help stimulate cartilage repair without harming any animals). It’s impossible to say which of the these strategies worked, but the overall effect was one of increased rate of healing.

Now I’m no longer feeling the need for these tools. I believe they did their job and encouraged meniscus repair from the inside out. I will revisit them if there is a need. Right now it seems that time is the main ingredient, and I just to continue my quest for balance, listening to my body’s messages, and giving her what she needs.