Treating Low Back Pain Holistically

Since I was 13, back pain has been a lingering presence in my life; one I’ve learned to minimize through holistic lifestyle choices. I’ve also worked with countless clients over the past 20 years with similar issues. I have accumulated tons of experience in this area. When this nemesis reappeared with gusto last year, I had a lot of tools at my disposal, but I still frequently experienced sensations that ranged from discomfort to debilitating pain. 

I’ve learned so much on my journey. I can speak to this issue on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. While I sometimes utilize analgesics, I know the cause is not a deficiency of ibuprofen or CBD cream, so I keep investigating. I want to treat the root, not just the symptoms. Tight hip flexors, sitting too much, exercising too aggressively, one’s ability to ask for and receive support, and complex feelings related to sexuality, belonging, safety, or worthiness can all contribute to an imbalance that affects the low back. 

Relieving lumbar pain and its frequent companion, sciatic nerve pain, is my wheelhouse. Yet none of my interventions had any lasting effect. The irritation that arose from being so ineffective only contributed to the problem. Such events are quite humbling for us bodyworkers! Until I remembered… it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.

Finally, I asked for help. I was pointed to a specific, often overlooked, muscle. (Thank you, Laura! <3) The moment I heard the word, bells went off in my head. It’s part of every bodywork session I provide, but I’ve rarely thought of my own sartorius muscles since, well… ever. While I religiously address all the soft tissue that connects to the pelvis when working with clients, I had left it out of my stretching routine. Given my tendency to sit cross- legged, it had shortened and began to tug on the front of my pelvis, creating an imbalance that spread through my lumbar region. 

It took a bit of searching to find a good technique for addressing this bugger. It’s not something that’s easy to get into without intending to do so. Many of the videos and articles I found didn’t really do it justice. I’m sharing the one that really did below, along with the reminder that even though we may be knowledgable about something, it never hurts to get a second opinion from a subjective and trusted advisor.

You can ignore the ”for runners” qualification in the title. I am not, nor ever have been, a runner, and found this stretch to be very helpful. It might be the missing link in your search for freedom from back pain too.

Reiki 2 Online in March

Reiki 2 Certification Class

5 Tuesdays. March 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29, 2022. 6-8pm EST.

Attend virtually via Google Meet.

Ready to move to the next level and learn some symbols?! Eager to send healing energy to loved ones who live elsewhere or pave the way for an optimal future? This is the class for you! Students receive individual attention and guidance as well as an attunement to open their energetic channels, class notes and a certificate. Material includes:

  • The power, mental/emotional, and long-distance symbols and how to use them.
  • Methods of applying Reiki for optimal peace, joy, wellness, personal growth, and to enhance goals and develop a healthy lifestyle
  • Practice offering remote/ long-distance treatments
  • Practice using the symbols for treating yourself
  • Guidelines for using the symbols while treating others
  • Plenty of time for your questions

Level 2 training is offered in five sessions lasting two hours each, allowing time in between for practice and integration. All classes are kept small, no more than six students, to promote intimacy and connection.

Investment = $275. (Payment is non-refundable; please be certain you can make it as we will be holding a seat for you.) Registration is required; contact Pamela to apply. Payment by Venmo or credit card. Students must have completed Reiki 1 certification previously (with another teacher is fine) and hopefully have been practicing on themselves and loved ones for at least one month.

Upcoming Online Reiki Certification Classes!

Teaching Reiki is one of my absolute favorite things. It’s up there with chocolate, laughing, books, and trees. It’s a true joy to introduce students to this magical practice and help empower them to participate in building their own health, happiness, and creativity.

Reiki is a holistic technique that stimulates the body’s innate healing abilities by activating the relaxation response. It balances body, mind, and spirit, integrating and harmonizing all aspects of ourselves for greater wellbeing. It can be used to reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and pain and to promote digestion, sleep, immune system function, detoxification, and recovery from illness, injury, and medical procedures. What many people don’t know is that it can also be used to align folks with their goals and release limiting beliefs that get in the way.

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

Over the years, I’ve used Reiki for critters, plants, food, finding parking spots, electronics, and finances. Actually, it would probably be easier to list the things that I haven’t Reiki’ed! That would be a short list: people who don’t want to receive it for whatever reason, and … well… I guess that’s about it.

Sharing this gift with people who want to optimize their wellness, joy, peace, pleasure, comfort, and productivity makes my heart sing. I get a wonderful Reiki buzz just thinking about it! Which is why I’m super-excited to announce some upcoming online classes.

I’m offering Reiki 1 & 2 Certifications, back-to-back, on Wednesday evenings beginning in September. Reiki 1 is the starting point; no experience or special skills are necessary. It’s possible to follow up immediately with level 2 training for those who are feeling the pull. Some people prefer to pause in between. Anyone who has taken a level 1 training before, even with another teacher, is eligible for my level 2 class.

I’ve also crafted a 3-hour Reiki for Self-Care course, distilling the most essential material for those who are only interested in treating themselves. This is the simplest and most affordable route for being able to access powerful healing energy at will.  

I particularly enjoy the personal interaction of teaching, so I keep classes small to personalize the content and answer all the questions. Over the years I’ve learned that breaking a workshop into several segments helps students to digest and retain information. Recently I’ve really come to appreciate the online format, as it allows for greater comfort and convenience for everyone. I’ve put a lot of energy into maximizing class structure for your benefit. You just need to show up with an open mind; I’ll do the rest.

Learning to use Reiki for myself, as well as my clients, nearly 20 years ago massively shifted the trajectory of my life. Getting in touch with my calling and finding the courage and motivation to follow my own path has empowered me in ways I never could have imagined before I began. I want everyone to have the same opportunity to do so! You can find details here. I’m offering an early bird special, so have a peek soon if you’re interested.

Shield Essential Oil Blend

In December 2019, my intuition demanded (yes, my intuition can be quite bossy!) that I purchase allspice essential oil. I had no idea what to use it for, so I did some sleuthing online. Turns out it’s an antiviral. How’s that for prophetic? I made a blend with other antiviral oils to make a spritzer for purifying the air in my office and enjoyed a winter without any ailments. In March, I began to diffuse it constantly in my office and mixed it with grain alcohol to make a simple, non-toxic hand sanitizer.

Since then, I’ve often though of Thieves Blend, a product of Young Living, similar in nature to what I concocted. I prefer not to support multi-level marketing companies, so I resisted buying any, but the story of its origin kept popping into my mind. Apparently thieves used this combination of herbs and spices to protect themselves while robbing homes of the dead and dying during the bubonic plague with great success. By “success”, I mean they remained healthy despite the obvious occupational hazards. As far as I know, there are no natural remedies that produce criminal superpowers!

I’m delighted to discover that Mountain Rose Herbs, a company I admire for their commitment to quality natural products grown organically and harvested sustainably, has an affordable alternative. You can diffuse it, add several drops to hand soap, or make your own non-toxic hand sanitizer. (The fact that I label a product “non-toxic” is meant to convey that the commercial option is very much toxic.)

Purchasing the oils individually can get pricey, which is why I haven’t brought it up before. Shield Blend contains five potent, pure essential oils: clove (a cousin to allspice), lemon, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme, for a very reasonable price. As this is an independent business, and not a global empire, you can expect to pay for shipping. I’ve found that it makes sense to stock up on several items at a time, as this makes the fee more palatable. It just so happens that they’re having a sale on tea now. I’ll have to reign myself in because their selection of herbal blends and caffeinated teas is simply amazing.

(I’m assuming that if you’re reading my blog, you believe in holistic, natural healing methods. It is beyond the scope of my mission to prove that essential oils have medicinal power. I did a quick search online and learned that the mechanics of this antiviral property are based on the ability to break the fatty membrane of viruses, rendering them useless. I’m aiming to preach to the choir here, and point believers to a useful product, not to convince any skeptics. I just don’t have the interest in doing the research that such a feat would require.)

If you’re a tiny bit curious or your gut is chiming in with a “yes”, it’s a minimal investment for a risk-free therapy. At the very least, taking action to prevent illness is subject to the placebo effect. The power of intention and the mind-body connection is often as potent, sometimes more potent, than medical treatment. It sure beats doing nothing and fearing the worst.

Please note that I don’t get any kick-backs for this, or any other products or services I recommend.

Upcoming Reiki for Self-Care Class

   

Several years ago, I realized that most of my Reiki students sign up to learn a healing technique to promote their own health, happiness, productivity, and creativity. In short, they want to live their best lives, and many have no intention of offering sessions to other people. It’s something they want to learn for themselves to balance out all the doing and giving that happens every day; the equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on first.

Woman practicing self Reiki transfering energy through palms, a kind of energy medicine.

With this understanding, I distilled all the vital material from my Reiki 1 certification class (which thoroughly covers sharing Reiki with others) down into a 3-hour Reiki for Self-Care class. It’s the most effective, efficient, and affordable offering in my toolbox to get newcomers started on their healing journeys. I’ve done everything I possibly can to make this as easy and accessible to those who are interested.

I’m delighted to be offering Reiki for Self-Care online on Saturday, September 18, 2021, from 12-3pm eastern. We cover the basics of what Reiki is and isn’t, where it comes from, what it can be used for, and how to do so via Google Meet (a video meeting platform similar to Zoom). Students will all receive an individual attunement to open their energy pathways allowing Reiki to flow at will.

The investment is $85, with a $10 early bird discount if registered by August 18. This is less than the cost of one professional session, making it the most cost-effective way to receive frequent and consistent treatment. Space is limited and registration is necessary.

If you’re wondering why you might want to learn this amazing technique and have healing power at your very fingertips ALL the time, you might enjoy my blog, 12 Reasons to Learn Reiki, where I’ve outlined the essence of the work I’ve been enjoying for the past 18 years. I’ve done thousands of sessions, both in person and long-distance, and continue to be amazed at how powerful, yet gentle, Reiki truly is.

Apply by simply contacting me and letting me know what your goals are, and we’ll take it from there.

Over the Hill and LOVING IT!

Today is my 50th birthday.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

As a modern, western woman, I’ve been conditioned to believe that this is the beginning of the inevitable decline of my health, mobility, cognitive abilities, productivity, and overall worth.

Well, to hell with that! I reject all this nonsense. I am choosing instead to celebrate having survived five long decades in a world whose values are so upside-down. I’m choosing to invest daily in my well-being and have adopted one of Louise Hay’s mottos as my very own.

“Happy, healthy, happy, healthy- dead.”

Meaning, I plan to enjoy myself up until the very end.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen automatically. Yes, my body requires different care than it did when I was younger. Consequences are greater for making unhealthy choices. While society would suggest that I must merely suffer as a result of continuing the behavior that suited me in my 20’s and 30’s, I’m proposing an alternative. Make different choices!

My plan for healthy aging is four-pronged. It is versatile and easily adaptable to any set of unique circumstances and value systems. I believe that if everybody started thinking along these lines, there would be a lot less pain and illness in the elder years.

  1. Cultivate life-force energy (ki/chi/qi/prana). In eastern systems, this is the foundation of health and healing. Here in the west, it’s still somewhat foreign to many. Whether or not we can see it, feel it, or measure it, there is an energy that flows through all living beings. We can enhance this flow through lifestyle choices such as eating natural foods, spending time in nature, moving our bodies, expressing emotions, connecting with loved ones, and getting plenty of rest. Reiki, yoga, martial arts, qi gong, and tai chi are practices designed to build and balance ki.
  2. Minimize toxins. While I’d love to avoid them altogether, in today’s world I just don’t think it’s possible. So I do the best I can with the options available to me. Before I put something in or on my body or bring a product (or relationship) into my environment, I determine its level of toxicity. Yes, this means passing up many things that are quite popular such as donuts and nail polish. Given my 50 voyages around the sun, I have developed the wisdom to see that I value my well-being much, much more than fitting in with an unhealthy crowd.
  3. Manage stress. While I’d also like to avoid stress altogether, I don’t think that’s possible either. Given that I live in the world, and not removed from it on a desert island or mountain top, my options are to just absorb it or take steps to actively minimize its effects. This takes consistent effort, yet I assure you that every investment in reducing stress has a cumulative impact on health and well-being. Enter “stress, disease” in your search engine if you’re curious about the specifics.
  4. Choose joy, creativity, and pleasure. Sadly, these gems are tremendously undervalued in today’s world. In addition to enhancing ki flow, taking this step also activates the connection with Spirit. For me, they are the portal to living openheartedly, compassionately, and generously. I believe they nourish the heart; both in a literal and metaphorical sense. It also tends to draw others to me who are like-minded, which activates an upward joy spiral. Building pockets of enjoyment into every day is an approach that helps me navigate the challenging times with greater ease and prolong the good times with minimal effort.

I’ve spent the past two decades organizing my life around these four principles. It certainly didn’t happen all at once. Nor was it always easy. Going against the standard motto: “work, suffer, work, suffer-decline, sick, dead” is revolutionary. Other people don’t always appreciate the changes we make as these changes can challenge their world views and often put projected responsibility back on their own shoulders. Yet, taking one step at a time while absorbing the rewards along the way creates a positive feedback loop that is very encouraging.

Pick one small change you can make today and start there. Perhaps take the money you’d spend over the next few months on soda and buy a water filter so you have access to the purest hydration possible. Or visit the farmers market for the best quality produce in your area. Go for a walk before work or own your break if it isn’t sweltering outside. If is, make a playlist of upbeat tunes and dance in your living room.

Just one thing is all it takes to begin. This is the foundation for a shift that can have a huge impact on your wellness over time. Make it something simple and easy or it won’t be sustainable. Once you get the hang of it, add another simple, easy shift. And another and another.

If all goes well, thirty years from now you can join me on the dance floor to celebrate my 80th.

Free 5 Day Qi Gong Challenge

You might recognize Lee Holden from his PBS specials. I just came across his work on Facebook. I like what he has to say about health and wellness so much that I’ve signed up for this program. While it doesn’t begin until July 19, I received a bonus session when I registered that was so enjoyable and beneficial I’ve decided to do it every day until the challenge begins. It’s simply, easy, and safe for all fitness levels.

According to his website, he has helped more than 100,000 students

  • Heal from injury and disease
  • Slow the aging process
  • Feel better than ever
  • Maximize their energy

I’m a beginner to this technique, so I’m not going to try to describe its origins, practices, or effects. You’re better off learning directly from the master! Despite my lack of expertise, I did want to share this opportunity with you as I can see the immense value. Qi Gong and Reiki both work with cultivating and balancing life-force energy. They pair together quite nicely!

Here’s a link to his blog, 8 Reasons to Sign Up for the Free Qi Challenge. I feel confident that nearly everyone can relate to at least one of these reasons! From there you can find a link to register. I hope you will. I’d love to hear what you think if you give it a try. I’ve already (after just two sessions) noticed a decrease in anxiety and better quality sleep. If you struggle with either of this issues, I think you’ll agree that 20 minutes per day is a reasonable investment to enjoy relief.

Catch ya later, I’m off to practice!

Massage Doesn’t Have to Hurt!

Recently I was talking with a friend who’s also an occasional client. Many moons ago we did a series of three massages over the course of a month to treat shoulder pain which had been plaguing her for years.

“To tell you the truth,” she said quietly, with a sheepish look on her face, “I didn’t think the gentle work you did would be effective. As it turns out, it was exactly what I needed to experience a deep healing.”

We have this erroneous belief in our culture that a therapy needs to be aggressive to produce results. That somehow the more painful a treatment is, the better the outcome will be. I’ve heard reports of clients not returning to me, or others with similar technique, because “it didn’t hurt enough.”

True story! It didn’t hurt enough. Which begs the questions, how much should it hurt? Or what is the origin of this mistaken belief that causing pain is a realistic strategy for releasing pain?

Pain, or even the hint of possible future pain, stimulates the fight/flight/freeze response which activates a sequence of physiological reactions, including the tensing of muscles. Tense muscles tend to pull joints and the skeleton out of alignment and impede the circulation of blood, which delivers oxygen and removes toxins. This is a recipe for more pain!

Perhaps in some extreme cases, this might be beneficial, but in my experience as a giver and receiver of massage for nearly 20 years, gentle touch produces much more beneficial results. Creating a soothing, relaxing experience can alter the body’s chemistry, promoting healing as well as circulation, and allowing muscles to soften rather than contract. A type of somatic trust develops organically, with the body learning that it will be comforted and acknowledged rather than attacked and punished. Think “ahhhhhh….” vs “OW!

While we might be able to force a muscle to temporarily release under duress, it’s indeed possible to cultivate long lasting healing with a more gentle approach. If you’ve shied away from bodywork due to upsetting experiences in the past, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you were hurt and even more sorry if it prevented you from seeking further treatment.

While many massage therapists will disagree with me, there are plenty of us who are willing to work with you in a pain-free setting. A simple inquiry will help you discern who is a good match for your needs. And if you’re wondering why your aggressive therapy isn’t producing lasting change, you might want to switch it up and try a different approach.

Massage. It really doesn’t have to hurt!

12 Reasons to Learn Reiki

Reiki has a growing reputation for successfully supporting cancer and surgical patients. Yet it has many additional uses. Taking a Reiki 1 class is an easy, affordable way to gain instant access to healing, cleansing, renewing life-force energy. All at your very fingertips! As the ability to practice is transferred from teacher to student during an initiation called an attunement, it’s not dependent on any special skills or specific lifestyle. You don’t need to be psychic, enlightened, or identify as a “healer” to practice Reiki.

While many clients are content to receive professional treatments, many others desire more consistent relief. I’ve compiled a short list of the most common reasons for doing so that I hear from students. If you can relate, you might consider signing yourself up for a class! It will reduce your dependence on a practitioner, enabling you to receive healing on a daily basis.

Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern on Pexels.com
  1. Managing stress and anxiety. Aside from the fact that these maladies are highly unpleasant, they’ve also been linked to an increasing number of life-threatening diseases. Relaxation is becoming accepted as much more than an indulgent practice available to the likes of Hollywood divas frequenting day spas, but also as a wise investment in one’s health.
  2. Reducing chronic pain. Relieving stress reduces inflammation, which in turn reduces chronic pain. While arthritis, for example, might not be curable, many people with this diagnosis are able to reduce, or even eliminate, the pain with consistent treatment.
  3. Healing trauma. As if enduring a traumatic event is not terrible enough, it has long-term effects on the nervous system, causing survivors to live in a state of near-constant fear. Repeated activation of the physiological relaxation response can rewire the hair-trigger alarm systems of those struggling to acclimate to life after trauma.
  4. Releasing limiting beliefs. I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t pick up any limiting beliefs in childhood which prevent them from living their greatest, most joyful lives. Statements that begin with, “I never…”, “I always…”, “I’m just the type of person who…”, “I’m too this or too that” become ingrained in the subconscious, preventing us from pursuing our dreams. With diligent application, Reiki can help us rewrite our inner scripts and uncover our true power.
  5. Recovering self-esteem. For anyone who has developed a sense of insecurity due to past experiences, it’s hardly news that this way of being can be debilitating. By connecting folks to their deeper selves and inner knowing, innate self-esteem that has been fragmented or covered up can be reclaimed, allowing for greater personal freedom and contentment.
  6. Cultivating clarity. Often students don’t know exactly what they are seeking but do have an acute awareness that something is missing from their lives. Reiki can help put them in touch with intuition, a sense of knowing that is much deeper than the intellect. For those who feel stuck in health, career, or relationship, developing clarity can reveal the way forward.
  7. Healthy aging. There’s a common misconception in our culture that everything just starts to fall apart after age 40. Sadly, this is coupled with a sense of resignation and hopelessness. I’d like to argue that neglecting and abusing one’s body does cause increasing damage, and for many people, 40 years is the tipping point when such mistreatment can no longer be sustained. Reducing toxicity and inflammation while stockpiling life-force energy can go a long way to promoting better health through middle age and the elder years.
  8. Support through a difficult time. Relocation, new parenthood, death of a loved one, divorce, and other big life changes are highly stressful. Reiki can provide comfort through challenges that might not be avoidable, but don’t need to be downright incapacitating.
  9. Letting go of unwanted emotions. Resentment from old hurts can be a consistent drain of one’s energy and trigger undesirable coping mechanisms such as overdrinking, overeating, overworking, etc to numb the pain. Letting go of justified anger can seem impossible without external support. Yes, someone might have done something careless or even cruel in the past, and you might have suffered as a result. And at some point, you might choose to stop any needlessly suffering despite the damage that was done. Reiki can help find the inner resources and resilience to let go so that you can move on.
  10. Frustrating or inadequate results of medical treatment. Many people show up in my office after having run through the gamut of medical tests and procedures that simply haven’t provided the desired relief. Because Reiki works on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic realms in addition to the physical body, it can often foster balance where modern medicine is unaware that balance is lacking.
  11. Enjoying optimal health, happiness, and productivity. While Reiki isn’t a magical cure-all, it does help everyone access the greatest health available to their unique selves. Sure, I remain sensitive to wheat products and susceptible to type 2 diabetes despite my daily practice. That’s unlikely to change in this lifetime. But within these parameters, I enjoy the best health possible for me. Experiencing optimal health goes a long way to being happy and productive. It builds a strong foundation upon which we can then layer creativity, connection, vitality, and success.
  12. Discovering and aligning with your soul’s calling. Once all the above concerns get sorted, it’s so much easier to hear the still, small voice within guiding you toward the plan your soul has for you. When there are fewer distractions from aches and pains, petty grievances, unnecessary triggering of the fight/flight/freeze response, limiting beliefs, outdating coping mechanisms, debilitating insecurities, and upsetting negative self-talk, there is so much energy freed up to explore our heart’s desires and innate talents which are keys to uncovering our unique mission for this lifetime. It’s in there somewhere, and Reiki can clear out the muck that stands in the way!

I could keep going, but this seems a good place to stop. If you have any questions about your specific needs, I’d be happy to set up a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation. Chances are I’ll say, “Yes, Reiki can help with that.” It’s a rather miraculous technique that continues to surprise me even after almost two decades of practice. If you’re interested in signing up for an online class, I’m offering Reiki 1 in a 4 week series beginning May 25, 2021.  

Online Yoga Series with Dana Wills

I met Dana several months ago in a Mindful Self Compassion course. I enjoyed her warm and peaceful energy so much that I’ve been joining her weekly meditations on Mind Oasis. When she told me about her upcoming yoga series in May of 2021, I was super-psyched!

If you’ve come to the conclusion that all that twisting like a pretzel and jumping back and forth is not for you, never fear. That’s just one style of yoga that happens to be popular. I don’t care for it much myself! This will be very, very different. It sounds like the perfect remedy for all the stress and anxiety that many people are experiencing.

Here’s the invitation from Dana:


We will start with gentle yoga movement to prepare our bodies for a short seated meditation, then get really comfy and lay down for Yoga Nidra. I’ve created this series, imbued with self care and self compassion, because it’s one I’ve always wanted to take!


Yoga Nidra, the “Yoga of Sleep,” is an ancient practice that taps into our true selves through deep and profound rest and relaxation.  You may well go to sleep as you are guided through, but your conscious mind will still be very much at work, incorporating the relaxing steps that light up the brain in a step-like fashion.  It can also open up a portal for creativity.  You can use Yoga Nidra to help with sleep and deep relaxation, or to recharge much like a power nap.  They say that 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is as good as 4 hours of sleep.

The classes are offered online through Mind Oasis on Wednesday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT), and in studio at jalaBlu in Buena Vista (my “yoga home!” for the past three years) on Thursday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT).  Can’t make the trip to my amazing little mountain town studio?  You can join us online for that one, too.  


Register below for one of three options, and let me know if you’re coming and we can talk details.  Thanks for your consideration — I’d love to see you there! 


Register HERE for Wednesdays ONLINE at Mind Oasis

Register HERE for Thursdays ONLINE at jalaBlu