Massage for Chronic Pain

“This is the first time I really understood what it means to be kind to my body.”

A client said this to me after a massage. We might have been sitting, but I was totally jumping for joy on the inside. Also the Hallelujah Chorus was playing in my head.

sunset beach people sunrise

Before the session, we had discussed my kinder, gentler approach to bodywork. I had explained how my goal is to activate the physiological relaxation response that triggers all the feel-good body chemistry and can help break the pain cycle. She understood that I planned to use a moderate pressure to coax the muscles into releasing tension while stimulating circulation, detoxification, and dare I say? Pleasure.

She knew that was the plan, but had no idea how very healing this approach could be. “But you didn’t even attack the knots!” No, I certainly did not! There is no benefit from attacking. Those knots are a symptom of imbalance. I’m much more interested in relieving the root cause of the imbalance, which so very often is… stress. Treating the stress lessens tension and often knots evaporate on their own.

Relaxation is a remedy for stress and pain. Creating more pain through aggressive massage is not a recipe for relaxation. Even intense work that falls just short of pain can stimulate the fight, flight, or freeze response which then triggers… muscle tension. Just like you can’t get carrots by planting cucumber seeds, you cannot cultivate relaxation through pain.

She left feeling considerable relief from the chronic pain that had been plaguing her almost constantly. The next week she reported that she’d had much less discomfort following her treatment, and that it was the first time massage had ever had any noticeable effect. What a victory! I have a feeling this new perspective on being kind to her body will continue to have helpful results as well.

I could have brushed off my hands right there and then and retired happily.

But of course I didn’t because I love my work and there’s so much more of it to be done.

Onwards!

 

 

Reiki for Cravings

I’m not sure if it’s the approach of summertime or some astrological event,  but I’m hearing a lot from clients and acquaintances who lament their struggles with food cravings. It just so happens that this is an area where I’ve done extensive research. It seems like most of my adult life I was plagued by strong compulsions to eat things that were counterproductive at best, and self-destructive at worst.

While I’m not 100% free of this inner demon, I’ve learned quite a lot that allows me to live more peacefully most of the time, and to get to the root of the problem when it rears its ugly head. I’ve found that immediate application of Reiki really takes the edge off of most cravings. This is one of the reasons I advocate so strongly for learning Reiki; there’s nothing quite like having medicine at your very fingertips. It’s really quite simple. I place my hands on my heart and belly, set an intention to release the urge to eat half a family-sized bag of pretzels, activate the healing energy, and breathe deeply for a few minutes.

Relief comes instantaneously most of the time. Sometimes there’s a real physical need behind the craving and I am able to tune into this once I’ve calmed down a bit and am no longer compelled to violently shove my way to the snack aisle. Occasionally I will recognize that I’m actually hungry and my body is wanting carbs. That’s an easy fix and I’m often able to reach for a healthier option. (It’s horribly unfair that I love pretzels so much when eating them causing me back pain! For some people pretzels might be the healthier option. I’m not here to disparage them; they just aren’t good for me!)

More often than not, I recognize that the need behind the urge is emotional. It’s become my personal practice to return to this awareness when I have time to explore what’s really happening inside me. This is where the real power of Reiki healing lies. I just sit quietly contemplating the origin of the craving and open up to insights. It’s really just that simple. Getting present and listening while flooding myself with Reiki is the magical formula.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that the underlying cause is usually an energetic imbalance (feeling a lot of excitement or extreme fatigue) or any variety of emotional upset. It could be disappointment, anger, loneliness, worry, or … well pretty much anything! Once I acknowledge this precious information, I’m better able to make a plan that will meet my emotional needs and/or balance my energy.

If I’m feeling lonely, there is no chocolate chip cookie that will fix that for more than a moment. But calling a friend could do the trick. If I’m feeling sad, I have numerous strategies that can be helpful. However, I am absolutely certain (remember my extensive research!) there is no bowl of pasta or pint of ice cream that will be an effective remedy. Using Reiki helps me clear the source issue and voila! The cravings fade away.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with treating symptoms. I spent many years working on eliminating cravings. It was a huge improvement over the constant struggle to manage them or the shame cycle that resulted from giving in yet again. But the freedom of acknowledging my deepest needs, wants, and desires has been truly transformative. Now that I waste less energy failing to soothe my feelings by stuffing my face, I have more energy to invest in healing and creative projects.

Emotional healing is one of the amazing gifts Reiki has to offer. It’s fantastically simple and easy to learn and use. If you’re tired of relying on willpower to battle your cravings, please consider taking a beginners Reiki class so you too can enjoy the relief of getting to the root of the problem. I think you’ll agree that it’s a much more enjoyable way to live.

“Heal”, the Movie

When I was 13, I was blessed with the onset on chronic pain.

Wait, what?

Yup. Of course I didn’t see it as a blessing till much, much later. But from that young age I was exposed to the limits of western medicine. The doctor offered me some stretches and suggested I spend this time of crisis lying on my back on the floor. While that helped to some small degree, it certainly was no remedy for the suppression of emotions and crushed first chakra energy that plagued me. There is no remedy for the spinal malformation that creates a weak link in my low back, except for perhaps surgery, which fortunately was never recommended.

The blessing lies in the shift of my life trajectory which led me to the chiropractor, yoga class, applied kinesiology and resulting dietary changes, homeopathy, massage, Reiki, meditation, affirmations, and spiritual exploration. Not only did holistic health become my path for finding comfort in my body, but eventually my career and passion. Before this pain, I was destined for a future seeking fortune and happiness outside of myself and very likely some soul-sucking job that drained my life- force and health gradually.

Over the decades I’ve learned much about healing. Some key points are that pain is a message that imbalance is present and ignoring or suppressing the message is not helpful;  pills don’t cure; my thoughts, beliefs, and emotions affect my health; and the biggie: I’m the only one responsible for my well-being. I feel blessed that I began these lessons at such a young age and have had so many opportunities to expand my understanding. Rather than waiting for everything to fall apart at 50 as I see so many of my peers doing, I’ve been perfecting my practice of self-care and well-being. I anticipate turning 50 in a few years and feeling better than ever!

I was overjoyed to find this movie online, featuring many of the healers and teachers I’ve come to admire over the years. People with the courage to step out of the mainstream way of thinking and follow their hearts and intuition to share gifts; gifts which are often beyond the comprehension of the general public. Not only have they helped so many people find health and happiness, but they helped pave the way for the likes of me. This documentary is quite comprehensive in content and heartwarming in essence.

If you’re curious about alternative medicine, dissatisfied with the results of conventional medicine, or yearn to go deeper into the metaphysical realm you might find some understanding or perhaps even inspiration here. For me it brought a sense of belonging to a bigger community of believers; a bit of healing in itself as I often find myself confused and struggling in a world that makes no sense to me.

If nothing else, it might plant a seed that healing is a way of being and relating to yourself with love and kindness. From there, miracles are possible.

Relieving Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain

Probably the top complaint I hear from clients is that of chronic and intense discomfort in their upper backs, necks, and shoulders. You’re probably familiar with the nagging sensation, usually beyond reach, often between the shoulder blades. You know, that spot that occupies way too much of your attention and won’t go away no matter how you try to work it out.

The reason that pushing on the spot that hurts (with your own fingers, a friend’s elbow, or a massage tool) doesn’t resolve the pain is that the pain is often a symptom of imbalanced posture in the upper body. Treating the symptom might feel good and bring temporary relief (hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!) but until the root cause is addressed, it won’t be very effective. It’s rather like running around putting out fires rather than taking the matches away from the toddler.

In today’s society, many conditions can cause the head to drift forward of the body.

  • The near-constant rushing and stress that has become common in our culture, and the physiological tightening of muscles that results.
  • The time spent with arms forward of the body: typing, driving, sewing, drawing, holding and nursing babies, etc
  • The long hours spent looking at screens
  • The tendency to be mentally inhabiting the next moment and the next place rather than being present here and now
  • The desire to energetically protect one’s heart
  • Feeling unsafe and wishing to hide emotionally
  • Every other scenario that induces slouching or hunching

Ideally the ears should hover over the shoulders, allowing the vertebrae to support the weight of the head. When the head is chronically positioned forward of the torso, those tired and achy muscles of the upper back are working overtime to hold the head up. Muscles on the front of the neck and shoulders become shortened over time, and those on the back become overstretched.

forward-head-posture

This image comes courtesy of Erik Dalton, a world renowned bodyworker, educator, and creator of Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques. It shows the simple physics of how the weight of a 12 pound head increases to 42 pounds when it is held 3 inches forward. Those muscles are cramped and fatigued because they’re overworked and overextended! Pummeling and poking them is not the answer.

The remedy is in returning the head to a more neutral position. The work of the massage therapist is primarily in releasing the tight anterior neck, chest, and shoulder muscles. Some therapists would argue that working on the muscles of the upper back only make the problem worse! I personally believe that this is an extreme view, and that some soothing Swedish massage of the back can help by releasing trigger points and encouraging circulation. The most important step, however, is one of awareness and continuously correcting posture throughout the day.

I’ve helped clients to overcome this chronic problem that had plagued them for decades. Through a combination of managing posture and stress, targeted stretching on a daily basis, and receiving a maintenance massage once or twice each month, they’re able to experience freedom from near-debilitating pain. Once they stopped treating the symptom and began working with the cause, the results came quickly.

If you’re frustrated that your valiant efforts are not producing desired effects, consider that you might not be treating the source of the problem. Put down the fire extinguisher and gently but firmly remove the matches from the hands of the pyromaniac toddler.

Holiday Special

We have officially entered holiday season. Here in Philadelphia, the weather has turned quite cold and people are bundling up. ‘Tis the season for stress and busy-ness, colds and the flu. More than ever it’s important to make time to rest and restore one’s balance to promote good health and mental well-being.

snow woman winter snowflakes
Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Getting sucked into a whirlwind of constant activity is exhausting. I encourage people to literally block out time on their calendars for self-care. Then when you’re invited to do something, you can consult your agenda and truthfully say, “I have a previous commitment at that time.” Many of us, myself included, find saying “no” difficult, but this little trick works wonders.

My mission is to support and cheer others on as they uncover the wholeness, worthiness, and wellness at the center of their being. In the hopes of making this easier during what can be a challenging time, I’m offering a special on packages of five sessions.

These packages are each valid for one person for one year from date of purchase. It’s possible to mix and match treatments, so there’s no need to decide up front if you desire Reiki and/or massage. This special is available till the end of 2018. Convenient PayPal payments are an option, as are cash, check, or card if you prefer to stop by my office. 

Five sessions for the price of four. That’s a 20% savings!

Five 60 minute sessions = $320 ($80 savings!)

Five 75 minute sessions = $400 ($100 savings!)

Five 90 minute sessions = $480 ($120 savings!)

Five long-distance Reiki sessions = $220 ($55 savings!)

If you’re feeling inspired to spread the peace and joy, you could even use the savings to purchase a gift card for a friend.

Contact me for details or to arrange payment. Or schedule an appointment in the month of December, and we’ll get you set up then.

 

 

 

Reiki for Root Canal, Part 3

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!

 

Reiki for Root Canal, Part 2

…update of original post

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.

chair clean clinic dental care
Photo by Daniel Frank on Pexels.com

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.