Pursuing Happiness with ”Brain Science, Positive Psychology, and Contemplative Training”

Once again, I am deeply touched by Dr. Rick Hanson’s free newsletter. Last week’s edition was titled “Keep your Eye on the Prize” and guided us through a contemplative practice of recognizing purpose and priorities and followed up with easy, useful tips for moving in the desired direction. It’s so easy to get swept up in the busy-ness of modern life if we aren’t anchored to our goals. Here you will find suggestions for connecting with those anchors.

I’m selective in what I allow into my inbox. My time is precious and there needs to be a good return on any time I invest in reading newsletters. This is one that consistently adds value to my toolbox. This gift of a ”simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind” does not disappoint and I think will benefit anyone interested in actively pursuing improved quality of life. Check it out and decide for yourself!

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.

Intuition Chronicles: The Price of Not Following Through

Welcome to Intuition Chronicles, my records of intuitive messages received and the results of following or ignoring them. I’m sharing them here for the purpose of illustrating the practice of learning to trust intuition. Yes, for most of us it is a practice. And tracking internal nudges is one of the foundational exercises I suggest for my Reiki students who aspire to be intuitive adepts.

Me: What’s up with this fatigue that doesn’t fade no matter how much sleep I get?

Intuition: Vitamin D. (My guidance isn’t always this clear, but I often do have a sudden, inexplicable inner knowing in the form of words or phrases. The key, and reason for the journal I keep, is learning to recognize it.)

Me: Maybe I should have some tests run before I buy a supplement. (I tend to second- guess my instructions. Keeping track of the price I pay for this lack of trust helps me better recognize future messages as the blessing that they truly are.)

Two months later, a bill close to $1200 from bloodwork being carelessly sent to an out-of-network lab, one missing vial of blood that would have been tested for Lyme disease, having to read my own results in the online portal as the doctor didn’t bother to follow up, and a massive reminder of the value of listening to my intuition: I’m deficient in vitamin D. 

Me: #$^%

Intuition: 

(Fortunately intuition doesn’t gloat.) 

Two days later, after purchasing a $25 bottle of vitamin E drops at the health food store, I feel much more energized and commit to listening to my inner guidance moving forward. Again.

I’m not at all proposing that people don’t get medical treatment when it’s called for. But in this case, there would have been zero risk to buying a simple vitamin supplement and seeing if it worked its magic. Society has conditioned me to place my trust in the medical industrial complex rather than my gut. This particular episode was rather costly and therefore an excellent reminder that my soul always steers me toward my greatest good. 

When “magnesium” came up three times in two days recently, I didn’t think twice about doing my own research online about the signs of deficiency and excess, best sources, and dosages. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post about deciphering synchronicity with intuition.) No need to learn this lesson twice!

Learning to trust my inner wisdom is an invaluable resource when it comes to cultivating health and wellness. I have no doubts that my intuition will steer me toward a medical doctor if that’s ever the necessary course of action. It’s my job to keep listening and to act on the information I’m given. Ideally without expensive detours. 

Calling All Reiki People for an Online Equinox Practice

Reiki Squares, an Online Self-Treatment Group

Come together with others on the Reiki journey. We will explore a variety of techniques to uncover worthiness and wholeness and promote optimal wellness. We join together to know that we’re not alone in following our healing paths and to witness one another’s challenges and successes.

We will begin by establishing Community Guidelines to provide an emotionally safe container. This is an essential foundational layer for these trauma-informed sessions. While we welcome all aspects of ourselves, including the wounded and traumatized bits, we leave the stories and specific experiences for individual sessions so as to not re-traumatize one another during the gathering. Given that most Reiki devotees are particularly empathic, it especially important to protect everyone’s sense of emotional safety. 

Once the guidelines have been established, we’ll proceed to the practice. The format will vary based on a theme that Pamela intuits each month. Energetic hygiene, grounding, centering, shielding, and self-compassion will be common building blocks. We will often tap into cosmic energies based on the current astrological report for maximum potency and utilize a wide array of complementary modalities that support our efforts. 

Reiki Squares is the result of nearly 30 years of spiritual and self-empowerment immersion and has been designed to enhance Reiki practitioners’ efforts in an affordable package. Doing our individual work together supports one another and helps to validate our efforts. Choosing a path of freedom, creativity, and dedication to the highest good of all is a noble journey that is made easier with companionship. Coming together online allows everyone to join from the comfort of their own spaces, surrounded by their favorite accessories. 

Participants are encouraged to bring whatever tools they commonly use- journals, candles, crystals, herbal teas, essential oils, and fuzzy slippers are all welcome. However, no props are required; all you need is to show up with a willingness to participate. It doesn’t matter how long ago you received your Reiki attunement, nor how frequently or infrequently you’ve tapped into the healing energy. Once initiated, Reiki is always there for us. No matter your level of experience or devotion, you are welcome here. 

Our next gathering in on the Equinox.  Sunday, March 20, 2022, 5-6:15pm EDT. Zoom link will be provided upon registration. $17 fee.

Sign up for my Reiki Tribe newsletter if you’d like to be informed of future Reiki Squares gatherings and other events designed to support Reiki practitioners.

Upgraded Hair Care, Follow- Up Report

It’s been nearly two years since I ditched the shampoo/conditioner routine. I was tired of spending a small fortune on organic products that still contained some questionable ingredients and wanted to lessen my contribution to the failing recycling system. I was delighted to discover an entirely radical approach. Super- cheap (a little over $10 TOTAL over the past 22 months!), zero plastic containers, and completely natural products (baking soda and apple cider vinegar).

Shampoo is a brilliant self-sustaining marketing ploy. It strips natural oils from the scalp, causing it to produce… more oil. Since I gave it up, my scalp hasn’t been oily once. After the first month of settling into the new habit, I have never considered turning back. My hair looks great, I can go for up to two weeks in between treatments, and I’ve just now spent 30 minutes searching for, and failing to find, any split ends.

I haven’t had my hair cut in two years now. It’s straight and long, so that in itself is no big accomplishment. I started wondering if I’ve ever gone this long in between cuts before, and am certain I haven’t. Usually split ends annoy me around the one year mark, and I make a trip to the salon. Not last winter. Not this winter. So I inspected my hair and couldn’t find a single raggedy one!

As I’ve been sharing this triumph with friends, there have been a lot of how-to questions. Hence this post. If you’re interested in saving big bucks, time and energy without sacrificing appearances, here’s the 411 on how to no-poo.

Place 1 teaspoon baking soda in a small jar. Repurpose a 4 oz squeeze bottle (check under your sink; they seem to breed under there!), add about an ounce of apple cider vinegar. Once you’re in the shower, get your hair thoroughly wet. Add about ¼ cup of warm water to the baking soda, swish until mixed and pour it over the crown of your head. Use your fingertips to scrub your scalp and work your way down to the ends. Rinse thoroughly. Very thoroughly. Otherwise it will feel gritty and you won’t get the full benefits of waiting so long in between treatments because it will make you nuts.

Fill the squeeze bottle with warm water. Pour over your scalp, keeping your chin up as vinegar is not eyeball friendly. Rub it down the length of your hair using the same motion as you would with a bar of soap. Let it sit for a few minutes while you finish your shower routine and rinse it out. I noticed that when I didn’t rinse the vinegar out completely, my hair looked I’d added mouse (do people still do that?) or some other hair- styling product that is less 1987. Not my thing, but you could play around if it’s yours.

I have thick, straight, long hair so you might need to experiment some with quantities or ratios to get it just right for you. I will add that the first few applications didn’t sell me completely. My hair had a tacky feeling that I suspect was old product lingering. So plan accordingly and give yourself a month before making the call.

I’ve used approximately 50 teaspoons of baking soda and 50 ounces of organic ACV with no visits to the salon over a two year period. One box and one and a half bottles, totaling about $14. I’ve contributed no plastic containers to the waste stream (let’s face it, that’s likely where most plastics go these days) and rarely have to fuss with anything hair related. Now that I’ve discovered GarageBand, I’m so very tickled to have all that extra time so I can play creatively. I’m sure you have other things you’d rather do with your time and money too.

For all you fellow rebels, you’ll also get a kick out of bucking the system. It brings me great joy to bypass the messages from the advertising industry and figure out what really works best for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Rick Hanson: Cling Less, Love More

I really enjoyed this blog post by meditation teacher and neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson. He has taught me so much over the past several years about how the brain and the mind work. It’s a nice complement to the post I recently made about using Reiki to reduce unhelpful attachments.

Many of the seemingly problematic traits I’m working to lessen are actually a product of evolution. That doesn’t mean I’m forever doomed to suffer, but that what I experience is perfectly natural. There are strategies for overcoming behaviors whose roots lie in not being eaten by a tiger. While I’m not in danger of being dinner for a large animal, my brain unnecessarily protects me from such crises. I need to intervene if I wish to experience freedom from such evolutionary overprotection.

He explains it a lot better if you also like to geek out about why we do the things we do when we really don’t want to do them! He also provides very simple, very practical tools for creating lasting change that don’t include Reiki, but pair nicely with it for those on that path.

Cling Less, Love More

Photo by u0410u043du043du0430 u0420u044bu0436u043au043eu0432u0430 on Pexels.com

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.

Don’t Skimp on the Supplements

I’m a big fan of giving the body support to help it function optimally, especially during trying times. Ideally, we’d get all the nutrition we need from choosing healthy foods, but I don’t know many people who are interested in such an endeavor. Even if you make A+ decisions and build your menus around the concept of “food as medicine” (vs. eating what is convenient or most pleasing to the taste buds), some gaps are difficult to fill.

I’m not a doctor, but have learned a lot from naturopaths and nutritionists, as well as Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine practitioners over the past two decades. I’ve discovered that the quality of supplements and the time of day they are taken can make all the difference.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking of a book on cassette (that’s an archaic form of audio recording for you youngsters!) that I listened to back in the 90’s. Dead Doctors Don’t Lie. I don’t recall how it came into my possession or much about it other than one fascinating story. A man whose job it was to empty porta-johns shared that he continuously noticed a common brand of inexpensive daily vitamins fully intact amongst the contents. Meaning that these pills passed through the digestive tract without being broken down or absorbed at all!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Ever since then I’ve made a point of purchasing top-quality supplements and learning which are best taken before, during, and after meals for optimal assimilation. What sense is there in buying cheap vitamins if your body can’t digest them? None!

While I’m not able to make specific recommendations here, I’ve found health food stores to have knowledgeable employees. The same is obviously not true about superstores or drugstores. As a general rule, it’s probably best to not buy your supplements at the same place you buy socks or gasoline. Just saying!

Better yet, find a trusted holistic health practitioner who can assist you. Even if you don’t have someone available locally, many people are doing telephone consultations these days. A high school friend who is now a physician shared that her med school training included one half-day class on nutrition. What?! Apparently that’s common. So, you might need to pay out of pocket and venture outside of your network to get advice that has merit.

Yes, all of this does take time, energy, and money. I joke around that I’m going to hire a personal assistant to hand me the pills, drops, potions, and teas at the right time of day. (Wouldn’t that be nice? And not a bad job for the right person!) As that isn’t yet in my budget, I’ve got a routine down. While I’m swishing coconut oil around in my mouth first thing in the morning (oil pulling- it’s powerful medicine!), I line up everything on the counter and set myself up for easy consumption. Now that I’ve got it figured out, it just takes a few moments here and there.

If you’re going to bother taking products for the sake of improving your health, do yourself a favor and make it worthwhile! Otherwise you might as well just drop them straight in the toilet and spare yourself the trouble.  

Refining Resolutions

Enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions begins to wane around the second week of January. I’d say that’s pretty normal, especially if the goals you’ve chosen aren’t authentically yours. It’s easy to be swayed by external so-called authority figures who proclaim to know what’s best. Yet I’m here to remind us all, myself included, that we are each our own authorities.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Perhaps your resolutions could be tweaked slightly, rather than tossed out completely. I find it helps to know my “why”, the underlying motivation that causes me to seek change. Oftentimes resolutions are strategies to achieve a why, but there are likely other avenues that could help you reach your destination. There’s no shame in changing course when you realize you’re on the wrong path!

It’s common for people to choose goals related to health this time of year. In spiritual circles, I hear people talking about going vegan and eating more kale. True confession: I’m a carnivore. Yup. I eat meat. Red meat. My body feels better when I do. I’d prefer to be a vegan, frankly, as the cost of grass-fed beef is outrageous. I’d fit in better, I suppose, if I went along with the crowd, but it wouldn’t actually serve my health. I do want to minimize my impact on the environment, so I’m committing to experiment with the minimum quantity my body needs.

Same with dairy. Holy moly, do I love cheese! Yet I’m not interested in supporting the cruel practices of factory farming, so I’m going with small family farm products, switching to goat cheese more, and replacing half and half with homemade hemp or nut milk. If I began the year pretending to be vegan, I’d be ready to throw in the towel about now. I’m glad I’ve learned to listen to the expert on me: me.

Another confession: I don’t like kale. There, I said it! And I have zero interest in eating salad in the winter. No thank you. So, I can just skip those trendy resolutions and opt to eat a variety of organic, locally grown seasonal vegetables, roasted or made into fabulous stew. I’ve thrown out enough slimy kale and wilty lettuce over the years to know that it’s just not going to happen. That doesn’t mean I can’t improve my eating habits; I just need to do it my own way.

I might not like kale, but I truly loathe the gym. Ugh. Voluntarily immersing myself in an atmosphere of suffering is just not my idea of good health. Plus, I can’t turn off my knowledge of body mechanics and it distresses me to see people doing things that are likely to cause injury. Nope, not for me. I’ve recently sworn off vinyasa yoga, which is the primary style offered in my area. It’s just too fast for me. Teachers always say to go at your own pace, but they don’t mean four times as slow as the tempo they’ve set- it disrupts the flow for the whole class.

So, while I’m aware that I do need to move my body more, the most common tactics are not a good fit for me. Luckily the woods are nearby and full of steep hills. My rebounder is even closer and a great choice for intense exercise that minimizes the jarring of mature joints. I know that the stretches I benefit the most from are those that I resist because they’re uncomfortable. Yet I am grown up enough to fit them into a rotation. I don’t want to avoid things that are truly beneficial (there are LOTS of substitutes for kale, just saying…) just because I don’t enjoy them. It’s been no hardship to stick to my plan because I feel so much better already. Imagine a resolution that isn’t a constant struggle!

Here are some other aspirations I’m working towards that aren’t very popular in our consumer culture as there’s no profit to be made. In fact, these actions are nearly revolutionary as they buck the system that is always driving us to do more, work harder, and buy all the newest gizmos. I do love being a rebel, but want to make sure each decision is truly aligned with my values. Going against authority figures just for the sake of doing so is still a decision based on external factors. Feel free to borrow any of these ideas or share some of your own in the comments.

Rest more

Love and accept myself exactly as I am

Minimize screen time, including the habitual checking of my phone

Minimize multi-tasking

Maximize joy

Listen to my gut

Say no to requests that activate a sense of dread

Waste less/ make less waste

I’m wishing you a very happy 2022, and hope you find your “why”!

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.