Prehab

Last night I was reading an article in a massage therapy magazine about sports massage. College athletes who were trying out for professional teams were receiving daily massage during their training. The result was fewer overall injuries and quicker recovery from the injuries that did occur. This really isn’t news to anyone in the business of bodywork. We know that lengthening the soft tissue creates a greater range of movement and flexibility that helps protect the body. What really struck me about this article was the use of the word “prehab”.

I had an insightful flash that prehab isn’t just for athletes. We can all benefit from noticing our weaknesses and restrictions and preparing ourselves for challenging situations. We can prevent the need to rehab from injuries by being proactive and taking charge of our health.

In the same way that I like to “pre-hydrate” before a hike, I can prehab for a long car ride or a conference that involves sitting in an uncomfortable chair for several days. I can prehab for a stressful situation like a court date, an exam, or a holiday dinner with the in-laws. I think everyone is aware of the upcoming stressful events in their lives- they are those entries on our calendars that make us cringe or reach for chips or chocolate or vodka. I’d like to propose a more effective and healthier alternative: stress management.

Reducing our overall stress level allows us to better deal with acute situations that activate our fight or flight mode. Strengthening the relaxation response in preparation for difficulties ahead does not guarantee it will all be rainbows and roses, but will certainly reduce the impact on our state of mind. Practicing stress management helps prevent injury (including melt downs or blow ups) and helps us recovery more quickly.

Rather than being a victim to circumstances, we could invest our resources into prehab. Let’s face it, stress happens. Sometimes more than others. There’s no reason to be caught off guard when it does. Taking responsibility for our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being demands that we take action. The cost of rehab is generally higher and includes more pain than preventative measures. I’m all for anything that removes extraneous suffering from my world. Prehab has just become an important part of my self-care regime. Starting now.

“I Had a Great Month!”

Such glorious words to hear from a client! It’s pretty common for people to show up for their first appointment with me in pretty rough shape. Pain is a powerful motivator, and is often what drives people to seek help from the healing arts. While the vast majority of people feel better after one treatment, the effects begin to fade over time as stress once again drains their  wellness reserves. I endeavor to find the rhythm that supports people to stay ahead of that stress. For many, this is mean scheduling a treatment once or twice per month.

I have observed that when people begin to actively manage their stress (through meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, Reiki, acupuncture, diet, etc.) that many of their chronic pains begin to disappear. I have four clients that I currently work with who are learning to avoid debilitating headaches. One was even able to reduce the headache prevention medication that made her forgetful and feel foggy-headed. True, headaches are not a life-threatening illness, but anyone who has ever suffered from frequent bouts understands that one’s quality of life is greatly diminished.

It seems we all have a threshold of stress that our individual bodies can tolerate. When we cross that threshold, the body sends us messages, sometimes in the form of pain, to get out attention. These painful signals are cries for help. When we heed them and seek balance, very often the pain disappears as it is no longer necessary; just like the fuel warning light on the dashboard of a car disappears when we fill the tank with gasoline.

When we give the body what it needs (adequate rest, oxygen, nutrients, hydration, movement, pleasure, and expression) it is able to function more smoothly and can often heal itself. Ideally this would be our normal state. However, we live in a world that is faster and busier than suits most nervous systems. This ongoing stress takes its toll on our body chemistry and eventually our muscles, joints, organs, and glands. It seems we have three choices: move to a tropical island, suffer from chronic pain, or support our wellness by managing stress. I, for one, have happily chosen the third option, and delight in reporting to my support system, “I had a great month!”

 

Daily Health Deposits

I like to think of my health as a savings account. Every day I make deposits and withdrawals based on my thoughts, words, and actions. Obviously I want to continuously increase my balance, so I aspire to make more frequent and larger deposits than withdrawals. This way I am giving my body the support it needs to do its job of being well and energetic.

Stress seems to be the number one withdrawal to our health accounts in modern society. Whether it be at work or home, from family or society, financial or social; it seems inescapable. Worse yet, it often drives us to seek comfort in activities that further deplete our health such as over-drinking, -exercising, -eating, numbing out in front of the TV, or any type of distracting behavior that saps our life-force energy. When these withdrawals exceed our healthy deposits, we make ourselves more vulnerable to disease and discomfort.

Perhaps the most healthful thing we can do for ourselves is to practice kindness; not only towards others, but also towards ourselves. This looks different for each person as our passions and challenges are all unique. For me, being kind to myself means planning nutritious meals and regular mealtimes, making time to rest, meditating, reading inspiring books and blogs, and dancing. These are all activities that make me feel great and boost my energy. And they all take time, special props or settings, and a good deal of effort.

I have discovered a super-power for creating limitless deposits with little effort. I’m talking about daily application of Reiki healing energy. Reiki is a powerful healing technique that uses gentle touch to flood one’s body with universal life-force energy. This is the same energy that the immune system uses to function at maximum effectiveness. Most people don’t have the luxury of scheduling an appointment every day with a professional Reiki practitioner, so I am a huge proponent of self-treatments.

Woman practicing energy medicine

One of the great things about Reiki is that is can do no harm. For this reason, it’s super easy to learn and to treat oneself. There are no prerequisites or special abilities involved. I’ve distilled the essence of what people need to know for self-use into a three hour class that promotes a simple sequence of hand positions that is my absolute top recommendation for maintaining wellness. Even better, it’s easy to give oneself a dose of Reiki “on the fly” in stressful situations or during downtime. Think meetings, airports, subways, exams, family holiday dinners, and busy checkout lines.

If you’re interested in making daily contributions to your health savings account and becoming your most vibrant self, I am here to encourage you to take a Reiki class and commit to giving yourself the gift of a 10-20 minute blast of healing energy daily. If you live in or near Philadelphia, I’d like to invite you to my Reiki for Self-Care: Banish Stress from 2016 class on Sunday, January 17. We may not have control over the amount of stress that life deals us, but we absolutely have the power to manage it with daily practices of self-care and kindness.

Transition

Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love
Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love

What a wild ride the past six months have been for me! I moved from the mild climate of coastal California to the urban winter of Pennsylvania. I have no doubt that without the powerful tool of Reiki I would be an enormous emotional mess right now. Leaving behind beloved friends, sunrise walks along the ocean, and a blossoming private practice was extremely difficult. Sorting through belongings in order to decide what to pack and ship, give away, or donate was exhausting. Finding my way around the busy city of Philadelphia via public transit was stressful. Growing my business once again from the ground up and cultivating new relationships was indeed a labor of love, and quite time consuming. Building a new life from a completely blank slate requires a great deal of energy. The blessing of Reiki self-treatments have helped me remain sane during this whirlwind of change.

My health and peace of mind have been top priorities for the past two decades. I know that as an energyworker, taking good care of myself is a necessity to be of the highest service to my students and clients. It’s important for me to be vibrant and calm and able to remain fully present with others. Keeping my ki (AKA qi, chi, prana, life-force energy) flowing and my heart shining requires me to have healthful habits, pure thoughts, natural whole foods, lots of movement, creative expression, and a positive environment. Anyone who has ever moved across the street, let alone across the country, knows that without effort these things will not magically happen.

The beauty of Reiki is that it is super-easy and effective to treat oneself. In fact, it’s the most powerful tool I know for self-awareness, personal growth, and healing. And it is available to us practitioners wherever and whenever we want. Years ago I made the decision that I was worth the time and effort of a daily self-treatment, and I have not looked back since. Every night before I go to sleep I spend 10-20 minutes flowing this healing, nurturing energy to balance my body-mind-spirit and every morning I awaken feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day will bring. The return on my investment is beyond priceless and the benefits are too numerous to count.