Nurturing Creativity

I am reacquainting myself with my recently estranged creative process. The past several months have been emotionally challenging for me. My capacity to read anything but fantasy novels or write anything except necessary emails disappeared. POOF! I didn’t have the energy to navigate this crisis and nurture artistic endeavors. Losing access to my spark was all the more painful as I also lost the fulfilment and pleasure that results when creativity flows.

Keep in mind that when I say “crisis”, I’m talking about first world, white lady problems. Never was my life in danger and I knew the miserable situation was only temporary. It’s too personal to go into detail, but some of my deepest wounds got triggered and I needed to invest all my efforts in maintaining inner harmony despite external circumstances. Certainly not comparable to the depth of crises others are facing around the globe; yet to me it was A Very Big Deal.

I’m not seeking pity or condolences here. It was a rough time, but now it’s over. In fact, the outcome was a huge lifestyle upgrade, and I was always able to see the silver lining. I’m happy to report that I didn’t pile on any needless suffering by judging and blaming myself or fearing that my creativity had been fatally wounded. I have Reiki to thank for this small mercy! I knew deep down that creativity is indestructible. It might go into hiding when the going gets rough, but it’s in there all along, waiting to feel safe enough to reemerge.

Clients and friends alike have told me repeatedly over the past year and a half that they’ve had difficulty accessing their creative, productive, focused selves. It’s been clear to me all along that this is a natural response to the culture of fear that has developed from the pandemic. We’re constantly inundated with messages that the very act of breathing could be deadly, and that mere proximity to other people is extremely hazardous.

Sympathetic nervous systems have been activated like crazy! And when the body is consistently in DANGER Mode, all its efforts are directed to survival. This is a useful mechanism for facing an angry mama bear, but terribly debilitating when the situation endures for months and months. When the alarm bells are constantly ringing, it’s nearly impossible to focus on writing poetry, painting, or reading literature. Obviously, these would be dangerous distractions while climbing a tree to avoid being mauled by a wild animal. The physiological response was only meant to be brief, however, and many people have been suspended in DANGER Mode indefinitely.

I suppose the reason I’m writing this is to let you know that you’re not alone if you’ve been struggling to tap into the well of creativity within yourself. It’s a perfectly natural and normal side-effect of being stuck in chronic fight/flight/freeze mode. There’s no reason to beat yourself up and add self-criticism to your troubles. I have an immense collection of tools, a deep understanding of the effects of trauma, and decades of experience helping people recover from challenges and reconnect with their passions. Despite all of that, I felt pretty helpless as the wonderful habits I’d built over the last decade shriveled up.

It’s incredibly difficult to overcome the hardwiring of the nervous system when plunged into survival mode. Sometimes you just need to ride out the storm and wait for a sunny day. Please trust me when I say, when that day comes, you will also be able to rekindle a friendship with your estranged creativity. It is waiting patiently for you. And it will rise up like a phoenix from the ashes when the time is right.  

Time for My Meltdown

This morning a lady arrived for her weekly massage and announced, “Time for my meltdown!” I was surprised at first, because generally speaking a meltdown is a traumatic and dramatic event. Then it hit me- she was referring to the feeling of melting from the inside out. I couldn’t help but to smile at this beautiful concept. Meltdown = rubdown + enhanced inner peace. What a lovely way to describe the work I enjoy doing!

Yesterday, I gave a Reiki/massage combo to a sweet young lady who was having a stressful day. I started off with some balancing Reiki to move any stuck energy out of her mind and body, and could feel her sink deeply into the treatment. Afterwards she told me that she had been worried about having a breakdown on the table. While this is not uncommon during bodywork as emotions often get stirred up and pushed to the surface for release, it is often uncomfortable for clients who are shy about expressing heavy emotions or crying in front of others. She confided in me that instead of a breakdown, she had been able to release all the gunk she had been holding onto without the tears or upset. She instead had a meltdown!

When it comes to stress, the psyche runs the show, but the body pays the price. We get worn down by incessantly thinking that there’s never enough time to do what we need to do, that we’re running in place, that we always need to be on guard. These feelings weaken our energy flow, making our immune systems vulnerable, and creating an opening for illness. Gentle, nurturing touch and energy healing helps people let go of the thoughts and emotions that are the true source of most of the discomfort and pain in the body. Creating a safe, compassionate space for people to relax and restore is a surefire way to enhance health and well-being. How lucky am I that I get to be a facilitator of this beautiful process!?!?

Reiki for Hot Flashes

I’ve never endured a hot flash personally, but many of my clients experience this annoyance on a regular basis. Sleep is disturbed, equanimity is eradicated, routines are interrupted, and sometimes relationships deteriorate. Yes, it’s true that hot flashes are a common side effect of menopause and perimenopause.  However, it doesn’t mean that all women are doomed to suffer hopelessly and indefinitely. A return to equilibrium is possible, and Reiki is a gentle, yet powerful, technique for getting there.

Stress is a widely accepted trigger, and the relaxing effects of a Reiki treatment are a potent cure. I see the relaxation response as multifaceted. When our bodies are inundated with stress, muscles tense and circulation is impaired. Toxins accumulate in the tissues and over time all bodily systems function with less and less efficiency. Chronic stress also upsets the hormonal balance in a woman’s body as excess stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol run amok. Hormonal imbalance is another common trigger for hot flashes. Creating a relaxing environment and bathing the senses and nervous system in healing, soothing energy offers a much welcomed remedy.

A Reiki treatment can easily be tailored to target the liver (which cleanses the blood and helps to regulate hormones) so that it is more available to handle fluctuations in estrogen.  Focus on the ovaries is also an important strategy. Traditional hand positions will cover these areas, and the practitioner may choose to linger there if guided to do so. Balancing the chakras is also helpful and serves to reduce excess heat in the system. I am often lead to stimulate the liver meridian acupressure points and the liver and ovary reflex points on the feet for added benefit. I’m amazed at the power of Reiki to clear blockages throughout the entire system.

Naturally it is important to follow a doctor’s advice when dealing with any health issue. Reducing caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol intake are general recommendations for decreasing hot flashes, along with moderate exercise and cessation of smoking. Releasing addictions, cultivating well-being and overall health, and nurturing lifestyle changes can all be supported with divinely guided life- force energy that is channeled through a Reiki treatment. Obviously these changes take time and diligent effort. A series of sessions will most likely be needed to assist a client through these shifts and to maintain the delicate beginnings of new habits. My clients report that the relief they experience, the improved quality of sleep, the elimination of extreme irritability, and the freedom from symptoms is completely worth the investment. There really is non-invasive, side-effect free help available for hot flashes. You don’t have to suffer any longer. Allow your intuition to guide you to a practitioner and invite balance into your life today.

Less is More

“Less is More.” This is a seemingly- heretical philosophy I learned while studying the gentle, energetic bodywork called Ortho-Bionomy. Over the course of giving more than 6,000 massages in the last ten years, I realize that this quite frequently applies to sessions I have given and received. I could expand this theory into many aspects of my life as well, but that is too big a task for this post. How I can most efficiently interpret the phrase “less is more” as it relates to massage in my humble opinion, is to say that bodies very often are more responsive to a gentle touch than to extreme pressure. When I say very often, I mean in 99% of the time, in my experience. Very often.

Yet, popular culture would have us believe that more is always better, or worse yet, “no pain, no gain”. This is essentially the antithesis of my work. Which is not to say that I never go deep, or that every moment of a therapeutic session is luxuriously pleasant. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to restore deep, postural muscles to their original, lengthened state. However, my approach is a slow, gentle one that works with the client’s ability to let go and breathe deeply. I call it a sneak attack and when performed well, the muscles don’t react because they never even knew I was coming. Once the nervous system perceives pain, or even anticipates pain, the fight or flight reflex kicks in and muscles tense, adrenaline is released, and the mind becomes super- alert. This is the exact opposite of the relaxation response in which stress and tension are released and the muscles soften.

It is a huge goal of mine to re-educate the public about the myth of more pressure being the antidote to soreness or pain. The object of healing or releasing tension is not how much “you can take” but rather how much you can release. Bracing yourself to experience deep work in the name of relief is as effective as drinking a triple shot of espresso and riding a roller coaster to help you sleep. People in our society are already super-stressed. Aggressive bodywork is perceived by the nervous system as more stress and most certainly does not create relaxation. It might create an absence of busy thoughts because the mind is focused on sensations, just as being in an emergency situation would focus the mind. This is not the same as relaxation, letting go, feeling safe, or being at peace; and these are the conditions necessary for healing to take place.

Somewhere humans have gotten off track and started believing that having more stuff is the key to happiness, that doing more is the key to freedom, that punishing our bodies will make us healthy. It is beyond time that we re-evaluate our beliefs according to our current values and the reality that we seem to be less happy, less free, less healthy than ever. I encourage everyone to take time out of their busy schedules to experience true relaxation in the form of a flowing, soothing Swedish massage and to feel the true benefits of escaping the adrenaline loop and enjoying the peacefulness that is our natural state. And begin to think about how doing less, spending less, feeling less pain can actually be more. More healthy. And more you.