A question I'm asked by clients often is why did I choose to become a Massage Therapist?
One thing that I can say for sure is that it's a choice I have never regretted, I love what I do as not only a Massage Therapist, but also sharing all of the other Holistic modalities I've trained in.
My second career, after office administration, was as an Interior Designer, a job that really nurtured my creative, artistic side. While on site during a design project I fell from a ladder and because of that fall I booked in for my first Massage session. There was no turning back.
That first Massage left me in awe of how it eased the pain, helped me to heal and moreso feeling just how connected the parts of my body were. I had to learn more!
I signed up for a weekend course "An Introduction to Massage". I was fascinated with how it felt to work with another's muscles and feel them release, to see the glow of wellbeing and peace that crossed their face as they completely relaxed. The course wasn't my first steps in incorporating holistic health practices into my life. As a young, single mother I was interested in organic, holistic nutrition and participated in meditation daily. Yoga had been an interest since my teen years.
While on the waiting list to get into Massage Therapy school, I studied Reflexology, Reiki, Fitness instruction, Aromatherapy and Colour Therapy. Loving how each of these could complement each other and the holistic wellbeing for myself, my family and others. Did I mention that I love to learn?
My journey into studying Massage Therapy seemed the next logical step on this path I was traveling and I have loved every aspect of practicing it through the past 23 years. Honestly I can't see myself ever fully retiring because of the joy I experience doing work that I love, with incredible clients.
Massage and other Holistic therapies are a continual opportunity to learn and expand my skills. Through the past 18 years my practice has turned to specializing in treating women through all the differing phases of their life journey...but that's another story for another blog, someday.
It's weird but I have a sense of gratitude for that fall from the ladder, because it led me to this amazing career!
A holistic health colleague and I were discussing ways to promote our businesses last week and how to get our messages of wellbeing out to the general public.
What we couldn't decide was whether approaching potential clients from the viewpoint of emotional wellbeing was the best way to share, or if physical wellbeing was better. Why was this a dilemma for us? I think it lies in the fact that we, as therapists, look at wellbeing from a holistic point of view, while mainstream media presents to the public a very "physical symptoms and dis-ease picture" viewpoint.
In researching what the public is searching the internet for, the focus is very much on disease and symptoms labels such as Fibromyalgia, Plantar Faciitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, PTSD, Stress, Back Pain, Menopause symptoms, Cancer, Anxiety Disorder....
While there is no disagreement with the labels, a holistic therapist looks at each client as an individual and how those symptoms are specifically affecting them. How they are feeling, that day, on an emotional and physical level.
When a client comes to see me for a Massage Therapy session and lists their problem as Back pain. I'm assessing, as they move, how the pain is affecting their movement, is their spine appearing to be out of alignment, any signs of swelling or inflammation in the muscles, are they in emotional distress from the pain, what is it keeping them from doing, is it affecting their sleep, are they clenching their jaw or sweating from pain, how are they describing it, what words are they using...
Why so much in the way of assessment? I've probably already seen 3 other clients that day with Back pain and I guess I could treat them each the same way BUT is that really going to be beneficial for each? It might be but likely not. I assess because I want to know how this is affecting their overall holistic wellness and I want to treat them in such a way that all levels of wellbeing are addressed
I may find as I'm workingwith them that the pain began after an emotionally upsetting day. As they talk about this during their session the muscles will often open up and let my hands work out the pain and tension of the emotion. They may cry, laugh, get angry as the loosening muscles allow the emotion to be released...which is wonderful.
While they are likely of the mind that it was the massage that loosened the muscle, I'm more likely to believe that releasing the emotion was much more beneficial.
That was only one of the 3 clients that day with Back pain. What about the other two coming in with completely different circumstances but the same symptoms. Perhaps baby gaining weight is putting excess strain on the pregnant woman's back muscles, or they slept in an awkward position, or the busy teacher is stressed out and clenching their muscles.
That is why so much assessment happens.
So in getting back to the original dilemma around promotion, we wondered how to best get that message across as holistic therapists. I think what we decided was to go for the symptoms and use the language that potential clients understand, and then begin to plant seeds, educate and present the ideas that encompass holistic health and wellness.
That isn't to say we would try to change people. Each person has their own beliefs around health and wellness and what is best for them in the way of therapies. Each individual knows their body far better than I, and their beliefs bring them the holistic wellness they feel comfortable with.
As a therapist, it is up to me to honour and understand, learn from each client and adapt my therapy session to best meet their needs, and at the same time share knowledge about how the body works and it's amazing abilities to heal through holistic wellness.
Starting off the New Year with the loving, ancient healing art of Reiki. I will be offering 2 Reiki classes in Calgary this January; a level 1 and a level 2. For more information please click here
What is considered healthy, or not, seems to be linked to fads that come and go. I've watched clients as they have embraced different ideas and diets based on what is current, only to spiral when they haven't worked. Alternatively, I have seen those clients who take the time to tune in to and listen to their bodies, and what "feels best FOR THEM", experience the most success with lifestyle changes. They are also the happiest and most content people that I know.
Taking the time to get to know your body and working with it rather than pushing it is essential to holistic wellbeing. Get quiet for a moment and ask yourself the following:
1. When in the past have I felt my very best?
What was going on for you at the times that you felt your best?
2. What currently makes me feel my best?
Think about the clothes you feel best in, the foods that give you energy, the activities that feel good and the people in your circle that light you up.
When you create this list be sure to leave off the things that are done, worn or eaten because you "should". Only list what "feels" really good
3. When you visualize or daydream about events of things you would like to draw into your life, what are they?
We often picture ourselves or wish for things we'll do or have someday when we have more time or money, or fewer commitments. List these things.
Now, compare your 3 lists. Is there a theme that you can pick out as to what things, activites, foods, people, etc. make you feel great? Can you incorporate one or two of them into your life now?
So what does this have to do with Holistic Health? Holistic health includes how you feel physically, spiritually and emotionally. If for example you love to dance but run instead because you feel you should, is running the optimal work out for a good foundation in your health? If to go out running you find yourself thinking of all the reasons you don't want to, you find you are not enjoying the experience and you're feeling unhappy doing it, is it really the best for you?
If instead, as soon as you hear music your body begins to move and your mood lightens, and you smile...doesn't dancing fit your holistic wellbeing in a more positive way?
Think about the "shoulds" in your life and how they make you feel. What can you change to shift the feeling for a more holistically healthy you?
Coming up in a few weeks and I am really looking forward to sharing this Level One Reiki class in Calgary!
Click here for more information or email me at email@example.com
During the months of September the trees are a shining example of letting go. The leaves they've grown through Spring and Summer change colours as they begin to die and then drop from the branches. The tree becomes bare, only to begin the cycle again the following Spring. There's no thought to it, there is just no more need of these leaves and so the tree simply lets them go.
We often marvel at nature as her colours turn to the reds, oranges and browns of Fall. The crunch of leaves beneath our shoes or jumping in piles of leaves that have fallen bring joy. I think though we often don't make a connection with the lesson the trees are sharing with us in the art of letting go.
For humans letting go is more difficult. We struggle with the one constant in our lives, change. It's inevitable that at points in our lives we must summon the courage to just let go and allow life to happen to us, because to do otherwise can bring feelings of desperation, guilt, anger, sadness and loss. Emotions can consume us and keep us stuck in the past chapters of our lives, when really the page has already turned...we just haven't acknowledged it yet.
In letting go we have to take some time to mourn the dream that is lost, the picture we have created of what we think our life is about, or should be, the person we thought was meant to be with us forever... For each individual the acknowledgement, acceptance and release of that dream takes time, as does the healing process and taking steps to move forward. But move forward we will, at some point, in some way, by our own definition. As natural as change is in life, so is our need for connection to something new. It's a part of what makes us human.
In the years that I have practiced the healing art of Reiki I have been witness to incredible feats of letting go. It's important to create a safe, non-judgemental space for each client to take whatever time they need, while providing a gentle and loving presence where they can feel secure to laugh, cry, rail against the unfairness, weep as acceptance comes, experience joy as they begin turning the page...and any other messy emotions that raise their heads. It's humbling to be a part of that experience as clients let go and move forward.
Reiki, loving energy that is focused, can begin the process of developing a cushion to the pain, until the client is ready to take it on, face it and release it. Often surrounded by that loving, healing energy, it can be a less painful and easier path. Reiki energy can also help in guiding us towards that new path, one that is the best and most joyful path for our being.
In the art of letting go I'm often reminded of something a friend has said to me, that
"What is meant for me will not go past me"
In acknowledging a trust in the universe and wrapping it in the loving energy of Reiki it is easier to have faith that this is so. That what is part of life's plan for us will show up...if we allow it.
Ayurvedic (or Abhyanga) Massage is a deeply relaxing and healing experience for the mind and body. In an ideal world a person would receive Ayurvedic Massage daily with it's warm oils, meditative music, flowing movements and soft scents. Improving state of mind, a good nights sleep and movement without pain are just some of the benefits.
With Ayurvedic sessions, massage strokes are lighter in application but no less valuable than deeper work, as they follow the flow of energy channels, nerve pathways and hair growth. Relaxing yet enlivening, flowing and hypnotic, the mind and body are treated to a sense of integration and alignment.
There is no rush with Ayurvedic Massage. A session will last 90 minutes to 2 hours.
4 to 6 oz of warm, nourishing coconut oil is applied during Ayurvedic Massage to smoothe the skin, penetrate hair, lubricate joints, soothe and moisturize. While it sounds like a lot of oil the body will receive and absorb the healing benefits.
Ayurvedic body massage pays attention to the marma points and chakras. Marma points are located where there are junctions of muscle, tendons, ligaments and bones, those areas where pain tends to reside. The chakras are main energy vortexes that correspond to organs and glands in the body. Through Ayurvedic massage these areas are revitalized and balanced to function at optimal vitality.
Music for Ayurvedic sessions is meditative and relaxing while transporting us through the right side of the brain which nurtures creativity and intuition, relaxation and regeneration.
Aromas affect the limbic or emotional centre of the brain and through the use of gentle, natural essential oils, Ayurvedic Massage invokes an effortless state of relaxation. Scents are subtle and lightly used so as not to overpower the mind body experience of a session.
Not solely mechanical, during an Ayurvedic massage there is a transfer of energy between the therapist and the client so it is important to feel receptive, safe and have trust in your therapist.
The energy of kindness and gentle healing flows throughout an Ayurvedic session, engulfing you in a space of unconditional love, something we all could use more of.
I'm not sure why it took this long for the penny to drop, after all I've been both a single mother and Reiki practitioner for years. However, today it dawned on me just how energy scattering it is to raise kids. Often during a Reiki session for a new parent I intuit their need for Chakra balancing during the session, today I had an "ah ha" moment.
A single parent when my son turned 16 months, my experience comes from the mother role, however I suspect the same diffusion of energy happens to every parent.
As mothers we wear many different hats. The one who steps up to discipline and at the same time will be the nurturing cuddler who kisses the boo boo before the bandaid goes on. I found myself setting household chores and rules, sitting on the benches at hockey games cheering myself hoarse, being ready to listen and learn when a problem came up, helping with homework, cooking nutritious meals, making sure the house wasn't a complete wreck, that school and sports schedules were met, and that hopefully, I was also managing to instill values that are important...and on and on the list goes... I know that I'm mentioning those parts of the job that all parents take on.
And please, don't read this as a list of complaints. I love being a mum and was ready to take on whatever needed to be done for my son through all his stages of growth.
Is it any wonder that when a parent lies down on the table for a Reiki session that their energy is often frenetic and scattered. Their energy feels like it's zipping in many different directions at once and feels somewhat fragmented. While their Chakras often feel out of balance, the Male/Female energies feel distorted as well. I can only assume it is because of the multiple roles that are part and parcel of parenting.
A number of clients that are also parents often mention feelings of complete overwhelm, anxiety and fatigue. Really, it's no wonder. If your energy is scattered in many directions you end up trying to manage life from a level of physical and mental depletion. If your energy is out of balance then you're more easily knocked back by life events, both large and small.
When my child was 9 I began to experience Reiki sessions and in the year that followed began my Reiki training. I would return home from a session with feelings of inner serenity and a sense of balance. What I noticed was that home was also calmer, harmonious and more peaceful. I was still juggling full time work, hockey practice, school and all the other activities, but somehow they just didn't feel as frenetic and crazy. I also recall people making mention of how serene our home felt when they entered it, that it wrapped them like a hug.
From an energetic viewpoint this change in my home environment was likely due to my taking time, on a fairly regular basis, to lie back on a treatment table, allowing my breath to slow, my mind to still and my energy to centre. From that space my being had collected the fragments of my scattered energy into my centre, from which it could emanate outwards to the people and environment that I was in contact with. It's pretty amazing what an hour can do to help us heal.
I guess my only wish would be to have discovered Reiki right at the start of parenting. With shifting hormones, postpartum issues, sleepless nights, teething, terrible twos, trips to the principal's office,... my suspicion is that those years would have been a little less draining.
Far more important than cleaning the house is cleaning up the hamster wheel of thoughts in your head that no longer serve you. Those disempowering thoughts, feelings and old worn out stories that come along with guilt, fear, anger, shame, regret, etc. that are taking up space and not paying rent to be there.
TURN IT AROUND
Take a moment to decide how these old thoughts may be serving you in some way. Do they make you feel protected? Do you feel yourself to be lacking because of them? Is the idea of letting go of them scary? Why? Are these thoughts true?
You can begin to declutter the space these useless thoughts take up by looking for more positive thoughts to replace them with. Did you learn something from the old story? Is it a lesson that has served you well since? Does that old thought fit with who you are today?
GET THEM OUT!
Look for ways to get the thoughts out of your head. Put them down on paper with as much detail as possible (you may need some kleenex handy because this can often bring up emotions too. But, that is a good thing). Is everything down? All of it? Now burn that paper and watch those old thoughts disintegrate into ash. (you can type and delete but it is not nearly as powerful)
Are there scraps of old thoughts left churning around in your head? Go and do something physical and get out of your head and into your body. Notice how your body feels while you're doing it. Notice your heart beat and the rhythm of your breath. Physical activity can be like a cleansing breeze for the mind, cleaning itself out while your focus is elsewhere.
Seek out positive, uplifting people, experiences and activities to create new memories to think about. Get together with good friends and enjoy great conversation, open up a new thought provoking book, create a new adventure for yourself and just try new things.
Your mind will have a whole load of new and positive things to occupy itself with.
For many, Spring is the time of year to toss out the old and make room for the new! This tradition can help to create fresh energy that benefits both our physical and emotional wellbeing. The art of Feng Shui suggests that clutter in our home can bring clutter and stagnation into our lives. For myself, I find that physical clutter affects my mental calmness and clarity of mind.
For many years I have embraced the beautiful art of placement, Feng Shui, as it has brought so many positive energies into my home space. People will often comment that my home feels welcoming and peaceful. The sense of sanctuary, my space of peace that separates me from the rest of the world, the work, the noise pollution, the chaos... is essential to my wellbeing.
For this part of Spring Clean Yourself I will share what I have used in my physical space when practicing my own type of energy cleaning. Watch for Part 2 where we'll talk about emotional spring cleaning...even more important!
Anything you don't absolutely LOVE!! The most important step. When you look around your home at the objects you have how do they make you feel? Do they offer positive thoughts, memories, associations? or do they bring your energy down? Certainly there are the everyday mundane things we must have for day to day activities, however, if the can opener you're using is difficult to use and not doing it's job, how are you feeling as you open that can of food for you or your pet to ingest?
Take a look around and get rid of those things that don't work that well, that you've kept out of some sense of doing the right thing, gifts that just don't fit (re-gift them to someone who will enjoy them). Once you've removed these things take a breath and notice how the energy in your home feels. Does it feel better?
Once I've gone through all the stuff and cleaned everything then I often smudge my home or mist with a purification blend of essential oils to move out any old energy. Other regular activities can include:
-Opening all the windows for 15 minutes each day to allow stagnant air out and fresh air in
-Find natural scents that you enjoy and fill your space with candles, incense, oil diffusers or whatever works for you
-Before bringing anything new into your home take a moment to check into how it "feels". Do you love it? just like it? meh?
-Create corners of sacred space that bring you joy each time you see the contents. This could be photos, pictures, art work, plants, candles, crystals, etc. Whatever brings your heart joy.
-Smudge regularly as energy can get stuck in spaces. I usually choose just after the New Moon each month when energies are fresh and new
Coming next: Spring Clean Part 2 - Emotional/Mental cleaning