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.
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.
The ever typical peace keeper, despite best efforts not to be, I find myself slipping into that role time and again. Boundaries were never something I learned. Growing up in an alcoholic home they just didn't exist. I earned my gold medal in peacekeeping just to try to maintain some space between myself and the chaos that surrounded me. Unfortunately it's a tough role to break...but I will continue to make it a work in progress.
With a lot of self work and reflection, boundaries have become something more familiar and I've identified a number of them that work for me. The difficult thing about having boundaries is knowing when to set them. For myself, it's usually after I've allowed them to be pushed, a number of times, in my efforts to keep the peace and oh yes, did I mention I'm also working towards becoming a reformed people pleaser as well?
I usually will get to the point of being in exhausted tears before I realize I haven't held my boundaries and have overextended myself to please. The stress of people pleasing is finally outweighing everything. Once again, I've let myself down. Any of this sounding familiar? I suspect it does because I meet a number of others in this life who will tell me of similar circumstances. So what do I tell them and what do I tell myself?
1. FORGIVE YOURSELF
First and foremost cut yourself some slack. After I've kicked myself a couple of times and wiped the tears away I remember to tell myself that yes, I caught myself again, I messed up, but I did catch myself and perhaps next time I will catch myself sooner. That does happen.
2. STOP IT!
As soon as you realize the boundaries have been breached put them back in place. Take a few moments to recognize where you've been lax in holding your own space and gift yourself by putting those boundaries up. Then take a breath.
I use to feel that I couldn't, that it was too late, that people wouldn't like it...yeah, the people pleaser raises it's loud and ugly voice to say "What will others think of me?". But the more important question is how will you feel about yourself if you don't? I thought so...nail those things up if have to, but put them up.
3. Say NO
Say no and don't justify it. You really don't owe anyone a reason or justification for putting your boundaries up and beginning to say no. Yes, it means you have switched gears, people may not like it, but is it worth the stress to not do it? Certainly if people ask and you feel as though you want to explain, you can, however at times that can be exhausting. Right now you're doing the work of holding the boundaries in place and rebuilding yourself, and that needs to come first.
4. Celebrate you
Hey, you were successful, you figured it out, you caught up with your boundaries, set them, took a breath and now it's time to celebrate that amazingness that is your achievement. Yes, there will likely be more occurrences of boundary violation and people pleasing mishaps, but not today.
You're only human and that is something to celebrate. Give yourself the pat on the back, the toast with champagne or whatever way you celebrate you!
Teaching Reiki in Alberta and BC this Spring and Summer, below please find upcoming dates for Reiki Classes and Exchanges:
Reiki Level 1 Class - Sunday, April 22nd 9:30 to 5
Reiki Exchange - Sunday, April 22nd 2 to 4:30pm
Reiki Exchange - Sunday, May 6th 10:30 to 12:30
Reiki Classes - Level 1 or Level 2 - Sunday, Sept. 9th 9:30 to 5:30
Reiki Exchange - Sunday, Sept. 9th 2 to 4:30pm
When it comes to our Heart health it is important that all aspects of our health are considered...rather than considering only symptoms, Holistic health therapies take into account the whole person (mind, body, spirit) and how the current state of dis-ease is affecting them.
If the symptom is heart palpatations but the underlying cause is stress, it's more important to treat the stress aspect so that the heart and mind can relax...don't you think?
Our Spirit is able to connect and communicate with us more effectively when we are relaxed, open and calm. When we nurture that connection we thrive in a place of harmony, balance and wellbeing! We become more aware of the emotional stress and physical pain in our day to day activities. In that simple awareness we can begin to heal.
Each Holistic Health practitioner will have their own ideas as to which modality is the best for their clients health. Through the past 22+ years of practice, experience has taught me that the client actually knows much better than I do... often without realizing it.
I may suggest Reiki as a generic way to relax, become calm and discover balance, however, if a client is high energy and has difficulty staying still for long periods then that one hour Reiki session is likely to drive them crazy and up their stress level.
In this situation I would be more likely to introduce a couple of modalities where a vigourous massage for the first part of the hour, to begin the relaxation process, followed by Reiki for the second half of the hour, would likely be easier and more fitting for that particular client. This is the reason I take a few minutes at the beginning of a session to understand where you, the client, are at that day.
Each of the modalities that I offer encourage the body to relax and in that relaxed state the mind and spirit are often drawn into the space of calm. It is in that relaxed state that the innate and natural healing process can begin. That is the space you want to get to in holistic health modalities to best realize and maintain your heart health.
My role in that is to listen, to understand and to facilitate in providing a session that will be of the most benefit to your overall wellbeing, whichever modality that is.
Explore the different modalities towards wellness for yourself... (click a button below)
I don't know about you but sometimes I look at some of the selfcare tips and articles and they actually stress me out. I know that it's important to practice good selfcare, but how to juggle that with a busy life?
Not long ago I came up with some ideas for keeping Selfcare simple, making it work with my schedule so as to not be more stressful. Stress has a negative impact upon heart health and so it seemed ridiculous to me to be stressing out about my own selfcare.
When I first thought about my selfcare I created a list (yes, I'm one of those) of all the things that to me, were selfcare essentials that fit. That list was daunting in itself. I decided to take just 4 items from the list, that were important to me and make those my priority. Here is what I've been practicing...
Quiet Coffee Time
Not a morning person, I value quiet time when I first rise. My first selfcare essential was to recognize that...it's part of who I am. Also a coffee hound (only 2 cups a day but they must be good cups), I began taking the steps to set up the coffee maker the night before so that in the morning my coffee was ready and I could sit quietly in my space. Each morning I verbally thank myself for taking a few minutes the night before to do this. It may seem simplistic, but I began to notice a change in my thoughts in taking the few seconds to be thankful for my selfcare.
A recent move to Calgary has meant my skin adapting to the drier climate. Putting lotion on my skin has never been a priority as I've never really dealt with dry skin before...but now I have no choice, it can get so dry it hurts. Just taking the time to moisturize can be a moment of selfcare. For a few moments it takes you out of your head and connects you with your physical body. You can further the selfcare energy of this time by thinking or saying positive things about your body.
An example would me my gratitude for the strength in my hands and arms. It allows me to continue doing this work that I love, and also means I can give and receive strong, warm hugs.
I took this selfcare ritual further by purchasing a naturally scented lotion. I love the smell of roses. The scent calms and centres me and leaves me feeling peaceful. So that few moments of moisturizing with rose scented lotion makes me feel nurtured physically and emotionally.
I do find, with my work being so physical, that at the end of my work day I am tired. Once every couple of months I put aside a day to make healthy and nutritious freezer meals. Such a treat when I get home and can just pop something into the oven! I feel so much gratitude for my having the foresight to make sure I am eating healthy meals. I make ahead meals for breakfast and lunches as well so that throughout the day I am feeding my body well.
And my fourth daily ritual for selfcare is drinking something natural and healthy before going to bed. I try to end my day in the same quiet contemplative space that I started it with.
The benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and natural Honey are many (the picture shows a few). While I sip I take a few moments to think about a few things I'm grateful for from the day and I thank myself for taking some time to take these steps toward selfcare.
Those are my four daily selfcare steps...which may not seem like a lot but have had a huge impact in reducing my stress levels and increasing self esteem. I'm grateful to myself for taking the time to do just these things. It has encouraged me to do more in the way of selfcare on those days that I have time, but to not let it stress me out if this is all that I get done.
Have you made the Selfcare list? How can you make it simpler for you?
Did you know that when we take the time for selfcare we teach our children how important it is?
Super thrilled to be offering sessions at this dynamic, patient focused clinic beginning Tuesday, September 5th! Check out www.atmospherehealth.ca to discover more about what is offered and about the knowledgeable and experienced healthcare staff. I look forward to seeing you soon.
How do these two things go together?
It's Simplify Your Life Week from August 1 to 7 and what a great focus as this is a topic brought up by clients regularly...more of a wish actually, that they could find a way fo make life simpler.
And really, Reiki and this goal or wish, go hand in hand. Here's why...
When receiving a Reiki session your Body, Mind and Spirit are encouraged to enter a state of deep relaxation. Usually the mind will begin to quiet it's busy, hamster wheel thoughts (for some this takes a little longer) and that is where the magic begins.
Our Soul or Spirit have so many answers to ways in which we can make life easier and simpler for ourselves, it's ego that often gets in the way of that. When the mind becomes quiet, ego is silenced and we have the amazing opportunity to listen to the messages soul/spirit have been trying to relay. The quiet time puts life into better perspective and often, spirit will assist us in finding a way to simplify life in unique and creative wasy we wouldn't have otherwise thought of.
It really can be as simple as that!
Teresa Graham, RMT is a Reiki Master and has offered both Reiki sessions and Reiki Classes for more than 20 years. Reiki is an integral part of everyday life. Learn more about Reiki sessions here