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?
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.
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
Something I hear from others, but also experience myself is the way in which misunderstanding, hurt and hard feelings come about through the lack of emotion when communicating through technology. When reading a text or other message we tend to interpret what we think the sender is expressing, but we do so through our own filter. That filter through which we see and hear others, is what we've developed through our past experiences in communicating with the world...but, is it true?
In order for it to be true we would have to have had the exact same experiences that the sender has had in their lifetime, and have dealt with those experiences in a similiar way. Yes, there are life experiences for which we can empathize with or share the joy of, but we still do that through our perception.
When communicating face to face, and really listening to another (and I don't mean listening to respond, but really hearing) we have the benefit of facial expression, hand gestures, body language, touch and tone of voice. It creates clarity in communication and the opportunity to ask questions to be sure that you are truly understanding another.
As a hands on therapist I have that opportunity to clearly hear what a client is saying in regards to issues they may be having with their health. I'm able to watch how they are moving, listen to their tone of voice and see their facial expressions.
What I find is that it is more often those personal interactions that are shifted to technology, as we find ourselves busier and busier in our day to day lives, and often relating from a distance. The communication with those that are the most important to us, our friends and family, are left open to the misunderstandings that can be created through our filters. While I see this causing stress in clients lives, I feel it in my own as well.
Many will respond to this dilemma with a shrug and say "well, that is just how the world is now". But is that true? Perhaps it is as simple as picking up the telephone. Granted you only have tone of voice to really listen to, but that at least keeps some of the emotion in communicating. Better yet, if those relationships are important to you then making the time for face to face communication is probably more essential than keeping up with the "busyness" of life. In the long run it is likely that you'll not only experience less stress and negative emotion, but increase the release of the feel good chemicals and endorphins in your body that keep you healthy and vital.
How do you maintain clarity in your communications with others?
How do you make the time in your life for those important, in person conversations?
One of my passions is gardening and I like to keep up with it all summer long and into the Fall, but that takes some body selfcare to make sure that it happens. Here are some of the things I practice so that body pain doesn't grow, the garden does...
Here's the list of things I make sure I have before starting my day out in the dirt:
Water, lots of it
*Epsom Salts for the end of day
*Knee pads because as you know, gardening is hard on them
*A Chair in the shade
Be realistic about your garden goals for the day as your body can only do so much and you don't want to end up injured and on my Massage Therapy table the next day...or maybe you do!
Listen to your body as you go along and take breaks or at least check in every hour or so
Body Posture, Body Mechanics and Body Rest
Be sure to end your gardening day without back pain by remembering to bend from your knees when lifting and using long handled tools and being as close as you can to your project. Keep yourself in pelvic tilt, low back long to protect yourself
Use knee pads to spare the pressure on your joints for weeding, seeding and other on the ground garden work
Every hour or two take 5 minutes to stretch your muscles, replenish your fluids, sit down in the shade.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I certainly can't emphasize enough just how important water is for your body. Hydration plays a key role in your body's ability to function well. When gardening or participating in other outdoor activities, our body loses water through increased respiration and sweating...that needs to be replaced.
Treat Your Body With End of Day Selfcare
You've had a workout, your muscles have had a workout and it's time to rewards with some body selfcare! Muscles love hot moist heat as it increases the circulation of blood and therefore nutrients as well as encourages them to release toxins. They also love an extra dose of Magnesium after a workout and there is no faster delivery system than through the pores of the skin. So take a soak in the tub, through in a cup or two of epsom salts, pour yourself an extra glass of water and slip in. Your muscles will thank you for it
If you're still sore the next day book in for your Massage Therapy session with me in Calgary!
Through 20+ years of practice in Massage Therapy and other holistic modalities I have come to specialize in the individualized treatment of women. Not that it was intended, my practice has just evolved that way. Throughout the life of a woman she faces a myriad of physical, emotional and hormonal changes. (and no, this is not to say that men don’t as well). I've watched those changes over the years in practice and am always in awe, not only in how each woman's individual body deals with them but the strength each woman has in resolving emotional and physical challenges.
Women face different challenges to their male counterparts, be it in the workplace, societal expectations or their role within the family unit. I was told recently that my uprooting my life to relocate to Calgary was a “brave thing for a woman, especially of my age” to be doing…. Hmmmm. Would the same thing have been said if a man was making the same changes? I think so. I think as human beings, male or female, we can become stagnant in our lives and that can be a very comfortable place to be. When anyone chooses to change all of that it does take some courage, energy and resolve.
So whether change is brought about due to physical changes in age, hormones, etc. or whether we are initiating the change, we can draw upon holistic therapies to help ease our bodies and minds through them.
Massage Therapy helps the physical changes in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints whether a fast growing teen, pregnant, menopausal or arthritic. An added benefit that many women experience is that it assists in becoming more body comfortable and body confident...a great self esteem builder!
Craniosacral Therapy benefits physical change through unwinding the fascia that tightens around muscles, organs and the body from injury or stress. It also assists the body to release past traumas that can cause fascia to wind tight and stay tight. Craniosacral therapy is also helpful for learning disabilities, TMJ, concussion symptoms and headaches…things that can be experienced at any age. What I've also discovered that often, when a more aggressive therapy is not working, the body will respond to the gentleness of Craniosacral.
Reflexology stimulates all of the nerve endings in the feet and/or hands, and through that opens up the circulation, encouraging the body to relax, and in that, begin self-healing. Read more about this healing art.... (click here)
Reiki brings balance to body, mind and spirit which can be essential to working through those periods of raging hormones that continue throughout life, easing the stress and tension brought about with exams, raising a family, being in this life and dealing with societal expectations. Reiki is a gentle reminder for the mind to rest and the body to heal.
Throughout my years in practice I have been honoured to share sessions focused on the health of women be they newborn or 98 years in age, and every age in between that. I’ve been witness to watching these women travel through life’s changes with more ease upon their journey and that has been a priceless gift.
What stresses and challenges to you feel, as a woman, you experience differently to men?
What steps do you take to ease and meet those stresses and challenges?
Have you tried holistic health modalities?
With heart health month quickly coming to an end here is a special to reinforce all those good things you've been doing this past month for you! Ease away stress and totally relax...so good for YOU!
February has been deemed "Heart" month and with a focus on healthy hearts, what I see advertised in mainstream media are two things: keeping your heart healthy and chocolate for your Valentine. Hmm...that conflicts just a little.
The ads seem mainly directed at the physical health of the heart muscle, and I'm not disputing the importance of that, however, what about the mood, emotion and spirit of your heart?
A holistically healthy heart takes into consideration how mood and mental state affect the health of the heart, how what you take in whether it be food or feelings, has an impact. When your heart "feels"positive and you are feeding your body well it beats out a healthy thump. Depression and anxiety can quicken or slow the heart, panic and stress make it beat a little faster and then there is the food we ingest and the activities we participate in...it all makes a difference.
The health of our Spirit plays a part as well. Are we connected to that aspect of ourselves, listening to the messages that Spirit shares and acting upon them? Are we staying in tune with our spiritual needs as well as our emotional and physical desires?
Through February lets explore the link between holistic health sessions and how they impact upon the health of your heart's physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. I will include some positive steps you can take towards healing your heart to it's natural vitality.
Follow along and share your ideas