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?
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
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!
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?
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?
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