This past week I had the opportunity to participate in 2 workshops for enhancing Craniosacral Therapy outcomes for clients. While there was a lot of fascinating information shared one topic that stood out to me was the role of Craniosacral Therapy in gently releasing muscular restrictions in the body, versus Deep Tissue Massage where that release is forced, through pressure.
Clients are generally sore after a Deep Tissue Massage due to the inflammation caused by a treatment that is focused on aggressively and forcefully breaking down tissue adhesions that are causing limited mobility or pain. It's kind of a "no pain, no gain situation". I do notice that Massage Therapy is moving away from this belief and I am embracing the understanding myself, that it is just as therapeutic and healing to use a lighter, more moderate pressure. (I know the diehard deep tissue fans may not agree...but I do encourage them to try it)
In contrast, Craniosacral Therapy encourages the body into a state of deep relaxation and stillness. In that space the Parasympathetic Nervous System takes over to bring the body to rest, relax, repair and restore. In that space of quiet stillness the body has the opportunity to drop away from it's usual "busyness", settle into calm, and reorganize and heal itself.
The human body and mind are constantly in a state of awareness and response to keeping safe. The fight or flight response is natural and instinctual. At the same time it is exhausting and debilitating, and often causes tight and restricted muscles through the neck and shoulders. With Craniosacral Therapy it feels as though your body is being cradled, that the tension of gravity is removed in a way that feels safe and supportive. When the physical body is eased of tension the mind and spirit follow along and clients often notice an ease of stress, pulling them out of their anxious state, to one of calm.
In calmness and relaxation a portal to healing is revealed. Tension slides away, blood pressure decreases, the fluid around the brain and spinal chord (which nourishes the nerves) flows unimpeded, muscles relax, fascia opens, anxiety slips away and mind, body and spirit have the opportunity to relax. In this mind/body state of peace is the opportunity to find a space of solution to problems causing anxiety, and ease of movement returning to impeded joints and muscles stressed from overuse and injury.
The Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy
As a Holistic Health Practitioner since 1994, I long ago discovered that the more I learn the more there is to learn. I've practiced Craniosacral Therapy since 1996 and this recent workshop series has opened up a whole new perspective that my clients will begin to benefit from this week. Have you experienced Craniosacral Therapy?
Gentle, slow unwinding of Fascia while also opening up any restrictions in the movement of cerebral spinal fluid, are the goals of a Craniosacral Therapy session. I often find that if a muscle is not letting go with traditional Massage Therapy, that a gentle Craniosacral hold to the area will do the trick. Sometimes muscles require a lighter touch to respond.
In our day to day physical activities our fascia can become tight and congested if we are not taking regular approaches to keeping it loose, hydrated and flexible. Emotional and mental stress play a part as well. Hunched shoulders, turtling, digestive issues... can all cause the fascia to wind tighter. When tight and congested the muscles and organs don't have as much room to move and flow normally.
Craniosacral Therapy is a beneficial and gentle approach to encouraging the Fascia to unwind subtly. When we open up the Fascia around our muscles and joints they move more freely. Fascia loosened and flexible around our rib cage makes that deep breath that stress often needs, increasingly possible. And some of the old trauma and stress that can keep mental and physical trauma in a holding pattern can begin to unwind as the Fascia does. Concussion symptoms are often relieved with Craniosacral Therapy.
While clients often go with Massage Therapy or Myofascia Release, because they are more familiar to them, I do find that many clients have better results with the slower approach of Craniosacral Therapy. It does not have to hurt to work and Craniosacral Therapy demonstrates that. In the next blog I'm going to share a couple of personal stories where I have found this treatment beneficial to myself and my family.
The Mind Body Spirit Connection & Dealing with Change (Journey Into A Holistic Approach to Discovering Balance During Covid19 - 3)
The basis of a holistic approach to health, to life and to change, is acknowledging the mind, body and the spirit connection, and nurturing that connection.
What affects the mind has an influence on the body and visa versa. Anything affecting either or both, mind and body, impacts upon our spirit.
Let's take stress as an example. When we're feeling stressed about a situation we can feel it in our body. Some feel is as stomach upset, some as shoulder pain from tightened muscles, others experience headaches. Often, and at the same time, stress can cause a loss of hope, thus affecting the spirit.
Unexpected change is often uncomfortable and can create stress. Despite change being an ongoing occurrence in life it is one we can't seem to embrace. The drastic changes that COVID19 has brought to our lives is hard to navigate and it is no wonder that many balk at embracing it. But, what are our choices?
I am hearing a whole range of emotions from clients, family and friends as the life changes imposed by COVID19 unroll. Anger, fear, depression, anxiety, frustration, sorrow, shock,, grief... are just a few.
Many feel changes "forced" upon them are impossible to steer through. There are many of us that have had to slow down or stop work due to social distancing or loss of business, parents are being asked to work at home while also home-schooling their children and at the same time keep them indoors and away from playgrounds and friends, those deemed essential are busy and stressed as they are daily put at risk of infection, as humans we are social beings and we are not able to spend time with our friends, or family members that live elsewhere... I cannot think of any emotions that would be inappropriate, but there are ways to navigate through them, grow from them and thrive, holistically.
The first step in taking a holistic approach to the changes of COVID 19 is to acknowledge every single emotion experienced as valid, there is no right or wrong way to feel. Secondly, is to understand that those emotions are having an impact on your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Take some time over the next few days to allow your feelings, write them down or express them through art. If you meditate, try to check into where you're feeling those emotions in your body and what they feel like. Don't try to tamp them down as emotions are energy and energy needs to move to be released.
Upcoming posts, as we travel this journey together will address ways to not only deal with the mental, physical and spiritual impact of COVID19, but ways to grow holistically. Tips that will assist you in addressing change throughout life, often making it something easier to embrace.
You may want to work through the steps as they are presented or may find yourself jumping back and forth. There is no right or wrong way to work through these steps, your way must work for you in realizing the benefits of a holistic approach.
My connection with Reiki, from when I received my first session, through learning, sharing sessions and also teaching, has been a journey filled with twists and turns and a lot of lessons. Not all of it easy, but I think those experiences have made me a better teacher and practitioner.
Reiki is all about being open to allowing and receiving energy that is loving and healing. Deservability can raise it's ugly head in whether we feel we're worthy. That self-judgement is completely dissolved as we feel the vibrations of Reiki's beautiful energy.
What has changed the most in my Reiki practice is a better understanding of how many different physical and emotional journey's clients and students are on. They are as unique as the individual. Remaining open, without judgement but instead with acceptance, is a place that I have learned to greet each person with. This has spilled over into all of the holistic sessions that I practice and teach.
While a lot of what I have learned and practiced is from textbooks and lectures, I've also come to the understanding of how important it is to embrace holistic healing, that if the mind is feeling out of sorts, stressed and anxious, the body is likely reflecting that as well. Healing one without addressing the other usually leads to a temporary feeling of well-being, but in addressing both many clients experience better outcomes.
A few months ago I had a client book in for Reiki who was brand new. She had experienced trauma and said to me "I want to heal, but do I really have to talk with you about what happened". "No, you don't" was the answer. I knew that she would draw Reiki to those areas that needed healing and that I was simply there to support and facilitate that process. Twenty years ago I likely wouldn't have had the same trust and faith, but I've witnessed it with too many to discount it now.
In teaching Reiki I find that students will struggle with what they are feeling when giving a session, moreso that they are not feeling anything or not feeling enough.
It takes some time and practice to come to the understanding that sharing a Reiki session is not about what you the student or practitioner is feeling. What is the most important aspect of Reiki is what the recipient is experiencing and knowing that is enough.
Reiki, or the idea of working with energy, brings a lot of questions from clients and the public. I am always happy to talk with you and, if I can, answer any questions you may have about Reiki. However, the best way to learn about it is to first experience it.
During 2019 I saw a number of clients in both Calgary and the Fraser Valley for a number of reasons. They brought some similiar issues to the treatment room for us to address.
The main problem being tackled (which displayed itself through symptoms) was a feeling of life being too much, too busy, too much to do, too much to take care of, too many places to get to... Too much was a common theme.
Here are the top 5, plus how we worked together to resolve them:
#5 Holistic Maintenance Sessions
I have to admit that I was really excited to see Maintenance as a priority with many clients this year. Not really an "issue" but a really positive step. Many were taking the view that Massage Therapy and Holistic sessions are not just a luxury, but instead an essential regular part of maintaining mind/body wellness.
In the past, so many clients wait to book in when they are at an overwhelmed breaking point or the ongoing pain has become intolerable. More and more though, are realizing the benefits of regular sessions, to ensure their body is feeling good the majority of the time, and they are more able to deal with life's stressors as they come up.
Maintenance appointments were across the board for therapies including Massage Therapy, Reiki Treatments, Craniosacral Therapy, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology.
#4 Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain
Technology is wonderful BUT it is really hard on the body. For those sitting at desk jobs working on computer all day, students studying, or those with more physical daily tasks, the upper body muscles seem to suffer the most through the past year.
Many mentioned their posture at work as well as repetitive strain issues with daily tasks. Massage Therapy was the number one choice for dealing with pain through the back, neck and shoulders. Included with those sessions was passive stretching to encourage muscle flexibility. Plus we often had discussions about stretching at home along with ideas for better posture so that muscles are not over strained.
I did notice that those coming for regular Massage Therapy sessions through the year mentioned that they experienced less pain and fewer issues with headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and enjoyed better sleep.
#3 Anxiety, Depression, Overwhelm, and feeling Disconnected
While a number of clients would end their list of what is bringing discord into their lives with a statement of "well others have it worse, so I shouldn't complain", I was quietly thinking "Wow, you are really dealing with A LOT!"
So many have so much on their plates that it's not surprising that the mind just can not keep up, and in it's attempts to do so, becomes overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and depression. Honestly, I don't think many people are realistic about just how much the body and mind can take. As a society we are pushing ourselves way beyond our elastic limits.
For too long we've pushed those feelings aside, jumped up after trauma to "soldier on", lived in our whirling minds of getting "it" done and feeling disconnected from our body, and trying to pretend that everything is fine, while we're actually falling apart. It can be scary to allow yourself to fall apart, but it can actually create space for things to fall into place.
I witnessed a greater increase in those asking about and experiencing Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy. During those sessions clients experienced a full 60 minutes of peace, loving energy and unwinding.
Taking that time to get quiet left many saying that they felt clearer, stronger and were heading home to think more on what they needed to let go of and the steps they were going to take to put their well-being first... It was amazing to be a part of those journeys through the year.
Whether tension or migraine there seems to be more and more people dealing with regular headaches. Caused by stress, weather changes, computer screen posture, hormonal imbalances with menstrual cycles and menopause...headaches were causing pain through the day, sleepless nights and feelings of fatigue and nausea.
Treatment choices included Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy and Indian Head Massage. All wonderful for creating relaxation and releasing muscle tension, these therapies also increase blood flow to the brain, encourage the release of "feel good" hormones and ease pain.
The most frequent reason clients booked in for sessions was Stress. Stress that was chronic, overwhelming and causing considerable issues, both physical and emotional. Life has just become too much! To much to do, to take care of, to deal with... Deadlines, bill payments, exams, school activities...
Clients booked for Massage Therapy to help release the tension in the muscles that were holding tight and to get the natural space back between the ears and the shoulders (no, they shouldn't be attached to each other). Encouraging overall relaxation so that your stomach will release some of the knots was another reason for Massage.
Reiki sessions were popular to help ease the insomnia that was a symptom of stress. A session to help with deep relaxation in a quiet space. Where the thoughts stop whirling, the breath comes more deeply and evenly, and life feels more in balance.
Craniosacral Therapy to help the fascia that has become tightly bound and to begin an unwinding process, allowing the whole body to just open up and breathe.
Reflexology because many found it encouraged the entire body to completely relax. Relaxation to the point of falling asleep on the table!
So what would be your reason for booking a Massage Therapy or Holistic session in 2019 and moving forward into the New Year?
The colder weather is definitely upon us and the season has quickly changed from Summer to Fall. Did you know that Massage Therapy can help you to easily transition between the seasons? There are so many benefits to receiving an Autumn Massage, here are just a few...
Massage Therapy Helps Relieve Anxiety, Depression and SAD
Back to school, sports, indoor activities, the '9 to 5', family holiday gatherings... all of these happenings are good, but they can leave you feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. Decreasing amounts of sunshine and daylight begin to take a toll on your mind and your spirit. Anxiety and Depression increase and can lead to exhaustion.
Massage Therapy helps to naturally balance your hormones. Lowering the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing serotonin (a mood stabilizer) and dopamine levels (helps to battle depression and increases clarity and focus).
Your Massage Therapy appointment gives your mind and body a "time out". This is a great opportunity to rejuvenate and re-energize so that you can keep your life on track
Massage Therapy is a Natural Immune System Booster
This time of year we spend more time indoors and often in the close company of others, an optimal scenario for the spread of viruses. Preventative action can help you to stay healthy.
Massage Therapy helps to boost your body's white blood cell activity, which strengthens your immune system. It also helps you to sleep better, which always goes hand to hand with staying healthier.
Get a Better Nights Sleep with Massage
A good nights sleep leads to better health, eases depression and is a time for your body to kick into it's innate self-healing mode. Massage Therapy helps to boost serotonin and melatonin production which are key hormones for regulating your sleep cycle.
Massage as a Stress Buster
When stressed our heart rate and blood pressure increase and muscles become tense and tight. Massage Therapy will help to release your shoulders from your ears, lower your heart rate and decrease blood pressure. In a more relaxed state your stress becomes more manageable.
Reduce Pain and Inflammation with Massage Therapy
Colder weather often brings an increase in muscle and joint pain, especially for those who deal with arthritis. Back to school/study/computer posture places more stress and tension on the muscles of the neck, back and shoulders which can lead to increased headaches, jaw tightness and muscle pain.
A Massage Therapy session increases blood flow to muscles, joints and connective tissues while helping to ease inflammation. Greater blood flow and reduced muscle tension eases stress on joints so that they are able to move more freely and with reduced pain. Massage helps to loosen the strained muscles that can become tense with studying as well as increased computer and desk time. Through releasing muscle tension the body moves into it's better, more natural posture resulting in fewer headaches, joint pains and neck strain.
Massage Therapy is for more than Relaxation
Summer is over and it is back to work and school, and after school activities, and raking leaves, or shoveling snow and ... Feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
A Massage Therapy session can help you to ease through the overwhelm and get you back to feeling energized and de-stressed. Plus ease out the back ache that often accompanies raking and shoveling.
Massage Helps to Relieve Stress
Stress can cause your muscles to tense, your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise. All of these trigger your body's natural “fight-or-flight” response which encourages the release of excess cortisol into your system. Massage therapy helps to counteract these effects while encouraging the release of "feel good" endorphins.
Decrease Anxiety and Depression
Autumn brings ever decreasing amounts of exposure to daylight due to shorter days and colder weather that keep us indoors. Less daylight affects the release of both serotonin (mood stabilizing) and dopamine (helps to uplift and to focus) in the body. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or depression, you know what a toll they can take. Massage Therapy helps to boost your mood and relieve anxiety while encouraging your body to release serotonin and dopamine.
Massage Can Help to Boost Immunity
With the beginning of school days and more time spent indoors it can be difficult to get away from the viruses that are floating about the office, home and school. Massage Therapy has a preventative effect through helping to boost the immune system.
Sleep Better After a Massage
A good night's sleep is vital to our overall health. Without good sleep we get cranky and depressed and our immune system experiences added strain. Did you know that massage therapy has been shown to improve sleep for almost everyone? The increased release in serotonin from a massage makes melatonin production easier and that is the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle.
Reduce Back and Neck Pain
As a therapist I see more clients with back and neck pain at this time of year (save final exams in June). Students are spending more time bent over the books or working on computer, the eight hour workday can leave you with neck and back pain from sitting or being on computer. Chronic strain on the muscles of the neck and upper back can create tension and pain. Massage Therapy can loosen the muscles, improve your posture and increase blood flow,giving your body much needed relief.
Fall Onto my Massage Table this Autumn
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
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?