Blog Posts

Awakening, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Letting People Be Who They Are (and letting You be Who You Are)

Have you ever heard of the book “Codependent No More:  How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself”?  I think anyone who has grown up around addiction (overdrinking, overeating, any compulsive disorder), anyone who is an empath or highly sensitive person, or anyone who grew up within an oppressive religion would find this book fascinating. I’m only about ½ the way through, and it’s already brought so much light to many of my unconscious behaviors.
 
What is codependency?  Essentially, to quote the book, it’s “losing oneself in the name of helping another.”  Does that sound familiar?  For all my “healer” friends out there – what do you make of that??
 
Here are a few of the quotes that had me (a woman who has done a LOT of self-examination, therapy, shadow work, and coaching) squirming:

  •  Note: In these quotes, the author, Melody Beattie, is describing the people she worked with in a support group for wives of addicts (interestingly, Ms. Beattie recognized many of these behaviors in herself too, and all of this was written without judgement):
  • “In my group, I saw people who felt responsible for the entire world, but they refused to take responsibility for leading and living their own lives.”
  • “I saw people who constantly gave to others but didn’t know how to receive.”
  • “Yet these codependents who had such great insight into others couldn’t see themselves.  They didn’t know what they were feeling.  They weren’t sure what they thought.”
  • “I saw people who manipulated because manipulation appeared to be the only way to get anything done.  I worked with people who were indirect because the systems they lived in seemed incapable of tolerating honesty.”
  • “The codependents felt responsible for so much because the people around them felt responsible for so little; they were just taking up the slack.”
  • And here’s a quote that might strike home to fellow empaths or highly sensitive persons, “If my husband is happy, and I feel responsible for that, then I’m happy.  If he’s upset, I feel responsible for that too.  I’m anxious, uncomfortable, and upset until he feels better.  I try to MAKE him feel better.”
  • “This book is about your most important and probably most neglected responsibility; taking care of yourself.  It’s about what you can do to start feeling better.”

And it’s that last sentence that holds so much promise – even people who have lost themselves in taking care of others can feel joy and pleasure, they can find meaning and purpose, and they can reconnect with Self again. We need to start taking care of ourselves to find ourselves again.  And how do we do that?
 
Here are a few concepts that struck me:

  • Let others to BE WHO THEY ARE (stop trying to control others – even if it’s with people-pleasing and niceness).
  • Let yourself be who YOU are.
  • I am responsible for myself.
  • I am responsible for identifying and meeting my needs.
  • Don’t say Yes when you mean No.
  • Trust your feelings.
  • Build awareness around codependent behaviors, accept them without judgement (they helped you survive!), then you can work on letting go of the ones that aren’t in your best interests anymore.
  • Have gratitude for that which is good.

I’m a massage therapist.  So why I am writing about codependency?  Because of this:
“We may have started reacting and responding urgently and compulsively in patterns that hurt us.  Just feeling urgent and compulsive is enough to hurt us.  We keep ourselves in a crisis state – adrenaline flowing and muscles tensed, ready to react to emergencies that usually aren’t emergencies.”

TENSION IN THE MUSCLES CAN BE A DIRECT RESULT OF HABITUAL PATTERNS OF THINKING, REACTING, BEHAVING.

Since, as a codependent-in-recovery, I found this info so helpful, I wanted to share it with others.  There IS hope for us!  We can give ourselves more space and grace and in the process start to enjoy life again!  We can start to disentangle ourselves and let others be who they are, and LET OURSELVES BE WHO WE ARE.  That latter concept is what really grabs my attention.  This is what so many of the wisdom traditions teach – the secret to a well-lived life is authenticity – saying what we mean, meaning what we say, doing what lights us up instead of what we think we “should” do.

Learning to get to know ourselves – our true Self – is one of the foundational goals of Somatic Experiencing.  To help myself practice what I preach, I recently started working with Ariel Kiley, who is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.  Embodying this work is SO different than intellectualizing it.  I’ve read so many books and listened to so many experts on trauma, but in two sessions with Ariel, I can FEEL what the books were trying SAY.

Last week we did a boundary exercise where Ariel had me tell her how close or how far away to get from the camera.  I assumed I would like her to be closer to me, so I had her walk towards the camera.  Then, just to experiment, I had her walk to one side, back to center, and then backwards.  As she backed away, I noticed a palpable shift.  I felt more calm, more at ease when she was a bit further away from the camera.  It surprised the hell out of me – 1) That I actually FELT a somatic response to her distance in my body and 2) That my body had a different story to tell than my mind.  She guided me to explore the sensations I was feeling – how did I KNOW that I was more comfortable with her at that distance?  As I slowed down and let myself settle into my somatic experience, I noted a subtle pulsing around my solar plexus – the seat of power in the body. 

Whoa.  I’ve never felt that before.  I felt power WITHIN MYSELF.  Instead of searching outward to see what the situation or the other person needs from me, I was able to settle in myself and see what I need.

It blew me away that such a simple exercise could be so powerful.

This story is just to show you that you CAN discover yourself. It takes work. It’s uncomfortable.  You won’t be good at it to start.  But it’s worth it!

And every time you get bodywork, or you meditate, or you stay with a feeling or a sensation and don’t numb it, you are doing that hard work.  You are embarking on the journey of rediscovering who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you desire, and what you need.  And when you get those little pings – “Hmm, I feel like I need to take a break and put my feet in the grass for 2 minutes,” honor that ping and see what happens.  When you feel yourself reaching for some distraction, ask yourself, “What do I really need right now?”  And just see what comes up, if anything.

I hope you have STUPENDOUS SUNDAY!  We have visitors next week, so I won’t be sending a newsletter.  If you miss me terribly though, you can always find messages from me here. 😛

Space to be Human Lab

  • I’ve updated the description of my services on my booking site.  What used to be called “Massage Therapy/NST” is now called “Bodywork Session.”  A bodywork session can include massage therapy/NST, but it can also include yoga, mindful movement, self-massage, breath work, meditation.  All of these tools can help reduce pain and tension.  If any of these tools strikes your fancy, let me know, and during your next session, we can explore them. 

Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Are you a Creator?

I listened to a really fascinating podcast yesterday with Bruce Lipton.  Bruce Lipton is a stem cell biologist, who around the age of 40, realized that we are not determined by our DNA.  In his research, he noted that stem cells would become muscles cells if placed in one culture medium, bone cells if placed in a different culture medium, or skin cells if placed in a different medium.  The cells themselves were all the same thing; they had all the exact same DNA, but they expressed themselves differently based on the solution they were put into.
 
From this observation, Dr. Lipton realized that we are not victims of the DNA we carry.  The soup that our cells sit in affects how our genes express themselves (a concept called epi-genetics).  And we do have quite a bit of control over the soup in which our cells swim.  Our brains are constantly thinking thoughts that release different chemicals into the petri dish within our skin.
 
Try this experiment:

  • Think about your first crush. Or your most recent crush. Think back to that time when your heart started to pound when your object of affection entered the room.  Remember how you couldn’t take your eyes off of him or her.  What happened when that person came close to you – maybe even just brushing lightly against or shoulder? Remember how it felt to catch their eye, and your heart just utterly stops.

What is going on inside your body right now?  Are you suddenly warmer?  A bit breathless maybe?  Feeling some tingles?
 
 Ok. 

  • Now think about a project you’ve been putting off – something you really, really don’t want to do, but you have to do it.  But UGH. You SO don’t want to. 

What are you feeling now?  What happened to the state of tension in your body?  What happened to your breath?
 
Can you see how your internal environment completely changed, but NOTHING CHANGED IN YOUR EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT?!  With your mind you were changing the hormones cascading through your blood, you were altering the PH of your blood by changing your breath, you were modifying the forces on your cells by changing the level of tension in your muscles.  You created a completely altered inner world just by changing where you focused your attention.
 
Whoa.
 
How does this factor in to our pain experience? 
 
I recently started physical therapy to help with some chronic low back pain.  In the first session, the PT ran me through several assessments and noted that according to his testing, I don’t have any disc issues.  I IMMEDIATELY felt a sense of relief and a lessening of pain.  Absolutely nothing in my physical structure changed, yet my pain experience changed, because my thoughts changed. 
 
Not to say that thoughts are the only input into our experience of pain or sickness.  The external environment (what we breathe and eat) has an impact, as does the quality of our relationships.  Our belief in a higher power, doing work we find meaningful, being active and moving our bodies – all these things contribute to the experience of pain in our body.  But those pesky thoughts are pretty darn influential.
 
But what can we do about our thoughts?
 
First of all, you can just start to notice them.  Build awareness of your thoughts.  You can start to map out what’s going on in your head by breaking down your stories.  I recently took a class on Emotional Intelligence, and it reiterated that the first step in developing your emotional intelligence is self-awareness.  I thought I was pretty self-aware, but I utterly failed the pre-test.  Feelings/emotions/moods were all jumbled up in my awareness. 
 
So, if you’re like me and don’t really understand what you are thinking and feeling, you can experiment with breaking down what’s going on in your head into the following categories:
 
Event
Something that happens.
“It hurts when I try to bend over and put my socks on.”
Interpretation
Your thought about the thing that happened.
“Shit.  My back is a hot mess, and I might need surgery.”
Feeling
Physiological sensations in your body.
“My heart is racing.  I feel a bit shaky.  My shoulders are tense.” 
Emotion
Name the emotion you are feeling.
“I am doing Anxiety.”
 
Mapping out your thoughts like this can help you start to build awareness around them. And then eventually you can start working with that Interpretation section and start to explore possible other stories that might create a more positive “soup” for your cells to live in.  Like, when I bend over and my back hurts, I can think, “Thanks for the reminder to do my exercises to strengthen my back.” And then I feel a sense of openness and warmth, and the emotion of calmness.
 
What stories could you notice today? What happens when you start to slow them down, pick them apart, and name the sensations you are feeling and the emotion you are experiencing?  Here’s a sheet that will give you some language for describing sensations.
 
And with that, I’m signing off.  Happy Sunday from soggy and chilly Iowa.  AUTUMN IS COMING!!
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • Do you want to feel more relaxed, more present, more aware and appreciative of the beauty around you?  When we are in this state (called the parasympathetic state), our body can heal and renew itself, leading to decreased pain and improved performance.  You can book a therapy session with me here; we can work together (aka co-create!) to find what tools and techniques you need to feel better in your body. 

Newsletter signup
If you would like to get these newsletters sent to you directly, please click here.

Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity, Yoga

What Do Meditation, Range, And Addiction Have In Common?


I’m aligning with my Gemini Rising self today and sharing a medley of things I’m reading, listening to, or pondering.
 
Meditation Medley
My Meditation Medley class has begun!  We spent the first week practicing Just One Breath.  Over the next several weeks we’ll explore several other types.  It’s not too late to sign up for the class!

  • The class will be held on the following dates from 12:45PM – 1PM CDT:
    • Aug 30, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 6, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 13, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 20, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 27, 2022 12:45 PM
  • You can register for the class here.
  • For payment, I am asking for donations to the QC Yoga Foundation.  We’d love to get a donation of $25 for the class, but any amount or no amount is also acceptable. 
    • You can make a donation to the QC Yoga Foundation here

Here is a link to the recording from Week 1, in case you want to check out what a class is like.   The class is held over Zoom, but you don’t need to share your camera.  You can see me, in case that helps you focus better (our faces help co-regulate each other, per Science and polyvagal theory).

Range
One of my favorite authors and mentors (Dr. Matthew Taylor) gave me this book to read: Range:  Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.  As a Generalist who historically has felt bad about being a Generalist, I have to say I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It’s making me appreciate my natural inclinations instead of seeing them as a fault. 

This book provides many stories (about Vivaldi, Van Gogh, Sebastian Junger, Haruki Murakami, Patrick Rothfuss, etc.)  and much research to support the benefits of pursuing many different interests as a method for figuring out what you really want to do with this one wild and crazy life.

Trying many things and failing is a how you figure out what you really love to do.  Taking ACTION to figure out what you want to do with your life (“I know who I am when I see what I do”) is the secret sauce.

The advice from the book in a nutshell: Dabble!!  Flirt with your possible selves!  Work forward from promising situations instead of working backwards from a goal.

Being a Generalist also helps you synthesize ideas from a variety of domains, which can lead to really inspired insights that someone who goes super deep into one specific area may miss.

I’m about half-way through the book, so I may write more about it in a future letter.  Little known fact – in 5th grade I broke the school record for writing the most book reports, so I have some skillz in that domain.

Addiction
“You’re not alone, and I love you.”  If we approached our loved ones who suffer from addiction with that energy, what would shift?  According to this TedTalk, the antidote to addiction is CONNECTION!

Alcohol
And on a related note, Dr. Huberman (one of my favorite podcasters and scientists) did a podcast episode on alcohol and its effects on the body. If you enjoy a cocktail regularly (especially if you average 7-14 drinks/week (like I do)), this podcast will give you pause.  The effects on brain health, hormonal health, gut health, mental health, and immune system health are, not to be too dramatic, but devastating.  This podcast has given me some really meaty food for thought.  I’m not sure where I’ll go with this, but I’m considering at least another 30 day reset. 

Space to be Human Lab

  • I appreciate referrals SO MUCH.  If you know someone who needs to work with me, please send them my way.  If they book a session, I’ll apply a coupon for $10 off your next session.  Thank you!!
  • Here is a link to book an NST session, a Yoga Tune Up session, or purchase gift certificates.

I hope you are enjoying this late summer evening!  I had my windows open today, and I feel as if I was deafened by the cicadas!  

<3

Heather

Newsletter signup
If you would like to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Uncategorized

Who Am I? What do I Want?

What do you think is the key to living a good life?
 
Is it spending time with family?  Spending time in nature? Doing work you love?  Working on improving your community?
 
I personally wonder if the key to living a really smashingly good life, is figuring out what it is you really, really want, what you really, really care about, and then DOING IT.
 
Maybe you read that and were like, duh.  Of course. 
 
And maybe you read that and were like, duh, of course, but how the f@ck do I know what I really really want and what I really really care about???
 
For some of us, it’s REALLY REALLY hard to know what we really really want and care about.  This is The Truth for all sorts of reasons. Our culture and school systems teach conformity. (It’s pretty convenient and lucrative).  Our families often prize obediency (It’s very convenient and less exhausting).    Our religions also tell us what is right and wrong and what we should think or not think and what we should feel or not feel.  That’s a lot of external input overriding our internal input, often from a very early age.
 
But at some point, likely around 45 years old or so, you begin to question whether all these things you’ve been taught to believe and think are really what you believe and think  You think perhaps they are not.  But after decades of not really HAVING to be original in our thoughts and desires, it can be rather difficult to answer those questions – Who am I?  What do I want?  What do I REALLY care about?
 
Recently I have been almost literally flooded with messages about INTUITION.  I am finishing up Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s program, TendHer 2.0, and Week 3 was all about intuition.  I jumped on a webinar from Dr. Shamini Jain where she interviewed Wendie Coulter about Medical Intuition, and was fascinated by what I heard.  And what I heard was an echo of what I learned in TendHer, interestingly enough.  And then a friend of mine did an Angel card reading for me, and again Intuition was a central theme. The need to tune in to intuition and TRUST IT just keeps coming up over and over again.
 
Tuning in to our intuition – our inner knowing – is so essential to figuring out who we really are and what we really want.  I’ve heard the voice of intuition on occasion, and it feels like peace to me.  I constantly have this diatribe of nonsense assaulting my brain pan, and it’s exhausting when I don’t have the presence of mind to redirect my attention.  But that intuitive voice is different. It’s calm, quiet, confident, assured.  It doesn’t need to raise its voice.  It doesn’t need to chase its tail in my head. It can say its piece, do the ol’ mic drop, and then fade back into the ether until It chooses again to try to help me make better, more aligned decisions.
 
If you are like me (and chances you are, if you’re reading this), you want some of that tasty confident, chill, doesn’t-have-to-prove-itself Knowing as well.  But how does one get it??
 
I’m early on this journey, mind you, but here are some tools that have helped me and that might help you:

  1. Meditation.
  2. Free writing.  I actually write a question on paper and see what comes up and out.  See below for some journaling ideas from Andrea Wilson, from the Tendher 2.0 program.
  3. Slowing down. And by this I mean things like literally walking slower and moving slower.  If I notice myself  knocking stuff over or getting tunnel vision, I consciously m   o   v   e    s   l     o   w   e   r.
  4. Grounding myself when I feel super top heavy. I like the Energy Essentials meditation #1 here

If you try any of these tools out, I am curious to hear what you think! 

Journal Prompts from Andrea Wilson, as part of TendHer 2.0 (if you are interested in TendHer, you an email the organizers here). 

  1. Invite your intuition on a date in a magical place. You get to choose…mountains, ocean, a cafe in Paris. Whatever it is, let her know in an invitation to meet you there. 
  2. Begin a conversation on the page. You write, and then let her respond through your subconscious. The goal is to begin rebuilding your relationship. Begin with….”I know you’ve been here all along…” 
  3. Find out about her, and talk about the way she shows up. (clairvoyance, clairsentience, clairaudience, and claircognizance.) Also, what codes and signs does she like/do you often receive from her?
  4. What does she want to be called? What else does she want you to know? Let her know how life will be better with her showing up more. 
  5. Thank her for joining you and commit to keeping a intuitive record over the next weeks of where she is showing up and how you are connecting.  

Space to be Human Lab

  • I appreciate referrals SO MUCH.  If you know someone who needs to work with me, please send them my way.  If they book a session, I’ll send you a coupon for $10 off your next session.  Thank you!! 

Newsletter signup
If you would like to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Massage Therapy, Mindset, Yoga

Tell me what you want, what you really really want


Me?  I want it all.  Well, to put a finer point on it, I want to LEARN it all.  I want to learn Buteyko breathing, I want to learn osteopathic manual therapy techniques, I want to watch dissection videos so I can understand better how our physical layer is put together, I want to learn more about the organs and how to keep them healthy with massage, I want to understand the trains of fascial connections in the body, I want to learn how to be IN my body and help my clients be in THEIR bodies, I want to learn about the world within and how to build the world I want.
 
And want to hear something a little alarming?  I have spent $1700 on several online trainings in the past year to help me learn these things
 
And you want to hear something REALLY alarming??  Out of these 7 online trainings, I have only completed…
 
ONE
 
And why is that, exactly?
 
Well.  I used to think this was due to some nasty character flaw.  I just chase the next shiny new training that promises to be The One Thing my clients and myself REALLY need – the ONE THING that will bring clarity and amazing results.
 
However…
 
I recently met with a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, who is also a coach, who is also an astrologer.  VERY interesting combination.  I’ve never really gotten into astrology.  I was raised in a religion where astrology was considered “spiritistic” (and not in a good way), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to let go of black & white thinking.  So in my newfound open-mindedness and curiosity, I decided to see what my birth time and place had to say about Heather Anne.
 
And wow. 
 
According to my astrological chart, I like to learn lots of things without diving deeply into them.  I love to learn and share, learn and share, learn and share.  I want win-win solutions for everyone. I am more comfortable talking and thinking than feeling.  I have lots of ideas.  I am kinda shy.  I enjoy talking about philosophy and ideas.  My career is super important to me and part of my life’s purpose, but it’s going to take it’s time to come to fruition – probably around when I turn 50.
 
OH MY GOD.  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME.  I AM JUST DOING EXACTLY WHAT I WAS BUILT TO DO.  Ahhhhhhhhh………
 
Understanding ourselves better is SUCH a gift.  We can see that we have areas of strengths and areas where we don’t naturally thrive, and that’s OKAY!  We can make choices that better align with our natural gifts.  We can slowly and subtly course-correct to move onto a path of better alignment with who we REALLY are (not who we are trying to be to please people or in order to fit in).
 
It can be really difficult to get to know ourselves, and here are some ways to get started.
1. Ask 10 friends/coworkers to describe you in 3 words (tip from my SE Astrologer/Coach, Angela Freebird).
2. Subscribe to my friend Angela’s yoga classes and newsletter here.  She sends out a few paragraphs with each class recording, and there are so many good self-discovery nuggets in there.  She sent out a list of strengths-finding questions last week, which I loved (I copied them at the bottom of this newsletter).
3. Identify your top 5 values.  You can download the worksheet to help here.There are probably a million more ways to start the journey of self-discovery, but those are a few that are top of mind right now.  I would really love to hear what strengths and/or values you crystalize as a result of these exercises.
 
Space to be Human Lab
– If pain or tightness is preventing you from doing what you love, book a manual therapy session with me here: Booking link.  We’ll co-create an experience tailored to your specific case.
– I am offering no-cost 30-minute embodiment sessions where we can explore how Somatic Experiencing principles can help you find more ease and peace in your body.  It’s a win-win; you get to spent some time building the vital skill of feeling your feelings, and I get some practice in holding space. You can book a Zoom or in-person session here.

Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.
____________________________________________________
 
Alex Linley’s Top Ten Strength Spotting Tips (copied from Angela Stewart’s 7/13/22 newsletter)
1. Childhood memories: What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now – but most likely much better? Strengths often have deep roots from our earlier lives.
2. Energy: What activities give you an energetic buzz when you are doing them? These activities are very likely calling on your strengths.
3. Authenticity: When do you feel most like the “real you”? The chances are that you will be using your strengths in some way.
4. Ease: See what activities come naturally to you, and at which you excel – sometimes, it seems, without even trying. These will likely be your strengths.
5. Attention: See where you naturally pay attention. You’re more likely to focus on things that are playing to your strengths.
6. Rapid Learning: What are the things that you have picked up quickly, learning them almost effortlessly? Rapid learning often indicates and underlying strength.
7. Motivation:What motivates you? When you find activities that you do simply for the love of doing them, they are likely to be working from your strengths.
8. Voice: Monitor your tone of voice. When you notice a shift in passion, energy and engagement, you’re probably talking about a strength.
9. Words and phrases: Listen to the words you use. When you’re saying “I love to…” or “It’s just great when….,” the chances are that it’s a strength to which you are referring.
10. “To do” lists: Notice the things that never make it on to your “to do” list. These things that always seem to get done often reveal an underlying strength that means we never need to be asked twice.

Adapted from Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others, by Alex Linley, published by CAPP Press, 2008″
 

 
Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Don’t Read Me if You’re a Muggle

How the Mysteries may save us

Well, it’s Sunday, and I have a bunch of stuff on my mind.  I’m hoping that as I write, it starts to morph into a coherent throughline, but I’m not making any promises!  I totally understand if you stop reading this right now and go play outside.  BUT, it might be worth it to stay with me.  We’ll see.
 
I’ve been picking up on a current in the ether lately that is capturing my interest.  I’m noticing a few different threads, actually, but I think they are all part of the same rope.  Or wave.  I think I started to mix metaphors there.
 
Thread #1: Slow down to save yourselves and the world
 
I recently finished the book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future.  It is written by 4 uber-distinguished individuals – Peter Senge (MIT lecturer), Otto Scharmer (another MIT lecturer), Joseph Jawarski (cofounder of the Global Leadership Initiative), and Betty Sue Flowers (Director of the Johnson Presidential library).  And – OMG – I just realized my copy is signed by Peter Senge.  Whoa.
 
ANYWAY
 
This book by fancy schmancy super smart people basically reiterates the yogic sentiment that we are all parts of whole, and we need to start thinking less about Me and more about We; otherwise, life as we know it will end (aka The Requiem Scenario).  HAPPY SUNDAY!  But to do this, we need to develop presence.  We need to observe the world as it is and as we are, we need to retreat and reflect and allow inner knowing to emerge and become a vehicle for something new to arise, and we need to take action on what arises. 
 
That first step is critical – we MUST develop self-awareness in order to break out of the matrix of our conditioning and see something new.  But guess what!  Just like we talked about last week in the post about Somatic Experiencing, in order to develop self-awareness you have to slow the f*ck down!!  (Don’t ask me why I am more comfortable using a euphemism for “f*ck” than the actual word.  I probably need to do some self-reflection on why I feel it necessary to use the word at all if I am not comfortable using the real word.  Brains be weird!!).  
 
Thread #2: There is still some magic left in the world.
 
We (and me) are made of Mystery.  We think that because we know why the sky is blue and where rainbows come from, there is no more magic in the world.  But oh boy.  We could not be more wrong! 
 
Two examples from Presence really struck me:

  1. On page 200, the authors discuss a study that showed that random number generators (RNGs) around the world behaved in HIGHLY NON-RANDOM WAYS on 9/11/01.  The RNGs are protected from forces that could affect their randomness, yet, on 9/11 the non-random behavior began at 5AM and peaked at 11AM, EDT, matching the timelines of events that day.  WTF?!  Me affects We.
  2. On page 247, the authors discuss a study done by a Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto.  He used MRIs to take pictures of the crystals formed when water freezes.  As you read the following, please remember that we humans are about 70% water (and the earth is covered about 70% by water).  Mr. Emoto took photos of water from sacred sources, from polluted sources, and from distilled water.  The crystals formed by natural springs and sacred sources were GORGEOUS.  They looked like beautiful stained glass works of art.  The crystals from the polluted water looked like a slug, but uglier.  The distilled water had no structure to it – it looked just like a nebulous blob.  UNTIL.  When they played music around the distilled water, the water formed crystals that “seem to visually reflect the essence of the music – the geometric precision of Bach, the balance of order  and flow of Mozart, the beautiful simplicity of folk music.”  They also had a priest pray over some distilled water for an hour, and when they took new pictures, the water formed amazing 7-sided crystals.  The priest had prayed to the Seven Bezaiten, the Goddesses of Fortune.”  WHOA.  (I want to note that his work is controversial – some experts think it’s quackery and others think it’s legit.  And maybe, both things are true??).

What’s the point of me sharing this with you? 
1.  To give you hope.  The world is full of strife and pain and potential destruction, but it’s also full of joy and wonder and the infinite creative possibility. 
2.  To remind me and you that by taking care of our own body, mind, and spirit, we can literally positively impact the entire network of life (we’re all part of a connected field). 
3.  To reinforce how powerful our thoughts are.  If thoughts (aka prayer) can change the crystallization of water, and we are 70% water, what are we doing to our bodies (and our pain experience) with our thoughts?  You can find more science related to this concept in this article I wrote a few years ago.
4.  Changing our thoughts can be super difficult, especially patterns of thought that have been with us since we formed our impression of the world as toddlers.  But an accessible first step is to participate in a contemplative practice like meditation or journaling, so we can start to build awareness of our mind stream. 

There you go.  I found the book very inspiring and really enjoyed its message of hope, so I wanted to share it with you.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a recent interview with Dr. Roger Walsh on the Neurohacker podcast. This quote reminded me that it’s OK (and actually a good thing) to sit in confusion and paradox. 

“All is mystery, and here is our best guess.”

We don’t know what we don’t know, and what we know is probably going to end up being proven wrong some day.  It’s all just an educated guess.

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you are interested in developing more presence, either by developing a meditation habit or by exploring embodiment practices, I can help!  You can book a 60-minute embodiment session here: Booking link.  I also am currently offering free 30 minute sessions focused on the Somatic Experiencing work.
  • If you have a friend, coworker, or loved one who is in pain, and you would like to help them feel better, please let them know they can use this code for $10 off their first session: FEELBETTER.

Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Uncategorized

What Awaits You in the Shadows?


What happens in the silence, in the quiet, in the moments of non-doing?
 
Well, it’s pretty freaking hard to tell.  Because WHEN do we experience moments of quiet and calm and stillness??  Even if you meditate, at least in my experience, it’s an experience of a constant hamster wheel of thoughts, from which I am continuously trying to redirect my attention.  Not a lot of peace and quiet there some days!
 
This is where Somatic Experiencing can help.
 
I spent 4 days last week learning how Somatic Experiencing (SE) can help me, and how it can help me help you.  Somatic Experiencing is a type of trauma resolution work.  To understand why trauma resolution work is so needed, it’s necessary to understand what trauma is. In SE it’s described as anything that overwhelms the nervous system’s ability to cope.  In today’s fast paced world, we are in a constant state of overwhelm.  Here’s a fun fact:
 
“We are bombarded by about 74 gigabytes of information per day. Yet, we can only consciously handle 6 bytes (40-50 bits) of information per second. Our daily info load is more than what the average person of five hundred years ago would have consumed in a lifetime.”  Rian Doris, Flow Research Collective.
 
When our nervous systems get overwhelmed, they can signal DANGER!!! even when there is no active threat to us.  The nervous system can get stuck in a self-protection response that the circumstance no longer dictates.  When this happens, it’s harder to be in the Here and Now, harder to have access to health and wellbeing.  We can feel stuck.
 
So what to do!?
 
In SE work, you slow the felt experience WAY down, to give the nervous system time to tell its story (which may differ from the story our minds tell us).  It looks like taking time to really notice: What am I feeling?  Where am I feeling it?  How would I describe the sensation?  What colors, textures, shape does it have?  Does it have edges?  What happens if I just watch the sensation?  And, as you experience the sensations, the practitioner is there to help you stay grounded and present by asking questions, by noticing if/when you start to get amped up, and by guiding you back to a safety.
 
I found that, if I am on my own, I just do not allow myself the time to stay present with what I am feeling and sensing.  I feel too busy, too rushed, and the old, “I’ll do it later” thought takes over.  But when I have a kind, compassionate witness sitting with me, really SEEING me, really encouraging me to take all the time I need, lending me their stable nervous system when I need it, it’s amazing the universe of sensations and experiences that I begin to notice. It’s a gift.
 
In this Beginning II training class, we worked with disrupted self-protection responses:  Arrest response/preparatory orienting, flight, fight, freeze.  If any of these self-protection responses are stopped before they can be completed (think about car accidents, falls, accidents, being hit by something, etc.), the energy mobilized by that response can cause disturbances in our bodies, such as:

  • Hypo vigilance – You don’t notice threats, especially coming from a certain direction.  This may mean you bump into stuff a lot, feel clumsy or accident prone.  You may be unaware of space and time and may get lost easily.
  • Hyper vigilance – You are hyper aware of threats, feel anxious, fatigued, can’t connect deeply with others.
  • Jaw tension, holding fists, narrowing eyes, aggressive posture.
  • Angry outbursts or lack of anger when the context warrants it, due to loss of relationship with the emotion of anger.
  • Not really sitting in chair (ready to run).
  • Constriction in legs, arms (bracing).
  • Loss of connection with legs and/or arms.
  • Nervous energy, sense of urgency.
  • Tension in body.
  • Feeling of not caring and that nobody cares.
  • Feeling of being floaty, sleepy, groggy

Interesting, eh??  So many common experiences in our body could possibly be tied back to a traumatic event and an incomplete self protection response.

If this has piqued your curiosity, you can book a free 30 minute coaching session with me here.  I am still learning (I have 2.5 years left of classes), and I really appreciate the opportunity to share this life-changing work with you and get some practice at the same time. You can also book a regular session here.

Newsletter signup
If you have would like to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Mindset, Pain

A message from my butt…

Pain is weird. 

We often think that the cause of pain is due to something “wrong” with our bodies.  We blew out that knee in a skiing accident in high school.  We have “horrible posture” while we sit at our desks all day.  My dad had a bad back; his dad had a bad back; I therefore have a bad back.

All these things could be true.

And they could all be contributing to the experience of pain in your knee, your shoulders, your back.

But what else could be true?

Could you have knee pain because when you went to the doctor back in high school, he told you, “Someday you’ll get arthritis in there”?  Would you have pain if that thought seed had never been planted by a trusted authority figure?

Could it be true that you thinking all day, “Ugh, my posture is horrible.  I really should sit up straight” is causing unnecessary tension in your traps and jaw and gut, thereby increasing your pain?

Could it be true that since your lineage is riddled with back pain, at the first twinge of something… interesting… in your back, you start to restrict your movements, start to baby your back, and start to become hyperaware of any possibly dangerous sensations in your back?  You move less (and therefore lose out on the amazing benefits of exercise) and train your system to get really, really good at noticing pain.

Pain is weird! 

I had a first-hand experience with how weird pain can be a couple of weeks ago.  I am in a 3-year Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution training program, and as part of that program, I have to do several sessions with trained practitioner.  During my last session, with a woman named Erin Diedling, I asked if we could work on the pain in my low back.  As Erin helped me stay present with the sensations in that area, I noticed that while, at that exact moment, I wasn’t noticing anything in my back, I DID notice a slight area of discomfort at the tip of my tailbone.  We spent some time noticing the sensation, describing it (it feel like brown sludge), and then Erin asked something like, “What do you hear, what message do you get when you focus on this sensation?”

Well, first of all, I had to tell her that when I work with therapists, I have this huge impulse to try to figure out what they WANT me to say.  It’s SO hard to figure out how I really feel, what I really think.  I just want to make the therapist happy and give them the RIGHT answer – the RIGHT answer about how I am feeling and what I am thinking.  Yes, I know it sounds nuts, but well, that’s me. J

I told this to Erin and she assuaged my anxiety by telling me that wanting to please the therapist is actually a pretty common thing.  She added (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you DID know the right answer (and you do).  What would the answer be?  And remember, whatever answer you give is perfect and is 100% correct.” 

Well, that helped me dive under the shell of people-pleasing and become more open to what my body had to say.  And the message I heard was “Get off your ass.”

We spent the next few minutes talking about how “getting off my ass” by excelling in school, by being the good girl, and by doing what I was told and making my parents and the authority figures in my congregation proud of me served me well as a youth, and how that action-orientation helped me differentiate myself from the beautiful and talented group of ladies I hung out with. 

So, this Part of me served a vital purpose in my life – it got me attention and love.  But do I still need it?  Erin asked if I wanted to retire this part of me, and I noticed I was reluctant to let it go away completely. I decided to put it on the shelf, so I can bring it out again when needed – when I really need to get some Sh*t done!

And you know what?

At the end of the session my tailbone pain was gone.

I haven’t felt it again since that session on 6/8.

Pain is weird. 

What is your pain trying to tell you?  Why is it trying to get your attention?  What stories are you telling yourself about your pain that might not be true?  What would happen if you took a pause and opened a non-judgmental, open-hearted chat with your pain?  You might find out something interesting!

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you would like some help in figuring out what might be contributing to your pain, you can book a session with me here

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.

Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Mindset, Yoga

The Magic You’re Looking For

Hello!  Remember me??  I took a couple of weeks off from writing due to vacation.  We spent a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota – biking, hiking, eating, watching X-files.  That last thing – watching X-files – kinda made me feel guilty.  Here I am, in the middle of absolute gorgeousness, and I’m sitting inside, butt on the couch, watching a TV show I have seen 3 times already.  But, then, I realized I AM ON VACATION AND CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT!  I  can choose to go outside and enjoy the Hills, or I can choose to relax, put my feet up, and enjoy some very high quality entertainment.
 
This trip was full of awakenings like that.  Here are a few of my realizations.

  1. Doing hard, uncomfortable things can be super energizing and life-affirming.  The day after we arrived in Custer, we did a 35 mile bike ride, with a 260 elevation gain on the way out and a 947 elevation gain on the way back.  This was done on my new Surly Ogre, which is MUCH heavier than my road bike.  The tires are also about twice as wide, and we were riding on crushed gravel.  So I was biking a lot more weight, over a stickier surface, at a much steeper grade than my sea-level legs are used to.  It was ROUGH and beautiful.  On the ride back, I was kinda hating life (just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling), but once I got done and sat down with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, banana, and peanut butter toast, I was totally loving life.  I CAN DO HARD THINGS!
  2. It takes a while to decompress and slow down, so if you can swing it, taking at least a week off is SO nice.  Usually when we go on trips, we just spend a couple of days at our destination and then move on to a new spot (Have to cover as much territory as possible!  Have to get home and have some time to recuperate before starting work again!  Can’t spend too much money!), but this time we stayed at the same place for 8 full days.  We had time to settle in, settle down, establish a home base and venture out.  We started to sink deeper into the vibe of the area – not just skimming along the surface and checking sites and activities off boxes, but really starting to get a feel for the area, getting to know the weather, getting to the know the moods of the skies. 
  3. Watch the stories you tell yourself.  I packed SO many activities to do in the cabin – 3 books (The Enlightened Marriage, Mists of Avalon, and Understanding Human Design), colored pencils, watercolors, my journal, and 5 Pubmed articles about the importance of therapeutic touch.  I did write every day, so I could remember what we did, and I did read a good portion of Mists of Avalon, but I didn’t touch the rest of the stuff.  But, you see, here is the story I always tell myself, “If only I had more time, I would be an amazing artist.  If only I had time, I would be SO well informed on all things mindbody.”  Yet, I DID have time.  But I did not even attempt to create any art, and the articles never got touched.  It reminds me of a quote I saw on Facebook yesterday, “People romanticize their plans but dread the execution.  The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.”  Wow.  That really hit me.  I just want to be an amazing artist and an amazing therapist, but I want to avoid the discomfort of GETTING GOOD and of PRACTICING (there is no doing something perfectly in the learning stage).  This ties back in to point #1 – I HAVE to do the uncomfortable things in order to experience the joy and satisfaction that I want. 

Shoot, I had all sorts of stuff I wanted to write about – the amazing Somatic Experiencing session I had this week, the importance of looking at the Adverse Childhood Experiences you have had (and how they affect your marriage), and how Presence is a fundamental requirement for us both as individuals and as a collective.  But, I will need to explore those topics in future posts.  This is my SUMMER OF FUN.  I’m really trying to focus on enjoying life NOW instead of when I accomplish my To Do list (aka “never”), so I am going stop here.

Space to be Human Lab

  • I am taking the second class in my Somatic Experiencing (SE) Trauma-resolution training on June 24-27.  I am really excited to bring these trauma-resolution skills into our sessions.  So much of our chronic pain comes from nervous-system dysregulation that’s a reflexive response to various types of traumas (defined as events that overwhelmed our ability to deal with them) we have experienced in our lives.  Our responses to these events enabled us to keep functioning and surviving (so THANK YOU, Body!), but those responses can get stuck in our nervous system after they’re no longer needed and affect our ability to THRIVE.  But SE can help us process those through and find more space for presence
  • Don’t let your self-care suffer during the busy summer months!  You can easily book a session here.

I hope you are enjoying this hot, humid Sunday!
 
<3

Hlo
 
P.S.
It is Sir Huehue’s 6 month birthday today, so I have to share a picture.

Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Yoga

A bad case of The Clench.

Hello There!  If you are in the Quad Cities today, you are experiencing probably the MOST beautiful day we’ve had this year.  Nature is a great reset for our minds and bodies, and as I am feeling very…sucked up inside myself (just breathe, Heather!), I am going to take massive advantage of it today.  So, today’s post will be short, so that all of us can go outside and play.  Also, I am going to be on vacation (South Dakota, here we come!) starting next weekend, so you will be newsletter-free. 😛
 
Since today I need to hear some advice on how to regulate a spun-up nervous system, that is precisely what I am going to share with you.
 
Side note:  Why am I wound up today?  WHO KNOWS?!  It could be hormones.  It could be what I ate and/or drank yesterday.  It could be dehydration.  It could be indecision about a decision.  It could be all the things I want to/need to get done before we leave for our trip.  Maybe it’s contemplating the cost of gas and food and fun whilst on vacation.  It could be the 60 to 80,000 thoughts, stories, and internal narratives assaulting me daily.  And it’s most likely a combination of all of the above.  But I guess The Why really isn’t the important thing. The Important thing is, I’ve noticed I’m feeling a bit tense, wound up, and fast.  So.  What next?

  1. Spend 90 seconds just sitting and noticing the sensations I feel in my body.  According to Dr. Joan Rosenberg, the vibrations associated with an emotion last just 90 seconds.
  2. Locate the sensations (I feel it in my throat and belly) and see what happens if I inhale and exhale through the area.
  3. Acknowledge that I am feeling anxiety.  Ask myself, “Is that a problem?”  What happens if I just allow it to be there instead of fighting it and pushing it away (which adds a layer of suffering on top of the layer of anxiety)?
  4. Lay on my back in Constructive Rest and take some long, slow smooth breaths.
  5. Write.  Get all the thoughts out of my head and on paper and look at them objectively.  Preferably this should be done in a Moleskine journal with a nice pen.  Just sayin.
  6. Take a walk, encourage the furrow between my brow to relax.  Open up my peripheral vision.  Notice all the shades of green.  Notice the sounds of the birds and the wind in the leaves. Notice the smell of the lilacs.
  7. Take an Epsom salt bath (FYI – my sister-in-law’s sister told me that taking a hot bath with ½ cup of Epsom salts, ½ cup of baking soda, and ½ a cup of kosher salt can be a mind-opening experience.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to tonight!).
  8. Pet Huehuetenango Schneiderjohns.  Here is a picture of him playing with his new Chewbacca toy. 
  9. Roll my abdomen with the Coregeous ball (this would also help that pesky low back pain).
  10. Do something fun!  Tim and I plan to bike over the new I-74 bridge this afternoon.

There’s my top 10 list of self-advice.  Oh shoot. I just thought of another one.

11. If I’m forbidden to call what I am feeling “anxiety”, what would I call it?  Anxiety can be a “cover” emotion that hides something deeper going on. What emotion am I hiding from by saying I feel anxious?  (This also comes from the podcast linked in #1).

Ok.  Now I’m really done.  Hopefully if you struggle with that fast/spinny/unable to exhale sensation, this list will give you some ideas to experiment with.  And I’ll remind both of us that:  MAYBE FEELING ANXIETY IS NOT A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED.

Space to be Human Lab

  • The Lab will be closed 5/28 to 6/5.
  • Don’t let your self-care suffer during the busy summer months!  You can purchase a 3 pack of 60 or 90 minute sessions and save $10 per session!  Link here (click on Products and Packages link at the top).

Happy Sunday!  I look forward to regaling you with stories from South Dakota when I write again on the 5th. 😛
 
<3

Hlo
 
Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.