Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Mind Over Tension (aka Jedi Mind Tricks)

Hiya.  Care to get a little curious?

Where are you breathing right now?  Is the air coming in through your nose or your mouth?  What is the temperature of the air?  Where do you feel your body move with the inhale and the exhale – your shoulders, your ribcage, your shoulders, all of the above?  What happens if you just notice?  Just notice the breath coming in and going out, like ocean waves sliding up a sandy beach and slowly retreating back to the deep.  Perhaps you would like to start to slow down the breath, taking looooong sloooow sips of air.  What do you notice next?

I’m curious about your eyes. What happens if you take a pause from reading this, look up, and let your eyes gaze on something in the far distance – the furthest thing you can see without straining.  How does that feel?  If you invite your eyes to take in more of your surroundings – start to notice what arrives at your eyes from the periphery, how does that change your experience of your eyes?

And what about that belly?  I invite you to take a moment and just notice if you are holding your breath, holding your belly, bracing.  What shifts within you, if you allow yourself to soften in this area, maybe even inviting the breath to sink down low and expand the low belly?  How does that feel?

And the hands, and the fingers – are they clenched tightly around your phone as you read this, are they resting in little tight fists on your lap?  What if you tried to hold your phone with just the SKIN of your fingertips?  What would it be like to slowly uncurl each little bone of each long elegant finger and allow the fingers and palms to rest with ease on your thighs?  What is it like if you imagine bringing more space into the INSIDE of your hand, like inside the fingers and inside the palms?

How do you feel after a few minutes of exploring your inner world?  Did you notice a shift in your overall tension?  Your mood?  The pace of the hamster wheel of thought-generation?

We’ve been taught, since the time of Rene Descartes, that “I think, therefore I am,” insinuating that there is some sort of separateness between the mind and the rest of us.  We now know due to reams of research that the mind and body are not separate.  As human beings, we are a mindbody.  Our thoughts effect changes in our body, and our body effects changes in our thoughts.  Perhaps you noticed how your thoughts helped your body feel more calm, ease, and expansiveness?

Our minds have a documented “negativity bias” which means we are always scanning for the bad, what could go wrong, how things could fail.  This has kept humans alive so far, so it’s a vital predisposition, but it can make for a shitty lived experience!  We can consciously work with this negativity bias, by inviting in the opposite thought – give equal airtime (or maybe even MORE –  research recommends a 3:1 ratio) to scanning for the good, thinking about what could go right, how things could succeed.

How are your thoughts contributing to your tension?  How could they contribute to more ease, flow, and space instead?  Just some food for thought on this day of Rebirth.  Maybe we could give birth to a mindset that helps us find more Space to be Human.

Space to be Human Lab (where we invite in an attitude of exploration, experimentation, and curiosity)

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: The reviews are in “It’s so soft!”  “It’s so comfortable!” “My face isn’t smushed.”  Yay for the new cradle!
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that we are heading off to Armored Gardens for some lunchy poo.  Also, if you don’t currently get the Tap On It texts, I highly recommend it.  This week we got a coupon for BOGO draft beers at Armored Gardens.  I mean, I don’t drink beer (Hellllooo bloated belly), but that’s a really good coupon. J

Newsletter signup

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

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Confessions of a Wounded Healer

Pain is weird.  In a nutshell, that is about all that Science and Experience (and my personal N=1 experiment) knows for sure.  This becomes especially true when you get into chronic pain territory, meaning if you have persistent pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months.

And guess what.

I have chronic pain.

I’ve had persistent low back pain for ages.  I remember going to physical therapy for it when I was working at HNI in Muscatine.  Let’s see, that was…15 years ago.  So, yup, I am in chronic pain territory.

It’s embarrassing to admit that, as a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and studier of the human mindbody and condition, I have been unable to resolve my own main complaint.  I’ve seen PTs, chiropractors, the founder of neurosomatic therapy, myofascial release specialists, acupuncturists, functional medicine docs, yoga therapists, breath specialists.  You name it; I’ve likely tried it. 

Does it help?  Sometimes and for a little bit, yet the pain returns.  And I’m starting to get a sense of why.

  1. I don’t do my homework.  I don’t do my breath exercises, stretches, etc. consistently.
  2. While I KNOW that humans are multidimensional beings, made of physical bodies, but also energy bodies, mental bodies, and spiritual bodies, I still revert to a default belief in a biomechanical model and reliance on Someone Else needs to fix this.  This is amusing to my Higher Self, as my main driver/motivator in doing the work I do is because I want to help others realize their potential to heal themselves via a wholistic mindbody approach.  Oh – THE IRONY!!

And so, as I slowly start to examine my Shadow Self (the side of myself that I don’t REALLY want to look at too closely), I am beginning to realize the strong connection between the low grade low back pain that’s been my constant companion these 15 years, and my habit of living life at Speed.  This speedy living manifests in clenching – tightening up my shoulders, holding my breath while executing tasks, clenching my butt, and not processing feelings/emotions as they arise (I don’t have time to deal with this now; I’ll do it “later” when I “have more time”  and when it’s “more convenient” (meaning never)). 

It’s become evident to me that the reason none of these external therapies have worked is because my habits of daily life (daily clenching), immediately facilitate tension in my back.

I know the work I need to do to feel better.  I need to FEEL BETTER.  Meaning, I need to take the time to notice what is arising within my inner domain, turn toward it with openness, notice exactly WHERE I am feeling it and WHAT it feels like.  It looks something like this:

I feel a sensation like a ball in my throat.  As I watch it, it starts to shift up into the back of mouth and out toward my ears. I say “hi” to it and let it do what it wants to do.  I take a moment to breathe long, slow breaths and the feeling and I just hang out together for a bit.  Sometimes it stays, sometimes it moves on.

I think the secret to unwinding the tension in my back is in unwinding the tension in my emotional and mental layers.  I realize that can sound a bit woo-woo, but there is actual proof that this is true.  The biopsychosocial model of pain indicates that ALL of the following can contribute to our pain experience:

Injuries.  Hormones.  Metabolism.  Neurochemistry.  Nutrition.  Sleep.  Circulation.  Breathing.  Immune functioning.  Personality.  Behaviors.  Age.  Gender.  Race/ethnicity.  Socioeconomic status.  Social network/Relationships.  Life stress.  Treatment satisfaction.  Readiness to return to activities of daily life. Spiritual practices.  Meaning and purpose.  Autonomy/Self-management. Beliefs.  Thoughts.  Our ability to feel our inner state (interoception).

HOW does one go about doing the work of examining and processing their emotional and mental layers?   I work with a life coach, and I’ve also worked with mental health therapists in the past.  I also journal daily and get the stories out of my head and on to paper where they are more obvious and manageable. I meditate to build my “attention muscle,” so that I can get less triggered by my own thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about the different factors that could be contributing to YOUR pain, we can chat about that in your next session. Here are also a couple of interesting and helpful resources.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: OMG.  I AM SO EXCITED!! Today my new cradle from Oakworks arrived.  It is a specially designed face cradle to reduce pressure on the eyes and sinuses and reduce congestion when you are face down.
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that, I’m signing off.  IT IS FINALLY SUNNY!!!!!!!  I hope you can spend some time in the sun and warmth today.

See ya next week, My Peeps!

Newsletter signup

If you have been would like to receive these posts in your inbox, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

The Golden Shadow; The Good We Hide from Ourselves

Last week we talked about getting to know your shadow.  The term “shadow” just inherently has a negative connotation to it.  Interesting aside – Huehue got spooked by my shadow this morning when I took him out at 4:15AM.  He kept looking intently under our neighbor’s deck, which was starting to really unnerve me, when I realized he was staring at the shadow of me, cast from our other neighbor’s floodlight.  My shadow IS pretty threatening in the wee hours of the morning.

ANYWAY – back to what I was saying, we default to thinking that our shadow is negative or bad. BUT, the shadow is composed of all the parts of ourselves that we didn’t feel safe to display.  And that means that the shadow also contains parts of us that are good and interesting and unique and special. Our “golden shadow” is made up of our gifts and talents and abilities that we suppressed because we were given the impression that they were NOT ok.  Maybe it was our exuberance and liveliness (“Can’t you just be quiet?/Why can’t you NOT set the shed on fire?/Why can’t you be behave?”).  Maybe it was our imagination (“Stop daydreaming.  You’re old enough to get your head down out of the clouds.  Start keeping both feet on the ground.”  Never Ending Story).  Maybe it was our unique perspective on life and God and why we are here (“We look to the Elders/Authorities to tell us what is right and good.  Who do you think you are to question that?  Thinking like that is dangerous”).  Many “positive” qualities can be dismissed, minimized, and rejected, depending on the circumstance we are in and the influential people in our lives.

Sure, our shadow self contains the negative traits we want to hide and ignore, but it also contains the positive traits that we find equally difficult to acknowledge and own.  This “golden shadow” needs to be met and integrated in order for us to return to wholeness.

“We see in others those positive traits which are our very own, but which, for whatever reason, we refuse to allow entry into our consciousness and are indiscernible to us.”  Meeting our Shadow.

Personally, I find it a lot easier to acknowledge and own up to my negative shadow traits than to boldly embrace my golden shadow.  Thinking negatively of oneself is oh so comfortable but oh so ruinous!!

Meeting our Shadow suggests listing the qualities we deeply admire in others and noticing what we think and feel when we use those qualities to describe ourselves.

I deeply admire:

  • People who stay very calm no matter what is blowing up around them.
  • People who try new things and are adventurous.
  • People who are experts in the field of mindbody flourishing.
  • People who don’t gossip about others.
  • People who are authentically generous and not self-centered.
  • People who write beautiful stuff.
  • People who put their energy into making a difference in the world.

And, yep, I feel so much resistance when I think about me emanating those qualities.  As my friend Angela says, “How fascinating!!”

How about you?  Is it easier to acknowledge and accept your dark shadow or your golden shadow?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I have started a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP).  This class is based on osteopathic and the Barral Institute techniques that teach the therapist how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide the therapist on where to start treatment. 

I am excited about this class as it will help me tune in to what your body really needs and use all the fun, interesting, “weird” stuff like visceral massage, cranial mobilizations, and neural resets to address pain in all areas of the body.  It sounds crazy, but sometimes just doing a breath technique can be the key to getting rid of that pain in your big toe!  According to my teacher, starting treatment in the right place is crucial to an effective treatment.

If this piques your interest, and you would like to embrace curiosity with me, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

Happy Sunny Sunday!  I hope you can rest and recover.  Here is some inspiration from the Huehue-Monster.

With love,

Hlo

Newsletter signup

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

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

Meeting Your Shadow

It’s sunny and warm and summery out today, so in true yogic spirit, I’m bringing in a bit of the opposite – The Shadow.

I first was introduced to The Shadow when I took Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course last year. Betsy is a psychologist and a yoga teacher, so she brings a really interesting, enlightening integrated perspective that combines yoga philosophy, scientific research, and psychology.  According to her notes, the “Human Self” is made up of the Ego, the Shadow Self, the Inner Child, and the Pain Body.  The Shadow Self is made up of parts we’ve repressed – unconscious parts of ourselves that we see as undesirable.  This is the Mr. Hyde to our Dr. Jekyll.

The Shadow Self seems like something we would want to avoid and push away, but turning the light of our attention to it is actually the key to elevating consciousness.  When we don’t look at what is contained in our shadow, we are not wise to its influence.  We unconsciously project what is hidden in the Shadow onto the people and circumstances around us – blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming The Other for everything that is wrong in our lives, when in actuality, our perception is inaccurate due to the veil of the shadow through which we are unknowingly peering.

Creating a right relationship with our shadow self not only helps us gain more insight into “Who Am I, really?” but it also can “lead us back to our buried potentials.”  Through “shadow-work” we can develop more self-acceptance, as we are accepting who we really are, not just who we want to be or who we want others to think we are.  “…Only by making friends with the shadow do we gain the friends of the self.”  (Quotes are taken from Meeting the Shadow:  The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature)

Meeting the Shadow suggests an interesting exercise to help you start to get to know your shadow: describe a personality type that you find unbearable and impossible to get along with.    This produces a list of your own repressed qualities.  I did this exercise this morning, and it was quite uncomfortable.  Here is a snippet of my list of qualities I find really annoying:

  • She is confrontational.
  • She is unpredictable, unreliable.  You never know where you stand.
  • She willfully misunderstands.
  • She lacks confidence and needs constant validation.
  • She is sneaky.
  • She talks too much and should listen more.
  • She is a know-it-all.
  • She wants to be care of.

I then took this list and, and pulling a page from Byron Katie’s The Work, substitute “I” for “She.”

  • I need constant validation.
  • I willfully misunderstand
  • I am sneaky.
  • I lack confidence and need constant reassurance
  • I talk too much and should listen more.
  • I am unreliable.
  • I want to be taken care of.

Ugh.  Some of that hit very close to home.  I can see why I find these qualities so annoying, as these are things I least like about myself; the things I have tried to hide and ignore and pretend are not there.  But by bringing these qualities to light and examining them with compassionate acceptance, I can start to integrate my Shadow Self.  “Whatever has been repressed holds a tremendous amount of energy, with great positive potential.” (Meeting the Shadow).  Also, realizing that other people annoy me because of qualities I myself hold helps me be a little bit more patient and kind with them.

What personality type really annoys and frustrates you?  Is there some gold in there for you?

The need to examine The Shadow is a theme that keeps reappearing in a variety of different areas lately (books, Archetype cards, Instagram, podcasts), which usually means it’s a current that’s flowing through others’ minds as well, so I figured I would share this exercise, since I found it uncomfortably insightful.

Also, Huehue, with the advent of the full moon this week and his 9th week of life on this planet, has become the doggo version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He is all sweetness and puppy kisses one moment, and then BAM – all shark teeth and barking zoomies the next.  It’s super bonkers.

To offset this slightly darker-than-usual post, I am going to share an amazing gluten-free cookie recipe with you:  Coconut Flour CookiesThese cookies are BETTER than the gluttony ones, IMHO, and they are super easy to make. I was going to take a picture of them so that you can see how tasty they look, but they look (and ARE) so tasty, that I ate them before I took the picture.  They are SO GOOD.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool.   

Thanks for reading my friends!  If you discover any interesting insights as you do your own shadow work, and you care to share, I care to listen (I DO need to listen more!).

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On Letting Things be Easy

Do you have anything in your life that you make harder than it has to be?

  • Do you hold your breath while responding to emails?
  • Do you walk super fast from your computer to the bathroom, pee really fast while thinking about the meeting you have coming up, and then speed walk back to your computer to check on the IMs and the emails you missed while you rushed to the bathroom?
  • When it’s cold outside, and you have a jacket and gloves and hat on, do you still hunch your shoulders and clench in an effort to ward of the briskness?
  • When you watch TV, do you also look at your phone, while you are also eating?
  • Do you often lament about how busy life is, and then make more plans, sign up for more classes, buy more books to read some day?

Hopefully this description of my neuroticism doesn’t scare you away.  I share this because I think it may resonate.  I’m not the only Rusher who likes to add some layers of unnecessary tension, must-get-it-done-as-quickly-as-possible-ness, and fabricated urgency to my day.

You know, when you hear the same message from multiple different sources, all within a short time frame, it’s usually a pretty good idea to listen.  The Universe REALLY wants you to take note.

A message that keeps bubbling up from the ether loud and clear is:

Let

It

Be

Easy

This first came up during my Somatic Experiencing training in early February, when our instructor said, “Trauma physiology means people are working really hard.  How do we take off some of that demand?  Consider the possibility of doing less.  Instead of working hard, trust that the information you need will find its way to you.  Let the sights, sounds, smells COME to you.  Allow yourself to receive.  You don’t have to work so hard to learn.”

What??  It doesn’t HAVE to be hard??

And then my coach, week after week, points out how, while I complain about things being hard, I actually set up situations to BE hard.  Being tense, working hard, and striving is my comfort discomfort zone.  She invites me to consider, “How can this be easy?”

  • Can I remember to sit back in my chair and breathe while I respond to emails?
  • Can I take 10 minutes out of my day to just sit and eat, without doing anything else?
  • Can I enjoy the walk from the office to the bathroom, enjoy the sensations of moving my body, enjoy the comfort of being in my home?
  • Can I do LESS instead of more and enjoy the LESS more?

This recommendation to find Ease was also mentioned by the Keynote speaker at the QC YogaCon on Friday night.  During the panel discussion he was asked if had a recommendation for the students for the weekend.  He summed it up in one word, “Ease.”  How can you invite ease into your learning, your practice, your presence with others?

How could you Make It Easier?  How would your life change if you invited in more ease, allowed yourself to receive, and unclenched just a little bit?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but starting 3/21/22 (HAPPY SPRING!!), I will be located at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232!  The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 

Now it’s time for some ease (I’m reading Pride & Prejudice for about the 80th time) and sleep.  Hope you have a beautiful day!

Newsletter signup

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

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

On Bliss and Ecstasy

Have you ever seen the TV show Firefly?  I may have mentioned this in other posts, but it’s my most favoritist TV show.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are nuanced, faulty, and real.  The setting (a space western J) lends itself well to investigating lots of salient topics.   It’s a story about a rag tag bunch of humans who, via a beautiful concerto of the Universe, end up together on Serenity, a smuggling ship, flying around the galaxy, doing odd jobs in order to survive and live how they want to live – free.  I say all this to introduce you to the episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds” from which this snippet of dialogue was taken:

Saffron: Do you know the myth of Earth-That-Was?
Wash
: Not so much.
Saffron
: That when she was born, she had no sky, and was open, inviting. And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her…
Wash
: Huh.
Saffron
: …making the oceans boil with sensation. And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky.
Wash
: Whoa. Good myth.

Can you imagine “boiling” with sensation?  What is your relationship with sensation?  When I first watched this episode, this interchange made me feel the sensation of uncomfortable.  Experiencing sensation – hmm – who has time or capacity for that??  Who KNOWS how to do that?  And SHOULD we do that?  Or should we just rely on our juicy brains, plugged into computers and the internet and our phones to live our digital, non-sensual lives?

Well, it turns out that feeling sensation, feeling feelings, is actually a pretty crucial part of being human.  Feelings/emotions are what motivate us to take action, and our actions are what lead to the results we have in life.  I think I was first introduced to this concept with clarity when I started listening to The Life Coach School podcast.  The creator of that podcast, Brooke Castillo, teaches “The Self Coaching Model” which basically states that everything in life can be broken down into 5 categories:

Circumstances – the neutral fact

Thoughts – what we think about that fact (what we make it mean)

Feelings – how those thoughts make us feel

Actions – what we do when we feel that way

Results – what happens due to the actions we take

Well, come to find out, Brooke did not invent this (not that she claims that she invented it).  In fact, the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text written between 5th – 2nd century BCE, talks about how thoughts, when fed and repeated and nurtured, become desires, then habits, then ways of living.  In order to reach enlightenment, humans need to train their minds to be alike in pleasure and pain, which to me means we need to be able to process emotion – not resist it, not get consumed by it, just experience it all.

When we resist feeling something because it’s uncomfortable to feel it, it constrains our behavior.  We avoid taking action in order to avoid feeling some sort of way.  And while we may think we are just resisting feeling the ugly negative stuff, what seems to happen is that when we can’t feel the tough emotions – the shame and grief, we lose capacity to experience emotions on the other end of the spectrum – the bliss and ecstasy.  It leaves us feeling a bit dull and monochromatic.

I’ve heard from a few different teachers that emotions only last 90 seconds if we ALLOW them to be there.  If we take a moment, pause, and sit down and watch our inner state with an intention of curiosity, acceptance, allowance, then instead of being tamped down and ignored, the emotion and the energy associated with it can pass on through. 

This is a practice I have been working with, because avoiding feeling things is preventing me from doing what I want to do with this life – which is to live it fully and not be so fearful and overly worried all the time!

I offer to a you a few ideas for processing your emotions, in case you too struggle with this.

  1. When I reach for my phone instinctively, I try to pause and notice what I am feeling, or more pointedly, what I am trying NOT to feel by looking at my phone?  For you this could be: reaching for a cookie, or checking email, or even going for a run – there are lots of ways we choose to numb out and not feel.
  2. If I am in a time and place where I can do it, I will set the timer on my phone and take a breather, and just sit and watch what is going on inside.  Where do I feel the sensation?  Does it move anywhere as I look at it?  Does it have a shape?  Does it want to be touched?
  3. I work on this stuff with professionals.  Sometimes I just find it too hard to slow MYSELF down and notice what I’m feeling.  But if I have another human being with me, reminding me to slow down, to take the time to notice, to be there for me if I need help, then I’m more apt to wander into that territory.  I’ve done this work with my business coach (because – oh man – being scared of feeling failure, embarrassment, and rejection is a GREAT way to never get your business off the ground), my therapist, and a few Somatic Experiencing Practitioners.

If you want to explore what it’s like to have someone hold space for you while you notice what is going on in your nervous system, I am offering embodiment coaching sessions.  I offer 30 minute Zoom sessions which consist mostly of guided meditation and conversation where I help you stay present with your sensations.  We start by exploring what feels pleasant in your body, and then we can (depending on your comfort level), start to explore something that feels a bit more challenging just a LITTLE bit.  Then we go back to the pleasant sensation.  I also offer 60-minute in-person sessions which would be customized to you. They could include meditation, self-massage, movement – all practices designed to help you learn the language of sensation in your body and to help you slow down and notice what’s going on in there.  I’ve found that being able to tune in to the subtle messages from my body helps me take better care of myself – I can tell when I need a break, when I need some water, when I need to pee!  I can tell when a decision FEELS right or wrong.  I can tell when I’m starting to get amped up.  It’s a practice, and it takes time and patience, but being able to tune in to the wisdom of the body is critically important to living a life aligned with who you really are!  Here is a link to book with me if this idea floats your boat.

If you are interested in diving in to this topic a bit more, here are some resources for you:

  • The Life Coach School Podcast – Success and Your Feelings – I’ve listened to this one 3 times because it reminds me that while this is hard work, it’s worth it. 
  • I find it SUPER hard to cry, which is a way our body processes emotions.  I watched “The Notebook” but to no avail.  I listened to this guided meditation, and it brought up so many memories of our pooch, Lucent, who passed away several years ago.  It helped me let go of some stuff I’m been holding in for 6-7 years.
  • Expanding your sensation vocabulary can be difficult – you are literally learning a new language!!  Here are some words that might open up new awareness for you:  moving up, constricted, buzzing, opening, warmth, tension, lightness, relaxing, tingling, itching, burning, tightness, achy, frozen, rolling, airy, full, furry, sharp, shimmering, blocked, gurgling, hard, heavy, silky, icy, spacious, clammy, sticky, congested, loose, cool, tender, throbbing, energized, expanding, radiating, light.  Did you know your body could feel al that?

I know I’ve talked about Feeling Feelings before, but I think it’s super important and super difficult to do, so I wanted to share a bit more about it.

Space to be Human Updates

  • LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but keep your eyes peeled for a NEW LOCATION announcement coming soon. 
  • Did you know you can find me on Instagram @space2bhuman?  I’m going to be posting some “tiny little action steps” in March – little things you can do to improve your wellbeing.

Well, I better sign off.  We need to go spend a small fortune at Theisens in order to get ready for Huehue’s imminent arrival!  Hope you have a sensational Sunday!

Newsletter signup

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

Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Paleo, Yoga

So, How Did You End Up in This Line of Work, Anyway?

This is a question I get a lot.  How did a woman who spent 25 years in banking, doing a series of analyst and management roles (cash management analyst, treasury analyst, business analyst, Dev Team manager, project manager), end up as a neurosomatic therapist/yoga teacher/meditation teacher?

Well.  Pull up a chair, get comfy, and let me tell you a tale.

It all started on 11/19/2011. Well, technically it started a couple of weeks before that.  I read an article on Lifehacker about “The Primal Diet.”  It immediately caught my interest for a couple of reasons:

  1. I had just come off spending the weekend with my brothers (who lived in NYC at the time), and when they would visit, our intake of booze and fried food would skyrocket.  As a result, I was feeling very bloaty and gross (to put it scientifically :P).  I was pushing 150, which was not a weight that accommodated my clothes comfortably.  I was scouting the internet looking for something to help me.
  2. I loved what I read in that article.  The primal “diet” was really more of a lifestyle versus a diet.  The article advocated eating whole foods (meat and veggies), avoiding processed food (including gluten, sugar, flour, dyes, rancid seed oils, etc.), getting outside as much as possible, prioritizing sleep quality, incorporating “primal movements” (push-ups, planks, pull-ups, squats, etc.), spending time with loved ones, PLAYING, etc.  It all made so much intuitive sense to me.

So I bought The 21-Day Total Body Transformation on 11/19/11.  I read it, followed the instructions to purge the spaghetti, Pepperidge Farm frozen garlic bread (which I used to eat because I assumed that bread was “healthy”), and the beer from my kitchen and stocked up on meat, veggies, nuts, healthy fats (olive oil and avocado oil), dark chocolate, etc..

In January of 2012, I started the 21-day challenge.  Within a week, my nose was no longer shooting fountains of mucus in the middle of the night.  My anxiety levels had calmed WAY down (at the time the anxiety was so bad that I felt as if I would pass out at stop lights, in line at the grocery store, and in any warm area with bad air flow), I was losing weight, and my energy stayed steady all day.

I ended up following the 21-day plan for a few months, and by the 2nd or 3rd month, my health had totally changed.  I had lost about 18 lbs. I went from a size 12 to a size 4.  I participated in a sprint triathlon. I started running regularly in my barefoot running shoes.  I felt so energized. 

My mind was BLOWN by how big of an effect food and movement had on my physical and mental health.  And I wanted EVERYONE to realize how much capacity we have to influence our health.  I started researching classes, degrees, certifications, etc. to see what would help qualify me to be able to help people feel better in their bodies.

Eventually I settled on doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training.  It was a 6-month program, I enjoyed yoga, and the price was accessible.  While in that program, I was introduced to biomechanist and author Katy Bowman, via a collaboration project she did with Mark Sisson (the author of the Primal Blueprint).  From following her, I found out about Yoga Tune Up® and the power of self-massage to change our state (both physically and mentally).  I took the YTU Certification class and was introduced to OH MY GOD SO MUCH NEW INFORMATION!!  That was the hardest cert I have ever done, but it sparked an interest in whole-being health, anatomy, and the nervous system. 

I wanted to dive deeper, but I was loathe to go back to school. I actually LOVE school, but I finished my bachelors and masters while working full-time, and I was TIRED of spending every evening in class and/or doing homework.  I felt really driven to DO something in the wellness sphere, but I was overwhelmed by options and indecision.

I enlisted professional help. I started working with Dr. Betsy Rippentrop out of Iowa City.  She is a psychologist with a heavy yoga background, and I really resonated with her style of therapy.  Via sessions that included talk therapy, embodiment work, and analysis of one super-detailed, vivid dream, my path forward started to become more clear.  In one session I very clearly stated my goal of finding the next best step for me.

That weekend, on the YTU Teachers Facebook page, someone mentioned how she had taken her autistic son to a neurosomatic therapist, and she was blown away by the treatment.  I instantly googled “neurosomatic therapy,” and found the Center for Neurosomatic Studies in Clearwater, Florida.    I devoured the website, excitement building in me as I read about how students learn anatomy and physiology, movement, visceral massage, cranial mobilizations, etc. 

The next day I called the school to get more information.  The son of the founder of neurosomatic therapy answered the school’s phone.  He was in his late 30s/early 40s and was making a career switch to become a therapist.  We talked for 90 minutes. 

I loved almost everything I heard about the school.  But.  Oh man.  It was in Florida.  The program was held during the day (when I would be at work).  My Dad had just had some severe health issues.  So many reasons to just stay put.

But, ugh.  Gross.  That didn’t feel good either.

So I agonized about the decisions for MONTHS.  I want to do it, but…. It’s so hard, and so inconvenient, and what if, and the money, and, blah blah blah.

Finally I got tired of listening to myself waffle.  The internal discord with how I was spending my days was outweighing my fear of change.  I decided to go for it.  I told my boss that I was quitting to move to Florida to go to school.  But, I offered, if the bank was willing to keep me on part-time and let me work remotely, I would be down for that.  To my shock, they said Yes!  And with that “yes,” many of my fears about money and stability proved out to be unfounded.

We moved to Florida (3 days before Clearwater/Tampa got hit by Hurricane Irma).  FUN TIMES!  I went to school for 18 months, worked for the St. John-Clark Pain Treatment Clinic for a year, and then moved back to Iowa in April 2020, in the beginnings of the COVID pandemic.  FUN TIMES AGAIN!

I opened my practice in June of 2020, and it has been steadily growing ever since.  My interest in diet and movement has subtly shifted to a fascination with whole person flourishing, as I see in myself what a powerful influence my thoughts, energy, and spiritual practices have over my physical body.  I love learning about the layers that make up a human (the physical body, energetic body, mental body, wisdom body, and bliss body (from the Yogic Kosha model)) and what we can do to promote health in each of those layers.

That’s my Origin Story in a nutshell.  Well, actually in a tortoise shell because that is a pretty long story.  And technically it’s just my THERAPIST origin story.  The full origin story is a story for another time.

And with that, thanks for reading and for being part of this adventure of figuring out what makes a good life and how I can help contribute to helping others make a good life!!!

Happy Sunday!

Newsletter signup

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

Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

On “Life Is Pain”

“Life IS pain, Highness.  Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.” The Dread Pirate Roberts.

Do you think that’s true?  Do you think life IS pain?  Is life SUPPOSED to be painful?  What would life be like if we never experienced pain?  What if we could change our experience of pain by changing our thoughts about the pain? 

What if instead of resisting the pain, and being angry at the pain, and feeling betrayed by our bodies, what if we paused, gave the sensation some space, and allowed our attention to rest there with curiosity, compassion, and without judgment?  What would happen? How could your relationship to the pain shift?

By changing our mindset around pain, we can help ourselves stop layering suffering on top of the pain.

If we can start to see pain as a teacher – a messenger who is showing us that something is out of balance in our body, our mind, and/or our spirit, then we can start to change how we relate to it.  We may still have the pain, but when we remove the resistance (when we stop fighting what IS), we remove that layer of mental suffering.

The mind is so powerful!  Our thoughts and beliefs form the matrix of our world.  Our thoughts about pain, stress, and food can effect physical changes in our body.  If we see stress as a good thing (e.g. while stress may be difficult in the moment, it’s going to help us get stronger), then stress is less damaging to us.  If we see a food as indulgent (even if we consider it a “healthy” food), our hormones will shift and help us feel more full after eating it.

If you dig this topic and want to dive in a little deeper, here is a fascinating podcast from Dr. Andrew Huberman and Dr. Alia Crum where they discuss mindset and how our thoughts and beliefs can change our hormones, our cardiovascular health, and our immune system.

Somatic Experiencing Update

Next week I start the first class of the 3-year Somatic Experiencing Program training.  Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented therapy that helps heal trauma and dysregulation of the nervous system.  I’m drawn to this work because after living mostly in my head for 40 years, I’ve realized that I’m missing out on a lot of the color and vibrancy of life because I feel it’s much safer to live in my head than in my body.  And I see this echoed in many of my friends, family, and clients.  I’m doing this program so I can continue to build on the tools of bodywork and yoga to help my clients and myself figure out how to live a life in full color, and where it’s safe to experience the full range of human emotion.  =

Teaching Update

  • If you are interested in learning how to dial down tension in your body with the use of self-massage, movement, breath, and meditation, join me at QC YogaCon on March 5th at 4PM.  The convention has an impressive line-up of teachers from all over the country, and the entire focus of the convention is on mental health.  The convention runs from March 4 – 6, and the cost is $250.  This is a fundraising event for the QC Yoga Foundation, whose mission it is to bring the transformative teachings of yoga to as many Quad Citians as possible.  Here is my affiliate link if you would like to register:   

Newsletter signup

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

Health & Fitness, Yoga

On Meeting Your Future Self

Who are you?  What’s your motivation??

Well, I just spent 25% of the time I had allocated for writing this post on searching for a segment from Community where they are trying to capitalize off of Ben Chang’s momentary stardom by creating an absolutely terrible sci-fi movie wherein they use previously filmed clips of Chang, and in those clips, he keeps repeating, “Who am I?  What’s my motivation??” 

Wow.  That was a really impressive run-on sentence.

What’s the point, you’re wondering??

Two points.

  1. If you are hankering for some brilliant TV, and you haven’t watched Community.  Stop reading this right now and go watch Community.  SO GOOD.
  2. That question of “Who Am I?” is kind of an important one.

As I mentioned in a previous email, I recently finished the book Healing Ourselves. This week I also finished Healers On Healing and started on Helping People Change.  Guess what common theme is present in all 3 of these books, written by a whole slew of PhDs and doctors and scientists?

We have tremendous power to heal ourselves.

But, just because we have the power doesn’t mean we know how to use it.  We are not conditioned to look inside ourselves for answers. We’re taught that answers are to be found in Parents, in Teachers, in Books, in The Science, in The Government, in People Smarter Than Us.

But what spiritual teachers and philosophers have taught for decades (and what current research on consciousness and meditation is proving out) is that the answers we seek are found by turning inwards and realizing that we are whole, and while we are One, we are also connected to Many, and that connection to Many (call it God, Oneness, the Universe, Zero Point Field, Universal Consciousness, Spirit, etc.), gives us access to all the answers, support, and guidance that we need – ALL INSIDE OF US.

But HOW?  How do we start to find answers within ourselves??

All of these books, in addition to more secular books like Atomic Habits, and Working With Emotional Intelligence, emphasize the importance of tuning in to the Higher Self/Future Self/Best Self as a way of getting guidance and motivation for lasting behavior change.

But, again. HOW! 

This is where I struggle.  I understand the theory behind “the answers are within” but sometimes The Within is deathly silent and uncommunicative!

This is where I think “different strokes for different folks” can be very helpful.

When I’ve been guided by therapists to “ask your heart” when faced with a question, I’m often met with anxiety.  “Shit.  My heart’s not saying anything.  I must be doing this wrong.  How long will she wait before she gets impatient for an answer??  Why am I paying someone to make me do this?  Ooh!  There’s a thought.  But is it coming from my mind or from my heart?  Am I just projecting what I want my heart to say, or is it really saying it??” 

And sometimes I do get an answer that way, even despite the Ego going into panicked overthinking.

But what I have found more helpful are writing exercises and guided meditations.

Several years ago I took a workshop from Ariel Kiley called Business of Yoga Success.  One of the exercises she did was “Dream Lifestyle – Describe what your most fantastical ideal lifestyle would look like.  What is your schedule?  What’s your home like?  Travel?  Trainings?  Family and friends?  Have fun creating a fantastically comfortable and vibrant life that reflects your highest values.”

And I DID have fun with that.  And the Future Heather I created in that writing exercise has come back to visit me often. 

She came back to me when I did this Future Self meditation, where you meet 5 different versions of yourself and spend time connecting to the one who resonates most thoroughly.  Path 4 Heather is, Man!  SO COOL.

Meeting and tuning it to the energy of your Future Self can provide inspiration, motivation, and guidance.  WWMFSD?? What Would My Future Self Do!  James Clear recommends asking this question when you are trying to shift your behavior.  How can I make a 1% better choice in this situation, aligned with my Future Self?

Your Future Self is a pretty handy mentor, guide, and healer.  If you are interested in seeing what help you can give yourself, you could try out the Dream Lifestyle writing exercise or listen to the Future Self meditation (10 mins), or if you have a chatty heart, you could sit down, spend a few moments watching your breath, put your hand on your heart and ask for help.  We are all unique snowflakes, so try out a few things and see what works for the N=1 experiment that is you!

Space to be Human Updates

  • I’m hosting an Introduction to Mindset class on 1/24/22 from 1PM-2PM Central.  If you feel tortured by your monkey mind (any fellow High Functioning Anxiety peeps out there??), you will find some relief in this class.
    • Please register in advance for this meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMrd-ChpjMoEtYpcCkbuZuBn2JXR5S4dDE1
    • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

That’s all for today, my friends!  Please respond to this email if you have any questions or comments.  I really do love to hear from you; otherwise, I’m all like.. “Bueller…..Bueller….?”

Happy Sunday, My Lovely Readers!!

Newsletter signup

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

Health & Fitness

On Flow & Boogers

Are you the kind of person that sets goals or resolutions for the New Year?  What is your experience with that?  Do you enjoy the process?  Does it help you stay on track? 
 
My New Year’s resolutions were usually setted and forgetted by January 20th or so.  Then, two years ago, one of my friends gave me the book, “One Word That Will Change Your Life.”  Instead of setting multiple resolutions, the authors encourage you to essentially pick a theme word or short phrase, a guiding principle, for the year.  This word serves to give you clarity and focus, two experiences that are so hard to come by in our over-stimulated, over-busy lives.  One word is also easy to remember.  When my business coach asks me what my goals are for the year, I’m always like, “Erm.  Let me remember where I wrote them down, so I can re-read them, and then I’ll get back to you.”  Ask me what my Word is for 2022, and I can tell you in a flash.
 
FLOW
 
My word came to me clearly when I was sitting on the soft white sands of the Gulf, listening to the surf rhythmically pound the shoreline.  I was reading “Healing Ourselves” and was YET AGAIN reminded that in order to be healed and to help other people heal, you really just gotta feel those feelings.  Instead of laminating them over with a big suffocating brush of “I’ll get to you later when I have time,” you need to SLOW the f*#k down and notice those feelings and stay with them.  You have to let them flow instead of damming them up.
 
Flow also means letting go off resistance, letting go of clenching, letting go of not being at peace until everything is JUST the way I want it, releasing the need to be in control. You can’t ride the current of life if you have a death grip on the dock. 
 
Flow also means getting into that state where you lose track of time because you are SO engrossed in what you are doing.  It’s actually an altered state of consciousness!  It happens at this sweet spot where you are challenged *slightly* beyond your capabilities, but not so much so that you freeze.  This is where the magic happens. 
 
Flow also means opening up to your innate creative potential.  In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert describes how there is this undercurrent of creative ideas flowing through the ether.  An idea will jump out and grab you, and if you don’t bring it to life, it will abandon you and move on to a more willing subject.  I’m opening to that flow, letting go of the fear of “doing it wrong” and taking imperfect action on my ideas.
 
What word bring clarity and focus to your 2022?  Here are some questions that might help ignite your creative fire:

  1.  What do you need?
  2. What do you need to let go of?
  3. What do you want more of in your life?
  4. How do you want to feel?
  5. What makes you lose track of time?
  6. What gives you goosebumps (in a good way :P)?
  7. What do you secretly desire?

If you can manage it, I recommend finding a time and space where you can be alone.  Bring a pen and paper.  Get into a comfortable seat.  Watch your breath enter and leave your body for 5 breaths.  Notice the connection of your feet on the floor and your butt in your chair.  Settle your awareness in your chest (for me, if I think about moving my vision from my eyes to my area right behind my sternum, I can make that instruction to “settle awareness in your heart center” make sense.  :P).  Then ask yourselves these questions and be open to whatever comes up.  If you feel like sharing your word, I would love to hear it.  Text me at 319-360-9662, or email me at heather@spacetobehuman.life.
 
And here is a practice to help improve your PHYSICAL flow.  It’s that time of year where between colds, Omicron, allergies, excessive dryness, etc.  the nasal passages get all blocked, dry, and boogery.  But breathing through the nose is essential for our health (it improves immunity, promotes better blood flow, slows breathing, increases lung volume, improves the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide).*  So what to do??
 
BOOGER PRACTICE
This!  This is what to do:  Nose Unblocking Exercise.
 
*Source: Buteyko Instructor Training Manual.

That’s all for today, my friends!  Please respond to this email if you have any questions or comments, or book a session with me here if you would like some help to bring more balance and peace to your body, mind or spirit.
 
Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here