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.

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″
 

 
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.
 

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