Awakening, Health & Fitness, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Movies, Quest

On Running With Wolves

“Women Who Run With the Wolves.” The title grabs you, does it not?

What does it invoke in you?

To my mind it brings the image of the wild child from Princess Mononoke, a beautiful film about Industry and Progress killing the Spirit of the Forest.

Princess Mononoke LITERALLY runs with the wolves.  She was raised by them.  She loves them, and she loves the Forest and hates the Industry that is stripping the mountains of their resources and beauty.

Ugh.  Just such a beautiful movie. 

But, I digress.

Women Who Run With the Wolves is about ancient stories full of symbolism and signs, almost un-interpretable to the modern woman, disconnected as she is (we are, I am) from the Earth, the body, the cycles, the rhythms.

Fortunately, author Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a Jungian psychoanalyst/poet/scholar who collected these stories and breaks them down for those of us who want to learn their lessons.

I am 1/3 of the way through it, and it’s helping me find my heart, my teacher, again. 

Despite 10 years of investigation into the mindbody realm, I still remained “separate than” – an analytical observer of things, dispassionate, unfeeling (except for when it comes to annoyance, frustration, and anxiety – those I experienced in spades).  Oh, I had glimpses and shimmers of connection with Self, but they were so fleeting – a flash of connection, and then the mind retreated upstairs, and the body went back to being an overlooked, shy, beautiful (but with glasses, frizzy hair and hand-me-down clothes) girl sitting in the shadows surrounding the dance floor – just hoping to be noticed and escorted back into the limelight. 

This book is helping me reintroduce my heart to my head.  It reminds me that as a Woman, I am meant to be Wild, attuned to nature, full of darkness and light and mysticism.  That is my birthright. 

Really, if this topic at all intrigues you, you just have to read this book!!  But here, to get you started and to pique your interest, are some symptoms of a disrupted relationship with wildness force in the psyche (I’m paraphrasing below):

  • Feeling dry, depressed, without inspiration, without meaning, stuck, uncreative, compressed, powerless, chronically doubtful, unable to follow through, inert, uncertain, overprotective of self, self-conscious, drawn far into domesticity or intellectualism or inertia because THAT IS THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE for one who has LOST HER INSTINCTS.
  • To fear to venture by oneself or reveal oneself, fear to set out one’s imperfect work, cringing before authority, numbness, anxiety. 
  • Afraid to try the new, to stand up/speak up, becoming conciliatory or nice too easily.
  • Afraid to stop, afraid to act, ambivalent yet fully capable.

Does any of that resonate?

This reads like an autobiography of my life.

But things are shifting – maybe like a 10% shift.  Not super seismic, just enough to notice, just enough to put me on a new course. 

When I feel myself rushing.  I slow down.

When I feel my insides getting pulled upwards by the storm in my head, I pull myself back in to my feet, my pelvis, and my heart center.

When I need to make a decision, I pause.  I check in and see what the answer is.  And I try to listen to whatever message comes up (and often nothing comes up, and that’s OK).  I express gratitude and respect to my inner teacher – my heart.

As a result, I NOTICE things.  I see the person in front of me, I notice the bark of the tree by the side of the path, I watch the urge to pick up my phone to kill time and I DON’T PICK UP MY PHONE

It’s a nice shift.  I feel more real.  I also feel scared that I will lose this.  But now I know that life is full of rhythms and cycles.  If I lose this.  I will find it again.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

On Spirals

Think about where you see spirals in nature – in the tendrils of a vine, in a seashell, in a tree trunk spinning its branches out as it climbs up towards the sun. Spirals are EVERYWHERE in nature.

And guess what.

Spirals are everywhere in YOU. You/we are nature. We often feel separate – Other Than – nature, but the patterns and rhythms we experience in the natural world around us are reflected in humans, from the tips of our hair, to the formation of our bones, to our very heart.

This is a beautiful video that shows how the heart itself is a spiral – a fleshy, living, beating, spinning conch shell – spiraling blood throughout the body.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbOyozg_GTs

I’ve noticed that when I get stressed and tense, I feel my insides torquing – they get wound up, tighter and tighter, compressing all the space in my body, making me smaller and twisted.

If we compress in spirals, we must decompress in spirals too – via breath or movement or expansion of thought.

Have you found a way to unclench, spiral out, spin out your energy as you reach towards the sun?

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized

On Getting a New Perspective

I’ve written before about Balance and how the theme of balance keeps surfacing in the ocean of my experience – the need for balance in thoughts and opinions, balance in work and fun, balance in movement practices. Eventually everything needs to wobble back to center – it’s just that we don’t know the timescale!

I took a manual therapy training class recently that is helping me embody more balance in how I think about manual therapy and in how I practice hands-on work.

I was trained in a school of thought that was very much posturally focused. We were taught how to analyze someone’s posture and note where the patient was twisting or shearing or in some other way moving out of “neutral.” These deviations from neutral provided clues to what muscles or organs or systems needed some attention.

It was/is a useful analysis, and many people WAY smarter than me are using it every day to literally change people’s lives. But, the more I read and learned about other modalities, the more I realized that posture is only part of the story. And in my own personal practice, I noted that many of my clients were feeling much better after seeing me, yet their posture remained essentially unchanged. How to reconcile this??

To further confound myself, I worked on an article for Tune Up Fitness on the importance of posture. I had the privilege of talking to several experts in the field of human performance and well-being, and most of them stated the same thing – posture is just a piece of the puzzle of pain. Oh. And the research says there really is no “perfect” posture. The really important thing is being able to move through a variety of postures depending on your need in the moment.

This whole exploration of the importance of posture helped me practice the skill of believing almost mutually exclusive things to be simultaneously true. Is posture important? Yes. And also No.

So to further develop the skill of becoming comfortable with uncertainty, I took Walt Fritz’s class, Foundations in Manual Therapy. Walt also comes from a therapy lineage that focuses on posture as a primary indicator of pain. However, after taking several classes in several different modalities (that all worked), he realized that while they all worked, their explanations were often not founded on scientific literature. YET THEY ALL WORK!! Why??

Essentially, his answer is, because of the Therapeutic Alliance – that connection between the client and the therapist – the exchange of energy and attention and intention – that communication between two nervous systems – that is really where the magic of therapy happens. It’s not that the therapist released a trigger point or freed up a restricted nerve, or unstuck some fascia. It’s that the therapist jibed with the client.

The core of his approach, “Rather than using a protocol or trusting your knowledge and experience, you’ll instead listen to your patient.”

I so love this.

I am ever grateful for what I learned at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies. But, man, the human body is all sorts of complex, and when my brain starts trying to follow the twists and turns and flexes and extensions found in a body, my insides start to get all wound up too, and my brain gears start overheating. And guess what happens then? I get all up in my brain instead of my in my body, present and accounted for with my client.

BUT

When I have scientific “permission” to focus instead on what the human being in front of me is telling me with their voice, their eyes, their body language, and I can focus on that instead of solving a puzzle, wow – then I can be present, aware, and open to possibilities that the client/therapist partnership can open up. And there is so much beauty and freedom in that.

So that is what I am experimenting with – taking all I know, all I don’t know (SO MUCH), all of what the client needs and wants and expects – and putting all that together into an experience for the client that helps them find more space, freedom, and ease. And, oh yeah, trying to have fun in the process. 🙂

Come join me on the exploration, if you want to see what opportunities for healing we can discover together!

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

On The Power of the Pause

Life is moving fast. Even in COVID times. I hear many people say that this has been a year to reflect, to slow down, to Be instead of Do. I have no doubt that was/is true for a lot of people, but I think that peoples’ experiences of 2020 are as varied as the shells on a beach. Tim and I were blessed in that neither of us lost our jobs; we actually have had the opposite experience – we have been super busy with work and multiple jobs. Busy to the extent that we have felt as if we have no time to slow down!

But, as I continue my dive into learning about what makes a Human Being thrive (not just survive), it’s become abundantly clear how important it is to Pause.

To Pause between the exhale and the inhale.

To Pause after moving your body in a new way to see what has shifted.

To Pause to appreciate THIS moment – this moment that will never Be again.

To Pause to notice the progress we have made and to appreciate the process and not get fixated by the destination.

To Pause and let your feet actually sink into the ground beneath your feet instead of skimming across the surface.

To Pause and notice before responding.

To Pause and notice that what you are thinking might not be true.

To Pause and widen your gaze, hear the leaves rustle, feel the breeze play with your hair, smell the wet earth.

To Pause and see what it’s really like to live from within a Human Body, not above it it or in front of it, but from within it.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized, Yoga

On The Importance of Opposites

I recently started a 5-month certification program, called Yoga for The Mind. I’m doing the course with my teacher, Dr. Betsy Rippentrop (Heartland Yoga Studio in Iowa City, Iowa), so I can learn how to use yoga to improve mental health.

The class is ALL about the importance of the mind/body connection. And the more I learn about this topic, the more frustrated I am by the term “mind/body connection” because THERE IS NO SEPARATION BETWEEN THE MIND AND BODY. They are the SAME thing. It’s like talking about the “connection” of the front and back side of a coin.

But, while they are ONE, they are also DUAL. Much like how we as humans are Me but also We.

And so this concept of balance, tension of opposites, grounding down and lengthening up keeps coming up.

In Thursday’s class we talked about the Masculine and Feminine sides of the body. Energetically, the right side of the body is more masculine – more focused on doing, being disciplined, achieving, other-soothing (so interesting!!). The left side of the body is more feminine – more receptive, nurturing, trusting, self-soothing.

It’s interesting to note, “What side of the body do I have more issues?”

In neurosomatic therapy, we often observe that people have more injuries, more pain, more tension on one side versus the other. One explanation could be that one side of the body is longer than the other (a lower limb length inequality), resulting in a sacrum that’s tilted, which can cause imbalances in muscles, fascia, nerves. Another explanation could be the existence of a pelvic obliquity, where one ilium (hip bone) is flared in while the other is flared out – again causing imbalances in the form of a spiral that travels all throughout the body, often leading to one-sided pain.

But (or maybe AND), could another explanation be, that there is an imbalance in energies in the body – one side is more dominant, and we need to focus awareness on developing qualities of the opposite side?

Whether we are talking about structure (bones/tissue/fluids) or subtle energies, the solution seems to be the same – WORK WITH THE OPPOSITES.

If one side of your torso is compressed – stretch it! If you always turn your head to the left to look at your left monitor, put your email on your right monitor, so you start looking to the right more! If you are always going, going, doing, doing, thinking, thinking. TAKE A BREAK. Get out of your Head and into your Body. Spend some time doing restorative yoga. Use the urge to grab your phone and look at Facebook as a reminder to settle your energy into your pelvis and take some smooth, slow, breaths.

Many of us were raised in a culture that values Action, Achievement, Hard Work (it’s the American Way!), so we really need to work on instilling the more feminine qualities of intuition, cooperation, sensuality. Interesting side note – it is WAY more common with my clients to have more pain on the right side of their bodies!

One of my favorite yoga poses to offset the Drive of Daily Life is Constructive Rest. I guide you through the practice here. Please remember to Check In with your heart, mind, body before and after the practice, so you can prove to your Ego that it was time well spent. 🙂

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

Why do YOU need Space to Be Human?

I created Space to Be Human to provide people with bodywork, meditation, and mindful movement tools as a pathway to rediscover space for positive change.

Why would I need this form of therapy?

  • You want to feel better in your body.
  • You have nagging pain that won’t go away no matter what you do.
  • You want to learn self-care tools to address “issues in the tissues.”

What should I expect in a session?

  • We will chat about about your story, symptoms, and patterns.
  • Heather will do a postural assessment to identify areas of the body that may be constricted and use that info + your story + your symptoms to design a treatment plan that will help you reach your goals.
  • The treatment plan will address disregulation in your nervous system, muscles, and organs via manual therapy, breathwork, and movement.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized, Yoga

On Just Doing It

I’ve had a real bad case of “I don’t feeeeeel like it” lately. It’s often served with a side of, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s a potent recipe for not getting *&#! done!

But, each day I am reminded that, I too, am getting old. I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Somehow, with healthy eating and moderate exercise, I could forestall this fate.

But the grey hairs are glinting through the brown, catching the light with their steely, wayward shafts.

My body is getting all weird and mysterious and unpredictable – pretty sure it’s perimenopause.

I totally HATE driving after dark.

At some point, thousand of years of human history indicate that the tomorrows will run out.

I’ve deduced that my best option is to DO the thing, even if I don’t feel like it. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if it might not work. Even if I get embarrassed. Even if I’m inconsistent and don’t DO the thing EVERY day. I just need to do it.

So here is my gift of imperfection to you!

I hosted a Gratitude Workshop last week, and here are two goodies I would like to share with you:

  1. A worksheet you can use to review 2020, pulling out 3 good memories from each month. Warning – it’s hard!! In the workshop, we started with December and worked backwards. I only made it to September, truth be told. But just reviewing those few months gave us some good insights. At the end of the worksheet are 2 exercises that you can use to set yourself up for a positive 2021.
  2. A guided gratitude meditation (courtesy of ChangeToChill.org) to get your mind and heart in a good space to complete the worksheet.

Oh! And why Gratitude? It helps us focus on the positive, improve wellbeing, improves symptoms of illness and depression, results in more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, more generous behavior, etc. Science says!! I probably should have led with that…

Let me know what you think of the worksheet and/or the meditation. If you have any burning questions on manual therapy, meditation, thought-work, send me a note!! I live to serve (and write).

Love, Hlo.

Health & Fitness, kripalu, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

Hlo Heaven

Today’s post will be brief, as I’ve been procrastinating (watching Great British Baking Show, cooking food, looking at Facebook, you know 🙂 ), and I still have lots of studying to do, and Tim and I are supposed to play Jaipur too!

ANYWAY,  I wanted to let you know about an exciting development.  We are bringing The Roll Model® Method Teacher Trainings to the Center for Neurosomatic Studies! I cannot convey how excited I am about this.  The whole reason I found out about neurosomatic therapy is because a Yoga Tune Up® teacher took her son to an NST therapist and was blown away by the treatment. She commented on it  on the YTU Teachers Facebook page. I was in the middle of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (I wanted to help people in the health/wellness arena, but did not want to go back to school for 6 more years and spend $100,000 on tuition). Her post sparked my interest, and upon Googling, I found  my school.  And here we are, about 2 years later, and I am on the cusp of graduating from CNS!

Anyway, back to my original point, in school we are taught how invaluable it is to give patients “homework.” It’s vital to help remodel their bodies, and it also helps them realize they have an internal locus of control. Their therapist/doctor is not responsible for their health, the patient himself/herself is!  The self-massage that is taught in Yoga Tune Up® is a perfect compliment to the work we do in NST.  This has become abundantly clear to me as I’ve progressed through the program, so much so, that I thought, “We HAVE to bring a YTU training to this school!”

I talked to my teacher, mentor, and school-owner, Randy, and he readily agreed.  And my dream is coming to fruition!  In March, we will offer both of The Roll Model® Method Trainings at CNS!  One of my teachers from my Yoga Tune Up ® Level 1 training is going to teach the class.  She  made a huge impact on me during the Level 1. I remember telling her, “I’m just a part-time yoga teacher. I just do this on the side…”  And she called me out on minimizing myself and my skills, and it solidly hit home!  The fact that this super-talented, intelligent, gifted woman thought I had something real to offer to people gave me a whole new perspective on what was possible!  And she is the person who will be teaching this class.  🙂

Here are the links to the classes:

The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling

The Roll Model® Method – Ball Sequencing & Innovation

If you are at all interested in learning some easy-to-use self-massage techniques for yourself or your clients/patients, I cannot recommend this training highly enough. I would so love to see you there!

Hope you are having a great Sunday!

 

 



 

 

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

The Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless Foot

I now know ALL the muscles in the body.  Ha! I wish.  I mean, I think I’ve probably learned about all the muscles in the body, but I don’t remember them all.  Yet.  We just finished up learning about the lower body, all the way down to the feet.  I had no idea that feet are so complicated!!  As we learned in class, the complex nature of the feet makes them capable of amazing feets/feats (get it!!), but it also makes them prone to a variety of issues.  How many people do you know that have bunions or plantar fasciitis or heel spurs or hammer toes?  A lot of these issues are caused by misuse/abuse of the feet.  I’m going to try to provide a very high level overview of the feet and then show you what you can do to bring relief and increased awareness to the feet.  And before I forget to mention it, if you have any of these issues, neurosomatic therapy can help!!  I graduate in February, so come see me!!

Ok.  First of all.  Let’s look at the boney structure of the foot.  You have the big heel bone (aka calcaneus), on top of which sits the talus, which fits into an arch (aka mortise) made by your shin bone (aka tibia) and fibula (the bone that’s on the outside of your lower leg).  This forms the joint of the ankle.  Next you have an assortment of oddly shaped bones that fit together like puzzle pieces – the navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms.  Next you have the long skinny bones of your foot, the metatarsals, which connect to your toes, which are made up of phalanges.  Here is a picture to give you an overview:

These bones are held together by tons of ligaments (very strong connective tissue), and connecting with these bones are all the muscles of your lower leg and foot.  These ligaments and muscles maintain the two arches of your foot. Yes! There are two arches down there!  There is the longitudinal arch, which forms your instep.  And then there is the transverse arch, which goes horizontally across your foot.  These two arches work together to absorb force from the ground and transmit it up the body.

Man, I’m just getting started.  I really wanted to discuss the the muscles IN the foot too.  Did you know there are TWELVE of them (depending on how you count them) and FOUR separate layers of muscles?  Just bonkers. But we’ll have to discuss the bonkeriness in another post because this one is already getting too long.

Let’s get to the really fun stuff. What can you do if you have foot pain?  One easy thing to do is to get a small, soft ball (I recommend a Yoga Tune Up® ball, due to its squishy, pliable nature) and step on it.  Yep.  Just stepping on the ball will increase your awareness of your feet and start to dissolve tension between all those tiny joints.  Here is a video that will guide you through an eye-opening foot roll.

You can also increase awareness of your feet (and help bring energy down from that monkey mind into your feet, which is very grounding) by meditating on your feet.  Here is a 10 minute meditation that will guide you through that.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of your amazing feet now!  I hope you find some time to give your feet some love today.  Let me know what you think of the video and or meditation.

Have a great Sunday!

 

 

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized

The Electricity of Touch

I’ve long been fascinated with science fiction.  I grew up watching Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star  Trek, Misfits of Science.  I loved Madelaine L’Engle’s books, as well as The Girl With Silver Eyes, Dune, anything by Ursula K Le Guin, Lord of the Rings.  I was so hopeful that there was magic in the world, that we are not just flesh, bone, and blood.  I wanted powers.

And as I get older and find some moments of quiet and observation, I realize that I DO have powers.  The world really does not operate in a linear, A+B = C function.  It’s wiley and impressionable and moldable and multifaceted.  With every interaction, there are innumerable forces at play, most of which cannot be seen, felt, or heard.  Or maybe they can be, but we’ve lost the art of reliably, consciously doing so.

And what is truly fascinating, is that now there are studies that prove that that as humans, we are energetically entangled with each other.  You can read one of the studies here.  The gist of it is, there is an exchange of electromagnetic energy when people touch (especially with the right hand) or are close together (within 18 inches).  If a person consciously adopts a “sincere caring attitude,” it could positively affect the heart rhythm of people within their proximity!!

Here is a quote from the study that I find really intriguing, “…when individuals focus their attention in the area of the heart and consciously generate a positive emotion, the heart rate variability patterns become more orderly and coherent,” and “…individuals who intentionally increase their cardiac coherence by maintaining a focused state of sincere love or appreciation can induce changes in the structure of water and the conformational state of DNA.”  The study goes on to imply that a therapeutic technique could become more effective by the practitioner adopting a “sincere caring attitude.”

This gives me so much hope!  I have learned so much in the past 14 months, but I know I still know NOTHING!  But at least, now I know, if I really care about my patients, my touch will be beneficial to them – even if I’m not treating the exact muscle that needs to be treated.  My touch, generated from a place of compassion and positive intent, can be a “magic” power that helps my patients feel better!

What do you think of this article?  Do you notice effects in your body when you are around a positive person versus a negative person?  Do you think you can affect people solely with your positive atttidue?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. <3