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

Jamaica Trip – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the Jamaica series!  With this post I continue the review of my observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • I definitely experienced many highs and lows over the course of the week. After some treatments I was in the depths of despair, feeling 100% inadequate and overwhelmed.  And then the next patient would respond really well to the treatment and to me, and I was back on cloud 9.  It was a complete yo-yo of emotions, both exhausting and exhilarating.  On the bus back to the hotel each night, I would reflect on the day, on how hard it was, on how I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was doing, on how uncomfortable I was, being in a position of uncertainty and doubt. Net, even with all the discomfort, I was so much happier after a day working on and with my fellow humans than working in an office on a computer all day.
  • I need to study more! We learn so much so fast in this program.  I need to find a way to remember what we have been taught because in the thick of things, my brain really struggled to retrieve all those trigger points, muscle attachments, and protocols.  I could feel the solution to the puzzle just outside of my consciousness, but I could not quite grasp it.
  • If/when I do this again, I need to learn Patwa! While most of the patients spoke English, with the accent and with being slightly hard of hearing, I had SUCH a difficult time understanding exactly what was being said.  Thank goodness for gestures!!
  • I need alone time!! Seven days surrounded by 30+ people was a bit overwhelming.  I meditated almost every morning for 30 minutes, sitting within ear shot of the ocean.  I think that contributed so much to my sanity.
  • My preconceived notions about who we would be treating were completely misinformed. My first patient had been a stockbroker in NYC for several years!  Many of patients had lived in England for years and retired back home to Treasure Beach. One of my patients had actually been to Iowa State University to learn about agriculture!  These brilliant, sophisticated, kind people had moved back to their roots and were busy improving their community.  Very inspirational.
  • Hugs and blessings are a very fulfilling form of payment, especially when your food and housing needs are met.
  • I want to learn more OMM (osteopathic manipulative treatment) from the doctor of osteopathy students. From the glimpse I received, it really piqued my interest.  It seems as if they use longer holds (moving patients into areas of the “barrier”) to effect changes in the tissues.  I want to learn more about this, as I have a few patients who are very pain-sensitive, and I think this might be a gentler approach for them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 4th and last installment. 🙂

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

Jamaica Trip – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Jamaica Trip series. 🙂

On our way back from the Falls, we stopped at the Sports Clinic that would be our base of operations for Monday – Thursday.  A few members of our group had been working ALL day to organize the rooms, equipment, and pharmaceuticals that would be used by the osteopathic doctors and students. They were set up on the first floor of the facility.  Our neurosomatic therapy group (4 students and two teachers) would be set up on the second floor of the building, which was an open-air area overlooking the sports fields and a big hill.  The view was awesome, and more importantly, the area was super breezy and open.

Monday started our first day at the clinic.  We didn’t know what to expect – would the Jamaicans be interested in neurosomatic therapy?  Would we be sitting on our tables, staring off into the hills for 8 hours?  The answer was a resounding NOPE!  Starting with the very first day, we were BUSY, seeing patient after patient after patient, breaking briefly for lunch and water and bathroom breaks.  Word had gotten out that muscle and joint pain treatment specialists were in the house, and we were booked solid, with patients waiting all day long to be treated.

I wish I had taken better notes over the course of the clinic days. I fully intended to, but with my day starting at 5:30AM and ending around 10:30PM, I just couldn’t find the time to write!  But here are some general impressions, memories and observations about the experience.

  • A patient, calm teacher with a good sense of humor is invaluable.
    • I have not yet learned how to treat the lower body. However, each day of treatment presented a consistent theme of pain focused on the lower body.  On Day 1, everyone presented with knee pain. Day 2 was sciatica, and Day 3 was lower back.  Day 4 was a blur.  When in doubt, all I had to do was catch Randy’s eye, and he was there in a flash to give me guidance and insight on what to do.  I worked on so many glutes, TFLs, psoas, and upper traps!
    • In some instances, Randy palpated with his hand on top of mine, helping me understand where to go, what I should look for, and what I was feeling.This was SO HELPFUL!!  It put my sensations into a context that immensely increased my awareness and understanding.
  • Growth/challenges.
    • As I mentioned at the outset, I really struggle with self-confidence.This has especially been an issue for me as I’ve started massage school.  For the past 20+ years I have worked in business and banking, so the majority of my time is spent in my head and not in my body.  I only used my fingers to type on a computer.  While I can learn things cerebrally quite well, embodying the knowledge into a felt sense is extremely challenging. I often find myself just going through the motions (e.g. Step 1, compress.  Step 2, compress with opposition. Step 3, glide).   I have bouts where I seriously doubt my ability to be a successful therapist.
      • Working on over 25 people over the course of 4 days helped me see that, while I still have SO MUCH more to learn, I already have the ability to help people feel waaaaay better over the span of just 45 minutes.  By Day 4, I had found my flow. I was comfortable with the patients, could chat and treat, and I was having FUN.  I was finally RELAXED.  I no longer had to hold my breath while I was treating. J.  The bonds with the patients were becoming more synergistic – I was able to solicit better feedback from them, and by working together and communicating constantly, I was able to sink into the tissue and effect change.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3!

massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners

Jamaica Trip – Part 1

Well, I’m back from Jamaica.  It seems very surreal that I was there. I still can’t quite believe it.  To be honest, before I left a big part of me was kind of hoping that something would come up that would prevent me from going – I would get a debilitating case of diarrhea, my boss would forbid me to go because I am SO vital to the ongoing operations of the bank, my passport would get revoked by the US Government – SOMETHING.  I knew this trip was going to force me out of my comfort zone, make me grow as a therapist and as a human being, and put me in situations where I did not automatically know the A+ answer.  It’s SO much more comfortable to avoid growth, you know! Fortunately, the Universe did not comply with this latent desire.  My karma in this life is to become more self-confident, and the Universe was happy to oblige to make sure this happened.

The trip started off with an easy plane ride from Orlando to Montego Bay.  And then I hit the first snag.  My school, The Center for Neurosomatic Studies, was donating 3 massage tables to The Treasure Beach Women’s Group for use during this and successive clinics.  Shipping the tables proved to be prohibitively expensive, so 3 of us therapists brought tables along with us.  I dragged my 30 lb., unwieldy table through the airport to the “Nothing to Declare” Customs lane.  I assumed that since the school was DONATING the table, it did not need to be declared. The Customs clerk quickly disabused me of this notion and sent me over the much longer “Declare” line, full of people with 10-foot high stacks of luggage.

When it was finally my turn, I explained the situation to the clerk.  After lots of questions about the table, where I was going, what I was doing, who I was doing it with and for, the clerk seemed very confused about what to do and consulted with several other clerks in the areas. Eventually it was decided that I would have to pay some fee in order to bring the table to the clinic. Argh.  They assessed the fee, plus several different taxes, and then sent me back into the airport to get some Jamaican dollars so that I could pay the fee. I paid the fee, showed the proof to the clerk, hoisted the table onto my shoulder and escaped into the heat, where the rest of the group was waiting for me so we could start the 3 hours mountainous trek to Treasure Beach.

If you are at all faint of heart, or if you do not enjoy bumps, sudden, unexpected increases and decreases in speed, barreling around blind corners, sharing very narrow roads with cows and speedy on-coming traffic, I highly suggest doping yourself with Dramamine or some other sedative for bus trips into the heart of Jamaica. That being said, it was actually a really fun ride, especially since we stopped for some amazingly delicious Jamaican food on the way.  Jamaican food is the best food.  ‘Nuff said. We arrived at our hotel late Saturday night, found the treasured remote controls for the in-room AC units, and crashed into bed.

On Sunday, after a stop for snacks at a supermarket (which was made up of 95% carb snacks and Coco Mania rum), we headed out to YS Falls, a gorgeous natural waterfall that offers zip-lining and rope swings into mint blue-green water.  It was stunningly beautiful.  Like most of the jungle and coastline I saw in Jamaica, it was so beautiful that it looked almost unreal.  Such a beautiful country!

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!

massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners

On Change, Awakening, Being Part of God, and Learning How to Study Again

Hmm. I may have bitten off more than I chew here – at least more than I can chew on in one post.  But, we’ll see how this goes. 🙂

So.  It’s March 2018 already.  I am deep in the thick of my Huge Life-Changing Decision – 7 months in, in point of fact.  How does it feel?  Well, all-in-all very normal.  Once I was able to stop using my GoogleMaps app to find my way around, my mind and body accepted this new situation as the new normal.  Habits developed, I settled down and in, and 7 months flew by INSANELY fast.

My first term is over.  I learned: how to do a posturology chart; how to massage a human-being who was not related to me (:P); all the muscles of the neck and shoulder and where they attach, how they are innervated, what function they do, why they hurt, and how to assist with alleviating the hurt; how to study, learn, and retain loads of information; how to write a medical research paper; the very basics of lymph drainage, Thai massage, reflexology, etc.  It was a total fire-house situation, which no doubt contributed to the perception that the time just absolutely FLEW by.

But, not only was this past 7 months filled with academic learning, it was also filled with a lot of spiritual growth.  I think these two journeys are really rail-road tracks traveling alongside each other. I needed each one of these rails into order to make it here to 03/17/18.

I ended up making the decision to come to this school because I felt as if the Universe was guiding me here.  Well, I think “felt” is not the exact word.  My mind observed certain events that suspiciously looked as if they could be “signs.”  I started seeing a yoga therapist/psychologist in mid 2016 because I KNEW I was not not happy; I was not living my purpose.  But I was too overwhelmed by options and fear to see a path forward. I had read books and the blogs and listened to the teachers who said, “Ask the Universe for what you want, and it will answer you.”  But I didn’t really believe it, and when I tried, it didn’t seem to work.  I received no CLEAR answers.  So I got professional help.  On my first visit, my therapist had me write down my intention. I wrote, “I will find my purpose and live it fearlessly.”

A couple of days later, I discovered the Center for Neurosomatic Studies. I devoured all the info on their site, barely taking a breath because I was so excited about what I was reading – this was precisely what I was looking for!

Anyway, a lot of synchronicities/coincidences/signs like that continued to happen over the next 4 weeks or so.  My closest friend and my therapist were both like, “Duh, Heather.  You asked for a sign. You’re being assaulted by them.  Listen!”  So eventually I listened, not because I really FELT that taking this step was my “divine purpose” though. It was more because academically, I could see that there seemed to be some sort of cause-effect relationship in place.  My insides did NOT feel like disrupting my predictable life and destabilizing my existence.  But my brain was like, “You asked for signs. Signs were given.  You’ve been down that old road, Neo.  You know where it goes, and you know that’s where you don’t want to be.”  So I chose the new road.

Early on in the semester, one of teachers recommended “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.”  The book, in a super tiny nutshell, teaches that we are all co-creators with the Universe, and if we can identify behaviors that are no longer serving us and then envision and FEEL into a future state where we ARE who we want to be, then the Universe will make it happen.  The author explains all this using quantum science – all potentials exist simultaneously, and we can influence which version of reality we want by entangling our thoughts (and their energy) to the scenario we really want.

I read the book, did the writing exercises, and did the meditations.  And weird shit starting happening.  I started to feel the way I wanted to feel.  Things that I wanted to happen started to happen.  I started to see repeating numbers all the time: 888, 111, 222, 444, 555, 777.  They popped up so often that I started reading about the meaning of these numbers.  Basically they all indicate the following:  the Universe is helping you, be present, you are fully supported, trust that you are exactly where you need to be, you are here to co-create with the Universe, trust your choices, stay positive, you are interacting in perfect synchronicity with the Universe, the world is yours; shine bright and light up the night.

So it has been a really, really interesting 7 months.  As you can see from previous posts, there have been lots of challenges and a few trips into the depths of despair and doubt.  But there is no light without the dark, right?  I am looking forward to seeing what this new term will bring – new knowledge, new people, new experiences, new opportunities, new awakenings.

As I feared, I did not get around to discussing how I learned to study again.  That will have to be another post. I need to get off my butt because it’s falling asleep.  And I know it’s time to WAKE UP!!

Hope you have a most excellent day!

 

 

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

Time warps

I am doing a 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak.  I ran across the link on Facebook and figured I could use the encouragement and structure of a challenge.  This challenge is all about reframing your relationship with time.  I have an issue with time.  As in, I don’t have enough of it.  I spend a lot of it thinking and worrying and talking about how I don’t have enough of it it. Then I procrastinate by doing things I don’t REALLY love because I know that I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do, so why not put off even longer my engagement with this task for which I don’t have enough time??

Consequently, I end up facing a task (e.g. homework) by first making some coffee.  Then I will check Facebook. Then I will remember that I need to text my brother.  Then I will throw a load of laundry in.  And maybe do the dishes.  And then eat some chocolate.  And then.  Maybe then.  I will sit down and study.  And LO!  It’s not so bad.  It’s actually interesting.  I am actually learning.

So, obviously, I really need Oprah and Deepak to help me with this unhealthy relationship with time.  Each morning they email me a link to a meditation.  Each day you are given a centering thought along with a  Sanksrit mantra that you repeat for the duration of the meditation.  Today’s centering thought is; The only real time is here and now. The mantra is: Om Hreem – Pure transparent awareness is my essential nature.

Doing these meditations has increased my awareness of my skewed view of time.  I more easily observe the aforementioned pattern and break out of it occasionally. For example, on Thursday night, I finally got out my 2″ stack of handwritten flashcards and started reviewing them and separating them into Things I know, Things I Don’t Know, and Things I Kinda Know.  Ninety minutes flew by!  I had assimilated some new information. Yet, the evening was still rather young!  I had time for a walk.  Time for a chat with Tim.  I felt as if I had entered some sort of time warp.  Somehow much more time had appeared in an evening!!

That was Thursday.  I haven’t experienced that bliss again since then, but at least I know it’s possible now. 🙂  I think the real key is just to FOCUS.  Let everything go except that ONE thing you are doing right now.  That one moment expands into a deep ocean where time does not exist, or at least it’s slowed waaaaay down.  You can swim around in the flow and then come back up for air, at which point the clock ticks to the next minute.  It’s happened once, so I know it’s possible!

That’s been my focus for the week.  I will continue to work on my Focusing skills, because in November I have 4 tests and 1 quiz, so I need some depth and breadth of nonlinear time! I keep telling myself that I am part of Oneness, and in Oneness are oodles of brilliant juicy brains who already know all the stuff I am learning.  If I can chill the #$@ out, and invite in spaciousness and tenderness and connection, I will do just fine.  Part of me believes that, at least. 🙂

Speaking of time warps, last weekend I went home for the first time in 6 weeks.  I literally had to look at my calendar before I typed that because it seems as if it was ages ago already!!  Could it have just been LAST WEEKEND?  While it was awesome to see my friends and family again, it was odd to be home.  Home is not really home now. It’s a pretty empty house where I felt like a guest – pulling PJs out of a backpack instead of a dresser, pulling my face lotion out of my travel pack instead of the medicine cabinet.  I really wonder where HOME will be for us. Once Tim moves down here, will this apartment feel like HOME?  Or will we just feel like temporary residents until we decide where to go after school?

I am traveling home week after next for Thanksgiving and then the weekend after that for a conversion project at work.  I’m going to get really good at studying on airplanes.  On my flight home last weekend, I brought my Trail Guide flashcards to review.  The guy next to me observed that I was studying and then proceeded to talk to me for the 2 hour flight about his biology degree, his job, his family, etc.  I murmured polite responses and then would return to studying.  He continued to look over my shoulder and comment on how he still remembered a lot of the bones/muscles, etc.  So I finally just surrendered to the flow and talked to him for the rest of the plane ride.  I think ear buds are required next trip. 🙂

Hope you have a fabulous time-rich Sunday!

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

On Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty that you can comfortably live with. – Tony Robbins

Week 5 is done, Man!  In case you don’t know, that’s a riff off of a quote from Adventures in Babysitting, a movie I haven’t seen in probably 15 years, but that quote has always stuck with me – Dishes are done, Man!!

Anyway, I’ll reel myself back in to the point.  Friday marked my 5th week of classes at CNS.  We celebrated with a quiz in anatomy.  Fortunately the teacher dropped some heavy hints the week prior, so we were all pretty prepared.  After hours of study, I got a 93% on the 10 question quiz.  I missed one.  Ninety-three percent is a solid grade.  I am mostly happy with it.  I am a little unhappy with it too, though. I wanted 100%.  I wish I could get to the root of this drive for perfection, so I could unwind it and be satisfied with what IS.

I think it has something to do with always being a people-pleaser and identifying myself as the “good girl” who gets good grades.  It’s a huge part of my self-identification, and my way of trying to control what I was able to control as a child.  I could reduce conflict in the world around me by getting good grades.  And it got me positive attention.  I don’t NEED to get good grades for those reasons anymore though.  But that coding is still strong within me.

But, overall, I am satisfied and a little less anxious about my success in this program.  As a wise friend told me, if I HAD gotten 100%, it may have set false expectations and made lower grades in the future tougher to deal with.  I set a reasonable bar with my 93%. 🙂

Enough about my layers!  Let’s get on to the purpose of this post – being OK with uncertainty.

This topic came up in class on Friday, when the teacher was discussing some new research that indicates that massage therapy does NOT increase blood flow.  This was the one thing that almost everyone agreed was a positive result of massage therapy.  Welp… now it looks as if that is in question too.  Anecdotally, it seems to be true.  From direct observation, it seems to be true – just look at how red the skin gets after being massaged.  If that’s not an increase in blood flow, what is it??

It was a timely discussion, however, as today one of the YTU teachers I follow and greatly admire posted  this article about the Myth of Symmetry in Yoga.  The title of the article pretty much says it all.  The author references several studies that indicate that symmetry in the body (symmetry of muscles, posture, and leg lengths) is irrelevant to sensation of pain.

So…the school I am going to is FOUNDED on the concept of symmetry.  With each treatment, we do an 84-point analysis on the posture to identify imbalances. The chief imbalance that can drive many of the others is a lower limb length inequality (LLLI – aka one leg is shorter than the other).  We are taught that the limb length issue must be corrected first (via lifts in the shoes).  If that is not fixed, any bodywork provides only temporary relief.

So this article is in direct contradiction to what we are taught.  BUT!  BUT! I did not read the studies the author referenced. I clicked through to a few of the summaries, though.  In my quick pass-through, it appeared as if the studies were not done over an extensive period of time.  Perhaps an LLLI does not cause much pain until later in life or until an unusual stress is placed on an imbalanced body?

One thing that I have noted in all my reading about diet and exercise over the past 5 years, is that “Science” is constantly shifting.  Eggs are good!  Eggs are bad.  Coconut oil is the bomb!! Coconut oil will give you heart attacks! Stretching is good for you!  Stretching will compromise your joints and make you unstable!  Yoga will save your life!  Yoga will bust your shoulders all to hell.

So, again, we waffle back to center.  The truth lies somewhere in between.  Balance (which is oh so close to symmetry…) is the key.  If we really do exist in a quantum field, where everything exists in multiple states until it doesn’t, each person’s Truth varies.  We all have different perceptions, experiences, and DNA that alter how we experience the world.

So, thus, I start my journey into being comfortable in the unknown, trusting that I am in the right place at the right time, gaining knowledge that will help me understand my body, your body, and the world around me better.  With this knowledge, I will eventually be able to help people who share a similiar quantum experience.  If we both look really quickly to the right and see the same thing, then someday I may be able to help you if you are in pain.

Hope you are having a great weekend – getting outside, spending time with loved ones, spending some time in the peace and quiet.  If you’ve had any experience with dealing with  challenges to your foundational beliefs, I would love to hear how you tipped-toed through to the other side.

Take care!

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

Week 3 – On Contemplating Change Vs. Implementing Change

Today was the first week of normal classes at CNS.  Monday we had Basic Massage. Tuesday was Advanced Technique. Wednesday was Business. Thursday was more Advanced Technique.  Friday was Anatomy and Pyshiology. I’m concerned about my success in A&P because I cannot yet spell physiology correctly.  Wait! I think I just figured it out!!

It’s been a super interesting week.  I really love the Tech and A&P class. They are taught by the founders of the school and their passion really shines through in their teaching. You KNOW that they believe that this form of therapy changes lives. Not only does it change the life of the patient, but it has a domino effect and changes the lives of the people the patients interact with.  This is a Difference Maker.  It is so fulfilling to be surrounded by that kind of conviction and knowledge.

During the Tech class, we learn the  neurosomatic techniques. This week we learned how to address the muscles in the front of the neck – infrahyoids, suprahyoids, the deep anterior cervical muscles (the muscles that connect to the vertebrae), the scalenes (the muscles that move your neck from side to side) and the sternocleidomastoid – the muscle that flexes, tilts, and rotates the neck.

These are super impactful (is that a word??) muscles to treat.  Treating these can help immensely with ear, jaw, throat, and shoulder pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, and migraines.  However, they are a….sensitive area to treat.  There are lots of trigger points in these muscles, and one of the treatments involves moving the trachea out of the way.  So…  It’s really important work with lots of benefits, but it’s also work that requires a lot of trust and practice.  People just aren’t used to therapists fiddling around with the front of their necks!

My first A&P class was Friday.  The teacher is…just amazing. You can tell he really loves the material and believes 100% in it its importance.  He is lively, animated, funny, and super knowledgeable- which is a must, if you are sitting through 4 hours of anatomy lecture.  It was totally overwhelming.  Completely. He also told us that over 1/2 of the first term students fail their first anatomy test. I have never failed a test.  I don’t know how I would deal with that!! I hope I don’t have to find out.

I took copious notes and also recorded the session.  Today I used the pomodoro technique to tackle studying.  With this technique, you focus 100% for 25 minutes and then take a 3-5 minute break (which I used to roll out my upper back, shoulders and pecs with the Yoga Tune Up balls).  I found that knowing that I only had to work for 25 minutes relieved some of the anxiety I was feeling about tackling this huge subject!  At first I really struggled with how to approach studying.  But once I started looking at my notes, looking at the pictures in my Thieme book, and tying the two together (and reminding myself to BE PATIENT), I felt so much better.  The terminology started to make sense.  The names of things in the body actually do have some logic to them, and that started to present itself as I worked.

I did about 4 pomodoro sessions and then took a long break.  I, uh, watched Miss Congeniality.  It’s a really excellent movie, actually.

But now I’m going to go back and do some more homework – I have some reading to tackle. I like to read before I go to bed because I feel as if the information just kind of floats around in the ol’ brain pan and settles in better that way.

Tomorrow I am meeting a couple of classmates to practice my neck-spearing technique (aka treating the superficial anterior cervical muscles).  Then I’ll do some more studying, meal prep for the week (steel cut oats, quinoa, and BBQ pork in the Instant Pot). Hopefully I will figure out a way to have some FUN tomorrow.  Figuring out fun stuff is actually quite challenging!!

Oh! I guess I should circle back to the whole theme of this post – change!!  I was talking to a dear friend of mine who has been with me step-by-step as I contemplated coming to this school.  She is intimately familiar with all the doubt, fear, and indecision I was experiencing.  My therapist said I was in Decision Purgatory, and that is the perfect description.

Well, Angela and I were talking about my current state, and I told her that living in Florida and going to school just feels, well, normal now!  She reminded me of how petrified I was of making this change. It made me realize that CONTEMPLATION of change is the really scary thing.  Actually EXPERIENCING  the change is NBD (no big deal).  You just deal with it, like you deal with everything.  The Ego is a funny thing. I’ve been pretty entertained lately by watching its machinations.  Between lots of reading of Kiran Trace and listening to Matthew Kahn’s podcast, I’ve realized that it’s all about awareness without judgement. I can FEEL whatever I want to feel, and that is 100% OK.  I just need to observe how I feel and let that be OK.  I’m doing a lot of “Huh.  That’s interesting.”

Hope you are having a fabulous Saturday.

Take care,

Hlo

 

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

On adaptation – a wobbling toward equanimity

Two weeks down!  In some ways I still feel as if I cannot believe I am here.  In some ways it feels as if I have always been here.  The thing that strikes me the most about being here is the lack of hills.  There no hills.  It’s flat.  All you can see is sky and palm trees.  It makes me feel a little exposed.  I miss hills.

Tim and I have been talking every day and Skyping most days. How did people live apart before Skype??  It makes such a huge difference to be able to SEE your loved ones!  I would feel so alone here if it were not for technology.  My little brother sends a picture and a message almost every day, I talk to/text Tim all throughout the day, I call my parents and my older brother on the weekends.  I am finishing up Lord of The Rings (reading it for the Nth time), and I am at the part where everyone is parting ways at the end of the book.  Back in Middle Earth, unless you had a Palantir (aka an iPhone), you had to travel for WEEKS to see your friends and loved ones once you were sundered.

School this week was good.  We learned some very basics of massage – draping, massage strokes, etc.  We had our first test on Friday. I think I did well on the written portion and the massage portion, but on the postural charting portion, I got a bit confused on a piece of it.  There are 4 measurements that you take on the first side of the sheet and then transfer over to the back side of the sheet. For some reason that confuses me a bit.  I kind of rushed that portion and didn’t feel good about my answers.  I was having a severe battle with my perfectionism, struggling to ask the teacher if I could have my test back to verify I did it right.  I kept reminding myself that I am part of the Infinite One and not getting 100% on a test is A-OK.  🙂 But every time I think of it, I get that little burst of constriction just to the left of my sternum.  This body had some encoding that really, really, really drives me to   get the A+.

I have been reading Kiran Trace’s book, Tools for Sanity.  In it she talks a lot about how awareness is the key to realizing who and what we really are.  She uses an analogy of when you walk into a dark room and flip on the light and flip it off again, you can never unsee what you saw.  You now know where the furniture is situated, you see the toy truck on the floor, you know what is there.  Even with the lights off again, you are AWARE.  Once you strobe that awareness on to a behavior, it immediately changes things.

So I am settling my awareness on this drive for perfection and seeing what I can find out about it.

In the meantime, I didn’t ask for the test back.  I left school, worked from home, and then spent the weekend gently exploring.  I ventured out to Dunedin and went to a yoga class. Come to find out it was the last yoga class ever to be held in that studio. They were shutting down the following day.  I feel like there is significance in that, but I haven’t parsed out what it is yet.

Today I ran through my typical Sunday routine – grocery shopping, cleaning, making food for the week.  I took a long walk and reached a new spot I have not seen. I saw trees from Dagobah and encountered lots of friendly folk.  I was listening to Matt Kahn’s talk about Everything is Here to Help You.  He said that if you view every person in your life as being there to help you learn *something,* that you will transform your world.  I sent that vibe out to every one I encountered and got lots of smiles in return. I’m curious to see how this susses out.

I got home from my walk and decided that I better go to the beach.  I have been here 2 weeks and have not made it there yet – partially because I have been busy and partially because I am nervous/reluctant to go to the beach by myself.  But tomorrow starts regular classes at CNS, so I figured I should take advantage of having no homework and GO!

I drove to Bellaire Beach, just south of Clearwater Beach.  The skies to the East looked ominous, but I persevered.  I walked out on the beach, appreciating the roar of the ocean and the foaminess of the waves.  I looked to the Southeast and noted dark clouds tumbling in. I just sat and watched the storm roll in.  I laid back and turned my head, at eye level with the beach, the ocean, the sky huge and dark and roiling above me.  It was absolutely beautiful.

And that was my weekend.  Tim has been steadfastly working on the house, hopefully bringing to a swift conclusion our separation from each other.  We should get the house on the market soon, sell it post haste, and get Timmy Tee down here to Clearwater ASAP.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, and thanks for reading!

 

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

After further thought…

My students Thursday night asked me a couple of questions that I was not really prepared to answer.  I tossed out the first thing that came to the top of my head, but after further reflection, I have more to add. It takes awhile for my brain to get into gear!

Question 1:  What is the biggest change I have noticed with doing yoga regularly?

This one caused a rush of conflicting thoughts in my head, even though it seems like a simple question.  A lot of this tumult of thought circled around, “I don’t actually DO yoga regularly!”  I have a varied movement practice – I jog a couple of days a week, I lift a couple of days a week, I attend a yoga class once every couple of weeks, I do one of Jill Miller’s videos once or twice a week.

I’m conflicted about even calling myself a yoga teacher, in point of fact, because I feel as if it can give people the impression that I practice 6 days a week for 90 minutes everyday, and I can do handstands and splits and crazy binds.  I can’t do any of that stuff, so I don’t teach any of that stuff.  I help people understand their bodies better with the aid of the Yoga Tune Up® balls and mindful mobility and strengthening work.  We crawl, we swing, we roll, we look at pictures of muscles in books.  Is that “yoga”?  Technically yes (as I understand it), but I fear it’s not what people typically consider yoga to be.

So once all of that darted through my head, I settled back on the question – what is the biggest chance I have noticed?  I told the class that after taking the YTU Level 1 training, I noticed that I felt myself stacked over my feet better – like I wasn’t leaning forward all the time.  That was the biggest change for me.

And that is true, but, upon reflection, what I have really noticed from my mindful movement practices is that I have more Awareness now.  I notice when my shoulders start to creep up around my ears, I notice when I start breathing shallowly, I notice when random parts of my body tense up (like my hands or my belly), I notice (with a slight bit of detachment) when I feel annoyed or angry, I notice when my mind is going a million miles per minute.  Sometimes I just notice these things. Sometimes I notice them and then try to change them – I will stretch, or roll on the balls, or reflect on whether it’s worth it to get angry about this situation.  That Awareness is what I have noticed most from doing yoga.

Question 2:  Does it ever get better, or do you have to constantly work at it (re: muscle tightness)?

My answer to this was, you really do need to keep working at it.  You can’t just roll and relax and be done with it.  You need a relaxation maintenance package. 🙂

And that is true!  But what I forgot to mention was that if you change your habits (especially postural habits), you can start to alleviate tension all over the body.  For example, if you stack your ears over your shoulders, it releases strain in the back of the neck, the back of the head, the tops of the shoulders, and the jaw.

So, while you still should continue to move your body as much as possible (whether in “yoga” or some other mindful movement practice), if you move your body BETTER and use Awareness to re-position yourself in a joint-stacked position, you will over time reduce pain and tension in the body.  Instead of trying to fit another exercise class into your day to keep yourself supple, you can continuously adjust yourself as you are walking, reading, doing the dishes, working at your computer.  As Katy Bowman always says, Stack Your Life!  Improve your mobility while doing the other things in life you have to do.

I’m still not sure that fully answers both questions, but if I wait until I have a perfect answer, I will never get this posted!

Hope you are having a great Memorial Day weekend and that you can get out outside, put your toes in the grass, laugh with your friends and family, and eat delicious food!

 

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

New Yoga Sequence on YouTube!

Hey-O!  I’ve gone and done it.  I bought a new microphone, so I could film some high-quality yoga videos. I plugged the mic in, did a 2 second test, and replayed the video.  NO SOUND!!  So I plowed forward, sans microphone, filming a 30 minute video.  Come to find out, you have to REMOVE the mic from the phone during the replay in order to actually hear the audio. Live and learn, right??

Anyway, the point of my rant is not my lack of technical prowess, but rather the fact that I filmed a 30 minute yoga video that will help with spine health.  The video is not amazing.  You can’t see the left side of my body.  BUT, you can generally get the gist of what I am instructing you to do, and you will feel better in your gorgeous bod if you do what I am instructing you to do, so I’m calling that a win.

Here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCXubOPoS9s&feature=youtu.be.

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!