Awakening, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Mindset, Pain, Trauma

Choose Your Own Adventure

How much control do we have over our lives, really?  Is our life dictated by our circumstances – our DNA, our families, where we were born, how much money our parents have?  Or is our life dictated by our thoughts, feelings, and actions – which are all based on choices we can consciously make?
 
I love The Life Coach School podcast by Brooke Castillo.  The podcast is full of mind-bending resets that help me see the world a little differently, at least for a little bit.  In this podcast on handling adversity, Brooke talks about how we NEED adversity to get stronger.  If we stay in our comfort zone, never pushing ourselves, never challenging ourselves, we never grow or get stronger.  We actually get weaker, and our world gets smaller. 
 
We have this innate capacity to blow our own mind with what we can create, but our stories and our desire for comfort and the safety of the known can keep us confined.
 
UNLESS
 
Unless we consciously CHOOSE DISCOMFORT.  If we start to take the harder path, the path with more challenge, the path that forces us to try something different and to learn from it – then we can break out of the comfort bubble (which starts to become stifling and uncomfortable eventually anyway!) and see for ourselves what we are capable of.
 
Here is my crude drawing, trying to illustrate how, by being the Boss of our choices and consciously choosing to pursue challenge, we can touch into that realm of possibility and start to realize just how powerful we really are. 



We don’t have to make massive shifts – just make a slightly different choice.  For example, instead of veering towards ease (watching another episode of Hart of Dixie), veer just a bit towards struggle (which might mean just sitting for 2 minutes noticing how hard it is to resist the urge to watch another episode of Hart of Dixie).
 
While I was out walking and listening to this podcast this morning, the idea of this drawing struck me, and it seemed brilliant.  In execution, well, it may not be AMAZE-BALLS, but it’s out of my comfort zone, so I’m at least heading in the right direction.  POSSIBILITY, HERE I COME!! 😛
 
There will be no blog post next week, as I will be in Module 3 of my Somatic Experiencing class Thursday – Sunday.  I hope you all have a fabulous couple of weeks!  If you get bored and need something to read, you can find prior newsletters here.  😊
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • If you are experiencing pain in your body and want some help unwinding it, you can book a bodywork session here.
  • I am doing market research!  If you could break out of your comfort bubble and lean into challenge, assured that by doing so you would become MORE YOU – more of who you know you can be, more of who you WANT to be, what actions would you take?  What moves would you make?  And what support would you need to have the courage to take that harder and more rewarding path?  If you care to share your thoughts, please respond to this email. <3

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

The Poetic Principle

I’m no expert on quantum physics.  Well, really I know very little about quantum physics, But what I gather, is that basically all potentialities exist, and only once something is observed, does it settle into being one thing over another.  So everything around us is kind of EVERYTHING all at once until we look at it, and then it becomes a can of Waterloo, an iPhone, a book, a dark chocolate caramel cream.  It kinda makes reality get a bit wonky and shifty and slippery.  So maybe my understanding is wrong.  Or maybe it isn’t.  Or maybe me believing that this is what quantum physics IS makes quantum physics work that way in MY world. 
 
I was reminded of this weirdness in quantum physics as I dove into the Week 4 reading for my coaching certification.  I have a deep crush on two books in my class:  Appreciative Coaching and Motivational Interviewing.  Both of these books teach us that we can become masterful in our lives.  We are not “problems to be solved but miracles and mysteries to be appreciated.”  We are not slaves to the past.  Small changes can lead to big differences in our life. And this:
 
THE ACT OF ASKING QUESTIONS INFLUENCES THE INDIVIDUAL
(much like how, in quantum physics, being observed changes what’s being observed).
 
Just by asking a question, worlds can shift. 
 
I’ve experienced this many time with my coaches.  They’ll ask a question, and BAM!  I sheepishly realize that I was seeing the situation with blinders on – only seeing the one negative interpretation when literally countless options of reality exist in which I can put my belief.  With that one question, my world view shifted. 
 
Appreciative Coaching introduced me to “The Poetic Principle,” which “suggests that life stories can be rewritten to better fit how clients see themselves in their present or future.”  A person can take poetic license to reframe their story.  We can re-imagine what our life experiences mean. 
 
For example, for many years I was embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree right after high school like “normal” people.  I went to community college for a bit, got married, worked part-time as a teller, became an admin assistant, then decided I needed to get a 4-year degree, so I went to college at night while working full-time.  Then since all my coworkers were getting their MBAs, I decided I should get one too.  I was already in school-mode, so why not just keep going?  But I really felt as if I didn’t belong with everyone else in that program.  They all had these college experiences of playing sports, living in dorms, partying, being involved in sororities and making amazing life-long friendships.  I sorely regretted that I didn’t have that experience.
 
Now I look back on that time, and with my poetic license, I feel impressed with my drive and tenacity.  I got my bachelor’s and my master’s while working full-time; I graduated with distinction, and I finished school with minimal student debt, as the bank I worked for offered tuition reimbursement.  I kicked off a habit of life-long learning that has kept my mind active and which has taken me on journeys around the county and introduced me to so many brilliant people.  I took the path less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
 
How would you re-write your story, to draw out and highlight your strengths?  How can you discover and celebrate your successes?   You could ask yourself some tough questions about your standard life story –  Is that true?  How do you know it’s true?  What if the opposite was true?  Who would you be if you believed in a different truth?  (For more info on these types of questions, you can check out Byron Kate.).
 
And with that, I’m signing off.  I need to baby myself a bit today because the time change has messed with my temporal existence, and I don’t know if it’s time to go to bed or time to go to lunch (and yes, I realize this is a story I’m telling myself about DST!!).
 
Happy Sunday My Peeps!
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • If you would like to get your body moving better and feeling better before getting inundated with sweets, treats, and visitors, you can book a session here.
  • I am doing market research!  I’m looking for people who have a gap between where they are and where they want to be.  I am curious about what has gotten in your way in the past, what kind of help you would want from a coach, and what life would look like to you if you were flourishing.  If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with me, reply to this email with the words, “I want to chat,” and I’ll contact you with more details.

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

The BEST WAY to Keep Yourself Stuck

Soooooo….. I signed up for another training class.  I know I know!  I need to take my own advice to slow down, to enjoy life, to have fun, etc.  But this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a decade.
 
I started my journey into the health and wellness sphere about 12 years ago, when I did a 21-Day challenge where I followed the “primal” lifestyle.  The immediate results blew my mind and completely changed how I lived my life.  At the time I wanted to TELL EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE about how eating whole foods, moving your body daily, being outside, having a good social network, etc. could resolve so many health issues (for me it tremendously reduced my anxiety, and it also helped me maintain a healthy weight – something I had struggled with for 20 years). 
 
BUT.  At the time health coaching wasn’t really a thing.  The programs I found that taught health coaching seemed very pushy and sales-y, and I got a bad vibe from them.  Health coaching was also completely unregulated, so it was hard to know if you were doing a program that would teach you good, evidence-based info.
 
So I diverged.  I did yoga teacher training.  I did Yoga Tune Up® training.  I became a licensed massaged therapist.
 
But, helping people thrive by looking into their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health was, and still is, a central tenet of what I do.  But I want to DO IT BETTER.  Knowing WHAT to do is no good unless you actually do it.  Telling my clients information is not leading to transformation.
 
Enter Coaching.
 
There is an art and science to helping people change.  And I want to learn it!  So last week I started a year-long journey to become a board-certified health and wellness coach.  This means that, if/when you want to shift yourself towards a more joyful, aligned, integrated version of yourself, I will be able to help you figure out what you want and how you want to get there.
 
And THAT – me helping you figure out you – is what this coaching program is all about.  As I’ve dove into the reading for this class, I realized that coaches aren’t supposed to tell you what to do.  They assume you have the answers inside you already, you just need help drawing them out.  I’ve worked with a few coaches and therapists over the past 4 years, and I’ve been annoyed with all of them on occasion because I JUST WANT THEM TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO.  And they won’t.  They ask me questions.  They draw me out.  They make me work for my own answers.  Lo!  They were doing coaching right!
 
To that point, I recently learned about Ambivalence, which is:
“Simultaneously wanting and not wanting something at the same time.” (Motivational Interviewing – Miller, Rollnick).
 
That pretty much describes me when it comes to facing any decision ever.  I talk myself into it. I talk myself out of it.  I talk myself back into it.  Then I get tired of listening to myself in my head and go and numb myself with a drink, or Instagram, or another self-help book.
 
Come to find out, pretty much everyone is like this.  We see the reasons FOR change, we see the reasons AGAINST change, and we can’t decide, so we hang out in indecision, stuck.
 
But this is where a good coach can help.  Motivational Interviewing (MI) points out that “People believe what they hear themselves say.”  So a coach needs to be careful what position she takes when helping a person walk through a decision.  Humans have an interesting tendency – “Argue for one side and the ambivalent person is likely to take up and defend the opposite.” (MI)   So, if a coach takes a stance such as, “You need to quit smoking,”  the coachee will hear himself give the coach ALL the reasons why he should continue to smoke.  Instead, asking the coachee something like, “Why would you want to make this change?  What are the 3 best reasons for you to do it? How important is it for you to make this change?” (MI) could lead the coachee to vocalize his reasons FOR quitting, and maybe he hears himself give those reasons and then actually believes them.
 
It reminds me so much of working with Huehue.  The more I go after him, the more he runs. But If I walk away for a spell, within a few moments he is bopping after me.  That oppositional energy is so powerful!


 
The Plea:
– For my program, I will need 3 primary volunteers and 2 alternate volunteers to do practice coaching sessions.  The coaching sessions will be 5-20 minutes, sometimes as long as 30 minutes depending on the assignment.  Initially the coaching will be about every-other week, and then it will shift into weekly sessions.  If you are interested in being a coaching volunteer, please respond with “I’m interested!” and then I will send you more details.
– I am also looking for smart women who feel dumb when it comes to taking care of themselves.  I want to hear what you want and need, what you are struggling with, what you would be SO HAPPY to achieve.  I would love to chat with you for ~30 minutes and pick your juicy brain.  If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with me, please respond with “Pick my brain!”

That’s it for today.  I hope you’re having an awesome day and thank you for reading my ramblings!
 
Space to be Human Lab
Do you need a nervous system re-boot?  Get $15 off a cranial sacral session for the month of October 2022.  Just use code CRANIAL when you book your session.

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

Getting more bang for your Thinking Buck

The human brain is a funny thing.  In Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind class, I learned something that massively shifted my perspective.  The human brain is like Teflon for the good stuff and Velcro for the bad stuff.  The good flows right on by, and the bad just sits there and festers.  This is a handy feature when the bad stuff can kill you, but in modern times, that “bad stuff” is often comprised of less deadly things such as your computer re-booting while you’re in the middle of crafting a nasty ol’ spreadsheet with lots of formulas and data that you have not yet saved, or getting (what you think) is a frustrated look from your boss in a meeting, or making a post on Instagram and getting only crickets in return. Yet, our mind fixates on those things, and we can quickly spin off into stories about how the world is crumbling and everyone and everything sucks, especially us.
 
So, what to do?
 
We must consciously focus on what is going well.  Recognize that our brains have this tendency to catastrophize, so intentionally pro-tastrophize or opportunitize or miracalize.  I cannot find an antonym to catastrophize, so I’m just making words up.  But you get the picture. 
 
Spend time thinking about what DID go right, what COULD go right, what IS going right in our day, in our body, in our life.  Our body is constantly releasing a slew of chemicals in response to our thoughts that changes the soup in which our cells live, and that soup determines what our cells do and what genes are activated within them.  We are not at the total mercy of the genes we carry.  The genes that get activated are determined by the signals they get from their environment.
 
Want some proof of the importance of mindset?  Check out this study: Mind-set Matters; Exercise and the Placebo Effect. Here’s a quote form the Abstract (underlining is mine):
 
In a study testing whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one’s mindset, 84 female room attendants working in seven different hotels were measured on physiological health variables affected by exercise. Those in the informed condition were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.
 
What the??  If we BELIEVE that what we are doing is good for us, our physiology changes to make it so!!!  This is mind-blowing. Let’s say you are a person who feels as if you never get enough exercise.  However, every morning, you walk down the stairs to brush your teeth, you bend over to get coffee out of the cupboard, you reach up to get a coffee cup, you let the dog out in the yard and toss the ball a few times and maybe chase the dog when it won’t give you the ball back.  You walk back inside and go upstairs to get dressed, reaching to the top shelf in your closet for your sweater and squatting down to get the socks out of the bottom drawer.
 
Well, look at that. You actually got in a lot of movement – shoulder stretches, squats, a little cardio, some incline and declines.  What if you started noticing all the ways you DO get enough exercise instead of telling yourself you are failing because you don’t go to the gym a few times a week.  How would your body change?
 
What other stories could you tell yourself differently to shift how your body reacts to them?  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working with a coach, Ariel Kiley. I email her my Wins whenever I think of them (e.g. I am winning at Sober October because I haven’t had a drink yet, or I am FULLY BOOKED this week, or my body told me to quit obsessing about WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE and just take a bath (which I did)).  This is helping me counteract that negativity bias, and it’s also providing an electronic, searchable record of my Wins, so that I can pull them up when I feel poorly about myself.  SO HELPFUL.
 
I hope you are having a great day!!  If you need a Miracalize or Opportunize Partner, feel free to shoot me an email when you get a Win. <3
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • Curious about Cranial Sacral Therapy?  Get $15 off for the month of October (use code CRANIAL) when you book your session.

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

Post-Traumatic Growth

Do you ever feel as if you’re not good enough?
 
Do you feel as if you don’t have enough?
 
Do you often compare yourselves to others and judge yourself (or them) harshly as a result?
 
Do you berate yourself in your own head because you have these thoughts, but you feel as if you shouldn’t think or feel these things?
 
Do you want to know why these thoughts incessantly loop through your head?
 
BECAUSE YOU ARE HUMAN
 
In the 7th century AD, yogi’s identified 3 main thoughts (and related feelings) that are endemic to all humans:I am not enough, which leads to feelings of shame and unworthiness.  This is felt in the heart center and leads us to disconnect from Self and others.I am separate from others.  This is felt in the head space, and it leads us to compare ourselves to others, leading to feelings of anger and bitterness.I don’t have enough.  This is felt in the pelvis and leads us to shut down or work too much, leading to feelings of anxiety.When I learned this information (from Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s ReMIND course), I felt such a sense of relief.  Oh my God.  There is nothing WRONG with me.  I’m just human.  I’m having human thoughts. I’m having a human experience. Just like everyone else.  I can stop feeling bad about feeling bad.  Ahhhhh.
 
There is another super impactful piece of knowledge that was a catalyst for developing self-compassion – learning about the ACE study. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study is “one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.” (The Enlightened Marriage by Jed Diamond, PhD).  The study found a strong link between childhood trauma and disease:
 
The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide. (https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/)
 
What is really interesting is the “traumas” that they researched are things that many of us have gone through – things that are just a part of life in this point and time in the world:  Getting slapped/spanked, parents getting divorced/separated, having an alcoholic parent, having a member of the family be depressed, etc..  You can see the full list of ACEs here: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/.
 
For me, learning this information and getting my ACEs score helped me develop more kindness towards myself.  I had never really considered myself as having undergone “Capital T Trauma” like severe abuse or a car accident or being orphaned, but when I learned this information I realized, “Oh Yeah.  Little Heather did have to deal with some heavy stuff that she wasn’t ready for.  She was just doing the best she could.” 
 
I think it’s important for people to realize how these seemingly minor/commonplace things that we just write off as “part of being a kid” can have a big impact on our bodies, our minds, and our overall wellbeing.  Once we have awareness of that, we can start to recognize the effects of trauma in our lives, give ourselves some grace, and then start figuring out what we need to do to heal the trauma.
 
Many experts, (Dr. Peter Levine and Scott Barry Kaufman PhD to name two) note that processing trauma can be a huge catalyst for growth and self-actualization – a concept called “Post-Traumatic Growth.”  In Kaufman’s new workbook, “Choose Growth – A Workbook for Transcending Trauma, Fear, and Self-Doubt” he shares this quote from C.S. Lewis:
 
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
 

I love the promise of that quote!
 
If any of this resonates with you, and you want to start to process trauma, I invite you to explore one or several avenues out there to help heal trauma – mental health therapy, trauma-informed bodywork, journaling, talking to a trust friend who will just LISTEN and give you space. I have tried ALL of these methods; I’ve worked with a few different therapists, I’m working with a Somatic Experiencing Transformational Coach (and I’m in training to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner), I’m working through the Choose Growth workbook, I’m practicing listening to my body. 

What I’ve found is that unwinding the effects of trauma takes time and patience, along with a big dose of self-acceptance, non-judgement, and curiosity.  But subtly and surely, you will start to notice less constriction and more space, less fear and more curiosity, less rushing and more lingering.  And more belief that you are on your way to an “extraordinary destiny”!
 
As I mentioned last week, I went to cranial sacral therapy (CST) training this week.  If you’re a client of mine, you’ve likely experienced my cranial work, but this CST work is different.  It involves a MUCH lighter touch. It’s a method of just sitting with the body, allowing two nervous systems to communicate, providing a listening presence and enabling the body to unwind what and when it wants.  It can be a gentle way to start to process some of the trauma recorded in the body.  If you are interested in doing a CST session, you can use the code “CRANIAL” for $15 off a session in October.  Just book a Bodywork Session here.
 
If you have any questions or comments on any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I also offer free 15-minute consults if you want to chat about working together.
 
Space to be Human Lab
– Curious about Cranial?  Get $15 off for the month of October (use code CRANIAL) when you book your session for the month of October.
– Remember that Meditation Medley class I was offering?  Well, if you would like to check out a few different types of meditation (a tool that can also be helpful for processing trauma), as well as get some tips for developing your own practice, check out the recordings here

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Don’t Read Me if You’re a Muggle

How the Mysteries may save us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space to be Human Lab

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

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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

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