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

On Getting a New Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I so love this.

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

BUT

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

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

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

Health & Fitness, massage therapy

I learned something new – Rock Pods!

Well, I’ve been practicing neurosomatic therapy for about 3 months now. I’ve learned a lot. And I have A LOT to still learn! One thing I’ve noticed is how important it is to be mindful of my body while treating patients. I’ve been using my thumbs too much, which is a habit I need to break ASAP.

So, in an effort to get some relief for my poor pollicis, I took a Rock Pods course yesterday! Rock Pods are a silicon cupping option offered by the company Rock Tape. On Instagram I saw a Rock Tape instructor demoing how to use the pods to mobilize a scar, and it immediately caught my interest. How handy to be able to essentially attach handles to the skin and pick it up and move it!!

The class was great – for the price of tuition I got 6 hours of education, a Rock Pod set, and a RockBand Flex (a stretching band). The pods are super easy to apply and have a variety of benefits and uses:

  1. They create space between the layers of the skin, superficial fascia, deep fascia, and muscle, allowing more room for fluid to move through the layers (creating more slide and glide between the layers).
  2. They decrease “corticol smudging” which means that they improve the sensory map in the brain, which decreases pain and improves motor control. Basically, using the pods helps the brain understand what is happening in the body more clearly, which can down-regulate pain.
  3. The feeling of touch (which can be provided by the pods) promotes the release of nerve growth factor, again improving proprioception and motor control.
  4. This one I need to study more – the pods encourage the body to release heme oxygenate, which is an enzyme that breaks down heme (described as “blood garbage” by our instructor). When heme is not broken down, it leads to oxidative stress and inflammation, tissue injury, fibrosis, and excessive scar formation. When the heme oxygenase breaks down the heme, it release carbon monoxide (among other things), which modulates pain in the spinal cord.
  5. Cupping can also stimulate the immune response and decrease inflammation.
  6. The cups can also be used as a visual and tactile (aka haptic) tool to cue movement.

I am excited to start using this option with patients! I’ll just need to remember to forewarn them about the visual effects of the pods (and prepare them for lots of questions from curious strangers). ūüôā As you can see below, the marks are VERY noticeable, at least on me.

This first picture was taken right after class:

This picture was taken today:

Hit me up if you want to play/experiment with these fun tools!

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!!

Uncategorized

On Following Your Dreams (aka making uncommon decisions)

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. ¬†Mostly that is because I think I utterly exhausted my brains and will in making the decision to move to Florida, cut back to part-time, and go to school for massage therapy. ¬†All of that just plump wore me out.

But now the decision is made. ¬†And I’m here. In Florida. I tried to be here last week, but Hurricane Irma had different plans for me. ¬†Tim and I drove down here on the 4th, unpacked our stuff into our apartment and then promptly packed an overnight bag and drove right back to Iowa. ¬†It was Tuesday. The storm was forecasted to hit Sunday. Yet all the stores were already out of water. ¬†It scared the shit out of us, to be honest. ¬†We are used to dealing with tornadoes, but huge storms in a state with like 3 roads that you can use to exit the state sounded like a nightmare.

So we chose the lesser nightmare and drove the 19 hours back to Iowa.

It was weird going back home again, especially after I already said goodbye to all my friends, family, and coworkers, only to return about 4 days later. ¬†HEY! ¬†Guess what! I’m baaaaack!

People were actually pretty understanding. ¬†They often echoed a thought that was ricocheting around in my head a TON – “Um, maybe this is a sign?”

And, see, this is where I get utterly confused about this whole dharma/life purpose thing.  I thought I was watching signs and signals and felt as if this path was chosen for me.  But then, a category 5 hurricane started hurtling toward me.  Talk about mixed messages.

But, I guess, that just because you are following your dharma, does not mean you will not have tribulations.  In the Bible God was always sending his people on missions and quests that were horribly inconvenient and resulted in tons of annoyances and discomforts.  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do because you gotta do it and because you know that by doing so, the world will become just a little bit better, and that makes all the difference.

So I decided, after a lot of internal tortuous dialogue, to not cancel all of my plans and aspirations. ¬†I came back. ¬†I’m here. ¬†Now.

I haven’t had much time to reflect/absorb/adjust yet. ¬†Granted, it’s only Day 1. ¬†I was madly unpacking, buying groceries, getting an oil change, cleaning, cooking food, etc. ¬†Maybe perhaps I was a little bit numbing with busyness. ¬†But that’s OK.

To close, here are the things that are good about this decision so far:

  1.  The people I have encountered here so far are super friendly and helpful.  Had THE most helpful guy at the Take 5 Oil Change place today.
  2. We found a super cute breakfast joint on the super cutely named road, Sunset Point, and my breakfast was only 6.50.
  3. The St. Petes/Clearwater airport is only 15 minutes from our apartment.  From there you can, for a mere $60-$80, fly directly back to Moline, IL, which is 15 minutes from our house.
  4. I am becoming more resourceful.  No ladle?  Use a cup!  No lids for my pot?  Use tin foil!  No bed?  Sleeping bags and blankets on the floor!
  5. I saw a snake on the sidewalk in front of my apartment, and I only jumped 2 feet and did not scream.

So, that’s it for Day 1. ¬†Hope you are having tons of interesting adventures, and thanks for reading!