I’m trying a new way of writing and it seems to be helping me. Over the years I’ve tried many different ways to get my ideas out into words. It’s always been difficult for me to make words speak. I tend to be more a visual and tactile person with lots of movement. So I thought movement, why not?
After tapping an old sheet on the wall, I started to write on it with a Sharpie marker. (I can see Mom’s all over the world cringing!)
Standing up and moving around while writing made the process a bit easier. The first time I tried this method was out of sheer frustration. Later I thought maybe I should write with something washable or I’m going to need a lot of cloth! (Those of you who live in an office environment are thinking White Board – duh! We artsy visual types are not always wired that way, and given my profession I do have lots of old sheets.)
Now I have many washable colors and a piece of cloth taped on the wall. Ready, Set, Write!
On the cloth I tried to use my left hand. (Normally I am right handed). Strange.... Its seemed like it would be more comfortable to write completely mirror image ummm... another day perhaps. Side note while I’m typing this, it is getting edited and I am using both hands. No balance, no pause, no inspiration to move around and try new things. I have heard it said the act of handwriting slows a speedy mind to stoke up creativity.
What I am really getting at… What I really want to talk about is one of the roots of creativity. Balance.
I could have sat in front of my computer my whole life and struggled to write blogs, stories, what have you. When all I needed was to try something just a little bit different, like standing up. Something that centers me to my natural balance. It doesn’t cost me anything extra. It’s about believing “can’t be done” is getting it done a different way that lets me naturally experience my balance.
We make choices everyday on how we will live – what we should take or get rid of, the right way to “do” things. Once we give ourselves some time and permission to depart from “normal” amazing things can happen.
So many people have the wacky idea they are not creative. They say, “I can’t paint, I can’t draw, or I can’t...” maybe these things are true or maybe they need their own sheet taped to the wall. Either way, what do those things have to do with creativity? For some a great deal, and for others absolutely nothing at all.
In the end the secret ingredient is you. Your true balance is chalk-full (or maybe washable marker full) of creativity. In any situation, changing the perspective, being balanced in yourself with compassion for the world around you and people in it is, in itself, a creative act!
I am teaching breathing classes at Cheryl’s Herbs. Seems strange to teach a class on something our bodies do on an involuntary bases – so natural we often don’t even realize we are (or aren’t) breathing.
I’ve been feeling like I need to better explain the connection I see between the holistic bodywork I provide and the breathing I teach when you are on my table or in my class. Here’s a small taste of the inside track, so you can be in the movement…
Each holistic bodywork session is based on what the client needs. A common thread among clients is a desire to go about their daily lives with less stress, stiffness and/or pain. This is where the breathing techniques become your best ally in a better day. (The breathing techniques I teach come from Asian bodywork practices and classes in movement I have studied.)
It’s very simple. Providing holistic bodywork over the years, one of the things I see again and again is the moment a person starts to relax and sink into their body, their breathing changes. Some people know this happens, but many are too busy to consciously examine the experience and connect the dots. If you take the initiative and are aware of your body’s changes when moving from stressed to relaxed, even the tiny changes, you create tools to use in any situation. It’s like finding and knowing with your mind and body what the sweet spot of a golf or baseball swing feels like. Once you have been there and studied the stance, you can return to it with a great measure of success.
New clients do not generally notice the direct point of change from stressed to relaxed at first. They are too busy relaxing, or even napping during the massage. Then sometime after the massage, they start to notice the change from relaxed to stressed. At this point we have something to talk about. How long did they stay unstressed? What did they do about the stress? etc. The next step is encouraging them to become aware of the mind-body connection, the tools that are the sweet spot of being in the movement from stressed to relaxed.
Well my website has been updated a bit. It's looking better!
I hope everyone well!
Recently a client asked me, “Is it better to have short sessions on a specific area more frequently, or longer bodywork sessions?”
Normally I answer this question by saying, “Let’s see what your body says.” And yes, if you listen, the body does tell time! After a session or a few, you might tell me, “every other week felt perfect, but three weeks between bodywork seemed too long.” If you listen, your body takes away the guess work. By listening just a little to the way your body feels after a good bodywork session compared to an everyday, you gain the experience of understanding how your body is talking and tells time.
Personally, I like the longer bodywork sessions. A longer session provides the time to reach a very deep pause. Ah, the deep pause! I like this phrase. When deep pauses are a regular part of my life experience, I am centered, alert and well rested. I make better decisions and feel more empowered and engaged in my life.
Regular bodywork does help rid your body of everyday aches, pains and stress. Bodywork with a deep pause gives us time to integrate the astounding amount of input we get from the outside world. The pause acts as a moment of balance, moving us toward a centered, alert and well rested state health.
(If you have any questions or comments contact me email@example.com)
Employee Wellness Day
I volunteered to provide chair massage during the Employee Wellness Day event at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I have worked this event for three years and always find it very enjoyable! When I say chair massage, I brought something uniquely different than the normal “sit down and lean forward” chair you expect to see at such an event. I used a very comfortable lounge chair clients stretched out on to really relax. During the event my clients sat down, stretched out their legs and leaned back, facing up. This different position gave me an opportunity to massage the legs, arms, neck, shoulders, upper-back and shoulder blade areas in ways similar to how I work in my office. Although there are many techniques used in Holistic Bodywork, the chair, like my table, allowed me greater access to each client’s body. By sliding my hands on the top of or underneath tired arms, legs, backs, or necks, I found tight muscles or restricted areas. When held, those areas of tight muscles melted around my fingers and the client relaxed into the comfy lounge chair with greater relaxation. Everyone who stopped was curious about this technique, finding it unique to what people normally think of as massage. The lounge chair, with everyone laying face up, also provided a great way to use conversation and guided instruction to illustrate the benefits of understanding how a mixture of guided breathing enables a person to let go of tension in the body.
In Office Technique Walkthrough:
Your muscle is tight and your shoulder is raised up. I slide my hand under your shoulder blade, applying a bit of pressure up into the “belly” of the knot. You’ve assured me I’m using the correct amount of pressure, but the tension remains. Next, I ask you to take a full breath into your belly. As you let the breath out, your shoulder muscle, where I am applying pressure, melts around my fingers sinking into the chair or table. Many times, after this very simple instruction and a few breaths, clients have a more relaxed shoulder and the muscles have released and relaxed naturally.
At Home Technique:
The next time you experience a sore or tight muscle, try closing your eyes and imagining you are breathing into that muscle like a balloon. Slowly and gently filling up the muscle and then slowly releasing the breath before filling it again. It may take some practice and in the end you will find this technique can bring some relief, relaxing areas that were tight and sore.
Healthy You I worked an event called “Healthy You, Healthy Planet” at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Saturday. It was fun and I definitely learned a lot about changing my game plan in mid game.
My idea originally was to give a talk about breathing techniques I find beneficial for myself and my clients. The talk was planned for 15 to 20 minutes once every hour. It was obvious this plan wasn’t going to work. Instead of having groups assemble for the talks as planned, there was so much to do at this great event, people trickled
in and out, not wanting to wait around. So, I started to teach shorter sessions as people came by. This change of plan worked much better than I think the original plan would have turned out. I was able to work with people on a personal level, hear their stories and explain the benefits of breathing tailored to each person.
Understanding my goal and flexibility in my path enabled me to make the best of the situation as it
played out. Isn’t that what balance is all about: trusting yourself to make good decisions whether it’s to stick with the plan or reassess with flexibility? Making changes that fit the situation comes from knowing what
relaxation and trust in yourself feel like, so its easy to repeat. Knowing tools like breathing techniques and other therapeutic bodywork makes it that much easier to recognize imbalance and find the flexibility to reach balance. By reaching in for balance, I made what could have been a ho-hum day stay on track as the enjoyable learning experience I had planned! Trust and flexibility – do you have it?
If you went to “Healthy You, Healthy Planet”, how’d your day go?
Do you have stories about breathing helping you to dig deep and make the best of an unplanned situation?
I built this in my back yard. It is a foot massager. A great way to massage out tight spots on my feet by just standing on some rocks.
Lately people have been asking me to teach them relaxation and massage techniques to use in between visits. Usually they ask while squeezing the muscles in their arm in an effort to relax tension. Many techniques utilize one hand to work a massage technique on another, like acupressure points and so on. These techniques have their place and can be very useful. When working on self-administered techniques, I find people learn many different techniques with the intention of using them, but end up putting them aside in the ever growing “when I have time to really learn the technique I will…” pile. They turn out to be neither fun nor effective. However, simple actions used in the course of everyday life can also be used to make life more relaxing and enjoyable. Relaxation does not have to mean a strict, silent meditation practice, unless that is what you enjoy. Relaxation can be found in everyday activities as well as taking the moment to consciously do a happy dance or other silly things that make you smile. It can be very simple and unregimented. I’m talking about breathing and movement. Taking in a truly full breath now is a great place to start!
After a mighty gulp of “Breathing Is Awesome!” and some dancing around you might be wondering, “How do I take in a full breath?” Here is a technique you can do any time, in any place to play with breath:
1) Sit or lay down some where comfy and put your hands on your belly and breathe into your hands.
2) As you breathe, fill your belly and expand it with air. Your hands should move out and back in with each breath.
3) Try to keep the movement in your shoulders to a minimum. Remember actively breathing is stretching the diaphragm, like any other muscle, it will get more limber as you go.
4) Listen to your body and enjoy the stretch. No need to push or strain.
This is the first part of a full breath. The next part is breathing into your back. This works great in lessening lower back pain and cramping.
5) Put your hands on your back, once again, breathe into you hands.
6) Feel the movement of your back. At first you might feel nothing or as if you are using your muscles, not your breath, to move your back in and out. As your back loosens, you will start to feel your breath. Another way to think of this kind of breathing is using the image of a balloon. Fill the balloon with each breath in, expanding the balloon evenly on all sides. Conversely, breath out to deflate the balloon.
7) Next, breathe into your back and belly at the same time. Notice how this opens your back. This is not a get as much breath into your body or I can breathe deeper then you na na na! exercise. This technique should be a “gentle learning” on using the body more effectively frequently. If you feel light headed, back off a bit. Don’t attempt to breathe too deeply at first. At the start you might feel you can only use this kind of breathing sitting down, but over time this technique can become a natural, relaxing part of your life.
Join me next time for new and exciting ways to use this full breath. Until then Breathe Awesome!
I wake up in pain, high kicks in my sinus areas on the right side. This is one way my body speaks to me. It’s not my favorite! Wow! Throbbing pain behind my eye, my head aches. I sit up, move my head slowly back and forth. Noticing where i’m tight, maybe using a tiny stretch here and there. Mostly this is a survey of how my head, neck, and shoulders feel in motion.
Quietly below the acute, loud pain, my body starts telling me a story of my right shoulder being tight, forward, and raised higher then the left. It speaks of stiffness running down along my spine as I bend my head forward. Even my lower back seems unhappy today. I sit for awhile longer just trying to understand how this all connects mainly up into my throbbing head, It still has a good portion of my attention.
What to do now? I use my neti pot to help my sinuses. I breathe into the areas that are tight. I move and stretch. After awhile my throbbing head starts to subside.
Later in the day I sit to type. I survey my body again. The acute pain has been gone for awhile however the pathway of the pain is still present. My shoulders are more even, but tight. I notice something else too. Sadness, It’s not tearful or longing, but deep and silent. So now I sit with my sadness giving it a chance to speak.
Some days of listening aren't fun, but they can be beneficial.
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(If you have any questions or comments about my blogs email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Have you ever sat in a coffee shop to listen? Maybe to a conversation behind you or to the barista joking with one of the regular customers? Sitting a little longer you might start to hear the rattle and shuffle of people as they come and go. Their chairs running along the floor, shoes clomping, and the steaming of milk. The noise as might grow as the space gets more or less crowded or if the people are all strangers or friends. Maybe you notice the temperature of the room? Maybe It becomes warmer or colder as the door opens and closes?
You might feel a coolness in the air and put on your sweater, adjust your chair, or move, settling into a new comfy spot. Warm in your hands, the coffee mug encourages your shoulders to fall from the natural weight of your arms. Even your back relaxes against the chair, but not slouched. You notice your breath slows comfortably. You feel peaceful and alert. Sinking even more into your chair, your breath and the calmness in your body relaxes you.
Keep this calmness with you as you open your awareness back to the noises of the room. How does this same space look now? More or less hectic in your relaxed state? What do you notice about the coming and going of everyday life around you? How does it feel?
Our bodies don’t talk to us with words but with sensations and movements. We are not people in a vacuum but people in the world. We are constantly taking in information. Just like spending time in the coffee shop, we must use our senses to sort and either integrate or discard all that we experience. Being able to help ourselves along the way with small shifts of posture and breathing by understanding the language of our bodies as they speak to us, gives us greater stability to act, instead of react to our world. Listening to our bodies aids us to form a more relaxed state even in tense moments to deal with the many things we consider unpleasant, as well as settle in to enjoy the moments when everything is good.
So let conversation begin!