Pain is a messenger...
Do you feel more like flesh or stone?
Pain is a messenger, motivator and dictator. It is a signal to your brain to stop what causes the pain. It will motivate you to do something to get rid of the pain and it will dictate what you can and cannot do. This is when most people will seek help for their pain.
It is my personal belief that pain and rigidity is part physical and part a physiological response to influences and emotions that affect you on a conscious and subconscious level. ("Heal Your Back Pain", by John E. Sarno, MD)
Most of what we do in this world is sitting and forward bending of the shoulders, thoracic spine and head. This causes shortening of muscles in the front of the body and over-stretching and tightening of muscles in the back of the body, hence the pain in the neck, upper back and lower back and/or hips.
In discussion with clients about what was happening in their life when the pain started, I hear stories of all kinds, but it usually boils down to anxiety, anger, lack of sleep and frustration. These are not emotions that we culturally deem "appropriate" so they are buried and we politely agree to take on more than we can do and stay healthy. Then, you bend and pick up something, get out of bed or move a certain way that causes a spasm and that becomes the event we tack onto the message of pain, instead of the root of the problem.
I am not talking about falls or injury, this is something so simple, like picking up a bag of groceries or getting out of the car.
The best thing for any body is stretching and strengthening. Age is not a reason to stop moving. I have clients in their 70's and 80's that do yoga, briskly walk 2-5 miles and speed along on road bikes. There are 94 year old marathoners, so age is no excuse!
Bodies were built to work and move. What are you doing with yours?
Simple techniques to unwind mentally, emotionally, physically:
- MOVE...go for a walk, run, bike ride or dance, yoga, light weights
- Schedule at least 5 minutes of quiet time each day
- "No", is a complete sentence, say it more then reward yourself for taking care of you!
- Stretch at least 10 minutes every day
"Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity."
- excerpt from "tao te ching", english translation by Stephen Mitchell
Where Do You Live?
Don't lose today because it is all you really have.
I was listening to someone today that was so upset about several things going on and none of it was "hers" or "today". There was emotional upheaval attached to things in the past, worry and anxiety about the future...all of it about other people. She was not in a place to hear me gently tell her this, but it was a good reminder for me.
How many times do we get all upset and twisted emotionally about past, future or people? The past can't be changed and the future isn't here yet and neither one can be controlled no matter how hard you try. You really only have control of right now, this moment. People are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of what you say or do..
When the mind starts winding itself into knots, the body follows. Many times when I ask clients what is going on in their life, they are really telling me all the reasons their body is uncomfortable. What better way to get your attention than PAIN!?! The body uses several ways to get your attention; anxiety, rapid pulse, high blood pressure, headache, stomach or bowel problems, anger, sadness, and the list goes on...
Eckhart Tolle wrote a book, "The Power of Now", that I tried to read several years ago but at that time it didn't make any sense to me and I set it aside. Two years ago, I picked it up and the message resonated. I was in a place to understand his words and incorporated it into my meditation practice by reading and contemplating each idea prior to meditating.
At the time I began reading this book I had a lot of anger and sadness and was reliving past events that only kept the cycle of pain and anger going. Being able to stand back and realize what I was doing was the first step in healing the pattern and letting it go. I have this posted in my kitchen where I can see it from almost anywhere in my house (I have a tiny house):
"Accept what is,
Let go of what was,
Have faith in what will be."
Reading that every day has helped me focus on the present and step off the carousel of reliving old hurts or creating negative futures.
Don't Let Life Steal Your Smile...
How many times have you seen someone with a disability or living with some hardship, but they haven't lost their smile? Beliefs and attitude have a lot to do with health, happiness and how well your life or your day goes.
A couple of years ago a client gave me a book that has made a big impact on me. “Peace Is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh is a little treasure of essays and vignettes of mindfulness and everyday life. One essay, “Flowers and Garbage” is about how everything is inter-related. The garbage is offensive and foul. The Rose is sweet-smelling and beautiful. You can’t have one without the other. The seeds of the rose need the nutrients of the composting garbage and the garbage needs the rose, as it declines and breakdowns, only to once again create the rose.
The challenges and struggles you’ve experienced help hone you into the person you are and/or want to become. Rather than be angry, resentful and hate those events and people that have hurt you, be grateful. You are a diamond that is being cut and polished by the good and bad.
Each negative has a positive. Sometimes you have to search or wait, but you will find it. Loss creates a void that makes room for something better.
Sitting here, I am listening to Andrea Bocelli, a blind man that has a voice from heaven. Thank goodness he chose to make the best of his talents instead of sinking into self-pity and despair. Steve Reeves was a handsome and skilled actor that suffered a horrific accident that resulted in his becoming so disabled he couldn’t even breath for himself. This pushed him to advocate for disabled people and a lot of good was accomplished. Michael Fox, who suffers from Parkinsons, is another example of someone well known and afflicted that has done good work.
Only through acceptance and “surrender” to the circumstances you find yourself in, can true healing and growth take place. Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that was built on this premise. Holding onto hate, anger, resentment is actually letting your pride resist change. It takes courage and humility to endure and welcome challenge.
Does this mean you need to make big, earth shattering changes? No. Just like a move of even one pawn on the chessboard changes the possibilities of the game, start with small steps. Here are some easy things to do to begin the process:
Life isn’t easy and it can be a struggle to imagine anything good as the outcome. However, staying stuck in that belief only hurts you and attracts more of the same. Whatever you can do to find your smile will heal yourself and move things toward the positive.
Make sure your pets are safe this weekend!4th of July is when the most animals go missing. Keep them in the house and safe, please! To us, it is fun. To animals, it is the end of the world.
To all the humans...
Here’s wishing you a great 4th of July!
To some it is a day to gather with family and friends and celebrations with hotdogs, beer, finished up with displays of fireworks. To others it is a day to remember and reflect the sacrifice and service of all the man and women that have given the utlimate so that we have the freedoms we enjoy. Whatever this holiday is for you, I hope it is enjoyable.
I had a quiet walk in the park this morning with my dogs. I listened to the bells chime for mass to begin at the local church and reflected on how congregations were gathering all over the country. People coming together for a common belief, in peace and fellowship. What would that look like if we could do that on a larger scale?
What if we could do away with judgment and ego in politics, business, relationships, etc? What if instead of polarizing the masses, they were unified? What if the goal was the best interest of the whole instead of the few?
It seems like America is like any other family or group; dysfunctional and chaotic but it works. We have our good points and lots of stuff to work on. It will be interesting with the results of the election this year to see where we end up this time.
Want a chair massage? Come to Farmer's Market on Saturday from 2:30 to 6pm. I will be sharing a booth with Kim Conforti, another massage therapist and we are doing chair massage and selling stuff for a good cause. It is a $1/minute for chair massage.