Updated from an earlier post dated June 2015, originally posted HERE
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” - Thich Nhat Hahn
I start every bodywork session with by breathing, in sync with my client.
I find that the simple act of conscious breathing being aware of "in breaths" and "out breaths" slows my mind, gets me prepared, and for the client on the table, simple directed breathing sets immediately the process of allowing oneself to let go of stress and begin to enter a state of relaxation. Truthfully, though I actually start every session with a speech! Not really a speech so much as a welcoming greeting, wherein I say "Welcome. Inside this space, is like a sanctuary. The phone gets turned off, and on the other side of that door - lay your obligations; the bills, the job, the kids, the illness, the whatever that calls to you, obligates you or otherwise demands your attention or creates your worries. Inside, here in this space is just the now.
Bodywork with me starts with and is a form of meditation.
Much is made of the capabilities of alternative therapies, but much of the evidence to support massage's meditation’s effectiveness in promoting mental or physical health isn’t quite up to snuff. Why? Many studies don’t include a good control treatment.
But when researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD sifted through nearly 19,000 studies, they found 47 trials that addressed those issues and met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that mindfulness meditation makes perfect sense for treating anxiety. “People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”
“If you have unproductive worries,” says Dr. Hoge, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,'” says Dr. Hoge.
One of her recent studies (which was included in the JAMA Internal Medicine review) found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped quell anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability. People in the control group—who also improved, but not as much as those in the meditation group—were taught general stress management techniques. All the participants received similar amounts of time, attention, and group interaction.
Positive Emotions Lead to Better Health: New research suggests that meditation, massage or any other mood-enhancing activity can serve as a nutrient for the human body.
In recent years have psychologists begun to appreciate the benefits of happiness and positive emotion — benefits that include everything from enhanced creativity to improved immune-system function. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, a leader in the field of positive psychology, posed the question, “What good are positive emotions?” and came up with the following possibilities.
Happiness broadens your focus and expands your thinking Positive emotions — curiosity, love, joy, contentment, wonder, excitement — expand your focus of attention. When you’re angry, your focus narrows to the source of your frustration and the object of your wrath. Your mind is like a heat-seeking missile, bent on destruction.
Contrast this with what happens when you get excited about something — your mind opens up and there’s a free flow of ideas and intellectual possibility. Curiosity abounds. This is precisely why passion is so essential to artistic endeavors. This is also why you need a high positivity ratio in the workplace if you want a high rate of productivity and a healthy bottom line.
When Psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn and others studied the brain activity that accompanies this type of meditation, they found that it was the left frontal lobe of the brain that was literally turned on — the part that scientists refer to as the “happy brain.”
Positive and negative emotions can’t exist at the same moment in time. Embracing one negates the other.
Studies on touch have shown that something as simple as receiving a light touch hand from a compassionate friend or the act of petting your favorite animal can lower your blood pressure — so you can imagine the positive impact of the sustained and focused touch of massage - and, touch requires no prescription, nor has any negative side-effects.
The next time you find yourself feeling negative — upset, angry, sad, or worried — try taking an hour or so for massage and see what happens — it may provide just the escape you need from those negative emotions.
Every now and again, I look back on old blog posts and find one that deserves to bubble to the top again. Since writing this I have discovered a new author and lecturer worth listening to - his name is Dr. Gabor Mate. He is an author and lecturer and physician by training. A short video he made about stress can be found here - but please take a moment to listen to some of his thoughts, and or read any of his books.
Having trouble sleeping? A Tranquility Massage promotes better sleep
I cannot tell you how many of my clients tell me they have difficulty sleeping at night. I myself fall into this category from time to time.
Many people have a hard time falling asleep at night because they feel stressed or anxious. This could be caused by chronic stress or a major event.
Poor sleep is a common problem in the United States. As many as thirty percent of people in the United States have experienced bouts of insomnia, while at least ten percent experience chronic insomnia. Two things commonly rob people of a good night’s sleep: anxiety and pain. Massage can address both of those issues helping you rest easy.
An overactive mind can keep you awake. Massage can trigger serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces calm feelings. In addition, we often hold tension and stress in our muscles, especially our neck and back. This tension can cause our bodies to feel tight and rigid, making sleep difficult. A massage can release the tension that is held in these places so that muscles feel relaxed and ready to rest.
Pain can also keep you awake at night. If your neck throbs, joints ache, or your lower back is sore, it can be very challenging to rest comfortably. Massage therapy can relieve pain, even chronic pain so that you can improve the quality of your sleep. Massage reduces inflammatory cytokines, which are known for causing inflammation and pain. The article states that essentially, massage has the same effect as other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAISDs) such as Tylenol and ibuprofen. Reduced inflammation means less pain which will result in better sleep. It is a more natural way to reduce pain.
The Tranquility Massage is designed to help calm your nervous system and quiet your mind. To maximize the effect, I recommend booking the last or next to last
appointment of the evening. Better still if you can, would be an in home treatment ( not available as a promo, full price plus travel only). Follow the massage with some chamomile tea, and quiet time in bed with a book or something that generates soft nature sounds like rain falling. YouTube has many available like this Do not go on the computer, phone or TV.
Try this amazing massage treatment, once a week for one month to see how it improves your sleep.
I have made this available at an affordable price. It covers 4 weekly appointments and must be used within a one month period.
Regular Price $440 Package Price $299 You Save $141 off the regular price.
Book your package HERE
To maximize the effect, I recommend booking the last or next to last
appointment of the evening. Better still if you can, would be an in home treatment ( not available as a promo, full price plus travel only). Follow the massage with some chamomile tea, and quiet time in bed with a book or something that generates soft nature sounds like rain falling. YouTube has many available like this
Do not go on the computer, phone or TV.
Read what others have to say ............
To say that I love massages is an understatement. In fact, the French phrase "raison d'être" (aka "reason for being") comes to mind, because it's hard to think of anything I love more.
When I heard about the Tranquility Sleep Massage by Healing Hands, I honestly could have cried. And now that I'm on the other side of this experience, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty: Find some way, any way, to make this a part of your self-care routine.
Tips to Manage Stress and Anxiety this Holiday Season
With Christmas and New Years a mere two weeks away - the holiday season is in full swing. From now until Christmas Day, there will be a flurry of office parties, reunions, family gatherings and meet-ups with friends that you would also want to participate in. After Christmas comes the New Year celebration.
Even if you are not the assigned host of a holiday dinner party, you would feel the stress of the occasion not just because of going through one event after another, but also because of the freezing temperature.
These are precisely the reasons why, amidst all the busyness of the holiday celebrations, you should take time to give yourself a massage.
Strategies to Reduce Christmas Stress
Don’t Hate Mondays, Hate Your Lifestyle. Or change your mindset.
There’s a saying that is sometimes attributed to Karl Marx or Slavoj Zizek——that tidily sums up the existential angst many people feel at the start of a traditional work week:
"You don’t hate Mondays. You hate capitalism."
There is that there’s nothing intrinsic to “Monday,” which is just a word we’ve invented to delineate every seventh day, that makes your average 9-5 worker miserable.
It is just a day like any other.
The despair comes may have something to do with your lifestyle and the common routines many of us share. This invests “Monday” with meaning—this is the day you return to your "routine". For many it is the cycle of repetitive, unsatisfying labor that fills you with loathing and anxiety. This is the thing you should should change.
“Monday” is just a label. Its just a word; a meaningless symbol— nothing more than a day of the week. You may as well get mad at a rock. Perhaps better then to evaluate how and what goes into your work / life balance and look for ways, if possible to make changes to your lifestyle.
Monday symbolizes the end of the weekend and the start of a new week. So it symbolizes the day when the fun stops, and the obligations begin. For most people it represents the beginning of the working week. It symbolizes something undesirable and unmotivating.
But, Do you really hate Mondays? No, you don’t. (If you do, you don't have to - remember, its in YOUR mind, you are in control).
Mondays can be truly wonderful days. Just because people think Mondays are bad days, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you have to irradiate pessimism at the beginning of the week.
So, there are two reasons why you might hate Mondays:
You’ve become a part of the global view that Mondays are bad days
You’re not living a life that would allow you to enjoy your Monday
How to Make Mondays Great, or at least Better?
In order to stop seeing Monday as a bad day, you need to fix your way of thinking. First and foremost, you have to start creating your own attitudes about your life, and the people who surround you. Look at your routine. What can you do different? Is it the overwhelming barrage of emails? Give it a time slot, answer them and move on. Are you over scheduled? Learn to start saying no to some things.
Change Your Mind About Mondays
While the rest of the world is convinced that Monday is a bad day, you can be different. It is a mindset really. Every individual is unique and has something to offer the world. Don’t be afraid of being different. You’re nothing else but what your brain thinks you are. When you succeed in creating a positive image of Mondays in your head, that day will become positive, and full of great opportunities in your eyes.
If it is a return to some tedious tasks, find a way to look at or find positive aspects. If there are a couple of specific things that really get you down find a way to change or eliminate those. Maybe one or 2 small things are affecting your mood about every other aspect of Mondays.
Someone once suggested plan a good meal or a treat for Monday dinner - that seems like a good little simple idea.
If its work related, find something rewarding to either start or complete on Mondays. Something that can bring you satisfaction.
Successful people tend to use every day for making agreements, opening new businesses, or enjoying life. Why should you restrict yourself by throwing out your Mondays? It doesn’t matter what day it is; you can start a business on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday or any other day of the week.
Don’t use days of the week as an excuse. Every day is a new chance for you to make changes, become a better person, don’t miss out on that. Time is our most valuable resource, so you have to spend it wisely.
Change Your Lifestyle.
Sounds simple right ? Words are easy, actions not so much. Actually when I put this image and words together it actually contains two separate but related ideas - the second one being, "if your mind is happy, you will be happy, where ever you are".
The second thought reminds me of the bucket list people.This point was driven home to me sharply and personally this week as i continue to strive to practice what I preach.
I write sometimes and post to ground me back to where I myself need to be. In a sense I am writing for me but as well for you if anyone is here and chooses to read. These are lessons that I myself need to adhere to, and I find writing helps cement them into my own brain.
The concept is simple - mindfulness, living in the present moment. Giving the person or persons you are with your full attention. Being aware and appreciative of the present surroundings, the sights the smells the temperature of the air - losing track of time; that it is ultimate in mindfulness. It is called flow. It is again an old old concept wrapped in new packaging. The idea of being so fully engaged in a task, be it drawing, or baking , or fixing a motorcycle, that you lose track of time. Have you ever had that experience? Its called flow. It is the sense of being so totally in the moment that you lose all sense of time. It is a wonderful feeling. It comes to me during body work, or when I am drawing, or shooting photography.
But, one need not be engaged in flow, that is the extreme end of the spectrum of being present. This post is simply about giving the place you are in and person or persons you are with your full attention while you are there and to appreciate what you are, where you are - not be thinking about the next thing, or the last thing.
What I try to create during my sessions is an environment that fosters and encourages one to unplug at least for the time they are with me. If only for an hour, nothing else matters, then I have succeeded for you and for me The greater challenge is to expand that into daily life. It takes practice, it takes strength of mind, and discipline. Words - they are easy. They fall onto the page as fast as my fingers can type. Putting into practice that is the challenge.
A Really Good Massage Blog
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.