Breathe

One of the most accessible tools we have to help us maintain, or bring us back to, those feelings of relaxation, peace, and wellness experienced post-massage (or post-craniosacral or Reiki treatment) is to be mindful of our breath. I’ve talked about this before, along with some resources, here.

Our breath is with us no matter where we are or what we’re doing. It’s so much a part of us, that we tend to take it for granted. Most of us do not maximize the healing potential of our breath.

So how do we do that? Sure, there are meditation practices and breathing exercises we can do, but those usually involve setting aside a certain amount of time in our day to practice. And while I certainly believe dedicated practice is an important aspect to learning to breathe more fully, I think we can start out even simpler than that.

In fact, we can start right now.

Stop.

Right now, in this very moment, take a breath in. Inhale deeply, feeling your belly expand and your chest fill. Exhale FULLY. This part is very important! Gently contract your diaphragm (or your stomach muscles) to push ALL of the air out of your lungs. You’ll be surprised how much more air there is to be released beyond what you’re used to exhaling! Now relax your stomach muscles and feel your body naturally fill with a nice deep inhale, like a vacuum sucking in the air.

How do you feel? I just timed myself doing that and it took just under 20 seconds.  20 seconds. In one minute, you could take 3 of those breaths. Personally, I feel more centered, more aware, more focused. My brain feels clearer, my body feels calmer. And that was from just one breath!

We have so many reminders in our day to be mindful of our breath. Use your breath to help you respond (rather than react) to negative or challenging situations. Use it to be more present in the moment, so you can more fully enjoy the positive and fulfilling experiences in your life. You don’t have to keep your attention there forever. Just take one breath. Maybe even 2 or 3. And then respond or enjoy as appropriate.

So try it out…

When you feel tired, breathe.
When you feel eye fatigue from staring at a computer screen, close your eyes and breathe.
When you feel nervous, or anxious, breathe.
When you feel irritated with someone, before you react or snap back with words or actions you may regret, breathe.
When your attention is drawn to the beauty of a landscape, breathe.
When you’re with people you love, breathe.
When you’re taking part in a hobby or something else you enjoy, breathe.
When someone tells you they love you, breathe.

Breathe.  Let your life be a meditation.

Be Well ~ Christina

On Being Well

I started out on this path of becoming a massage therapist 10 years ago because I wanted to assist people on their journey to create wellness in their life. Being well means something different for everyone. My passion lies in helping you discover this within yourself. So what does it mean for you, in your life, to Be Well?

Receiving Massage Therapy, Reiki, and Craniosacral Therapy (CST) are all important aspects of personal wellness care. Each of these therapies holds many different benefits to help support your physical and emotional healing. But it’s not the goal of this post to explore that.

Even these therapies are most effective when used in conjunction with making healthy choices for ourselves in our day to day living. That’s where true, balanced, wellness is found.

So what does that look like for you? What activities do you enjoy that help you feel good inside, or relaxed, or energized? What choices are you making that you’re aware are draining your energy? What would you like to be doing differently?

I truly believe wellness is a wholistic experience. And yes, I know most would say I’m spelling that wrong. But I want you to think ‘whole’. I want you to think about the wholeness of who you are as a person and what works for YOU to feel well physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You get to define and create this!

My intention over the next few blog posts is to explore some of the things you can incorporate into your life to help you maintain those feelings of relaxation, peace, and wellness, that you feel after receiving a treatment. Some ‘tools to add to your toolbox’. If you connect with some of the suggestions, great. If not, that’s okay too. My desire is simply to get you thinking about your own possibilities. And if you have specific things you do, I’d love to hear from you!

Be Well ~ Christina

The single most effective relaxation technique I know…

…is conscious regulation of breath. –Dr. Andrew Weil

Our breath is one of the processes in our body we so easily take for granted. Like the beating of our heart, our breathing will continue without any conscious effort on our part. The amazing thing is that we can consciously and intentionally influence and control the flow of our breath, allowing for a bridge between our conscious and unconscious mind.

It’s easy to notice how our physical and emotional states can have a great impact on the state of our breathing. When we’re in pain or experiencing strong emotions our breathing may speed up or we may find ourselves constricting or holding our breath. But it also works the other way. Conscious breathing can bring about changes in our physical and emotional states. Dr. Weil says that“practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”

There are many breathing practices we can use to help us transform our breath and the state of our physical and emotional health. Awareness is the first step – simply pay attention to your breathing.  Another simple exercise is to consciously attend to your exhalation. By completely exhaling the air in your lungs, you naturally create room to more fully receive air into them. This allows for a healthier delivery of oxygen to the body and removal of carbon dioxide from the body.

Here are some resources to explore if you’re interested in learning more:

Breathing: Basic How-To’s and Breathing Exercises – Dr. Weil

Breathing Lessons – An App I just discovered that I’m looking forward to trying out!

The Miracle of the Breath – Andy Caponigro

Sudarshan Kriya – The Art of Living Foundation

The breath has a great secret to offer. –Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Finding your way to counterbalance stress

In my practice, I have many people seeking out Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, and Reiki because of anxiety and stress and the psychological and physical ailments that come along with those.  Stress, especially on-going stress, can impact our body in some pretty serious ways.  This article from WebMD explains how the major systems of our bodies respond to stress.  What Stress Does to Your Body

I love being able to assist others in ‘resetting’ their minds and bodies; to relax, unwind, and hopefully counterbalance some of these negative effects. It’s amazing to hear someone’s breathing become deeper as they relax on the table; to feel the muscles of their neck soften in my hands; to sense the shift in their energy when they exit the treatment room.  And I am also sure to receive these treatments on a regular basis as part of my own self-care.

The problem is that once we leave that treatment room, the cell phone is turned back on and we immerse ourselves back into the world of “doing”. We are once again swept up into the stress of our daily lives, looking forward to the next time we can lay on that treatment table for 60-90 minutes.

We can’t always eliminate stress from our lives (as nice as that would be!), but we can find ways to manage it and lessen its impact. Receiving bodywork on a consistent basis is one way we can do this.  But there are many things we can do in our homes or on our own that can also help us counterbalance stress.  Things like meditating, gardening, exercising, getting involved in a hobby, etc. The important thing is to find what works for you. For me, spending time in the woods, hiking or simply sitting in the grass or on a large rock, is one of my favorite ways to balance the busyness of my life. How about you?

Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese word meaning Universal Life Force or Energy.  It is a system of healing used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. In a typical Reiki treatment, the recipient remains fully clothed.  The Reiki Practitioner places her hands on or above the recipient’s body with the intention of balancing the natural flow of energy within the body.  Reiki is also ideal for health concerns where massage is not recommended.

Reiki Classes

There are 3 main levels to Traditional Usui Reiki.  Classes may be taught on a group or individual basis.  Please call or email for more details.

Reiki 1:  Learn the techniques for self-healing and practicing Reiki on family and friends.  The benefits and history of Reiki will be covered, as well as hand positions and an introduction into the body’s energy system.

Reiki 2: Learn the 3 main Reiki symbols and techniques for sending distance Reiki.  The 5 Reiki Elements and Principles are also covered in detail.

Reiki 3 or Master/Teacher:  Learn the Master symbol and personally explore how Reiki can be a way of life.  Learn how to teach Reiki and pass Reiki attunements to others.