Emotional Healing that Starts in the Body

Emotional and physical healing are intertwined. Physical issues can have emotional consequences like depression or anxiety, and the opposite is also true. Strong emotions can become stored in the body, often as tension, pain, or dysfunction.

When you receive bodywork and massage or engage in a self-care practice like yoga, the release of stress and muscle tension can also bring an emotional release. Often, but not always, this release brings up negative feelings that you may have pushed back, like fear, sadness, or anger. This can be a shifting point in your healing process! Even though it is painful to experience old emotions, this can be what you need to get to the other side.

Teachers and bodyworkers are not trained or licensed to provide the therapeutic processing that a mental health counselor could, but they can do a lot to create an opportunity for deep emotional healing. They may slow down or stop the physical process of your session or class in order to let the full emotional release move through. Taking full deep breaths will also help your body release the stored energy on its own, and so they may remind you to breathe. Usually you will calm down after a few minutes, and then be able to rejoin the class or return to the flow of your bodywork treatment.

There is true wisdom in saying, “I need support.” Emotional energy is a factor in our health and our healing process, and feeling safe to release emotional energy can help in so many ways. Having someone just be present and supportive by your side can be exactly what you need.

Hygge is another word for WellBeing

Hygge (hoo-gah) is a Danish word that is hard to translate but easy to feel. It is a lifestyle dedicated to coziness in its broadest sense, where you are relaxed and feeling as at-home as possible. It is about being kind to yourself with small, delightful things like warm drinks, candlelight, good company, and comforting food.

At its core, hygge is about self-care. It is about indulging a little so that you are not punishing or denying yourself anything, but being kinder to yourself. Winter is especially the season of hygge, when the dark and the cold send us searching for warmth and light. The word itself is probably related to the English word “hug”, and they both speak of feeling comforted and secure.

HaLe’ is a form of hygge. Attend our classes and come for massage and other therapies in order to cherish yourself through a sometimes difficult season. Self-care of the body mind addresses aches and pains, relieves tension and stress, helps prevent injury, and improves digestion and sleep. In other words, it helps you feel more comfortable in your own skin, bringing that sense of comfort and ease that is hygge.

Healing in Community

from Janice Cathey & Jane House

Are we evolving, moving toward our higher selves? Our practice is important. It is revolutionary. When we are in living practice, we are asked to turn inward and meet ourselves. We turn inward and we breathe. We ask, what more can we do, what more can I do?

It starts with a singular, Am I taking care of myself? When we take care of our own well being, it sets the stage and grounds us to be able to contend with life. Life can be intense. That intensity has a way of seeping into our daily lives. It constricts the way that we behave in the world and though we may not realize it at first, over time that feeling of constriction results in something bigger than we knew; bigger than we were paying attention to.

A living practice helps us pay attention and to look within. Imagine a diver, diving inward to do the research, asking how do I feel right now, and how is my body? The body is not object; we are living organisms all co-creating our life together.

When we start having those conversations with ourselves, we can then start having those conversations with each other. When we have those conversations with each other, we create community. If we can come together and listen, come together with understanding, then perhaps we will grow our compassion. Compassion not only for others, but for ourselves, and for ourselves when we feel discomfort.

We are not a one size fits all culture. As we each develop our living practice of being fully engaged, participating, collaborating, and striving to live fully, we ask: What does it feel like to live in your life’s purpose? What does it feel like to live in vitality? We hope that HaLe’ can be a safe place for that practice of engagement, as we provide tools to both nourish and play.

Emotional Benefits of Yoga and Massage

Profound emotional release and calm can come through massage, bodywork, yoga, and gentle movement. Here is what some of our team members have to say about this process from their own experience and practices:

I’ve heard it said that the body never lies, and also that the body is faster than the mind. If this is true, we must honor our bodies and allow them to speak truth to us because they will know in their cells faster than we do in our minds. Yoga and body work provide safe environments in which we can be fully vulnerable, face our fears, and come to know our true selves. And our true selves can never be annihilated, they are infinite and eternal and we can rest easily when we remember and feel this. -Erin Law, Massage and Cupping Therapist

Stress, fear, anger, and other negative emotions stimulate our sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight response. This causes our muscles to tense, and we have a higher respiration rate and higher heart rate than normal. Massage, bodywork, deep breathing, and gentle motion stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our repose system. This counteracts the effects that come from thoughts of the future being different from what we anticipated. Also, positive touch and things that feel good stimulate the brain chemistry to bring deeper sleep, clearer thoughts, and movement toward a better emotional space. -Adie Grey MacKenzie, Massage Therapist

Yoga is considered by researchers to be the best evidence-based movement for stress reduction.  As we thoughtfully, intentionally, powerfully and beautifully move through the poses and the moving meditation that yoga provides, we move energy within and around us.  As we send breath, self-compassion, and strength during yoga to those places in us that are feeling unease or suffering, we create calm and quiet.  Our physical systems slow down and experience increased calm, our minds quiet, and we are better able to discern with wisdom and clarity what we need to do for ourselves and for others. Practicing yoga in community often creates comfort and a sense of belonging with others who are like-minded and like-spirited.  -Janice Glasscock, LCSW Psychotherapist

The practice of yoga is about finding equanimity and balance regardless of what is occurring around you.  Through an asana practice, one develops a stillness in one’s state of mind throughout the activity.  Just by doing the practice – the benefits of this ease and stillness awaits you. -Nancy Kirkland, Yoga Instructor

During this time of societal change, which may create turbulent and tumultuous feelings of uncertainty, yoga can be grounding and centering, and massage can support our emotional equilibrium.

The Magic Muscle: the Psoas

The psoas (pronounced so-az) is the one muscle that attaches the upper body to the lower body. It allows locomotion by allowing you to lift your legs to actually walk. It is the filet mignon of the body, the tenderloin, and is actually very delicate. It needs to be treated with sensitivity, so that it becomes juicy and full and soft. When it is juicy, you walk like a dancer, with legs that just swing from your body.

It is also the emotional core of the body, holding massive amounts of emotional information. It is where we hold birth and childhood trauma, or any other trauma, because it is directly a part of our flight or fight response. This makes sense because you are either running or curling into a ball, which are both primarily psoas reactions. When you’ve been traumatized and just want to curl up, that is the psoas acting as a protector, and when you release that, you can stand up straight, face the world, and approach it with ease.  It can also hold good stuff if you create that. A relaxed and juicy psoas leads to full body orgasms that flow through your whole body.

One of the best things you can do for your psoas is Constructive Rest Pose, where you lie on your back with your knees bent and feet parallel to each other at the width of your hip sockets, about 12-16″ away from your buttocks. You can also put your feet up on a chair. This pose allows the psoas to drop and lengthen. A fetal curl also allows it to soften and relax. These simple relaxations are so important. They not only change the body physically, but you can feel yourself moving more deeply into the floor. Your sympathetic nervous system gets a break and the body gets soft, bringing us a treasure trove for the body, mind, and spirit.

You can also work with balls to soften and hydrate the feet, standing up and pressing and releasing the foot onto a ball. This hydrates the tissues all the way up to the psoas, which is why we do a lot of it in class.

The psoas is fascinating because everything lands there, all your emotional issues, everything, and it works best when it is soft and relaxed. We can play with it, approaching it with a childlike curiosity of how things move. And when the psoas is juicy, we will all walk like dancers, with an easy flow.

Behavioral Health for Mind, Body, and Spirit Care

from Janice Glasscock, LCSW

Behavioral health care and mental health care focus on thought processes and emotions, on personal narrative, and helping the mind communicate with the brain. This allows us to better understand our own stories and feelings so that we can make better decisions and act towards healing.

Behavioral and mental health care is especially useful for people in situations that feel stuck, full of loss or fear, and/or during large transitions. These situations can include an unhealthy pattern in a relationship, moving into new parenthood, and launching children from home. They can also be about dealing with a life threatening health condition or diagnosis, stage of life transitions like aging or health concerns, work place or work relationship concerns, or the loss of a significant relationship.

Approximately 67% of people with behavioral or mental health concerns do not receive treatment, and these concerns account for about half of disability days from work. Depression is the #1 condition currently affecting health care costs right now, and it has a global and pervasive impact on health issues and conditions.

We can improve our overall sense of well-being, health, and quality of life by paying attention to our behavioral and mental health as a part of our mind, body, and spirit interplay. This means paying attention to our thinking and cognitive processes, and to our decisions and actions. Strong behavioral and mental health helps with:

  • positive, effective work and personal relationships
  • good life choices and lifestyle development
  • physical health/well-being
  • handling natural ups and downs of life, and coping during life crises
  • self-discovery and personal growth

Psychotherapy as treatment for behavioral and mental health concerns is an evidence-based way to reduce depression and anxiety and more effectively cope and problem solve. It has long-lasting benefits, and helps to address chronic low and high levels of stress that are on-going contributors to compromised health and well-being.

Within a positive, safe, and constructive relationship with a professional, psychotherapy helps identify and better understand cognitive sources of unease, and to change/broaden thinking about both the problems of daily living and the catastrophic, all-consuming psychological and emotional crises from which we need recovery. It is a great modality to help us take action on the paths of healing.

The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

from Elmo Shade

The most common reasons people come to a Mindfulness Practice are

  1. Physical pain or chronic pain
  2. Emotional pain due to loss, death, or serious or potentially fatal diagnosis
  3. Inability to manage the day to day stressors of life

The benefits of mindfulness are known and well-documented. It reduces levels of stress, meaning the autonomic nervous system is not in fight, flight, or freeze mode. This then reduces both anxiety and depression, reduces fatigue and burnout, and reduces periods of restlessness. This leads to an increased ability to pay attention and concentrate and higher cognitive performance, particularly while learning. It enhances hormonal balance for women, and enhances the immune system of men and women.

Chronic pain, many of our physical ailments, and even diseases that we are experiencing are not actually illnesses or diseases. They are a result of the body system storing stress and pain that has never actually been released in a healthy manner. Mindfulness helps to reduce the discomfort of pain, both emotional and physical, and increases our capacity for compassion for ourselves and others.

Because Mindfulness Practice is about paying attention to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies, it often leads to increased levels of energy. It can decrease fatigue and increase stamina. This higher energy level then brings increased movement. The American Psychiatric Association shows we spend 6-12 hours a day not moving, and this does not count the time we spend sleeping. Having the energy to move is a tremendous benefit.

Mindfulness Practice is evidence-based and proven to benefit quality of life through the reduction of physical pain, emotional pain, and chronic stress. Our collective stress levels are higher than they have ever been, especially for women, and that takes a toll on our health. We can bring ourselves back into balance through mindfulness.

“Life has no Opposite”: On Conscious Dying and Sacred Passage Doulas

Consciousdyinghands

 

“The opposite of Life is not Death. The opposite of Death is Birth. Life has no Opposite.”  Unknown

Death and Birth are Bookends of Life.

Death is a Rite of Passage that brings a family of initiatory emotions: grief, anger, terror, rage, disappointment, sadness.

But of all these, Grandmother Grief leads the way. She calls forth an Initiation that renews, heals and cleanses our souls.

“Dealing with “the things we cannot escape” (but want to or try to) is best accomplished within the sacred space of ritual. Ritual facilitates and provides us with a unique channel to access higher power. Certain issues don’t want to be resolved mechanistically. We don’t have to know how the power works; we just have to show up and let the higher forces deal with the issues. Ritual provides a safe place for the soul and body to affirm life over death, to affirm continuity over discontinuity.” Maladoma Some’

In our last Sacred Doula program, our graduating class designed and experienced a very powerful grief ritual so that all of our incomplete losses and their stories could be shared and released. We prepared ourselves for this ritual in many ways.

The night before, we wrote about a powerful loss and how it had affected us. We created a healing space in the room to honor these loses. We invited a wonderful musician to sing and play guitar.

We asked elders from our community to attend and support us. We wore beautiful white, blue or black clothes. Before we entered the space we were cleansed with special smoke and marked our faces with charcoal tears. We entered this space with sacred intent.

We placed beautiful scarves, fabric, flowers, candles, and photos of our loved ones on the table. And as each individual shared their story of love and loss, we listened with compassion and tears. We ended many hours later filled with awe and love. Our spirits and bodies were refreshed and renewed.
This grief ritual transformed us individually and created a strong caring healing community that we can trust in and rely on. It gives us reference for how to show up for others who will be in our care.

Here are some of my thoughts from my studies on grief and death and from my personal experience from this day.

  • I came to see that Death and Birth are bookends of Life. Both are markers of our earthly existence.
  • Like Birth, Death is not an end. It is an initiation into a yet unseen, mysterious passage that all human beings enter and through which life is renewed.
  • Death’s initiation into new life is lead by its family of emotions, its spiritual journey, and its turn toward meaning and completions for all involved.
  • The emotional family surrounding death: grief, rage, fear, terror, anger, disappointment, loss call us to these powerful rites of passage that no other time offers.
  • When these feelings are honored as a right of passage, when we are appropriately supported, seen and held to experience these powerful feelings, to stay with them, not run away, in our own time and in our own way, we are transformed. Whether we are the one leaving or the ones left behind, we need support to travel in these rivers of feelings that come to claim us. We need people who know how to keep us safe to navigate the journey.
  • If we are held, seen, and supported in a good way, we can enter this emotional landscape and can stay there as long as it takes for the healing forces of grief to wash over us. We can experience grief as an initiation into new life that has the power to cleanse our soul, re-set our energetic field, and ground us in the vulnerability that is the flowering of our connection with our own hearts, our family, and humanity.

Grandmother Grief gives us a way back into our own heart. It is precisely because we love so much that we have the opportunity for a greater human experience…. an opportunity to be initiated into greater inner harmony, unity with our own heart, memory of our innate healing gifts and ancient wisdom, and to be re-affirmed in love with all our relations.

Because we love so deeply, even if that love and care may be temporarily covered over in resentments or conflicts, it can still give rise to new life.  It can provide opportunity to re-fine, re-kindle, re-move, re-store, shake us free of locked and held feelings.  It can rejoin us with the truth of love and the memory of who we are.

Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula supports everyone to live fully and completely through end of life. Ha.Le’ is hosting a 2 day Introduction to Sacred Passage Doula Training on Aug 28 & 29.

-Tarron Estes                  July 2015

Founder, Conscious Dying Institute

 

Learn more about the Sacred Passage workshop on our Events Page

Enroll in the Workshop ($150, early registration price $135 ends Aug 7th)

Mindfulness: 10 Insights to make your mind a good friend

Zen stones

 

How would you answer this question, “What is the most important question you have ever been asked?” (and your answer CANNOT be “Will you marry me?”). Over 8 years ago, as I sat as a student in a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I was asked such a question.  The Instructor (now Mentor) asked, “Is your mind a good friend or does it take you into bad neighborhoods?”  Needless to say, my mind was screaming, “NO I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND AND NEVER WILL BE”.  Now, 8 years later, I can say with certainty that my mind was only giving me bad advice. Below are ten (10) insights that have emerged since making mindfulness a daily practice.  Read them and ask yourself, “Is your mind a good friend?”:

 

  1. Know Yourself

This is more than just self-awareness or knowing you like dark chocolate more than you like milk chocolate. It is about knowing your DNA, i.e. knowing your purpose, what you value, and what is never compromised.

 

  1. Choose wisely

Someone once said the most important choice we ever make in this life for personal happiness is who or if to marry. And it is less about finding the right person than it is about being the right person.

 

  1. Let go of resentment & regret

Resentment is like eating rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Regret is holding on to a hope of having a better past. Letting go is not shooting a second arrow after you have been stung with the first one.

 

  1. We see what we seek

If we are looking for faults, we will see faults. If we are looking for the good in someone, we will see only the good. What we seek, we will surely find.

 

  1. Spend time alone

Yes, even all of you extroverts. You don’t have to be like Thoreau at Walden Pond to take periodic refuge without the presence of others. When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.

 

  1. Show up, tell the truth, & respond with compassion

Showing up means being present with others, i.e. being HERE NOW not somewhere else in your head.

 

  1. Slow down

I was once told that when you get in a hurry, you run off and leave more than you ever catch up to. I never quite understood what that meant, but I have run off and left many precious gifts that were only waiting for my patience to arrive.

 

  1. Be open to everything and attached to nothing

Nothing also meaning “no one”. Clinging, craving and attachment are the core elements of 99% of all human suffering. The heart and mind function like a parachute…they only work when open.

 

  1. The pain now is part of the happiness then…that’s the deal

Rilke said it best when writing, “Let everything happen to you, the beauty and the terror. Just keep going. No thought or feeling is final.”  This is the Law of Impermanence.

 

  1. Smile more, complain less, never give up

Smile more, complain less, & never give up.

 

-by Elmo Shade

Elmo offers meditation and qigong classes, mindfulness workshops for adults and teens, and individualized mindfulness coaching. 

Nashville Massage for PTSD

Massage for PTSD creates space for healing

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is commonly associated with soldiers and other people in war-torn areas but it doesn’t take a war to manifest. Massage for PTSD is a powerful treatment form.

Any sort of prolonged chronic stress, from the loss of a loved one to an undiagnosed or misunderstood health condition, from marital discord to caring for a loved one, can result in PTSD.

I’ve seen it following knee replacement surgery, after replacement of a natural body part with a mechanical substitute. The surgery itself causes stress of many kinds – physical and emotional. But anxiety, grief and confusion often accompany the loss of an original part of the body in subtle but profound ways patients don’t expect.

PTSD also is caused by childhood trauma, including diseases and abuse, that carries forward.

PTSD is tricky. Unknown triggers set it off. The disorder comes and goes. It can manifest as depression, addiction of any kind, high anxiety levels, neuromuscular ticks, restless leg syndrome and balance problems.

Massage for PTSD has two important components. Massage with a trusted therapist creates and strengthens a trust bond that allows the client both physical and emotional comfort. That comfort and trust, in turn, create a space for coping with the stress the body is under.

Of course manipulation of tissue fibers is important, too. Massage for PTSD and generally increases relaxation, boosts mood and improves the quantity and quality of sleep. We have an amazing and innate ability to heal ourselves, and massage increases awareness of both physical and psychological stress. Massage for PTSD is empowering.

PTSD can be illusive, frustrating and at times debilitating. It doesn’t have to be.

Yoga therapy and ear acupuncture, like massage therapy, are effective in treating PTSD. Please contact us to learn more.

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