Relax Revive Restore
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|Posted on 11 August, 2019 at 13:45||comments (15)|
I write this post in all honesty. It has happened to many colleagues in my field and outside it. To deny it, would be a disservice to the very people we serve in life. It is in the spirit of honesty. In Yoga, Satya. Satya is a fundamental quality in Yoga. It means not only truthfulness, but “ the virtuous restraint from falsehood in distortion of reality in one’s own expressions and actions”. For more info on this subject, have a look at this - https://yogainternational.com/article/view/satya-a-practice-of-truthfulness
Last night I was walking to friends. It was 1.6 miles in distance, to and from. It was challenging. My stamina felt it, my legs felt it, my back felt it. 2 years prior, I walked 26 miles in 2 days, over mountains with no problems, running 10km weekly, swimming 1 mile weekly, Yoga regularly, and my body pain free. Now I am 4 stone heavier than 2 years ago, making a heavier load to carry. I had been through the pain loop, I am what I affectionately call, ground zero, or just above it at present.
I have had, for the past 14 or so months, a sacroiliac joint disfunction. Mr right hip/sacrum in short, sticks. At this point, nobody knows why, partly because it is or was, an under recognized field of medicine. It feels like it inflames and can go from feeling stuck to a hot knife going through it. It can pain to the sit bone and groin. It has been with me day and night and at worst, can affect both sides. In that state it has put me in tears. It can be debilitating.
It has in the past, stopped me doing the very things I love, including walking, even short distances. It has challenged my career and my passion in therapy and Yoga, especially the physical aspect, asana. Even cutting my hours, the pain had permission to make itself known more, not get “better”. As much as this is disheartening, in all honesty or satya, this was a long standing problem and ignored by me by caring for others before myself. I had lost my centre in the fine line of self care and care for others. Easily done and happens to many. For some a lot worse than others. For some a lot better. In Yoga, it is possible to “go up the ladder” of enlightenment, but the field is elusive and treacherous, you can fall from grace and fall back down.
I have heard in some therapy circles, to leave your pain at the door when treating clients, teaching yoga students, pretend to be “fine, fantastic, just dandy”. But we are all students, including the people who are blessed with the knowledge of these disciplines. What really aids us is embodiment and experience, from ourselves and from many. I have become a bit of a specialist in turning an “I can’t” into an “I can” when it comes to clients and students. It has been a while to do it, be it for myself.
In many Eastern traditions, it is said to think of people worse than ourselves, as this aids compassion and perspective on our own pain. It gives us clarity. Our own personal learning, both in good and bad times, can aid the people worse off than ourselves. Surely that is a good thing? It makes your journey more personal and even more personal other people’s journey through life. This helps others, whether “in the trade” of health, or not.
Above all, we are all human. Each journey we have, contributes to the other. If we go through the journey ourselves and deny it, to me it is a tad dishonest. It does not show our learning. Rather, it gives the impression to me that we somehow, read all this from a book, when really, we “know” it.
We cannot go around pretending to be “fine”, when we are not, we are at best in a challenging situation. And as the saying goes – he who feels it, knows it. Denying the truth of the situation, also leads us to very dangerous ground of “running away” from a challenge. Who knows where that may lead.
As therapists and healing practitioners (or not), this to me is Satya, honesty with ourselves and others in the present moment. The learning and cultivation from this, leads others to a better place.
In this series, I detail my journey and I give this journey with the utmost love. I hope people in the same position find it useful to them. The first part of dealing with a challenge, is Satya. Being truly honest with yourself and your situation. It leads to acceptance of the situation in hand, as is. From there, you have movement, enquiry and hopefully compassion. This is surely a better place. Lx
|Posted on 14 March, 2016 at 6:11||comments (2)|
The land is beginning to turn warmer and everyone and everything is coming out of hibernation as Spring is upon us. It is natural in these months to want to slough off the sleepiness of Winter and our general way of living instinctively becomes lighter and our bodies more active as we make more use of the outdoors again. Sometimes we need a helping hand to get going into the warmer months as we can feel a little sluggish from our own hibernation from the cold, so here I have listed 5 essential oils you can try that may aid you get your bodies and minds moving again. I know I shall be making firm use of these on myself and my clients over the next few months!
Juniper: Extracted from the berries of a Juniper tree, this essential oil is an all round eliminator of waste! It is detoxifying and gently aids the elimination of waste in our bodies. It is very good for relieving water retention, the treatment of cellulite, stimulating the appetite and cleansing our skin. On a mental/emotional level good to use as a way of gently helping to clear the mind and also act as purifier, so very good on days where you feel a little depleted. I use this oil also to treat with blends that are used on people who are active, especially people who compete in events, as a way to detoxify fatigued muscles either after heavy training or post event. I also use this as a tonic for people feeling drained on any level, to act as a gentle pick me up.
Cypress: This oil from the Mediterranean works to improve circulation, reducing swelling and fluid retention. It can relieve muscular aches and pains, so especially good as we become more active with the warmth approaching. I tend to use this around this time, as people start to tend to their gardens and get a bit too keen with the weeding! Again a great oil for active people to alleviate over worked muscles. It also acts as a respiratory reliever, so may aid in the treatment of asthma with it’s anti spasmodic properties. With this in mind it is a good oil to open up our breathing and welcome the warmth after the cold.
Clary Sage: This flowery essential oil is a beautiful relaxant as is used to treat stress related issues. It works very well with lavender as many clients report, creating a clean and calm aroma. It is also a wonderful tonic, giving restoration to the body while calming the mind. With its optimistic aroma, it can put some brightness into your stride. It is also very good for muscular aches and pains. It is particularly good on the female reproductive systems as an aphrodisiac, as a way of dealing with menopausal stress, so this is a must have for me with women who have gone through hysterectomies, menopause and any issues relating to the female reproductive system. I also use this as a gentle uplifting and calming oil, when people feel a bit heavy on their feet. Word of warning! Not one to use if planning to drink alcohol later on in the day (or even before) as it can have a narcotic effect.
Grapefruit: This zingy oil is a real mover and shaker! It is great for use when it comes to detoxifying, mentally clearing worn out thought processes, acting as a tonic, getting the digestive system moving and clearing water retention and reducing cellulite. It can aid as an appetite suppressant and metallic stimulant, so great to assist in weight loss programs as an all round physical cleanser. It is also great to use when getting ready for the day ahead as it is a real morning pick me up. Also good to use after the over indulging of Winter. Use this oil in low amounts, especially if exposing yourself to sunlight within 12 hours.
Lemongrass: This fresh and bold oil is also a go getter. If is great to use on muscles if active as a way of improving muscle tone, so a great one to use if raising your activity levels and is a main ingredient in sport related essential oil blends. It is also used in the treatment of nervous exhaustion and is a strong pick me up. It is great to use if you need to focus and concentrate. It is very good for toning a sluggish digestive system. This oil however can be an acquired taste. Use little and sparingly as it is powerful and can irritate sensitive skin. Adding 2 - 3 drops in carrier oil will do for a massage blend, or for added punch add 2-3 drops of rosemary for added detoxifying and mental focus.
NOTE: The above oils are intended as ideas for general issues, to be used externally and diluted in carrier oil. As a guide, you can use for a massage mild blend, 6 drops total in around 30ml carrier oil, like grapeseed oil, unless stated you need to use less. For bathing, 4-6 drops will do of total essential oils. This means if you were combining 2 or more oils you would use 4-6 drops in total rather than 4-6 drops of each essential oil. As with all guides it is important to seek out professional advice from a fully qualified and insured Aromatherapist for specific issues. If you would like to know more on how Aromatherapy can aid your days, please feel free to contact me on the details on my website.
Much Love and Warmth! Lx
|Posted on 1 July, 2015 at 12:44||comments (0)|
In my first article I wanted to display the over riding theme that has been and become a huge part of my life and is the foundation ofthe work that I do. A more serious piece, especially for me, but it will explain a lot of my chosen path in life and how it may help to serve you.
Back in 2010 I decided I wanted a change. I had finished going through a somewhat rough patch and as with some rough patches, transition often develops. My best friend told me to make this my last character building exercise if that is anything to go by on the scale of how particularly rough this patch was.
I had been a Therapist for 11 years by this time and I had been studying Martial Arts for 7 years and Yoga had been like an old friend for about 17 years. As with any physical/holistic discipline you gain a greater sensitivity to yourself and my body, mind and soul wanted a change of tack.
I had always throughout my life done things with meaning. The term “it’s not what you give, it’s the thought that counts” rang deep within me from an early age. I knew through life lessons, that life itself is often short and transient, so if I was going to give something it would be with an intention behind it.
I decided to change from my personal name to a business name, with all new beginnings ahead of me, as a door on my darker past closed behind me. But again to pluck something out of the air was not good enough for someone who in her youth was told “you think too much”…………
I decided I wanted something that displayed a concept that has followed me through in all areas of where the workings of change had happened, through my work on clients and through myself in Martial Arts, Yoga and what I had gained personally through Massage and being a Therapist. This was Relax Revive Restore.
Relaxation, true relaxation, is often overlooked and sadly to some over rated. But it is so fundamental to our being that I often spend most of my working life preaching about it.
I would hear, especially working as a Therapist in London, clients go abroad to “relax”, only to come back and feel just as stressed as they were before they left. “Oh I relaxed” they said. On asking what they done on holiday – “Oh I read a lot, went to see a few movies, jet skied, sight seeing etc etc”. When I asked “Yes but when did you STOP, do nothing, and relaxed? When did you SWITCH OFF?”…. A long silence would often ensue, with a somewhat bemused look from the client.
To relax often involves being still and doing nothing– a concept that was and is rare in big cities full of stimulus and lifestyles that were quality time poor. That stimulus becomes habit to a lot of people, to the point that doing nothing and being still is something to be feared.
Oddly, in Yoga, one of the most difficult poses/asanas forpeople to do is Shavasana or Corpse Pose – just laying on your back and letting go – some people find this so challenging to do, to the point that sometimes their own bodies will force them to do it in the form of burnout and illness at some point in their lifetime.
In Martial Arts relaxation is also key. White belts looked confused while their master tells them after executing a single punch to “relax”. The master would gently tap the back of their wrist or fist to see if their arm was rock solid and tense or buoyant and relaxed. To a beginner slowing down was not an option in their minds, but often it was a lesson they quickly learned from. After many years it dawned on me that in Martial Arts, to be tense meant expending unnecessary energy in the muscles and mind, it meant a slowing down and stiffening of technique –something you do not want in the prospect of being hit! If I relaxed, I am fluid. If I am fluid I am faster. If I relax I am calm. If I am calm I can register an attack more quickly and defend more efficiently. If I am calm when hit, anger has less chance to blind me – I can fight with a calm detached mind. If I am calm, I win. If I lose, I learn.
Relaxation unlocks so much from the body and has some of the greatest health benefits, even down to re shaping our gene expressions and changing brain matter. In studies of the relaxation response spanning 80 years through Harvard University, first though Walter Cannon and through Herbert Benson for the past 40 years, it has shown that it can change the gene expression in genes responsible for immune function, energy metabolism and insulin. It has also shown a wealth of evidence that relaxation counter balances the clinical effects of stress, hypertension, diabetes and aging. They know that the fight or flight response,a state many people live in day to day, promotes inflammation and disease within the body. By using a relaxation response, we halt these chemical changes. I am sure a lot of you reading this have heard that some of the greatest inventors and theorists have had their “light bulb moments” while in a state of relaxation.
Massage promotes these relaxation responses. By working through the body, we work a lot deeper than just the skin, muscles and bones. Like Yoga and Martial Arts, Massage works the whole person from the outside in. Under a Massage Therapist’s fingers, stress tension feels very different to exertion tension. Tension caused by overdoing gardening manifests differently to tension from a recent bout of stress. Oddly tension from stress feels more sensitive, jittery and needs lighter touch to deal with at first – even light touch can feel to a client almost like they are bruised.
This leads to the body holding unnecessary tension and in turn, expending more energy than it needs to via stiff muscles and holding the body tight. This often leads a person to be TATT – Tired All The Time. “I think therefore I am” applies within this remit. Like a fighter who frantically over thinks the fight before a fight, only to go into that fight tired, a person spends their life worrying and anticipating, leading to more adrenaline being pumped around the body and not being expended. This adrenaline begins to sit within the body and converted into a toxin, leaving a person stiff and tired, the adrenal dump.
I massaged people days after the 7/7 bombings in London. People who had been nearby the events came in and were rock solid in their muscles and this was all over the body. After very few light strokes their bodies melted under my fingers and I realised this was shock or how shock manifested in the body. Their bodies initially felt almost frozen through fight or flight, or in this case fear and shock. My fingers thought this would take time to reduce but surprisingly it took very little. Realising its recent shock sitting on the surface, it dawned on me that what happens if this is left untreated? It can only go inward to the body where it sets, then who knows what this would cause to body and mind?
All in all, I have seen more detrimental conditions on my couch caused by stress than caused by exertion. To that end I continue to advise rest, be still, RELAX.
Relaxation has a domino effect, a consequence. Like in Martial Arts and Yoga you gain more through relaxation- if we relax something happens to us within. We revive. We revive something deep within us that we often lose track of -ourselves. With so much distraction,especially in the West, we are constantly switched on to the external world. We are all like cats with multiple pieces of string, with our attention to what is moving and stimulating us from the outside. To relax and be still, we go inward to ourselves, we revive things that were lost. In the West to go inward and make this contact is usually termed “get a grip”.
In the East the outward display of thought is often referred to as a Monkey Mind. The mind, like a monkey leaps about through trees from one to another, from one thought to the next. Buddha with the Dhammapadda, states “the compulsive urges of the thoughtless grow like a creeper. They jump like a monkey from one life to another, looking for fruit in the forest”. The remedy for this is quiet meditation, so the monkey mind loses it's grip. In Yoga through means on asana (posture) and pranayama (cultivation of prana through breath), leads to pratayhara, withdrawal of then senses. This involution leads to a self questioning and renunciation, the dropping of the unnecessary, to come toward your self.
By reviving ourselves or “our self” we get to look at what we need and don’t need, who we are, where we want to be. In Meditation, Martial Arts and Yoga, use of breath connects us to our selves, it roots us firmly back within us, away from external form and thought, like taking the helm of our ship again and “getting a grip”. Massage draws away external tension, to shine a light on what is underneath in all it’s forms.
With this new revival, it leads to a restoration. Sometimes, finding ourselves is referred to as“coming home”. It is common to see in Massage, Meditation, Yoga and even Martial Arts, tears from the student or clients. Something deep within comes through – a realisation, like a light being shone onto ourselves. A sense of acceptance or freedom of self can feel like such a blissful release compared to the distraction of hurried thought or frantic lifestyles and an auto pilot state of mind. We finally stop and come back to us. Once we revive ourselves into our bodies, we start to restore us, our connection to self. With this in mind, we never want to let the helm of our ship go so easily.
In Yoga texts or Sutras, this is realisation of the self or atman. It is said we will catch glimpses of this connection to self and can lose it, but once seen you cannot go back. This is true starting of restoration. In Tae Kwon Do, one of the higher black belt patterns in WTF is Ilyo or “oneness” in Buddhist teaching. The black belt forms in Martial Arts are a symbol of crossing a line, similar to the line crossed in Meditation and Yoga. It is merely the beginning. By simply restoring ourselves to our self puts you back on track, yourself again, a sattvic or blissful state of being in Yoga, the Middle Path in Buddhism, the deep states of stillness and wholeness in Meditation and Massage.
After practicing Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts and Massage, I realised that all 4 stated the same purpose for me and others. Through Massage and Meditation, it was through me facilitated to others – whether it be through calming the mind from the effects of stress, or helping restore the body from injury and tension. With this in mind in 2010 and closing the door on the lessons of the past, it was only fitting that my business name should display this. Relax, Revive, Restore. From a girl who thinks too much.