Jamaica Trip – Final Post

This is the final post in a 4 part series about my mission trip to Jamaica.  With this post I pick up with a discussion of the observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • Patient stories
    • One patient was suffering from hip and leg pain, going down into her feet. I treated her glutes and calves, but it didn’t seem to help her pain much.  Randy was occupied, so I figured I would just rub her feet, as that was her main complaint.  When she got up from the table, she felt much better and gave me a big hug.  Randy and I looked at her chart after she left, and he noted that she was diabetic. He said that rubbing her feet was probably the best thing I could have done for her.  It made me feel really good that my instincts were right!  This patient came back on Thursday and waited for over an hour for another treatment.  Unfortunately, she was still 7thon the list by the time she had to leave.  She lobbied hard to get moved up the list, but we were worried about a revolt, so instead of a treatment, I took a few minutes and showed her how to roll out her feet and lower back using a Yoga Tune Up ball.  She left happy and satisfied, with some solid self-care tools.
    • I had one patient with pain radiating down his leg. I treated his glutes, and the DO student working with me performed OMM on his piriformis, but our treatment did not help and actually seemed to exacerbate his issue. We deduced that his pain must originate higher up in the body – possibly a result of a herniated disc.  Randy took the patient back down to the DOs, who agreed that a disc could be a culprit. The DO was able to help with the pain and also provided a referral for an MRI.  It was a good lesson for me to see that while we can do A LOT to help patients with pain, somethings cannot be fixed with structural therapy.  It’s so important to be part of a medical team, so that patients can get the help they need.
    • I had one patient with pain around the sacrum and the xyphoid process.Randy had never encountered that combination of pain before, so he started running through the list of muscles that connect the hips to the chest.  Psoas!! I worked her psoas and almost immediately she felt a referral up to the exact area of her anterior chest pain.  That was a lesson to me that, if the book doesn’t have the answer, use your common sense!
    • I saw several people literally start DANCING when they got off other therapist’s treatment tables! There was a really amazing energy and joy permeating our beautiful open-air treatment space.

On Friday, we got to relax.  We took a boat trip along the coast, up Black River, and out to a bar built on stilts in the middle of the ocean. I got to see a real, live crocodile.  It was like seeing a living dinosaur.  It could have been the coolest thing I have ever seen. The wind was powerful that day, and it was having fun pulling up bits of the ocean and tossing it in my face while we were in the boat.  I was obliterated by the wind and sea, and I couldn’t be happier.

In a nutshell, this week showed me the importance of being present with the patient, listening to his or her full story and absorbing all the facts, and taking things slow – no need to rush.  I also learned you can’t learn how to do massage therapy by reading about it. You have to DO IT – that is where things start to make sense and you can start to tie the book learnin’ to a body.  It is one thing to be told that someone with a lower limb length inequality will have medial leg pain on the short leg and lateral leg pain on the long leg.  But when you SEE that on a patient, you remember and integrate it. It becomes part of your muscle memory.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I spent the week in a paradise, surrounded by people I love, admire, and respect, eating amazing food, having real conversations, and learning my brains out.

It has forever changed me. <3

 

Jamaica Trip – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the Jamaica series!  With this post I continue the review of my observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • I definitely experienced many highs and lows over the course of the week. After some treatments I was in the depths of despair, feeling 100% inadequate and overwhelmed.  And then the next patient would respond really well to the treatment and to me, and I was back on cloud 9.  It was a complete yo-yo of emotions, both exhausting and exhilarating.  On the bus back to the hotel each night, I would reflect on the day, on how hard it was, on how I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was doing, on how uncomfortable I was, being in a position of uncertainty and doubt. Net, even with all the discomfort, I was so much happier after a day working on and with my fellow humans than working in an office on a computer all day.
  • I need to study more! We learn so much so fast in this program.  I need to find a way to remember what we have been taught because in the thick of things, my brain really struggled to retrieve all those trigger points, muscle attachments, and protocols.  I could feel the solution to the puzzle just outside of my consciousness, but I could not quite grasp it.
  • If/when I do this again, I need to learn Patwa! While most of the patients spoke English, with the accent and with being slightly hard of hearing, I had SUCH a difficult time understanding exactly what was being said.  Thank goodness for gestures!!
  • I need alone time!! Seven days surrounded by 30+ people was a bit overwhelming.  I meditated almost every morning for 30 minutes, sitting within ear shot of the ocean.  I think that contributed so much to my sanity.
  • My preconceived notions about who we would be treating were completely misinformed. My first patient had been a stockbroker in NYC for several years!  Many of patients had lived in England for years and retired back home to Treasure Beach. One of my patients had actually been to Iowa State University to learn about agriculture!  These brilliant, sophisticated, kind people had moved back to their roots and were busy improving their community.  Very inspirational.
  • Hugs and blessings are a very fulfilling form of payment, especially when your food and housing needs are met.
  • I want to learn more OMM (osteopathic manipulative treatment) from the doctor of osteopathy students. From the glimpse I received, it really piqued my interest.  It seems as if they use longer holds (moving patients into areas of the “barrier”) to effect changes in the tissues.  I want to learn more about this, as I have a few patients who are very pain-sensitive, and I think this might be a gentler approach for them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 4th and last installment. 🙂

Jamaica Trip – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Jamaica Trip series. 🙂

On our way back from the Falls, we stopped at the Sports Clinic that would be our base of operations for Monday – Thursday.  A few members of our group had been working ALL day to organize the rooms, equipment, and pharmaceuticals that would be used by the osteopathic doctors and students. They were set up on the first floor of the facility.  Our neurosomatic therapy group (4 students and two teachers) would be set up on the second floor of the building, which was an open-air area overlooking the sports fields and a big hill.  The view was awesome, and more importantly, the area was super breezy and open.

Monday started our first day at the clinic.  We didn’t know what to expect – would the Jamaicans be interested in neurosomatic therapy?  Would we be sitting on our tables, staring off into the hills for 8 hours?  The answer was a resounding NOPE!  Starting with the very first day, we were BUSY, seeing patient after patient after patient, breaking briefly for lunch and water and bathroom breaks.  Word had gotten out that muscle and joint pain treatment specialists were in the house, and we were booked solid, with patients waiting all day long to be treated.

I wish I had taken better notes over the course of the clinic days. I fully intended to, but with my day starting at 5:30AM and ending around 10:30PM, I just couldn’t find the time to write!  But here are some general impressions, memories and observations about the experience.

  • A patient, calm teacher with a good sense of humor is invaluable.
    • I have not yet learned how to treat the lower body. However, each day of treatment presented a consistent theme of pain focused on the lower body.  On Day 1, everyone presented with knee pain. Day 2 was sciatica, and Day 3 was lower back.  Day 4 was a blur.  When in doubt, all I had to do was catch Randy’s eye, and he was there in a flash to give me guidance and insight on what to do.  I worked on so many glutes, TFLs, psoas, and upper traps!
    • In some instances, Randy palpated with his hand on top of mine, helping me understand where to go, what I should look for, and what I was feeling.This was SO HELPFUL!!  It put my sensations into a context that immensely increased my awareness and understanding.
  • Growth/challenges.
    • As I mentioned at the outset, I really struggle with self-confidence.This has especially been an issue for me as I’ve started massage school.  For the past 20+ years I have worked in business and banking, so the majority of my time is spent in my head and not in my body.  I only used my fingers to type on a computer.  While I can learn things cerebrally quite well, embodying the knowledge into a felt sense is extremely challenging. I often find myself just going through the motions (e.g. Step 1, compress.  Step 2, compress with opposition. Step 3, glide).   I have bouts where I seriously doubt my ability to be a successful therapist.
      • Working on over 25 people over the course of 4 days helped me see that, while I still have SO MUCH more to learn, I already have the ability to help people feel waaaaay better over the span of just 45 minutes.  By Day 4, I had found my flow. I was comfortable with the patients, could chat and treat, and I was having FUN.  I was finally RELAXED.  I no longer had to hold my breath while I was treating. J.  The bonds with the patients were becoming more synergistic – I was able to solicit better feedback from them, and by working together and communicating constantly, I was able to sink into the tissue and effect change.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3!

Syn – Everything comes together

I feel this compulsion to write today, even though I don’t have a clearly defined outcome/topic.  I have this idea floating around in my brain pan, and hopefully writing will help distill it into some sense.

Yesterday I attended a workshop, “The Tao of Voice.”  It was at a local studio that I have been trying to get myself to go to since October (even bought the 30 day pass and never went!). I finally made it.  The room was full of 12 women and one teacher, all with super diverse backgrounds but one thing in common – we all wanted to find our voice, find the ability to express ourselves clearly and confidently.  As we did introductions at the beginning of class and then as we provided our impressions at the end of class, a few words/concepts really struck me.  One woman talked about the synchronicities that brought her to the class. Another student mentioned the synergy she felt with this group of random strangers who connected over this mutual desire to tap into something bigger.  I commented how, as we all spoke/sung tones together, I could no longer track my voice as a disparate vibration, my voice just melded with the rest the group.

So I got home and looked up what the root “syn” means.  It means “together.”  I have been experiencing loads of synchronicities and syngergies in my life lately. I don’t know if these occurrences are actually happening more often, or if I am slowly tuning myself in such a way that I actually notice them more.  I’m still not 100% sure what they mean, I just know that they are meaningful! And they prove to me that “together” is where we need to be.  We are social beings.  Our energy, vibration, facial expressions, heartbeats – all these things modulate and entrain others.  We have an almost magical ability to either elevate those around us or drag them down.  Something as tiny as a micro-expression on our face gets registered by the person looking at us and can cause chemical and physical changes in the observer’s body.

Here are a few examples of recent synchroncities:

1. In Anatomy & Physiology (AP) class, we just started learning about the brain and the 12 cranial nerves.  The morning before we started this topic in class I was taking my usual walk and decided to listen to a new podcast, The Body Awake.  The podcast was an interview with Stanley Rosenberg who wrote “Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve.”  After listening to the podcast, I immediately bought the book.  I read it in about a week.  All the stuff I was learning in AP formed a foundation of understanding for the book!  And everything I was reading in the book provided a enlightening perspective on the issues experienced by a few patients in student clinic.  Clue:  Many “heads of the hydra” can be addressed by treating dysfunctions of the vagus nerve and the other 4 nerves that govern social engagement.

2.  I am in the process of reading “The Body Keeps the Score.”  The author writes a lot about how to help people with PTSD/trauma.  “Accessing the Vagus Nerve” also covers how to help people with PTSD.  At a family get-together last week, my cousin was discussing struggles her boyfriend has due to PTSD.  I was able to share some thoughts with her, based on what I was reading.

3.  I follow fisioterapia.hospitalar on Instagram.  Without fail, this user posts the most interesting videos/pics that relate EXACTLY to what we are covering in school.

4.  One of the foundational principles of neurosomatic therapy is that you must address a lower limb length inequality (LLLI) in order for the body to find balance and for any treatments to hold.  I struggle with this concept.  I just don’t WANT it to be true because I want to be barefoot and fancy free – not tied down by a lift in my shoe (my right leg is 8MM shorter than my left).  Well, we discovered that my research patient has a 7MM LLLI.  She put a lift in her shoe and almost immediately noticed huge improvements in mobility, range of motion, and pain levels.  The universe provided me with the case study I needed to see to believe.

5. Yesterday I listened to a Matt Kahn talk where he was talking to empaths about how to process emotions/feelings that crop up.  He provided the mantra, “What I am feeling, I am healing for the world.”  He recommended that instead of resisting uncomfortable feelings, to allow that energy to pass through you, so it could return to Source.  I interpreted it as another way of saying, “What you resist, persists.”  Well, in class yesterday one of the women mentioned how overwhelmed she was by the news and the feeling that she needed to watch it so she could DO something about it.  One of the callers to Matt’s show expressed almost the exact same sentiment, and Matt provided help on how to deal with that.  So I told this woman about Matt’s talk.  Hopefully it will help her find some peace.

So all this is to say, wow – we are all really connected – energetically, physically, emotionally, neurologically.  This idea gives me lots of hope. Changing the world is 100% overwhelming, but changing your own perspective and vibration is 100% doable, and doing so creates a domino effect which will spread to everyone you come into contact with, starting a chain reaction of positivity and hope.  By pursuing joy, you make your life better and improve the lives of everyone you come into contact with. 🙂

 

The Agony of Learning

Well, about 5 weeks ago I started Student Clinic, which means for 4 hours every week I have the opportunity to practice what I have been learning for the past 8 months.  This has been a very…overwhelming, humbling, joyful, agonizing, educational, fun, scary, awesome, horrible experience.  I have found that I am MUCH more comfortable reading about providing therapy than I am actually DOING therapy.  Where the rubber meets the road is WAY outside of my comfort zone.

There is SO much to process in a 60-minute neurosomatic therapy session:  you need to be PRESENT with the patient, you need to connect with them, make them feel safe, make them feel like they are in good hands (when you really doubt that you have good hands at this stage), you need to converse with them while taking 84 measurements (some of which take a degree of palpation skill I do not yet possess), you need to register what they are saying while also figuring out, if my finger in her right earhole (aka external auditory meatus) is higher than my finger in her left earhole, does that mean her left side is higher or her right side??, and then remember that for at least 10 seconds while you mark it on the posturology chart.

Then, you survive taking all the measurements, and then the really hard part comes – analyzing what is going on in that beautiful, complicated, multidimensional, fluid/solid mass of bones, soft tissue, emotions, and thoughts.  So you look at the chart, form a semblance of a plan and get started.  Then the clinic supervisor comes over and challenges your assessment, based on his years of experience in comparison to your 6 months of experience.  So you adjust, all the while trying to maintain an air of confidence in front of your patient patient (yes, that’s intentional).

And then you look down at the body on the table and realize you forgot all the techniques you’ve been learning.  Then the real panic sets in.  You question your ability to function as a coherent human being, much less a competent neurosomatic therapist.  Your brain hurts from this strain of trying to juggle so many requirements. Your thumbs hurt because you are too focused on everything else to focus on good body mechanics. Plus your thumbs are double jointed which adds an even more interesting challenge to performing deep tissue/trigger point work.

BUT, while that whole process continues to happen with each successive Student Clinic, each time it gets slightly less awkward and slightly more fun.  Especially when the patient gets up and says,”Wow – my sinuses are so much clearer!”  “My neck feels so much better!  I have so much more range of motion!”  “My head feels lighter.”  “The pain in my chest I’ve had for 8 years is GONE!”  And you’re like, “Holy shit.  This DOES work!  I CAN help people.  I am not a failure!”  And that part is super awesome.

So, the gist of this whole long rant is that learning a new skill (manual therapy) that is worlds apart from the skills you currently posses (business analysis/project management) is PAINFUL!!  Especially if you are a perfectionist with helpful undercurrent of anxiety.  Oh man.  It is SO hard.  But no growth comes from living in your comfort zone.  And living in the comfort zone  leads to atrophy and dissatisfaction.  I would rather, when it’s all said and done, push my boundaries and experience all the emotions and trials that come along with that, than continue doing what I already know how to do and staying in that safe (but ultimately very dangerous) comfort zone.

I feel as if I should have gotten some intense psychotherapy before taking this leap.  All of the changes in my life, location, career, friends, etc. has brought to the surface so many limiting beliefs that I have unconsciously held for my 41 years of life.  These beliefs (I’m not good enough, mistakes and failure are bad, etc.) are intensifying this experience so much.  Or, is this experience bringing these beliefs into the light of awareness, so I can process them and let them go?  So I guess things are working out as the wise universe intended.  So I just need to ride that flow and trust the (painful and awesome) process.

On Feeling Bad about Feeling Bad

It’s been several weeks since I have written, and what is my excuse?  Well… let’s see.  I traveled back to Iowa for Thanksgiving, and then from Iowa we drove back and forth to Wisconsin. Then the following week, I studied my arse off for my first anatomy test and passed it (I had help from the Universe because *something* guided me to guess correctly on many of the questions on which I was uncertain!), and that afternoon I flew back to Iowa for a big project at work.  Then last weekend I recuperated from the prior two weekends.  And now it’s this weekend, and I’m preparing for yet another trip back to Iowa next week.  But this should be the last trip home for awhile.  We are closing on the house on the 21st, after which point Tim and I will BOTH officially “live in Florida.”  Crazy.  It’s been four months of limbo and uncertainty.

So there has been a lot going on.  And maybe that is why I have been feeling down lately.  I feel…unsettled, unsure of myself, uncertain of my place in this world, uncertain of newfound friends, unclear as to what my status is at work and at school, uncomfortable with the discomfort of trying something new and not being really good at it immediately.  My standard methods of interacting with others are no longer providing the same tried and true results. So, I am floundering a bit as I try to regain my footing and figure out how to operate in the new paradigm of my life.

Yet with all the “Un-s” that I am, I would not say I am unhappy.  I am just going through some very uncomfortable emotions right now. And to exacerbate that discomfort, is my feeling that I shouldn’t be FEELING these emotions.  I am healthy, loved, and financially solvent.  Life could be much, much worse. I have oodles of people and things for which to be grateful.  I should not feel sad, lonely, hurt.  I should encounter unsettling circumstances with equanimity, saying “What can this experience teach me?”   I should be confidant in who and what I am and not let the behavior of other people so easily destroy my self-worth.  I KNOW BETTER!  I am stronger than this.  My brain knows this. My body is sad and feels bad though, and I can’t talk the body out of its feels.

So, feeling sad sucks, but feeling bad about feeling sad sucks even more.

As usual, the Bliss & Grit girls are one step ahead of me.  I listened to their most recent episode today on my walk – Episode 61:  Should we Focus on Positivity?  Basically, the gist is, it’s OK to NOT always be the peppy, happy, positive person.  I can be sad, observe that I am sad, allow myself to be sad, and do so with self-directed tenderness.  I just have to ride the ebb until I get back into the flow.

 

Time warps

I am doing a 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak.  I ran across the link on Facebook and figured I could use the encouragement and structure of a challenge.  This challenge is all about reframing your relationship with time.  I have an issue with time.  As in, I don’t have enough of it.  I spend a lot of it thinking and worrying and talking about how I don’t have enough of it it. Then I procrastinate by doing things I don’t REALLY love because I know that I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do, so why not put off even longer my engagement with this task for which I don’t have enough time??

Consequently, I end up facing a task (e.g. homework) by first making some coffee.  Then I will check Facebook. Then I will remember that I need to text my brother.  Then I will throw a load of laundry in.  And maybe do the dishes.  And then eat some chocolate.  And then.  Maybe then.  I will sit down and study.  And LO!  It’s not so bad.  It’s actually interesting.  I am actually learning.

So, obviously, I really need Oprah and Deepak to help me with this unhealthy relationship with time.  Each morning they email me a link to a meditation.  Each day you are given a centering thought along with a  Sanksrit mantra that you repeat for the duration of the meditation.  Today’s centering thought is; The only real time is here and now. The mantra is: Om Hreem – Pure transparent awareness is my essential nature.

Doing these meditations has increased my awareness of my skewed view of time.  I more easily observe the aforementioned pattern and break out of it occasionally. For example, on Thursday night, I finally got out my 2″ stack of handwritten flashcards and started reviewing them and separating them into Things I know, Things I Don’t Know, and Things I Kinda Know.  Ninety minutes flew by!  I had assimilated some new information. Yet, the evening was still rather young!  I had time for a walk.  Time for a chat with Tim.  I felt as if I had entered some sort of time warp.  Somehow much more time had appeared in an evening!!

That was Thursday.  I haven’t experienced that bliss again since then, but at least I know it’s possible now. 🙂  I think the real key is just to FOCUS.  Let everything go except that ONE thing you are doing right now.  That one moment expands into a deep ocean where time does not exist, or at least it’s slowed waaaaay down.  You can swim around in the flow and then come back up for air, at which point the clock ticks to the next minute.  It’s happened once, so I know it’s possible!

That’s been my focus for the week.  I will continue to work on my Focusing skills, because in November I have 4 tests and 1 quiz, so I need some depth and breadth of nonlinear time! I keep telling myself that I am part of Oneness, and in Oneness are oodles of brilliant juicy brains who already know all the stuff I am learning.  If I can chill the #$@ out, and invite in spaciousness and tenderness and connection, I will do just fine.  Part of me believes that, at least. 🙂

Speaking of time warps, last weekend I went home for the first time in 6 weeks.  I literally had to look at my calendar before I typed that because it seems as if it was ages ago already!!  Could it have just been LAST WEEKEND?  While it was awesome to see my friends and family again, it was odd to be home.  Home is not really home now. It’s a pretty empty house where I felt like a guest – pulling PJs out of a backpack instead of a dresser, pulling my face lotion out of my travel pack instead of the medicine cabinet.  I really wonder where HOME will be for us. Once Tim moves down here, will this apartment feel like HOME?  Or will we just feel like temporary residents until we decide where to go after school?

I am traveling home week after next for Thanksgiving and then the weekend after that for a conversion project at work.  I’m going to get really good at studying on airplanes.  On my flight home last weekend, I brought my Trail Guide flashcards to review.  The guy next to me observed that I was studying and then proceeded to talk to me for the 2 hour flight about his biology degree, his job, his family, etc.  I murmured polite responses and then would return to studying.  He continued to look over my shoulder and comment on how he still remembered a lot of the bones/muscles, etc.  So I finally just surrendered to the flow and talked to him for the rest of the plane ride.  I think ear buds are required next trip. 🙂

Hope you have a fabulous time-rich Sunday!

On Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty that you can comfortably live with. – Tony Robbins

Week 5 is done, Man!  In case you don’t know, that’s a riff off of a quote from Adventures in Babysitting, a movie I haven’t seen in probably 15 years, but that quote has always stuck with me – Dishes are done, Man!!

Anyway, I’ll reel myself back in to the point.  Friday marked my 5th week of classes at CNS.  We celebrated with a quiz in anatomy.  Fortunately the teacher dropped some heavy hints the week prior, so we were all pretty prepared.  After hours of study, I got a 93% on the 10 question quiz.  I missed one.  Ninety-three percent is a solid grade.  I am mostly happy with it.  I am a little unhappy with it too, though. I wanted 100%.  I wish I could get to the root of this drive for perfection, so I could unwind it and be satisfied with what IS.

I think it has something to do with always being a people-pleaser and identifying myself as the “good girl” who gets good grades.  It’s a huge part of my self-identification, and my way of trying to control what I was able to control as a child.  I could reduce conflict in the world around me by getting good grades.  And it got me positive attention.  I don’t NEED to get good grades for those reasons anymore though.  But that coding is still strong within me.

But, overall, I am satisfied and a little less anxious about my success in this program.  As a wise friend told me, if I HAD gotten 100%, it may have set false expectations and made lower grades in the future tougher to deal with.  I set a reasonable bar with my 93%. 🙂

Enough about my layers!  Let’s get on to the purpose of this post – being OK with uncertainty.

This topic came up in class on Friday, when the teacher was discussing some new research that indicates that massage therapy does NOT increase blood flow.  This was the one thing that almost everyone agreed was a positive result of massage therapy.  Welp… now it looks as if that is in question too.  Anecdotally, it seems to be true.  From direct observation, it seems to be true – just look at how red the skin gets after being massaged.  If that’s not an increase in blood flow, what is it??

It was a timely discussion, however, as today one of the YTU teachers I follow and greatly admire posted  this article about the Myth of Symmetry in Yoga.  The title of the article pretty much says it all.  The author references several studies that indicate that symmetry in the body (symmetry of muscles, posture, and leg lengths) is irrelevant to sensation of pain.

So…the school I am going to is FOUNDED on the concept of symmetry.  With each treatment, we do an 84-point analysis on the posture to identify imbalances. The chief imbalance that can drive many of the others is a lower limb length inequality (LLLI – aka one leg is shorter than the other).  We are taught that the limb length issue must be corrected first (via lifts in the shoes).  If that is not fixed, any bodywork provides only temporary relief.

So this article is in direct contradiction to what we are taught.  BUT!  BUT! I did not read the studies the author referenced. I clicked through to a few of the summaries, though.  In my quick pass-through, it appeared as if the studies were not done over an extensive period of time.  Perhaps an LLLI does not cause much pain until later in life or until an unusual stress is placed on an imbalanced body?

One thing that I have noted in all my reading about diet and exercise over the past 5 years, is that “Science” is constantly shifting.  Eggs are good!  Eggs are bad.  Coconut oil is the bomb!! Coconut oil will give you heart attacks! Stretching is good for you!  Stretching will compromise your joints and make you unstable!  Yoga will save your life!  Yoga will bust your shoulders all to hell.

So, again, we waffle back to center.  The truth lies somewhere in between.  Balance (which is oh so close to symmetry…) is the key.  If we really do exist in a quantum field, where everything exists in multiple states until it doesn’t, each person’s Truth varies.  We all have different perceptions, experiences, and DNA that alter how we experience the world.

So, thus, I start my journey into being comfortable in the unknown, trusting that I am in the right place at the right time, gaining knowledge that will help me understand my body, your body, and the world around me better.  With this knowledge, I will eventually be able to help people who share a similiar quantum experience.  If we both look really quickly to the right and see the same thing, then someday I may be able to help you if you are in pain.

Hope you are having a great weekend – getting outside, spending time with loved ones, spending some time in the peace and quiet.  If you’ve had any experience with dealing with  challenges to your foundational beliefs, I would love to hear how you tipped-toed through to the other side.

Take care!

Week 3 – On Contemplating Change Vs. Implementing Change

Today was the first week of normal classes at CNS.  Monday we had Basic Massage. Tuesday was Advanced Technique. Wednesday was Business. Thursday was more Advanced Technique.  Friday was Anatomy and Pyshiology. I’m concerned about my success in A&P because I cannot yet spell physiology correctly.  Wait! I think I just figured it out!!

It’s been a super interesting week.  I really love the Tech and A&P class. They are taught by the founders of the school and their passion really shines through in their teaching. You KNOW that they believe that this form of therapy changes lives. Not only does it change the life of the patient, but it has a domino effect and changes the lives of the people the patients interact with.  This is a Difference Maker.  It is so fulfilling to be surrounded by that kind of conviction and knowledge.

During the Tech class, we learn the  neurosomatic techniques. This week we learned how to address the muscles in the front of the neck – infrahyoids, suprahyoids, the deep anterior cervical muscles (the muscles that connect to the vertebrae), the scalenes (the muscles that move your neck from side to side) and the sternocleidomastoid – the muscle that flexes, tilts, and rotates the neck.

These are super impactful (is that a word??) muscles to treat.  Treating these can help immensely with ear, jaw, throat, and shoulder pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, and migraines.  However, they are a….sensitive area to treat.  There are lots of trigger points in these muscles, and one of the treatments involves moving the trachea out of the way.  So…  It’s really important work with lots of benefits, but it’s also work that requires a lot of trust and practice.  People just aren’t used to therapists fiddling around with the front of their necks!

My first A&P class was Friday.  The teacher is…just amazing. You can tell he really loves the material and believes 100% in it its importance.  He is lively, animated, funny, and super knowledgeable- which is a must, if you are sitting through 4 hours of anatomy lecture.  It was totally overwhelming.  Completely. He also told us that over 1/2 of the first term students fail their first anatomy test. I have never failed a test.  I don’t know how I would deal with that!! I hope I don’t have to find out.

I took copious notes and also recorded the session.  Today I used the pomodoro technique to tackle studying.  With this technique, you focus 100% for 25 minutes and then take a 3-5 minute break (which I used to roll out my upper back, shoulders and pecs with the Yoga Tune Up balls).  I found that knowing that I only had to work for 25 minutes relieved some of the anxiety I was feeling about tackling this huge subject!  At first I really struggled with how to approach studying.  But once I started looking at my notes, looking at the pictures in my Thieme book, and tying the two together (and reminding myself to BE PATIENT), I felt so much better.  The terminology started to make sense.  The names of things in the body actually do have some logic to them, and that started to present itself as I worked.

I did about 4 pomodoro sessions and then took a long break.  I, uh, watched Miss Congeniality.  It’s a really excellent movie, actually.

But now I’m going to go back and do some more homework – I have some reading to tackle. I like to read before I go to bed because I feel as if the information just kind of floats around in the ol’ brain pan and settles in better that way.

Tomorrow I am meeting a couple of classmates to practice my neck-spearing technique (aka treating the superficial anterior cervical muscles).  Then I’ll do some more studying, meal prep for the week (steel cut oats, quinoa, and BBQ pork in the Instant Pot). Hopefully I will figure out a way to have some FUN tomorrow.  Figuring out fun stuff is actually quite challenging!!

Oh! I guess I should circle back to the whole theme of this post – change!!  I was talking to a dear friend of mine who has been with me step-by-step as I contemplated coming to this school.  She is intimately familiar with all the doubt, fear, and indecision I was experiencing.  My therapist said I was in Decision Purgatory, and that is the perfect description.

Well, Angela and I were talking about my current state, and I told her that living in Florida and going to school just feels, well, normal now!  She reminded me of how petrified I was of making this change. It made me realize that CONTEMPLATION of change is the really scary thing.  Actually EXPERIENCING  the change is NBD (no big deal).  You just deal with it, like you deal with everything.  The Ego is a funny thing. I’ve been pretty entertained lately by watching its machinations.  Between lots of reading of Kiran Trace and listening to Matthew Kahn’s podcast, I’ve realized that it’s all about awareness without judgement. I can FEEL whatever I want to feel, and that is 100% OK.  I just need to observe how I feel and let that be OK.  I’m doing a lot of “Huh.  That’s interesting.”

Hope you are having a fabulous Saturday.

Take care,

Hlo

 

On adaptation – a wobbling toward equanimity

Two weeks down!  In some ways I still feel as if I cannot believe I am here.  In some ways it feels as if I have always been here.  The thing that strikes me the most about being here is the lack of hills.  There no hills.  It’s flat.  All you can see is sky and palm trees.  It makes me feel a little exposed.  I miss hills.

Tim and I have been talking every day and Skyping most days. How did people live apart before Skype??  It makes such a huge difference to be able to SEE your loved ones!  I would feel so alone here if it were not for technology.  My little brother sends a picture and a message almost every day, I talk to/text Tim all throughout the day, I call my parents and my older brother on the weekends.  I am finishing up Lord of The Rings (reading it for the Nth time), and I am at the part where everyone is parting ways at the end of the book.  Back in Middle Earth, unless you had a Palantir (aka an iPhone), you had to travel for WEEKS to see your friends and loved ones once you were sundered.

School this week was good.  We learned some very basics of massage – draping, massage strokes, etc.  We had our first test on Friday. I think I did well on the written portion and the massage portion, but on the postural charting portion, I got a bit confused on a piece of it.  There are 4 measurements that you take on the first side of the sheet and then transfer over to the back side of the sheet. For some reason that confuses me a bit.  I kind of rushed that portion and didn’t feel good about my answers.  I was having a severe battle with my perfectionism, struggling to ask the teacher if I could have my test back to verify I did it right.  I kept reminding myself that I am part of the Infinite One and not getting 100% on a test is A-OK.  🙂 But every time I think of it, I get that little burst of constriction just to the left of my sternum.  This body had some encoding that really, really, really drives me to   get the A+.

I have been reading Kiran Trace’s book, Tools for Sanity.  In it she talks a lot about how awareness is the key to realizing who and what we really are.  She uses an analogy of when you walk into a dark room and flip on the light and flip it off again, you can never unsee what you saw.  You now know where the furniture is situated, you see the toy truck on the floor, you know what is there.  Even with the lights off again, you are AWARE.  Once you strobe that awareness on to a behavior, it immediately changes things.

So I am settling my awareness on this drive for perfection and seeing what I can find out about it.

In the meantime, I didn’t ask for the test back.  I left school, worked from home, and then spent the weekend gently exploring.  I ventured out to Dunedin and went to a yoga class. Come to find out it was the last yoga class ever to be held in that studio. They were shutting down the following day.  I feel like there is significance in that, but I haven’t parsed out what it is yet.

Today I ran through my typical Sunday routine – grocery shopping, cleaning, making food for the week.  I took a long walk and reached a new spot I have not seen. I saw trees from Dagobah and encountered lots of friendly folk.  I was listening to Matt Kahn’s talk about Everything is Here to Help You.  He said that if you view every person in your life as being there to help you learn *something,* that you will transform your world.  I sent that vibe out to every one I encountered and got lots of smiles in return. I’m curious to see how this susses out.

I got home from my walk and decided that I better go to the beach.  I have been here 2 weeks and have not made it there yet – partially because I have been busy and partially because I am nervous/reluctant to go to the beach by myself.  But tomorrow starts regular classes at CNS, so I figured I should take advantage of having no homework and GO!

I drove to Bellaire Beach, just south of Clearwater Beach.  The skies to the East looked ominous, but I persevered.  I walked out on the beach, appreciating the roar of the ocean and the foaminess of the waves.  I looked to the Southeast and noted dark clouds tumbling in. I just sat and watched the storm roll in.  I laid back and turned my head, at eye level with the beach, the ocean, the sky huge and dark and roiling above me.  It was absolutely beautiful.

And that was my weekend.  Tim has been steadfastly working on the house, hopefully bringing to a swift conclusion our separation from each other.  We should get the house on the market soon, sell it post haste, and get Timmy Tee down here to Clearwater ASAP.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, and thanks for reading!