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!

 

One week down…

I survived my first week away from home, in a new city, taking a new class, developing a new routine, experiencing new people, learning new things, seeing new sunsets, admiring new trees, driving new roads, walking new paths, building new senses.

It has been a busy week!  I attend school from 8-12, then work from 1-6, then eat, talk to Tim, take a walk, work on homework, sleep, repeat.  I know that I need more rest and restoration in my life, but one of the good things about being so busy is that it doesn’t give me a lot of time to wallow.  But actually maybe that’s not a good thing.  It’s essentially a numbing agent.  But, since I don’t really have a choice at this point, I will frame it as a positive thing. 🙂

School has been awesome.  There are 7 other students starting the program with me. It’s a varied set of people – 4 from Florida and 4 from other parts of the US, 3 really young people and then 5 people scattered around my age.  The one commonality is that they are all really engrossed in learning about the body and a wholistic approach to health.  Every day we break for a snack around 10AM.  It’s a big sea of kale salad, hard boiled eggs, chopped veggies, and game meats.

Weeks 1 and 2 are an Intensive, which means we have the same class every day.  For two weeks we are focused on learning the posturology chart, where you measure 84 bony landmarks on the body and then chart them in a specific way.  I am so glad I had some training in locating these landmarks in my Yoga Tune Up trainings.  That background is helping immensely.

Yesterday we got into a new landmark that I have never palpated before – the atlas (the first vertebrae of the spine – the one that holds up your noggin).  We have to palpate (aka stick your fingers into the back (posterior) of someone’s neck) to find the transverse process of the atlas (these protuberances of the atlas stick out laterally (to the side) from the spine).  If you find that bump behind your earlobe (mastoid process) and slide your fingers down (inferiorly) toward your jaw (mandible) and poke around a bit, you might find some harder spots.  Those would be the transverse processes of the atlas.

They are really hard to find, especially on muscle-y guys!  The SCM (sternocleidomastoid), is that ropey band of muscle that connects from your mastoid process to your clavicle (around the notch at the base of your throat).  This muscle can get in the way and doesn’t seem to like being pushed out of the way.  So I need MORE PRACTICE!!!  If anyone is traveling to Clearwater and enjoys being a guinea pig, email me!!

The last thing we did was measure for projection of the atlas. Projection is when the atlas is shifted forward (anteriorly) relative to the vertebrae below it.  To do this, you have to MOVE THE TRACHEA out of the way and then stick your finger into the back of the subject’s throat and feel around for any ledges.  I tried it on a few people but didn’t feel any ledges.  So either no one has a projection, or I’m in the wrong spot.  Again, I just need more practice.

Well, I better get to work.  Thanks for letting me practice my new vocabulary on you, and as always, thanks for reading!!

On Following Your Dreams (aka making uncommon decisions)

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Mostly that is because I think I utterly exhausted my brains and will in making the decision to move to Florida, cut back to part-time, and go to school for massage therapy.  All of that just plump wore me out.

But now the decision is made.  And I’m here. In Florida. I tried to be here last week, but Hurricane Irma had different plans for me.  Tim and I drove down here on the 4th, unpacked our stuff into our apartment and then promptly packed an overnight bag and drove right back to Iowa.  It was Tuesday. The storm was forecasted to hit Sunday. Yet all the stores were already out of water.  It scared the shit out of us, to be honest.  We are used to dealing with tornadoes, but huge storms in a state with like 3 roads that you can use to exit the state sounded like a nightmare.

So we chose the lesser nightmare and drove the 19 hours back to Iowa.

It was weird going back home again, especially after I already said goodbye to all my friends, family, and coworkers, only to return about 4 days later.  HEY!  Guess what! I’m baaaaack!

People were actually pretty understanding.  They often echoed a thought that was ricocheting around in my head a TON – “Um, maybe this is a sign?”

And, see, this is where I get utterly confused about this whole dharma/life purpose thing.  I thought I was watching signs and signals and felt as if this path was chosen for me.  But then, a category 5 hurricane started hurtling toward me.  Talk about mixed messages.

But, I guess, that just because you are following your dharma, does not mean you will not have tribulations.  In the Bible God was always sending his people on missions and quests that were horribly inconvenient and resulted in tons of annoyances and discomforts.  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do because you gotta do it and because you know that by doing so, the world will become just a little bit better, and that makes all the difference.

So I decided, after a lot of internal tortuous dialogue, to not cancel all of my plans and aspirations.  I came back.  I’m here.  Now.

I haven’t had much time to reflect/absorb/adjust yet.  Granted, it’s only Day 1.  I was madly unpacking, buying groceries, getting an oil change, cleaning, cooking food, etc.  Maybe perhaps I was a little bit numbing with busyness.  But that’s OK.

To close, here are the things that are good about this decision so far:

  1.  The people I have encountered here so far are super friendly and helpful.  Had THE most helpful guy at the Take 5 Oil Change place today.
  2. We found a super cute breakfast joint on the super cutely named road, Sunset Point, and my breakfast was only 6.50.
  3. The St. Petes/Clearwater airport is only 15 minutes from our apartment.  From there you can, for a mere $60-$80, fly directly back to Moline, IL, which is 15 minutes from our house.
  4. I am becoming more resourceful.  No ladle?  Use a cup!  No lids for my pot?  Use tin foil!  No bed?  Sleeping bags and blankets on the floor!
  5. I saw a snake on the sidewalk in front of my apartment, and I only jumped 2 feet and did not scream.

So, that’s it for Day 1.  Hope you are having tons of interesting adventures, and thanks for reading!

On the Importance of Movement

Where have I been, you may be wondering??  Well, let me tell you. It’s a story that begins at the latest last summer and at the earliest back in high school, with a few milestones in between.

I’ll start at the most recent beginning, which is last summer.

For the past several years, especially since discovering the primal diet (thank you Mark Sisson!), I have felt very compelled to share with others the fascinating things I was learning, namely – we have the power to heal ourselves without the use of prescription drugs and surgeries.  As I started to eat better and move my body more regularly, I noticed a huge improvement in my level of anxiety, my body composition, and my energy levels.  It was nothing short of amazing. I wanted EVERYONE to know this.

But I struggled with the best way to share this message. I was not content with sharing this information with only the interested friend or family member (or the uninterested family member 😛 ).  I wanted a more Official communication forum.

Consequently I ventured down the yoga teacher training path.  Teaching yoga fed my deep curiosity about the body, philosophy, and spirituality. It also gave me an avenue to share what I was learning with others.  I LOVE teaching, especially those classes where the students and I are on the same wave length, and everything just…gels.  Amazing. Total Flow state.

Yet, I still yearned for more. I was/am working full-time at a fairly stressful job, fitting in classes and workshops where I could.  I clung to the job because I have a HUGE need for security, safety, and a financial safety net.  Yet, I wanted to do more with the health and wellness sphere.  But I was running out of hours in the day and energy to do both well.

I was super discontented and unsettled and stressed, and I felt as if my life was being used incorrectly by me.  So I started meeting with a psychologist who is also a yoga therapist – a woman who marries west and east and blends science with spirituality. During the first session I explained my plight. She had me write down my intention. I wrote “My intention is to find my purpose and follow it fearlessly.”

A day or two later on the Yoga Tune Up Teachers Page, I learned about a pain treatment modality, neurosomatic therapy, that focuses on posture to analyze the root of issues in the tissues.  It is a form of manual therapy, but it also adds in the component of corrective exercise (so patients don’t just revert back to old patterns of behavior).

I was intrigued!  I called the school and ended up speaking to a man just a year younger than me who just quit his job in real estate to go back to the school.  He was SO HAPPY. Over the next few days we talked for a few hours, as he answered all my detailed questions about the program.  This system of treatment gelled SO WELL with what I had been learning in YTU, and it also made intuitive sense to me.  It was a natural fit for the style of yoga/movement that drew me as well.

For the next year, I would torture myself with deciding whether or not to take the plunge and do this program. I would talk to students from the program, hear their remarkable impressions of the program, how much they loved it, how they wished they could do it again, how great it was to help people that no one else could help.

Yet I waffled. How could I leave Iowa? How could I ask Tim to completely change our life?  How could I leave my parents????  How could we leave our adorable house that we spent 14 years making perfect?  What would I do for money?  I had grown very accustomed to the lifestyle that my stressful corporate job provided, to be honest.

I was confident that I would love the training program. I was sure that this career path would provide more fulfillment, joy and flow than being a business analyst at a bank.  I knew that this career would give me opportunities to learn and grow in a field that is fascinating to me.

So, what to do?  On the one hand – security, family, safety, knowing what tomorrow will bring.  On the other hand – lots of potential, room for growth, greater understanding of this vessel in which I live, but also insecurity, lack of predictability, increased expenses, and a move 18 hours across the USA.

I finally decided to take the plunge.  Tim is joining me on this crazy adventure. We are breaking out of several years of comfy habits and routines which is absolutely terrifying but also exciting.  As we are fixing up the house, cleaning out 14 years of accumulation, I realized that our comfy life was also kind of stagnant.  We had swung too far off center, and we needed a massive shake-up to reach equilibrium again.  Much like the body needs constant movement for optimum performance, life needs movement and change as well!

I hope to continue writing as we progress through this experience together, but I will have to see what this new life looks like.  I will be working part time and going to school part time, but hopefully I can still find time to write!

So this is already a super long blog post, so I better sign off.  Thanks for reading!

 

The Great Work of My Life

Why am I here?  Why did I incorporate into this body, this family, in the time, in this place?  How can I best use my skills, abilities, knowledge and idiosyncranies to serve humankind?  What will light my fire and keep it burning?  For what am I willing to be “used up?”

Are these questions you have ever asked yourself?  They are questions I have been struggling with answering for the past few years.  Tired of thinking myself in circles, I met with a psychologist/yoga therapist to get some outside feedback. I needed some help getting out of my head.  As I explained my quest to her, she informed me that I was looking for my dharma (aka sacred duty).

This was a word I had encountered briefly in the past, but I never really knew what it was.  Based on her recommendation, I read The Great Work of Your Life: A guide for the journey to your true calling by Stephen Cope.  It is a beautiful, beautiful book that provides lots of guidance (some of it divine) about finding your calling and purpose.

I won’t write a review of the book, except to say it’s really good and you should read it post haste. 🙂  But I do want to highlight some of the passages that especially struck me (I love the word “passage” to refer to sections of a book – gateways to expanded thought!).  Page numbers are taken from the 2015 Bantam Books Trade Paperback Edition.

  1. Page xviii (Introduction). Regarding writing his books, Stephen says that “It seems that it was the effort required to bring them forth itself that saved me.”  Having written his books did nothing for him – it was putting that work into writing them that was truly satisfying.  DOING the work (not necessarily the end product) is the important thing.
  2. Page xxiv – “People actually feel happiest and most fulfilled when meeting the challenge of their dharma in the world, when bringing highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity for which they have a true calling.”
  3. Page 11 – “It increasingly begins to dawn on her that in order to find the next expression of dharma she is going to have to take a leap of some kind.”  Page 38 – “…Dharma always involves, at some point, a leap off a cliff in the dark.”
  4. Page 16 – “Success and failure in the eyes of the world are not your concern. “Better to fail at your dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else,” he says.”” The “he” in that sentence is Krishna (aka God).  Smart guy.
  5. Page 32 – “We have a responsibility to The Gift.  The Gift is God in disguise.”
  6. Page 36 – “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference.”
  7. Page 42 – “We only know who we are by trying on various versions of ourselves.”
  8. Page 44 – “”Be resolutely and faithfully what you are,” said Thoreau – not who you think you should be.”
  9. Page 46 – An explanation of Indra’s Net.  We are all jewels on an interconnected web, shining forth onto others and reflecting all the other jewels in the net.  “The action of each individual soul holds together the entire net.  Small and large at the same time.”
  10. Page 47 – “Our actions in expression of our dharma…are infinitely important….They create the world.”
  11. Page 56 – “Careful attunement to dharma will demand that we reinvent ourselves periodically throughout life.”
  12. Page 62 – “…(ambivalence, it turns out, is an unavoidable companion in the search for a new dharma).”
  13. Page 64 – “Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. It tears at our hearts.”  “This little corner of the world is ours to transform.  This little corner of the world is ours to save.”

Well, I will stop at Lucky 13. This covers my highlights from the first 1/4 of the book.  I will write more starting with The Second Pillar:  “Do It Full Out!”

What do you think your dharma is?  Have you found it?  If so, how?

 

 

Woo Boy – And… It’s almost September

Holy cow. August is almost over.  Where did it go??  What happened to Summer?  Will life continue to fly by like this?

Ok, I’ll get you up to speed on the important stuff.

  •  I went to the Yoga Tune Up® Breath & Bliss in L.A.  It was a 3 day intensive all about down regulating the nervous system, primarily by stimulating the vagus nerve.  The class BLEW MY MIND and opened my eyes to the variety of ways we can manipulate our structure and mind into calming the #$% down!  This information is so direly needed by EVERYONE.  I’ve been incorporating the savasana techniques into all my classes, and I ordered a box of Corgeous balls, so that I’m ready to launch a weekly class devoted solely to down regulation.  It’s going to be soooooo lovely.  When I get approval for the class, I’ll add it to my schedule here on the blog, so you know where to find me.   Here is a quick tip to try out tonight:  Lay on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor.  Wedge a yoga block or pillow under your sacrum (when the head is lower than the heart, the vagus nerve slows down the heart rate).  On your inhale, feel your belly swell, on the exhale, let the belly fall to the spine and hum as your breath leaves the body.  The humming also stimulates the vagus nerve, further transporting you to the Rest & Digest mode.
  • My dad had a heart attack.  That was two weeks of lots of good and lots of bad.  Dad recovered amazingly well, and we had a tremendously supportive network of nurses, doctors, family and friends that helped carry us through. We needed every bit of love, as we traveled back and forth to the hospital and tried to manage work and stress and uncertainty and heartache.
  • While visiting a book store close to the hospital, I discovered the beautiful book, “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living” by Krista Tippett.  I picked the book up because it was on display, and I was drawn by the simple yellow and white cover and the direct title.  I had never heard of Krista Tippett before.  I am so glad I randomly picked up the book. It is beautifully written. I have a hard time putting it down.
  • But I did put it down – to read another amazing, life-changing book, “The Great Work of Your Life:  A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling” by Stephen Cope.  I recently started to see a therapist to help identify my true purpose is life. Why did the Universe or God or The Source or my Witness self, put me in this body in this family, in this life?  My therapist informed me that this “purpose” is called dharma, and she recommended this book.  I blazed through it in about 2 weeks.  The book is riddled with highlights and notes, and I really feel as if I need to read it several more times. Stop reading this blog post and go read it right now!! Tell me what you think.
  • Dharma.  Wow.  That’s a big topic that’s been consuming a lot of time and mental energy. I have some ideas, some inklings, some wishes, some hopes, LOTS of fears, and lots of thinking to do. More to come on that.

And that’s about it. I’ve been altering my yoga teaching to be more Yoga Tune Up® focused, and I’ve had a couple of new students come to my 5:30AM class as a result.  I love teaching it and seeing people all chilled out and more embodied by the time they leave. I just really love it!  I’m hoping to add more classes and/or workshops in the next few months.

I think that about brings you up to speed. Each one of the points above really deserves its own blog post, but it’s 6:20, and I need to finish prepping for my class tomorrow, take a walk and then practice my new obsession, somatic meditation!

I hope you are doing well, and I will talk to you soon!