When We Need to Meditate

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This quote says it all.   Truly.  When we feel too busy and hurried and stressed for time to meditate is EXACTLY  when we most need to.  That’s when meditation will particularly benefit us.  Try it.  Even if you just take 5 minutes from your crazy day.  That’s a fine place to start.  Find a comfortable place to sit.  Quiet is best, but sometimes that’s impossible.  Turn off your phone.  Shut the door.  Set a timer.  Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Exhale.  Repeat.  Your thoughts may race.  That’s natural.  Don’t try to stop or change your thoughts.  Simply notice them.  Breathe deeply.  Exhale.  Repeat.  Just notice the thoughts that might be charging around your brain.  Just notice them.  Inhale deeply.  Exhale fully.  Repeat.  You can repeat a mantra quietly, aloud or in your head.  Something gentle.  Perhaps, “I am safe,” or  “I can do this,”  or  maybe just  “Love”.   Something that comforts you, soothes you, or makes you smile.  Inhale deeply.  Exhale fully.  Repeat.

When the timer rings, take another moment to focus on your breath.  Then open your eyes slowly.  Keep breathing deeply as you return to your work.  Do this again later today when you’re feeling harried or harassed.  Do it again tomorrow.  Keep going.  This is healthy.

Retreat

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This morning  I heard from a couple of people who had registered for this weekend’s Meditation Workshop & Retreat.  Due to circumstances beyond their control, they had to withdraw from participating.  Our small group has become too small.  So I made the decision to postpone the retreat.  Unless, of course, a few people register this evening.  I’ll reschedule the date later in April or May.

I was really looking forward to this experience.  I can’t help but feel disappointed that I’m having to cancel for the time being.  Yet I am confident that things happen for the best. The weekend is opening for something else for all of us who had planned on participating. Plans are shifting.  A small vacuum has been created.  Perhaps it will be filled with something wonderful.  Perhaps not.  But the day will fill-up with something else.  I’ll keep you posted on the new and improved date for later this Spring.

Meditation Retreat & Workshop

Artwork by Maria Wulf.

Artwork by Maria Wulf.

The Setting Roots: Meditation Retreat & Workshop is just two weeks away. There are only a few openings left, so please contact me to hold your space. It’s going to be a day of experimenting with meditation techniques, deepening our practices, and relaxing. Silent meditations, visualizations, exercises, and more. AND Barry Hyman, Local Musician Extraordinaire, will be joining us for a short session after lunch, offering us the opportunity to meditate to the extraordinary sounds of the sitar. (Check out his website to sample some of his awesome world tunes.) The day is shaping up and turning into something even more special than I’d originally envisioned. Join us for SETTING ROOTS: MEDITATION RETREAT & WORKSHOP. Saturday March 16, 2013 10am-4pm $75 includes Vegetarian Lunch Stairway Healing Arts Center 1 Washington Street, Cambridge, NY 12816

Call, email, or just comment on this post.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY 12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

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Winter Vacation

Home

Home

This past week my girls were on their Winter Break.  It really felt like a vacation, even though I continued seeing clients and holding meditation circles as usual. I feel nourished and rested.  My blogging mentor asked if I’d retired from blogging because I haven’t posted.  (hopefully you noticed too.)  But I’ve been reconnecting with my girls, with friends, with family, and with myself.  I wanted to share with you the events of the week.  Hope you like it.

We spent a weekend in Maine visiting my sister

Janet & Jelly

Janet & Jelly

The snowstorm kept us from visiting the beach,

massive snowbanks in front of her office at LLBean

massive snowbanks in front of her office at LLBean

but we had fun talking, catching-up, eating, and watching movies.

Enjoyed a magnificent view at dusk from what feels like The Top of the World driving home, overlooking VT, NH, & MA

Standing atop the Green Mountains in VT

Standing atop the Green Mountains in VT

Had hot chocolate with Maria & Nancy.  They’re always present with support, encouragement, brainstorming, and innovative ideas.  Thank God for these two friends

Nancy & Maria at the Central House in Salem, NY

Nancy & Maria at the Central House in Salem, NY

Went museum-ing and lunching with my Delaney in Williamstown, MA.  We talked, laughed and just absorbed the artwork.

Delaney & The Rabbit, Williams College Art Museum

Delaney & The Rabbit, Williams College Art Museum

Visited my brand new grand niece Nora!  Amazing miracle.  My sister was present for the birth, but she didn’t get in the photo.

Nora & Grandpa Marty (my brother-in-law)

Nora & Grandpa Marty (my brother-in-law)

Had a raucous Game Night with big family of friends.  Laughed, yelled, hooted, slammed, and battled our way through many hands of Spoons.  Who ever said board games are dull never played with this particular group.  Sadly, we were too disorganized to take any photos.

Experienced having an only child.  Delaney went away for a few days.  Marleigh and I bonded over Pinterest, AC Moore, and painting and craft projects.  Good heart-to-hearts.  We also realized how much we miss Delaney.

Have flowers, will travel.  :-)

Have flowers, will travel. 🙂

Had dinner and gaming with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece visiting from D.C.  I love my family.

Went to a skin care party and experienced a wonderful facial.  Do any of you use Kara Vita  products?  I’d love to hear your reports and experience with this product if you do.

Winter vacation week is winding down.  The girls are putting the finishing touches on vacation assignments and projects.  We’re heading out shortly to have spaghetti with my parents. We didn’t travel to Hawaii, or Bhutan, or Rome this past week, as much as we;d have loved to.  We stayed near home.  But together and apart, we had days of rich, happy experiences.   We slowed down, we didn’t have long days of scheduled events.  We took each day as it came and chose what we wanted for each day.  We talked, resolved issues, ate good food, absorbed beautiful scenes and art, laughed, played, connected with good people, created and completed projects.   I feel tired, yet refreshed at the same time; nourished in body, mind, and spirit.

Setting Roots: Meditation Retreat & Workshop

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I’m really excited about sharing this day of meditation, relaxation, and healing.  Please call or e-mail me to register and save your space.  Space is limited, so the sooner the better.  

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

Getting Word Out, Getting There

Jon & Maria.  Moving day.

Jon & Maria. Moving day in October.  I wish I’d been clever enough to take photos on Thursday, but I was too preoccupied.

I created a flyer about Meditation Circles at Stairway Healing Arts Center.  I had the notion of pinning the flyer around town to get local word out.  Tuesday morning, at our weekly meeting-of-creative-dynamic-and-entrepreneurial-women, I showed it to Maria.  She gave me her artist’s view and I went back to the Mac to make some changes.  I loved the process of this creation.  I was up until midnight  playing with it.  It really feels like no time passes, when actually the hours slip away.  You know what I’m talking about.  So I finished-up and felt good about the result.  Proud, even.  Then I set it aside.

When I saw Maria on Valentine’s Day, she asked about the flyers.  I laughed.  “I haven’t put them up!”  Something about walking around town, blabbing about myself felt scary, intimidating, and completely out of my comfort zone.  Sure, I’ve come to do it daily on this blog.  I mean, talk about writing your heart out.  But that took years of nudging, and excuse-making, and putting-off before I actually got started.  The idea of putting my own printed word on the bulletin boards of my community felt impossible.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just the way it was for me.

“Do you want me to go with you?” she asked.  “Oh my gosh, would you?  Yes!”  I couldn’t believe it.  What a great idea.  What a great friend.  But the next thought I had was the realization that now I actually HAD to do it.  Oh no.  And I was right, because her next question was, “When do you want to go?  I’m free this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon too.”  Oh shit.  She had a big smile on her face, because she knew exactly what was going on in my head.   With snakes in my belly, I finally agreed to 1:30 that same afternoon.

Maria and Jon both walked through town with me.  Jon chatted everyone up in his charming way, Maria carried the flyers, tape, and tacks.  Jon teased my nervousness and kept me laughing, telling everyone I was trying this new and very cutting-edge business tactic of actually letting people know about what I was offering.  Maria smiled, told me she totally understood my apprehension, and kept me marching to the next destination.   Stairway Healing Arts Center, Hubbard Hall (thanks Deb!), Battenkill Books (thank you Connie!), Cambridge Food Coop (thanks Nancy!), Round House Bakery  (thanks Scott & Lisa!), Cambridge Public Library, Glens Falls National Bank.  We pinned my Meditation Circle flyers next to the flyers of all the other interesting notices of what’s happening around town.  It was simple.  It was easy. It was painless.  It was fun.  The hardest part was getting there.  And I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t had the nudging, urging, and support of friends.  Thank you so much, Maria.  Oh, and Jon too (just getting him back a tiny bit.) You’re both wonderful.

Friday morning there were two new people at the Meditation Circle.  They’d seen the flyers.  Sometimes, the hardest part of doing something is just getting there.  Maria and Jon got me around town with my flyers.  They got me there.  I think the hardest part about meditation is sitting down.  Getting to that place.  But it’s so worth it.  So healthy.  Join us at Stairway Healing Arts Center for daily meditation circles:  Mondays & Tuesdays @ 10:30am;  Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays @ 9am.

The Flyer.

The Flyer.

Porcupine Pie: An Unfortunate Incident for a Good Dog

Dr. Seuss tree.

Dr. Seuss tree.

Another glorious day for hiking/snowshoeing yesterday.  Clear blue skies, crisp cold air.  I’m awed by the silence of winter.  Is it that the snow absorbs the sounds?  We’d stop walking and there would be absolute silence.  We’d just stand there and breathe in the quiet.  It felt so good.  Like quieting my rushing mind in meditation.  Is nature meditating in winter?  On days like that it certainly feels like it.  As though nature is quieting and turning within herself.   Perhaps gathering her energy for the birth of spring.  Or maybe not.  But these are the kinds of things I wonder about.

My friend Susan loves winter too.  We see more of each other in February, it seems, than all the rest of the year combined.  We meet up with our dogs and hike up into the forest behind her house.  “The Chair Overlook today, or Cathedral Pines?” she’ll ask.  And we take off in one direction or another.  We have good conversation, talking about things like nature meditating, and backpacking in Greece.  Our dogs, Weston and Eli, romp and run and play together.  They’re good friends too.  So we were having a wonderful day.  Until Weston ran up to us with a face full of porcupine quills.

His snout looked like a pin cushion.  So did his chest, front legs, and paws.  And his mouth was full of quills.  He was pawing and scratching at them miserably.   Shocked, we started pulling them.  But without the right tools they just break off, which makes them harder to pull later.  “We just need to get him home,” I said, “and I’ll call the Vet.”  That’s the thing about porcupine quills, especially when they’re in the poor animal’s mouth.  You’ve got to get them all.  It usually entails some sort of sedative because it’s probably at least as unpleasant having them pulled as it is getting stuck with them.  But we had close to an hour’s hike just to get back to Susan’s place.  She led the way, and I talked to Weston, urging him on, trying to soothe him with my voice.  He was a trooper.  I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for him.  Some of the quills were surely in his feet.

Our veterinary clinic is, understandably, closed on Sundays.  So were the other local clinics I tried.  So Delaney, my 12 year old daughter, and I set up camp on the kitchen floor with a stainless steel bowl, plenty of towels, and a few sets of pliers.  She sat with Weston, talking to him gently, stroking his back, while I began pulling the quills.  One at a time.  We began with his feet.  Some were sticking out of his pads.  How did he ever walk all the way home?  He sat patiently, letting me hold his legs and yank.   He whimpered with each quill, but let me work my way up each leg and over his chest.  Such a good boy.  We praised him with each pull.  But working on his snout was more challenging.  And much more unpleasant for him.  He let us know he’d had enough.  I’d return to the task every 15 minutes or so and managed to remove everything around his nose, those on his outer lips, and some on his inner lips.  But it was the inside of his mouth that worried me.  I knew we needed help, and the clinic wouldn’t open for another 15 hours.  It was going to be a long night for poor Weston.

Then the phone rang at 6pm.  The Veterinarian.  I won’t name him/her as I don’t yet have his/her permission.  But I could have sung the Hallelujah Chorus when s/he said, “I’ll meet you at the clinic in 10 minutes.”   S/he was an angel to us right then.  Amazing.  Help was on the way.

Now, one of the many things that I love about being a massage therapist is that I can help people with their health without the experience of  blood or needles.  But I know there’s a time and a place for everything, and that this was going to be one of those times for both blood and needles.  The good news was that Weston felt no more pain within minutes of walking through the clinic doors.  Marleigh, Delaney, and I stayed with him during the icky procedure.  Well, Marleigh and Delaney came and went, but I stayed for the duration.  I had to giggle though, because a couple of times I started to feel a bit woozy.  The vet, without even having to look up, each time said,”You doing ok, Mandy?”  “Need to go sit down, Mandy?”  It cracked me up.  How did s/he know?  That 6th sense.  Anyway, we made it through.  I didn’t pass out, and within an hour of receiving the call from the Vet, we were home with a slightly dopey, quill-free Weston.

Weston’s a little subdued today, but he’s healthy and will be back to his exuberant self in no time, I’m sure.  Sitting here right now I’m awed by and tremendously grateful for the generosity of time, skill, expertise, and kindness offered by our Vet.  We needed help, and it was there for us.  I’m seriously awed and deeply, truly grateful.  I don’t want to try to make anything more out of this story that isn’t there.  It doesn’t have anything to do with massage therapy.  I trust I was able to handle the situation  calmly all the way through thanks to my meditation practice, so I guess it has something to do with meditation.  But really I guess it’s just about friendship, and dogs, and kindness, and receiving,  and life.  We were all having a really nice day when something unfortunate struck, unexpectedly.  Life keeps happening: the good, the not so great, the amazing, the challenging, the heartbreak, and everything in between.  Flowing with it, even gracefully sometimes, is a lifestyle I’m developing, little by little.  And not without a little, and sometimes a whole lot, of help from my friends.  We’re going to keep doing the things we love.  And hopefully, if the opportunity ever arises again, Weston will remember that porcupine does not make a good pie.

Weston today.  A little subdued, but healthy and well.

Weston today. A little subdued, but healthy and well.

Anxiety and Massage Therapy, continued

Icicles in the woods.

Icicles in the woods.

If you suffer from anxiety or have ever experienced an anxiety attack, you know how awful it is.  Sometimes debilitating.  Definitely not pleasant.  It certainly does not create good  health.  If anxiety were a house or a place, we wouldn’t choose to live in it, or even visit it.  Massage therapy offers respite and healing for anxiety.  Massage relaxes the mind, body, and spirit.  The relaxation piece alone is helpful because it soothes us.  But the healing of massage therapy works more deeply than that.

Massage therapy helps our body and mind calm and relax.   With this calm and relaxation comes a sense of safety and comfort.  Our body becomes a more comfortable and safer-feeling house to live in.  And when we feel safe and comfortable, we experience our body more fully.  This counteracts the detachment of mind and body that we frequently experience as a result of anxiety attacks.  Experiencing our bodies more fully and becoming more attuned to them is an important step in working with anxiety because now we can start exploring where the anxiety-based emotions reside within our body.

Here’s what I mean:  You’re familiar with the sensation of “butterflies in your stomach” when you’re nervous.  Or maybe the chills when you’re excited.  Or the heat in your chest when you’re angry.  These are examples of our emotions manifesting in our body.  When we can pinpoint both the emotion and where it resides inside us, we can address it.  Soothe it, heal it, release it.  (By the way, the beauty of this is that it works with positive, healthy emotions too.  We can help them grow and expand, which is awesome.  But that’s another post.)  So once we’ve established a regular routine and familiarity of relaxation and calm, we begin looking within to find the places where the emotions of anxiety live.  When we find them, we use massage, energy work, and breathing techniques to address and soothe these areas and promote release and healing.  We also talk about techniques to practice on your own to enhance your healing, and also to help soothe and heal you when/if anxiety is triggered.  This piece of healing takes some attention and effort.  The good news is that you’ll only start feeling better.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

 

Anxiety

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Anxiety.  That paralyzing sensation of fear and helplessness that overcomes our bodies.  The spinning and racing of negative thoughts in our heads.  The sleeplessness.  The self-doubt.  The self-loathing.  The racing heart.  The pulsing blood.  The tightening of stomach, shoulders, chest.  The indigestion and intestinal strife.  It sucks.  Please pardon the expression, but I really couldn’t come up with a better one.   It takes a harsh toll on our health and well-being.   Anxiety needs to be tended to.  Counseling is a great place to start.   Massage Therapy is also good medicine for anxiety.

Massage Therapy provides relief from anxiety and healing support through relaxation.   Massage also put us more in touch with our body and its responses to anxiety.  It then helps us discover where and how our individual bodies store the emotions associated with anxiety. Once we’re better in-touch with our bodies and can explore those patterns, then we can work on changing and releasing those emotions and patterns from a body standpoint.

The first step of combating and healing anxiety through massage is Relaxation.  In a nutshell, here’s how it works:  Massage soothes and relieves tense muscles.  It  supports our body’s natural processes of  nourishing and cleansing all our cells, tissues, and organs by enhancing circulation.  It also enhances the function of nerves that were inhibited by muscle tension.  Inhibited nerves cause pain.  So, when our muscles are soothed, when our tissues are flushed of anxiety-induced chemicals and toxins,  when our cells are clear and receptive to nourishment, and when our nervous system is functioning smoothly, our mind and body relaxes.  That’s the meat and potatoes of how therapeutic massage helps combat anxiety through relaxation.   It’s healthy, non-invasive, and effortless.  It works beautifully in conjunction with counseling.

The relaxation piece is the foundation, but it’s really just the beginning in addressing and healing anxiety through massage therapy. There are other layers to this healing process. More to come.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com