Now is the Time

from Pinterest, where else?

from Pinterest, where else?

 

I have some free time this morning.  There are plenty of things I could be looking after at my house and at the studio.  Plenty.  But the sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  It’s about 55 degrees outside.  My bicycle is just outside the back door….   I’m thinking about that sunshine on my face.  The breeze on my skin.  My beating heart.  The scent of the river, the dirt road, freshly cut grass, the warm air mingling with the cool earth…  That’s it.  I’m skipping the other responsibilities.  They’ll still be there when I get home tonight (sometime after 8pm…). I’m gonna go for a bicycle ride.  Gonna seize the moment and the day.  Now is the right time to do something good for myself.  The time is now.  How about you?

Letting Go

Over 20 years ago I saw a movie called “Mission” with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons. It took place in South America, probably in the 1800s. Irons was a Jesuit monk. DeNiro was a man convicted of murder, travelling with the Jesuits to their mission work deep in the Amazonian rain forest. As punishment and penance, DeNiro’s character made the grueling trip on foot (as they all did) with a huge rope sack tied to his back. The sack was filled with boulders. Each step was cumbersome and grueling, dreadful just to watch. Knee deep mud, incessant rain, mosquito-thick air, unimaginable heat. Their journey lasted days, perhaps weeks. At one point they made a harrowing climb up a massive water fall. An almost impossible climb and they were all struggling miserably. Irons pulled a knife from his robes and reached to cut the sack from DeNiro’s back. But DeNiro pushed his hand away. He refused to lighten his load. He insisted on reaching the top with his burden, or die trying.

I was reminded of this scene yesterday when a friend and I were talking about letting go of and releasing painful experiences and memories. I thought of DeNiro and how so many of us are like him, walking through life weighted down with our bag of hurts, fears, anger, and regret. This creates prime breeding ground for illness, disease, and dysfunction. A friend told me once that we all carry that sack. We spend the first 40 or so years of our lives filling it up

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.

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

The Art of Slurping

IMG_3177

In between meditation circle and afternoon clients yesterday, I met with my dear friend and shaman, Bonnie, for tea.  We had a lot of catching-up to do, so it was a good thing we had two whole hours.  We talked, laughed, and shared our stories over her home grown and brewed licorice tea, and we ate ginger cookies.  He kitchen window has an expansive view of the rolling hills of Shushan and the Green Mountains of Vermont:  Equinox, Mother Myrick, Snake Ridge…  It was a nourishing time together in so many ways.  But maybe the best part was when she cut an orange into quarters and bit into it, making a really loud slurpey noise.  Exactly the kind of noise our moms discouraged when we were kids.  The kind of sound we avoid making in public.  She was the first to comment on it, between big juicy slurps.  Then she encouraged me to try it.  I did, of course.  It took a little practice, but I caught on pretty quickly.  She said I had a talent for it.  So we sat there slurping and laughing, orange juice dripping off our fingers and running up our wrists.  Who would have thought I’d add slurping oranges to my list of healthy things to do, but I have.  I highly recommend it.  Best with a good friend.  (And perhaps in the privacy of your home.)

Tending the Fires

The fire that greeted me when I opened the furnace door this morning.

The fire that greeted me when I opened the furnace door this morning.

I just stoked the fire in my outdoor furnace.  It’s 5 degrees below zero outside.  Thanks to the that fire, it’s cozy and warm in our home.  I’m headed down to Stairway Healing Arts Center for 9 o’clock meditation.  When I sit in meditation, I’m stoking my inner fires of well-being, wellness, and health.  It’s physical, emotional, mental, soulful, and spiritual.  Some days it’s more one of these aspects than others.  But it doesn’t matter.  It’s good, no matter what I feel or sense.  After meditation, I move into a day of massage therapy and energetic bodywork sessions, helping others stoke their own inner fires.  Life is good.

Always Hurrying

My little CRV.  250,000 miles.  I retired it last summer.

My little CRV. 250,000 miles. I retired it last summer.

I don’t know of a single day that passes that I don’t look at the clock at some point and realize I have to rush to get somewhere or get something done.  There’s a reason (sometimes many reasons)  each day to hurry and there’s usually something that I’m either late for, wish I’d  arrived a little earlier for, or I wish I’d had more time to get to.  I frequently drive too fast because I’ve left myself too little time to get where I’m going.   I’m forever trying to squeeze a size 10 amount of things to do into a size 2 amount of time.  And I’m frequently busting-out the seems of my day.  This is a decades-old pattern.

Yesterday I tuned-in to my body as I was rushing to get to a commitment.  I felt  like a rioting crowd was fighting its way out of my cranium.  My heart was pounding and my stomach was tight and clenched.  Believe me, it didn’t feel good.  Or healthy.  And I know it isn’t.  When I’m rushing I’m not taking very good care of myself.  I want to change this pattern of daily rushing.   I want to bring the calm and gentle assertiveness that  I bring to my work and that I experience in my meditation practice to my daily personal schedule.   I don’t yet have a plan, I just know that I want to make a change.  It will be a learning process and, like all learning, it will also be a process of awakening.   I’ll keep you posted.

Marleigh and Me: Healing Progress

My massage therapy table, ready for work.

My massage therapy table, ready for work.

My teen daughter Marleigh and I have been addressing some difficulties with focus, attention, sleep, and sadness  through massage therapy and energetic bodywork.  There was an immediate shift in her life experience when we began the work together.

1.  She’s falling asleep readily, and sleeping through the night uninterruptedly.  So she’s getting her rest.  That’s essential and foundational to good health, and it’s a drastic change from her sleep patterns in the past 8 weeks.

2.  She’s getting her reading homework done.  And she’s been reading a lot more in general, which has been an added benefit.  Reading, other than the short-attention-span skimming of the internet, had slipped out of her free time.  She’d begin books but hadn’t finished them.  Now she’s completing her homework, then choosing a favorite book to sink in to.  Right now she’s completely absorbed in a good read and is tearing through it.  This, to me, is an unexpected thrill.  So she’s settling in and getting her school work done (thoroughly), and she’s also settled enough to do lots of extra reading.

3.  She’s focusing better in class and practicing new techniques I taught her to help rein herself in when her mind starts darting around.  She’s actually doing this and tells me it’s helped her focus.

So we’re off to a  really good start.  Our lives are really busy.  Marleigh is a ninth grader taking advanced placement classes, participating in 2 sports this season, with a nice social life.  As a single, self-employed mom my days,  evenings, and  weekends are full with my work,  shuttling daughters to practices, and getting to games (which are more often than not at least 20 miles away), trying to keep us all fortified nutritionally, emotionally, and spiritually, and having some fun too.  It’s a good life,  and a very full life.  But the point I’m making is that we have to make this healing work a priority so that it will continue.  It’s one more thing to incorporate into our busy lives.  But now that we’ve seen the results, we know that it makes a difference.  A real positive impact.  So we’re going to continue.  We’re making it a priority.   I’ll be keeping you posted.

 

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

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

Marleigh and Me: A Couple of Tools for Self Help

Barefoot on the Beach.  February (that's right) 2012, Maine

Barefoot on the Beach. February (that’s right) 2012, Maine

So I’ve been clearing the energy at home, and practicing energetic bodywork with Marleigh at least once a day for the better part of a week.  But an important part of healing is having some techniques that you can practice yourself, without the aid or necessity of someone else’s presence.  I taught her a couple simple new tools to help rein herself in when her mind starts darting about in class or anywhere else.

1.  The most simple thing to do is focus on your feet.  It may sound odd to read that, but after a few energetic bodywork sessions, it made sense to Marleigh.  Bring your attention to your feet, put the palms of your hands right on the soles of your feet if you can.  But that’s certainly not always appropriate or possible in school.  So:

2.  Breathe.  Breathe deeply.  Focus on pulling the breath deeply into your stomach.  Then push it all out as far as you can.  Do that for a few cycles.  Now pull the breath down in to your feet.  All the way down to your toes.  And then exhale as though you’re pushing the air out the soles of your feet into the ground.  Repeat.  Again.  Again.  This is a great technique for general calming, but it’s also good to rein in a chattering, scattered mind.

Over the weekend, I was driving Marleigh to a friend’s house. They were going to study for midterm exams which are later this month.  It had been a busy morning and in the car I realized we hadn’t done any energy work.  I was disappointed because I knew it would have been helpful prep for studying.  We talked about that and I said maybe she could practice one of the new self-help techniques.  “I know, Mom,” she said.  “Breathe through my feet.  I did it the other day in Social Studies and it really helped.”   Enough said.

 

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

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