The White Dove

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When Marleigh and Delaney were small and they asked about death, I would tell them that a person dies when their heart stops beating.  “What then?” they would ask.  “Well,” was my explanation, “then their spirit flies away.  And their body begins turning back into the earth.  But their love always lives on inside of us.”  This satisfied them.   And me also.

John sent me this photo he took earlier today.  He told me that at Ethan’s burial they released a white dove.  Later, when the family and friends had gathered back at home, a white dove flew in and lighted on their roof.

I was awestruck by his words.  I could hear in the few sentences he wrote that the white dove was a powerful messenger for them today, though he didn’t say exactly how.  Did it speak to them of the flying away of the spirit?  Did its return speak of the love that resides in their hearts and that will remain there forever?  Was that dove a messenger to them of love and peace?   To them, was it a symbol of hope and comfort and healing?

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Happiness Breeds Health

another good quote found on pinterest

another good quote found on pinterest

When my mom was undergoing treatments for breast cancer nearly 20 years ago, she and my dad made a point of renting funny movies every night.  Things that made them laugh.  My dad drove her to her daily treatments, an hour away.  As long as she was feeling up to it, they’d have a nice lunch afterward, or maybe take a circuitous route home.  Something different.  Something to enjoy together.  Something to make them smile or, better yet, laugh.  This was a healthy way for them to face the fearful and exhausting experience of cancer.  They did it together, and they tried to find something good in each day.  She sailed through treatments.  She had great doctors.  The tumor was found at an opportune time, i.e. at a manageable stage.  Treatments were effective.  But I’m also confident that the happiness they experienced each day helped too.  Certainly with their mental health.  I believe the happiness helped her body receive treatments and heal; that it helped strengthen her chemically, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  It fortified her and helped her heal.

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

Setting Roots: Meditation Workshop and Retreat

Artwork by Maria Wulf.

Artwork by Maria Wulf.

As winter recedes and begins its slow turn to spring, it’s a great time for us to turn within, set our roots firmly in the ground, and gather our energy for the coming of the busy and fruitful months that lie ahead.  Join me for a day of meditative practice and exploration at Stairway Healing Arts Center Saturday March 16, 10am-4pm.  We’ll focus on grounding ourselves and setting our roots through meditation.  We’ll explore different styles and techniques to help us reap the benefits of meditation.  We’ll discuss challenges we all have meditating and experiment with different techniques to overcome these challenges.

We’re going to get comfortable and sit,  and we’ll also be moving, stretching, exploring breath and breathing techniques, going for walks, smiling, probably laughing, toning, perhaps singing, and maybe even dancing a little.   If you’re new to meditation, this will be a great day to get you started with your meditative practice.   If you already meditate, this will be an opportunity to deepen your practice.   Either way, it will be a peaceful day of relaxation, healing, rejuvenation,  and stress-relief shared with other good people.  Together, we’ll set our roots and deepen our meditative practices.   You’ll leave with lots of “tools” to help you meditate regularly and to help you settle in to your daily meditative experience, and you’ll gain a better personal understanding of how meditation can and will effect your life.  Come set your roots and grow with meditation.

Saturday March 16, 2013   10am-4pm  at Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street, Cambridge, NY  12816

 $75  includes Vegetarian Lunch

Please call or e-mail for more information and/or to register.  518-265-7889  StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

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 Healing Journey Begins

A simple chime.

A simple chime.

So my darlin’ daughter Marleigh was unhappy, even depressed.  Crying frequently.  Having great difficulty focusing and concentrating.  Her grades at school were suffering.   I was scared, feeling helpless.  I wanted to help and support her but didn’t know how.   Until I finally started looking at the situation as a massage therapist and energy worker.  How would I handle this if she were a client coming to me for these issues?  Big a-ha moment for mom.  More like a great big “DUH!”   A line from some 1970s sitcom or movie kept running through my head, “We have the technology to heal her” (was it the Bionic Woman?  Star Wars?  no matter)    I realized I actually did know how to help her and I developed a little treatment plan.  And that felt really, really good.

Phase I:  Shift the Energy

The first thing to do was shift the energy around her.  The heavy energies of sadness, anger, strife, and unhappiness can get stuck in us, and in our living and work spaces.  Sound waves can help to move these heavy, damp, stuck energies.  I decided to start helping Marleigh (all three of us, actually) by clearing the energy in our home.  I have a wonderful little brass chime with a clear, strong ring.  Its sound waves resonate long after it’s been rung.   It’s an awesome tool for clearing energies and I use it a lot in my work, as well as to signify the beginning and close of every Meditation Circle.  So I brought the chime home and rang it in every room, every door way, every window, under each bed, and in every nook and cranny of our home.   It was like opening a window on a breezy sunny day into a room that’s cold and damp.  I did this each day this past week.  My daughters roll their eyes when they hear the chime and say, “Mom’s going all Fig Leaf again”.  And that’s okay.  Because, honestly, there was a lightness, calmness, and genuine warmth between us this week that I hadn’t felt in several months.  I’ll continue to clear the space at least twice a week from now on.  But now the stage was set for the next phase of my treatment plan, which we began Thursday evening.

Post-Holiday Recovery and Repair

New Year's Day 2013.My back yard.

New Year’s Day 2013.
My back yard.

So many of my massage clients this past week have talked to me about feeling scattered, exhausted, depleted, a little depressed after the holidays.  ( I can totally relate.)  I love that I can help them via therapeutic massage.   The focus of these sessions is to help the client re-center, find their footing, re-align with their sense of peace and calm and clarity.   I always incorporate a good deal of energy work to help soothe the mind in particular.  When possible we meditate before or after the session.  When we’re centered and calm we’re in a better state of health.  Striving towards that is part of taking good care of ourselves.

I’d love to help you on your path to better health.  Please contact me for an appointment and more information.

Mandy Meyer-Hill, BA, LMT

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

Memorial Tree and Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook Elementary

photo copy

Saturday, December 22 at 5:00 p.m.

The Cambridge Lions Club will be placing one more tree with the Memorial Trees at the Cambridge Library in memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.  Please join your community to show our support of those impacted by this heartbreak and more importantly show how much our community and its children mean to all of us.

Please join us on Saturday, December 22 at 5:00 p.m. for a Candle Light Vigil beginning in front of Stairway Healing Arts Center at the corner of Washington St & Main (former BeanHeads).  We will light a candle and pass the flame before walking in silence to the Cambridge Library and the Memorial Tree display.  Together we will string Green and White lights on the tree, make paper snowflakes and angels for the tree, Father Paul Baker will enlighten us, we will light the tree and sing Silent Night.

After the song we can make more snowflakes and angles, enjoy hot chocolate, sing some more and give and feel the love of our community.

Please be safe, but join us regardless of the weather.

Memorial Tree and Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook Elementary

photo copy

Saturday, December 22 at 5:00 p.m.

The Cambridge Lions Club will be placing one more tree with the Memorial Trees at the Cambridge Library in memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.  Please join your community to show our support of those impacted by this heartbreak and more importantly show how much our community and its children mean to all of us.

Please join us on Saturday, December 22 at 5:00 p.m. for a Candle Light Vigil beginning in front of Stairway Healing Arts Center at the corner of Washington St & Main (former BeanHeads).  We will light a candle and pass the flame before walking in silence to the Cambridge Library and the Memorial Tree display.  Together we will string Green and White lights on the tree, make paper snowflakes and angels for the tree, Father Paul Baker will enlighten us, we will light the tree and sing Silent Night.

After the song we can make more snowflakes and angles, enjoy hot chocolate, sing some more and give and feel the love of our community.

Please be safe, but join us regardless of the weather.

Something Sweet

An almost empty Christmas Cookie Platter.

An almost empty Christmas Cookie Platter.

My sister and brother-in-law delivered their Christmas Cookies yesterday.  Molasses Crinkles are my favorite.  Peanut Butter Kisses run a close second.  And the green almond Christmas trees, of course.   They’re reminiscent of our childhood because they’re what Mom always made.  Each year my sister bakes over 100 dozen cookies.  That’s right, you read that correctly.  Over 100 dozen cookies.  Closer to 130 dozen actually.  She and her husband spend a day or two preparing and baking, then divide them out amongst many platters and deliver them to friends, family, neighbors.  It’s ritual.  We all love it. And frankly, we’ve come to expect it.  “Make extra Molasses Crinkles this year!”  I’ll demand.

So last night as we sat visiting, munching their creations, I reminded them of the year those sweet creations brought me back to life.  Before I begin, please know I’m not condoning emotional eating, or over-indulging in refined sugars.  Though I’m a strong believer in EVERYTHING  and anything in moderation.  But I was reminding them of the year my former husband and I separated.  I hadn’t had an appetite since he moved out before Thanksgiving.  I hadn’t eaten or slept really, and my pants hung from my hips.  I was pale and empty and broken-hearted and broken.  I didn’t socialize because speaking to people was too much of a challenge.  Besides, their good wishes just made me feel worse; sadder, angrier, more alone and more of a failure.  So I was keeping to myself, licking my wounds, growling at anyone who dared come close.  But Ruth had asked me to join her for tea and for the first time in many weeks I felt like I might be able to do it.  It was a week or two before Christmas.  I sat at her table behind my mug of tea, and looked at the platter of cookies.  I bit into one because I had nothing to say.  Then I reached for another.  I imagine tears flowed with each cookie, but I’m not even sure.  I just know that when that platter was emptied she just refilled it without a word.  Then she refilled it again.  Something inside me started warming that day.  Some of the broken parts started stitching back together.  I do remember even smiling as she brought out the fourth platter, laughing and saying  “My God, no more!”  Those cookies began a healing process for me.  They bridged a gap that no words could span.  It’s true.  My heart began rebuilding with those sweets.  I’ll never forget it.  It was a long road.  In many ways, I’m still traveling it.  But those cookies helped get me on my feet again.

Sweetness helps the healing process.  Health involves sweetness, in all its varied forms.  Enjoy a little sweetness every day.  It’s part of taking good care of yourself.