Healthy Aging

I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion with other holistic healthcare providers on the topic of healthy aging. This is the second blog I’ve written to help me gather my thoughts and prepare myself for the event. The first entry was about cultivating ki (life force energy), and I’m certain there will be a third piece, perhaps even a forth, eventually.

It seems to me that the most important thing we can do to promote healthy aging is to prioritize our health. Many people would likely say that they desire good health, yet time after time the choices they make do not reflect this goal. Rarely does optimal wellness merely happen; it must be invited, welcomed, and fostered diligently. This occurs when we remind ourselves of its value (ease of movement, quality sleep and digestion, vibrant energy, etc.) and pursue it actively.

This is by no means a recipe for austerity or suffering. I believe the path of wellness overlaps the path of joy. Certainly there will be some compromises and adaptations along the way. Choosing better quality ingredients and suitable portion sizes by making favorite meals at home rather than ordering out is a perfect example of this philosophy. Upgrade or moderate the activities and foods you love to support healthy results without sacrifice. Go for a walk if you’re planning a Netflix binge later, thoroughly stretch your legs and back before getting on a plane, and opt for a hearty salad for lunch if BBQ is on the dinner menu.

I have plans to meet a friend for pizza and beer tonight. There are no words to adequately describe my love of pizza and beer, and yet I clearly recognize that I don’t feel my best after such a meal. So my plan is to neutralize the effects of white flour, cheese, and alcohol in advance. I’m stocking up on green vegetables and water throughout the day, and have chosen a restaurant that serves only the best quality ingredients. I’ll add some fiery pepper to counteract the congesting effect that dairy has on me and even more water throughout the evening to ensure proper hydration.

As I cannot imagine a life without my favorite things, I also refuse to resign myself to feeling achy, sluggish, foggy, or ill either. So instead I make the healthiest choices I am able in every moment. I know what foods and activities support my good health and opt for these most of the time. With some simple planning, it’s easy to reduce less-than-healthy habits for the most part, and when occasion calls for indulgence, I create balance as best I can.

 

 

 

Ki is Key for Healthy Aging :)

I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion with other holistic health care providers on the topic of healthy aging. I’ve decided to write a series of blogs to gather my thoughts in preparation, as well as to share my knowledge on this universally relevant subject with you all. As my passion and primary source of health care is Reiki, focusing on Ki (life-force energy) seems like the obvious starting point.

Keeping my Ki balanced and flowing is my plan for aging gracefully. Just as a flashlight begins to dim as the battery fades, my own energy diminishes over time unless I make an effort to replenish it. This doesn’t mean that my body is doomed to fall apart gradually; I merely need to care of it properly and recharge frequently.

There are countless ways to top off our tanks. Fresh air, deep rest, natural foods, adequate hydration, and being in nature are all essential ingredients for nurturing ourselves. Activities which bring us joy (dancing, painting, gardening, making music, etc.- you know what works for you!) are excellent ways to energize ourselves. The key to success here is in prioritizing these activities and carving out time in our busy schedules. Furthermore, we must protect this valuable time fiercely as there will always be dozens of reasons to choose busyness over self-care and joy.

Reiki is a holistic energy healing technique that super-charges our batteries. It can help clear out any blockages, reestablish balance and flow, and flood the recipient with universal life-force energy. This supports the body’s ability to remove toxins and ensures that all organs and glands are supported with Ki and can function more effectively. The immune system is thus enhanced and our resistance to disease is boosted. Perhaps most importantly, stress is released, rerouting precious energy back to necessary functions and facilitating our bodies’ innate healing ability.

While gray hair, bifocals, and a slower pace might be an expected outcome of passing years, there is absolutely no reason to assume that we are incapable of enjoying health and productivity. Just as a flashlight’s brightness can be restored with fresh batteries, our vitality and well-being can be restored by practices that connect us with Ki, which is abundantly available. Choosing to recharge our batteries on a daily basis is an invaluable habit that will serve us well as we age.

Seeking support from a Reiki practitioner or teacher can amplify the process even further. It matters not what route you take; just that you start on the journey. Ki is key in maintaining vitality and wellness over time. Nourish yourself from within and reap the rewards both now and in your later years.

If you’re interested in scheduling a Reiki session, please visit my website for more information. As energy is not limited by time or space, Reiki can be sent remotely through the practitioner’s intention, with the aid of Reiki symbols, to anywhere a recipient may be. We call this powerful technique Long-Distance Reiki, and it is a service I am delighted to offer. Check it out!

 

You’re Teaching Me to be Kind to Myself

“You’re Teaching Me to be Kind to Myself.”

A client said this to me during a massage treatment a few weeks ago. The concept of treating our bodies with kindness is somewhat uncommon in our culture of harder/ faster/ deeper/ push-through it mentality. In this particular case, I was working on an inflamed tendon that had been causing quite a bit of pain for over a month and interfering with her quality of life. I was using gentle pressure to soothe and comfort the entire area to encourage circulation and the release of muscular tension.

She had been braced for a painful session and was quite surprised at the results she experienced from my gentle approach. During the treatment she noticed how various body parts connected to one another and then began to see a bigger picture. While it is true that one particular tendon was inflamed due to overwork and a moment of excess strain place on it, all the surrounding muscle groups had been recruited to assist and protect the injury. Tension spread out from the source and had enveloped the entire quadrant. As relaxation settled in and muscles began to release, she could feel the internal structure settle into a more neutral position and breathed a sigh of relief.

When she returned two weeks later for a follow up treatment, she reported much less pain, more ease of movement, and a greater sense of harmony in her body. The persistent pain had been downgraded to a dull ache and the surrounding muscles were no longer locked in defensive contraction. Again I worked gently; this time spending a greater portion of the session integrating the limb with the torso while explaining how the whole body works as a team. She became intrigued with the idea of this one small tendon affecting distant areas and realized how she had adapted posture as well as movement to accommodate the injury.

She left that day encouraged to be more aware of her body mechanics and overall attitude towards her body. Introducing clients to the transformative belief that treating ourselves and our bodies with kindness produces lasting and deep effects is perhaps the most helpful input I have to offer as a bodyworker. I could explain this in terms of the nervous system triggering the fight-or-flight reflex vs the relaxation response and get into the biological effects of an aggressive approach vs a more gentle on; yet I think that deep down we can all intuitively grasp this concept. Be kind to your body; and it will respond by letting go of stress and pain.

United We Stand

Political unrest and emotional upset are growing daily. We seem to have entered an alternate reality in which confusion rules. Anger, fear, and hatred seem to be increasing exponentially. It is a challenging time for us all. My personal challenge is to become a warrior of truth while standing within my values. Without kindness and integrity, I have nothing to offer. Without courage and conviction, I risk loosing the freedom to express myself. In a sense, I have been training my entire adult life for this opportunity to be fiercely loving.

liberty

I struggled with joining the resistance. In yoga we learn “what you resist, persists” and the law of cause and effect teaches that we attract that which we fuel by our attention. How can I participate in an effort that would only enhance the negativity I see growing? Yet I am unable to remain silent and watch as justice becomes an obscure memory of a long neglected democracy.

I realized that standing for my beliefs of freedom, equality, diversity, and fairness is completely different that fighting against a man, an executive order, or a threat of tyranny. Speaking up for the civil rights of my fellow citizens activates the energies of synchronicity to support the efforts of preserving justice. It is possible to amplify the power of change by keeping my focus on love rather than fear.

While it is true that I wish the popular movement had chosen different language than “resist” and “protest”, I am able to get beyond these labels and see the heart of the matter. I see people waking up and getting involved in their own unique and creative methods. I see brave souls taking action and joining together to protect one another and this planet we call home. I see the necessity of getting involved, knowing I could not live with myself if I sat on my meditation cushion as the country I love falls into ever-deepening despair.

I see clearly that I am able to contribute my voice and participate in a way that is aligned with my truth. We each bring our own individual offerings to the whole, and together we create a synergy that could not be accomplished without each and every member. Every instrument is invaluable to the symphony. It matters not if you play the violin, the trumpet, or the triangle. It matters only that you show up and play.

Don’t Just Do Something- Sit There!

Over the years of practicing mindfulness, I’ve come to recognize the warning bells of my mind whirling uncontrollably. It’s a sign that I need to stop everything and Just Be. Just for a few minutes, until I get realigned with my peaceful, harmonious nature. Otherwise I’m prone to accidents, mistakes, and attracting unpleasant people and situations.

Been there, done that. No need to repeat those lessons, thank you very much!

So I forced myself to sit on the couch for five full minutes and sip a cup of tea before I left for work. Man, was it uncomfortable!

I didn’t respond to a potential student’s inquiry about studying Reiki considering her religious beliefs. I didn’t craft an email to another student who wishes to apprentice with me about forming a student clinic. Both are exciting projects and dear to my heart. They can wait, however, till I’m more centered and grounded.

I took several deep breaths and a sip of my tea. I ignored the dust in my bedroom that is such a nuisance and soooo not a priority. I fought the urge to make a shopping list to prepare for the lunch I will serve my parents in a few days when they visit or a list about what to pack for an upcoming trip.

A few more breaths and several sips later and I felt my shoulders relax. I did not engage in calculating the edits I need to make for the article I’m writing for my neighborhood food co-op or to my website. I absolutely did not allow myself to second guess my decision to go out to dinner and the theater last night for some much needed fun that kept me out late. And I certainly didn’t make notes about this blog and the ideas I wanted to share here.

I just sat there, drinking my tea, and focusing on my breath. It didn’t matter that I had already meditated, practiced yoga, and flooded myself with Reiki healing energy. I needed an emergency intervention to keep myself from spinning out into an anxious mess.

All of the above tasks are important to me and clearly need to be accomplished in the very near future. Except for the dusting. Seriously, I can’t seem to give a hoot about that! Yet none of them are more important than my peace of mind or well-being. So forcing myself to be still was a valuable remedy.

It was mental torture for about 4 1/2 minutes. Then I was able to sink in and let go and the last 30 seconds got me ready to face the world. I’m feeling much more like myself and prepared to give my clients excellent service. I’d say that was five minutes well invested! Knowing that the rewards will ripple out and benefit everyone who crosses my path makes me doubly sure that this is true.

Slow Down!

This morning I awoke with a dull headache. I didn’t pay it much attention till this afternoon when it started to grow stronger. As a practitioner of the healing arts, I recognize that pain is often a signal from the body to slow down and rest. I decided to heed my own advice and take better care of myself.

ltere frau entspannt zuhause auf dem sofa

I cancelled my plans for the rest of the day so I could take a nap and maybe watch a movie. I applied an aromatherapy remedy to my feet, made a cup of tea, turned off my computer, and sat on the couch. Within minutes the headache started to dissipate.

Now that I have a moment to reflect, I realize I have neglected my rule of keeping one day each week free from all work. Starting my own business brings a seemingly never ending to-do list and lately I’ve been spreading it out so that no one particular day is overflowing. It made sense at the time, but I haven’t had a proper day of rest in many weeks. Luckily my body spoke up!

Viewing symptoms as messages allows me to fine tune my habits and lifestyle to maximize my wellbeing. I’ve learned to decode the minor ailments that pop up and address the imbalances that created a need for such red flags. For me, headaches are a warning signal that I’m going too fast, or working too hard.

Even though I’ve been on top of my self-care routine of yoga, meditation, Reiki self-treatments, and natural foods; I haven’t given myself the downtime that I need to feel my best. I’ve been doing everything right except for doing nothing at all. So here’s to the blessing of a simple headache that guided me to clear my schedule and spend a few hours doing absolutely nothing that looks productive. And to knowing on the inside that being kind to myself is actually the most productive act I can ever take.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’ve got a whole lot of nothing that needs my attention!

Onwards!

As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve been reviewing my challenges and successes in order to make a plan for the new year. The question that seems to be the most valuable to my inquiry is: how can I feel even more joyful? And this leads to an application of my economics degree: what is the smallest investment that will bring the largest payoff? (Yes, I have indeed begun to integrate all of my knowledge to support my personal growth!)

The answer that popped into my mind was hardly surprising. Music. Music can shift my mood in an instant. Dance. Combining creative, free-style movement with uplifting tunes can totally elevate my vibration very quickly. 

In support of creating the most happy and healthy 2017, I’ve decided to commit to dancing every morning. Just for one song. (You may have heard me talk about this trick before. Commit to one small act and very often a chain reaction gets triggered. Before you know it, your resistance has disappeared and you’re eagerly complying with your self-care strategy.)

I think this idea is so brilliant, I’ve been engaging with it for the past week. And loving it! I actually wake up looking forward to my three minute dance party. Which often turns into a ten or fifteen minute dance party. But when it doesn’t, that’s cool too. 

So rather than choosing resolutions that smack of suffering and deprivation, I’d like to encourage everybody to explore doing something they absolutely love, something that feeds the soul, on a more frequent basis. Beginning every day by inviting joy and vitality is a sure fire recipe for a happier life, don’t you think?