Tread

This place was once green and soft. Today, it’s completely frozen. Walking over the ice, all joints at attention, I’m focused on the task at foot. Subconsciously, my fears simmer; thoughts of sprawled legs, tearing ligaments, and whacked skulls. The terrain is uneven, slick, frozen, once slush. There are footprints, not my own, preserved. One long channel about as wide as my boot, slides out in front of me and I brace.

This is not pretty, white blue ice or safe soft-on-top-from-the-sunshine ice. This is muddy and sandy gray ice with leaves caught in twisted positions, sticks reaching through like the masts of little ships wrecked.

My boots have jagged soles that hook onto the crests of solid tumult, but I chose them for more esthetic reasons. Now, I envision myself reaching that soft spot over there, under a tree where the snow still sits proud and fluffy on top. There, I can be stable.

And out from under me goes a step. I counterbalance, throwing arms at violent angles and hissing mini prayers of expletives. Then, it stops. I’m standing, still, how? Still. I look down. The rubber soles are holding the ice with casual dominance, like this was what they were meant for.

Grounding

Connecting to the Earth’s energy does not have to be as new agey as it sounds. And, being that it’s deep winter here up north, you don’t have to walk around outside barefoot either.

Grounding is a practice that helps us to make better decisions and lowers overall stress. When we are connected to that rooted energy, we can think more clearly and put forth positive action. Given the current social climate, we are tempted to fall into reaction. It requires less energy in the moment. When we react, the body mind becomes agitated, the fight or flight response is triggered. Without taking tiny moments to ground yourself, reaction will lead to inate stress. And we all know that it is unhealthy, nearly impossible, to live in a state of constant stress, right?

So, how to ground yourself.

It can be as easy as taking a mini meditation, 20 seconds focusing only on your breath. There is even an app for that on the AppleWatch. (Go Apple!) Let your feet come into contact with the floor/bottoms of your shoes, spread your toes a little, and breathe into the sensation of your energetic roots. Those few seconds can help to clear your mind, lower your cortisol and adrenaline levels, and help you move forward with positivity.

To heighten your grounding experience, hold crystals or use essential oils. Smoky quartz has a gentle centering effect, or if you’re looking for something more intense, Hematite is a rich dark stone with a magnetic nature. You can keep the stones at your workplace, or on an altar, and holding them will help their energy come into direct contact with your own. Essential oils can be blotted on the wrist, massaged into the bottoms of the feet, or used in a diffuser. Just make sure you are using 100% pure essential oils and a little goes a long way! I have found cedarwood, frankincense and black spruce my go to’s when I’m feeling flighty or anxious.

If crystals and oils aren’t your thing, you can take a walk. Touch the earth and foliage around you. Trees especially have a rich knowledge and carry deep grounding vibrations. You don’t have to hug a tree on your lunch break, although it will probably make you feel good. Just walk out and pick one, put your hand on its bark for a minute, focus on your breathing and feel the steady rooting energy. The sensory experience will remain with you for the rest of the day, and help keep you centered. And you will still look like a relatively normal person while doing so.

To really connect with your earth element, you can eat root vegetables, wear grounding colors (browns, deep muted greens, even rich reds and oranges), surround yourself with clay pottery and art, strike a few stable yoga poses (mountain, warrior I, child, tree), get a salt lamp, and disconnect from electricity for a while.

For further reference on some grounding crystals visit:

http://www.energymuse.com/blog/benefits-grounding-crystals/

Please remember when using essential oils that some need to be diluted with light carrier oils and some have serious contraindications.

Wellness

Wellness is a relative term. It is not achieved by striving the hardest, or restricting the most. We reach for wellness at the cost of truly achieving it. One definition is limiting and creates notions of failure. When in reality, there are a great many ways to practice wellness.

Yes, there are certain habits and choices that are better than others. There are some we may practice for a while, and then one day find to be not as useful or good for ourselves  as they once were.

Wellness is striking a balance. It is finding the rhythm in our habits and our choices that suits us individually. Wellness is being able to have moments where we feel satiated, rested, and content everyday.

Personally, I love lemon water with cayenne pepper in the morning, and a glass of red wine at night– sometimes several. I also enjoy butter and carbs, and kale salads for breakfast. Some weeks are all about yoga, some I use all the toys at the gym, and some I just walk, a lot. I have smoked cigarettes, and my last one probably won’t be my last. (But, for now, it is.)

I practice body awareness. Listening to my inner voice, the voice of my gut (literally and figuratively). I have countless conversations with my self about my needs in the moment. And it can be fun to sometimes chose the thing that doesn’t give me instant satisfaction, because then it becomes a game of patience and trust with myself.

When I started, I faltered a lot. I wasn’t very good at listening and I kept hurting myself indirectly. I would overindulge and feel crappy about it the next day, so then I would cancel plans or skirt obligations, definitely wouldn’t drink enough water, and in 24 hours I would find myself emotionally depleted looking for an immediate fixer. So, I started leaving myself little notes. Physical notes propped by my bedside or by my toothbrush, or where I hid the chocolate. I just had to see the reminder and it would spark the conversation with myself. Slowly, I got better at listening to what I really needed, or didn’t need.

I still overindulge, but less often. I still get hangovers. But I am constantly trying to improve my self dialogue, and if I am going to indulge, maybe only on one thing instead of ALL THE THINGS.

If I continue to increase casually deeper breaths, flexibility of body and mind, and restful sleep, I think I’m doing okay.

It helps to surround yourself with others who are working on their wellness. So, I offer my support to you. Move forward with patience for yourself, and for others. Strike your own balance, don’t try to embody someone else’s definition. I will keep posting what I learn, but only to find solidarity in the process with you.

Self Care I

It’s 9:30 on a Friday night and I’m sitting at my dining room table with a glass of rich côtes du rhône almost empty, listening to the Isley Brothers’ Fight the Power. I’m sure there will be many posts under this title, but tonight I would just like to illustrate what balanced self care can look like.

This blog is not intended to preach a higher way of living. It will serve as the example that wellness is relative and variable.

Self Care.

Our nation, we the people, saw something extraordinary happen today. For a great many of us, it was frightening. How quickly the reins fell from our own hands, it stung and it cut some of us deeply. There is despair and outrage on our social media feeds, in our voices, in our streets. There is also a lot of motivation, a large contingency of people already mobilizing– I’m looking at you, #womensmarch.

Though I’m inflated by the swell of this movement, I also feel like I haven’t licked my wounds yet. I am inspired by the incredible, fearless women who I am lucky enough to know personally, and I miss their company at this moment. And then there are those women I aspire to create community with, something only possible if I have something to pour from my cup.

Tonight, I believe there is strength in permitting myself some vulnerability. To truly understand where I am hurt and why, as intricately as possible.

Tonight, my self care is permission. Whatever I want to feel, I am allowed to. However I want to process is okay. I will finish this second glass of wine, consider a third. Nope, I know I’ll want to feel clear headed tomorrow, so I’ll make some ginger tea instead and have a square or five of a raw chocolate bar. I will then sit on my couch and gaze gently at the plants or the window or the wall and just let the thoughts come through. Like a film reel, I will allow them to pass by, seen but unstudied.

For a few moments, perhaps after you finish an “Outdated Beliefs Can Suck My Queefs” sign or when the fervent coverage has assuaged, you can join me in just feeling. Be still with yourself, process.

It is only with a clear heart and a clear mind that we can be truly effective. The anger won’t go away, maybe not the fear nor sadness. Perhaps you feel elated, energized, warm, or any amalgam of those states. Good! For three minutes just breathe and feel that.

Feel it, fully.

The Slow Tide

Why hang on to habits that are no longer fulfilling?

Is it hard to change? Why not just flip the switch? Stop. Start.

Undoubtedly, there would be much less conflict in life if change were so simple. One day this, the next day that. But even turning on a light is a step-by-step transference of energy, a process that if not done in sequence,  could leave you in the dark.

Create change through constant work. Gain momentum and then maintain course because without it there can only be stagnation. Anger, sadness, and frustration are the products of arrested growth.

Every day is the choice of direction. Move toward love. Toward happiness.

 

To Heal

A body worker as a healer. Know your capacity.

The opportunity to heal is exciting and inspiring. When I worked in a spa environment, I served a smaller purpose in the process of wellbeing, because the environment fostered a temporariness. And I enjoyed being able to provide those little luxuries.

However, when I am greeted with something different, when a client is open to the process of healing, what a gift! Here is an opportunity to use the life energy magic that is within each of us, to create vibrations that will ripple out beyond the session.

My practice consists of the physical body as well as the energetic one. I spend time listening during a formal and thorough intake about past issues and future goals; as well as through my hands during the session. It is amazing how a body can communicate. I feel breath and I feel tissues. I can feel stagnation and surplus, and rhythm. In order to treat, I must be adaptable to the body I am working with, to be noninvasive but persuasive.

I have many mantras that carry me into these sessions; I am enveloped in a warm light, this light is shareable; this light illuminates healing energy; I am a beacon of healing energy; my hands are sensitive, empathetic, magic; my heart is pure love and I have love to share with this person.

Intentions like this immediately send out energy with a positive vibration, creating space for trust. Trust that is so important to the healing session because it fosters clear verbal and non-verbal communication between the client and myself.

I am confident in the success of these techniques. I have seen it work and have been humbled. These sessions remind me that my work is not superficial and I am empowered by an obligation to my craft.