A short magazine article has stuck in my mind. It is really quite stuck.
We are conscious about the magazines we offer in our office for people to read if they have to wait for an appointment. We want the reading to be on the same calming, meditative wavelength that our treatments provide. One of our commonly carried magazines is Spirituality and Health.
I try and read our magazines when I have a spare moment. I am one of those readers that is REALLY ENGAGED with anything well-written or interesting.
Well, at least while I'm reading it.
Unless I take notes or discuss with someone else, my mind instantly moves on and forgets to file memories from what I read, regardless of how engaging it was.
And this is why this article's stickiness has impressed me. I so enjoyed parts of it that I copied it for a patient. I forced Jason to listen to me read it out loud. I'm thinking about it now as I decide to share parts of it in this blog.
The article, written by Zen Buddhist teacher Karen Maezen Miller is titled "Lessons from a Zen Garden." Miller uses the analogy of her lovely flower garden to illustrate the fleeting beauty of our lives. She discusses what love and relationships mean:
"...one thing that troubles people about Buddhism is the concept of nonattachment. That's because we think attachment means love, and we think love means I can't live without you. We are always hung up on our self-serving notions--what I need, what I want, what I like, what I think, what is best, what is right--and that's the cause of suffering. We attach to those ideas as though they were life itself..."
Miller's message comes at the right time (as messages always do). So many people coming in the doors of our clinic are going through some kind of big transformation in their lives right now. Confronting deaths of loved ones, having major changes in life path or career, working out of old habits that are no longer in line with old ways of thinking.
The difficulty doesn't ultimately come from the event. It comes from how we respond to it, how we resist change. Miller goes on to quote the Buddhist Four Noble Truths:
"1. Life is suffering. Things change.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment. It hurts when things change.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. Accept that things change.
4. There is a way out of suffering. By changing yourself."
With our acupuncture, massage, reiki, etc, we treat many physical ailments. Sometimes these are purely structural imbalances or physical degenerations, but more often physical ailments are intertwined with emotional stress, old traumatic baggage, and negative thought processes.
There is profound relaxation to be found in letting go. Drop the need for control. Don't resist change. And stop judging everything and everyone around you.
"Maezumi, my teacher, introduced me to a dimension of love that we do not often experience... His kindness was the profound kindness of seeing a person or thing completely, without judgement. I learned two things by this: that it is rare to be seen and that seeing without judging is an act of love.
Zen practice is facing yourself as you are. And by facing yourself, you come to accept everything. Self-consciousness dissolves and separation disappears. Free of deception, you are no longer afraid to be yourself. You are no longer afraid of much of anything. There is nothing to hide; no self-image to defend; nothing to assemble, control or avoid. It's simply a matter of taking care of what appears in front of you."
Judging a situation or person, for any reason, may lead to a desire to change it. Need for control stems from fear. Drop the judgement and let go of your illusion of control, and the fear dissipates along with it.
I believe the reason this article stuck with me is not that it was so wonderfully written, nor was it a message I have not heard before, but that it is needed. For most everyone. Repeatedly.
Even in the midst of a beautiful summer, full of fun and friends, there can be dark times. But life is much too short to spend our limited hours wrapped in self-made stress over any situation that we cannot control.
The only thing you can control in a stressful situation is your reaction to it; choose to love life in non-judgement, peace and joy.
Many women I encounter have a nasty habit of giving.
Relentless giving. Of giving, and then giving some more. Much of that stems from motherhood, as it is a necessary part of caring for young ones. (And is certainly something fathers can be guilty of as well.) But this habit of caring for everyone else so often results in a depleted, worn out woman. Perhaps even a woman who has forgotten to receive.
That is why I am SO HAPPY to announce, or at least remind everyone local here to Southern Oregon, Radiant Women's Day. It is taking place this Saturday, June 7th, all day at the Middle Rogue Farm. Follow this link to see their schedule of events and see the image below for the details.
Please, for yourself if you are a woman, or for a woman that you care for, consider this event as a chance to relax, enjoy, learn, and most of all- receive!
Hey all, just a quick note about gift-giving ideas from here at Radiant Family.
Jason is about to send out word of a very generous massage gift certificate offer he's sharing. In addition to the gift of massage, know that our various products also make great gifts!
Aside from our product line (shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, toothpaste, body lotion, face cream, deodorant and medicated ointments), we have finally given in and are selling our teas.
Radiant Family's herbal teas are a popular item in the clinic. I try my best to convince people to make their own at home and freely share the recipes. Some people have put the effort in and make the teas at home, but many more continue to ask if we will sell them in the office. So now we have four of our teas for sale, both in bulk as well as in unbleached hemp fiber teabags.
We are also offering a sale on our products, for anyone inclined to build a gift basket. (Or maybe you want to just selfishly stock up for yourself!)
Buy any 3 Radiant Family products, get 10% off, buy 4 and get 15% off, and 20% off if you buy 5 products or more.
We hope you consider shopping locally for the holiday season and thank you so much for supporting small businesses like our own!
Last week I promised to begin to share some of my favorite habits for keeping myself healthy during the cold and flu season. As mentioned last time, these healthy habits are too great in number for me to dish out all at once. So I'm beginning with three for this week, and more will come.
We all know that we could be doing more to keep ourselves healthy, but that it takes time and willingness to put the effort in to do so. I hope that by sharing a greater number of habits, some of which may be new to you, the number of habits you are likely to adopt will increase.
The key is in finding what resonates with you and what seems likely to fit into your daily life without counter-intuitively casing more stress. So, read on, and look forward to more next week.
I thought I'd start with one of my weirder habits to get your attention.
If you've never heard of oil-pulling, you can read more about it in a very thorough article on oral health written by Jason here. In brief, oil-pulling consists of swishing oil around in your mouth for 15 minutes or so, then spitting it out.
Exciting, I know.
Why would you want to do this?
Our mouths- teeth, gums, tongue, hard and soft palate, and the back of the throat- are a ripe environment for bacterial growth. Gross to think about, but it's true.
Brushing is very important, flossing too, but NOTHING has ever made my mouth feel more clean than oil-pulling. I'm not going to drag you into the details of what oil pulling does for your body. I encourage you to learn more, and if you want to, please read Jason's older article linked above. Oral health affects every corner of our body and is directly tied to numerous chronic diseases.
Specific to our topic, though, a cleaner oral environment means less likelihood of an upper respiratory infection taking hold there. How many of you first notice a head cold as a sore throat? Or swollen, irritated tonsils?
Well, knock on a tree, I have never gotten a sore throat or caught a head cold when I have been consistently oil-pulling. That alone is enough reason for me to continue doing it, but the systemic benefits are overwhelming.
Really, consider swishing some oil around your mouth every morning. The benefits FAR outweigh the effort. A good how-to for oil pulling can be found here.
I have a hard time empathizing with people who don't love sleep. I've met a few people who consider it an inconvenience and even resent that they need it. I LOVE sleep and it's one of my favorite things to do. Sleep is what I find most healing for my body.
If you suffer from insomnia, please forgive me for bragging about the benefits of sleep. And please, if you haven't already, give acupuncture and Chinese herbs a try to help alleviate your sleeplessness.
If you don't have time or the right environment to get enough sleep, then I am so very sorry. I hope you can find as much time as possible for rest, and that you are able to give it as high a priority as possible.
If ever I feel I am coming down with something, and I'm in the position to stop what I'm doing and take a nap (which I admit, is rare), my body will almost always be able to ward off the illness.
Many people put others first, obligate themselves to too many tasks, and then -surprise- they fall ill. Restful times- nightly 8 hours, naps, and quiet time spent doing absolutely nothing- are one of the best preventative medicines against contagious illness.
If it's a possibility for you, make your rest a priority and don't sacrifice it unless necessary.
Summertime in our Northern hemisphere is accompanied by pleasant weather. We spend more time outdoors; we let more fresh air in our households.
As autumn cools, our windows remain closed. As the rain and cold settle in, we avoid being outdoors more than usual. This is comfortable, but it's not a healthy trend.
We get SO MUCH MORE oxygen when we breathe outdoor air than when we breathe indoor air. It's really very simple.
In addition to less oxygen, our indoor air is also generally quite polluted with dust mites, skin cells, fabric fragments, and chemicals from plastics, cleaning products, perfumes, dyes, etc etc etc. And airborne pathogens.
We need oxygen to live. It's not such a great leap to conclude that optimal bodily function requires optimal oxygenation of our tissues. And if we're spending more of our time indoors (or nearly all of our time indoors), we're getting significantly less oxygen than we should.
Remedy this as well as you can:
1) Open your windows, even a little, whenever you can. Jason and I sleep with our bedroom windows just barely cracked open. And as I lay in bed, I can distinctly smell the fresh air seeping in through that crack. Overnight, there is a significant cumulative effect on the body from getting that much more oxygen and less pollution through our air.
2) Open windows and doors when you clean your house. Even in the winter. A weekly housecleaning session with air exchange re-oxygenates your home's air, reduces the air pollution, and helps to prevent any cleaning chemicals from polluting the air (if you use nasty chemicals to clean, that is). Put on a coat, bundle up the kids, turn off the heat, and just know that you will re-heat the house when you finish. Our ancestors lived in animal furs huddled around fires; I think we can handle a couple of hours of cold.
3) Get outside when you can! Oh, it's rainy...it's cold...but it's fresh! Take a lunch break walk or commit to a walk every weekend even if it's dreary out. Shed the fear of being uncomfortable and embrace the invigoration of a cold weather stroll. You need not be out for long to get the blood flowing and the clean air in your lungs, and it goes a long way to combat the effects of months indoors.
If there is one broad, underlying principle I adhere to as a foundation for health, it's being in closer proximity to and in better harmony with nature. In an urban environment, this is admittedly more difficult than it is here in Southern Oregon. But even in a city, the outdoor air is often more fresh than indoors.
Open a window, or get outside, and breathe the air you were meant to breathe.
I have two categories for my patients. There are those who want to feel better, and want to come in the office, let me do my thing, and then leave until their next appointment. We make progress, but their healing time is limited to their office visits. This is what works best for many people, and that is just fine.
But then there is my other group of patients.
This is the group that wants to feel better, and wants to know every possible thing they could be doing to help themselves feel better faster.
This group is dear to my heart, because this is how I would be as a patient. If I was unwell, I would want to do everything possible on my own to recover. Not that I don't love a good acupuncture treatment, but I'd much rather get well faster and perhaps not have to come back in for more visits. So, contrary to conventional medical business models, I like to focus on what I can do to empower my patients to help themselves get better and perhaps not be my patients anymore.
The field of physical therapy uniquely requires that the practitioners provide tools for recovery to their patients. Having repeatedly given this sort of information to her patients for so many years, Doranne is quite practiced at sharing this information.
Our bodies can be our tools to get around in the world, they can be an impediment, or most likely both. Keeping these tools sharp and well-oiled is essential for a healthy existence. We are bound to strain our physique through poor posture, stress and injury.
Having a useful method to help us prevent and manage aches, pains, and structural imbalance allows us to take charge of our health in a way that is very difficult to do on our own.
I'm so grateful to Doranne for sharing her years of wisdom in the concise version of a handbook.
Doranne has created Your Body Book, which is literally the handbook for taking care of your body. I adore her book, and am pleased that she was willing to answer some of my questions about her work and the resource she has created.
Miranda: What made you decide to write Your Body Book?
Doranne: While working as a physical therapist for more than 30 years, I realized I had been scribbling illegible instructions and drawing child-like stick figures on easily-lost pieces of paper for clients for years. So at the end of each work day, for about a year, I compiled the information and exercises I normally share with my patients, resulting in the creation of Your Body Book Guide to Better Body Motion with Less Pain. This self-help health care book empowers people to take responsibility to successfully manage their health. I am passionate about helping others physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Miranda: How is Your Body Book best used as a tool by any of us with pain, injuries, or structural imbalances? (Aka ALL OF US!)
Doranne: The more you know, the better you can help your body and mind heal with time, by managing pain, improving blood flow, eating right, getting adequate sleep, and minimizing fear, worry, anxiety, and stress. It is easy to become fearful, especially when in pain. Mental and/or emotional stress can lead to physical problems such as causing muscles to tighten and increase pain. Stress and anxiety can decrease sleep, which slows healing and increases pain. Worry, especially about things out of our control, can be overwhelming.
The more you know, the more tools you can use well. Tools to decrease physical pain include: ice packs, heat, including hot showers and baths, pools, pillows for support and positioning, breathing, gentle exercise, and sleep. Give your body and brain plenty of water and good nutrition.
The good news is the body does its best to mend, especially with injuries involving bones, joints, and muscles. Give your body time to heal; generally for every “down” day, it may take two to three days to recover.
Miranda: What is one of the most common questions you get as a physical therapist?
Doranne: One question I am frequently asked, is when to use ice or heat to decrease pain. The bottom line--both ice and heat increase circulation; improved blood flow helps the body heal. Ice is best immediately after an injury, with really sharp pain, muscle spasm, or inflammation (hot, red, swollen). Heat is better with more chronic conditions, low-grade pain, or when the area is more stiff than painful.
Miranda: Any favorite tips or advice you would care to share?
Doranne: Rice socks. I recommend making rice socks by pouring about two pounds of uncooked rice into a long sock. Tie/sew to close. Place in microwave for about two minutes or until comfortably warm. A second rice sock can be kept in the freezer and used as an ice pack.
Thank you so much to Doranne for taking the time to share some of her knowledge with us. So many years of experience is a valuable gift to share, and Your Body Book is such a convenient form!
Doranne currently works as an on-call physical therapist. She is very willing to answer questions via e-mail or phone, and is also available for public speaking and teaching.
Go to www.YourBodyBook.com for more information, including upcoming presentations. Your Body Book is available on Amazon, at the local Grants Pass, Oregon bookstores including Aquarius, The Book Lore, The Herb Shop, and Oregon Books. It is also available locally at Dr. Kahn’s office, and from Kay Nielson, PTA, LMT, in Selma, Oregon.
Thank you for reading. Even though I am trained as a physical therapist, I am passionate about not only helping people physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; to help them be whole in their soul. With 32 years of hands-on experience, I currently work as an on-call physical therapist. Please don't hesitate to contact me.
P.O. Box 5735 • Grants Pass, OR 97527 • 541-643-9289 cell 541-955-3209 fax • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.yourbodybook.com
Staying healthy has been a challenge over recent months. Starting a business is a full-time affair. Like some kind of inanimate baby, it demands all of our time, our finances, and our loving care.
Jason and I are constantly evolving our commitment to health, each day coming closer to practicing everything we preach. We're still human and slip backward from time to time, but being fully immersed in our passion for health and happy living has led us to learning what habits have made the greatest overall impact on our health.
On to the 8 habits (in no particular order):
Today I was the unwanted victim of someone's anger and frustration. Just a few hours ago, actually. She was a woman under the influence of....
You may be knowingly nodding your head right now because we are all familiar with this. What is it about being behind the wheel that often leaves us so prone to unnecessary impatience and anger?
Back to the story.
I should set the scene.